If you’re in love with the ‘shabby chic’ look, here are my favourite places to find shabby chic furniture and accessories without spending a fortune.
Etsy: Etsy is a craft-oriented site and so you’ll find a tonne of craft materials that aren’t easy to track down on the high street, which are perfect for adorning shabby chic furniture and accessories. Here’s how to find the best stuff:
- Search for ‘shabby chic decal’ for a tonne of inspiration – these stickers and transfers can not only go on your walls, but can be added to plain furniture, pots and containers.
- Search for ‘shabby chic iron-on’ (make sure you keep in the hyphen for the best results) for lovely vintage iron-on letters, pictures and transfers, perfect for cushions and fabric accessories.
- Search for ‘shabby chic stencils’ for some lovely stencils that are perfect for decorating your newly painted antique and vintage furniture (see right for example).
Photo printing: Since vintage is all the rage, vintage postcards or framed pictures can be pretty expensive – instead, search for your own pics on Google and get them printed using a service like Snapfish for pennies. To search for images that are good enough quality for printing:
1) Type your search term into Google and press search:
2) Choose the images tab:
3) Click ‘Search tools’ and then choose ‘Size’ and select ‘Large’:
Try searching for ‘shabby chic print’ for some really good ideas. I like Snapfish because you can easily convert the images to black and white (or sepia, if you like) before you print them which saves a lot of hassle. You can also choose between matt and gloss for the photo finish – generally black and white photos look loads better printed on matt paper and colour photos look much sharper printed on glossy paper. Be careful that you choose a size that works with the aspect ratio of your picture – make sure you preview each snap to ensure none of the edges have been chopped.
Shops: Shops are normally the most expensive way of buying shabby chic accessories but there’s a couple I’d recommend – Dunhelm Mill is fantastic for photo frames. It’s really cheap – with frames from 99p, and there are loads of shabby chic designs to choose from. The frame on the right is just £3.99. It also has loads of other accessories including a good range of unusual wall art that’s reasonably priced. Another shop that’s worth looking in is TK Maxx – their home department sometimes has some weird and wonderful bargains, like this heavy candelabra (left) that I picked up for £19.99.
If you’re spending the day at the seaside, somewhere like Skegness or Blackpool, take half an hour minutes to wonder around some of those funny little discount shops that sell everything from flip flops to frying pans. You’ll likely find big baskets of beautiful shells for just a pound or two which are perfect for adding to pictures, plaques, frames and accessories, making into garlands or wreaths (see below for ideas), or just displaying as they are.
Online, Abakhan offers good value for fabric, especially if you have a patchwork project and want a mixed bundle – http://www.abakhan.co.uk/
Markets: Markets are the best places to get your linen and flower printed fabric for cushions, curtains, linen bags and so on, as fabric by the metre there is so cheap. Make sure you drop by the haberdashery stalls as well, for lace and fabric flowers at a fraction of the price of mainstream shops, and keep an eye out for stalls selling artificial flowers which can be made into garlands or put in interesting containers around the house. Our local market (Victoria Centre, Nottingham) is brilliant for all of these things.
SCRAP FABRIC TIP: If you have spare remnants of fabric, a really cheap shabby chic accessory for any room is a row of glass jars topped with printed flower material and tied with natural string. These cost nothing to make from old food jars and fabric scraps. Fabric scraps cut into triangles and attached to natural string, ribbon or lace also makes lovely bunting, perfect for vintage themed garden parties or edging a fireplace. Don’t worry if the fabrics don’t match – it looks better that way.
Back to the markets – and Camden market in London is incredible (although much more pricey) for vintage shabby chic homeware – everything from elaborate mirrors to signs, clocks, pots, accessories and more. It’s very much worth a day trip but you’ll need the credit card with you, and someone sensible to stop you maxing it!
Charity shops: Although it seems so many charity shops are buying in their shabby chic accessories and sell them for similar prices to the regular shops these days, one thing you can get from here is cheap fabric. Look for second hand curtains, as these are perfect for making cushion covers, smaller curtains and patchwork projects etc. It doesn’t matter if the fabric’s a bit faded as that’s the shabby chic way!
Car boot and jumble sales: Car boots and jumble sales are great for old jugs, tin buckets (for flowers), pots and jars, china (tea cups and tea pots), old trays. plates, frames and old pictures. Keep an eye out for second hand curtains, clothes and other fabric items that can be turned into something else. Plates make a lovely wall decoration when strung up with ribbon (left). Don’t be afraid to haggle a little – sellers expect it, especially commercial sellers.
eBay: eBay is great for buying antique and vintage furniture for painting up (see our guide to painting furniture shabby chic style). Solid wood vintage furniture is cheap on eBay and offers incredible value because despite being a little worn and shabby, the craftsmanship and sheer amount of man hours which went into producing a quality piece is apparent from every angle. Compare what you can get on eBay for £40 to what you can buy in Ikea for the same price, consider the life expectancy of both, and you’ll understand where I’m coming from.
Keep an eye out for furniture that’s already been painted up and decorated too, as sometimes when it hasn’t sold as expected, the sellers get rid of it for next to nothing – I’ve just spotted the corner unit on the right which is currently going for just £11.49 with only an hour to go.
I also love eBay for buying handles for furniture and doors (search for ‘shabby chic handles’). This gorgeous collection on the left is priced at just £2.50 each. You can make practically any sturdy piece of furniture into beautiful shabby chic piece by giving it a few coats of paint, adding some stunning handles and perhaps a few decals or stenciling too.
Another thing eBay is great for is vintage lights (lantern and chandelier style) although if they are genuinely vintage, you’ll need to get them checked out by an electrician before you use them again. I picked up this gorgeous old brass chandelier from eBay (left) for just £30.
Amazon: Amazon isn’t of course a single shop – it’s a marketplace of thousands of sellers – and so it’s a great place to find bargains. Read my separate post on ‘Shabby chic accessories on a budget‘ – seven beautiful items including a double bed set, lamp shade and giant mirror, all for less than £100 in total and all found online. Just search for ‘shabby chic’ and limit your search to ‘Kitchen and Home’ to get the best results.
The auctions: Auctions often sell off furniture when businesses go into liquidation, and also house clearance items, amongst other things. There are some AMAZING bargains to be found at the auctions so if you’re a shabby chic fan and you’ve never been to one, you’re really missing out! The best way to find auction houses near you is to search for ‘auctions’ + your nearest city. Many have online catalogues for viewing prior to the sale so you can preview items you might be interested in, and some do live web sales.
Salvage yards: Salvage yards are fantastic for buying shabby chic furniture for the garden and getting pieces of reclaimed wood to decorate your home or to make into something else.
SALVAGE TIP: Search for ‘clock movement’ on Etsy – you can buy a complete working clock movement for around £2.50 which can be used to make anything into a clock, such as old pieces of reclaimed wood.
Pinterest: Shabby chic couture has inspired thousands of pins on pinterest. If you see something you like on a board but it doesn’t link through to where you can find it to buy, using Chrome as a browser click into the pin, right click and choose ‘Search Google for this image’.
I hope my guide to finding shabby chic treasure has inspired you. Why not share your own favourite places to find shabby chic bargains?