How To DIY Shabby Chic Furniture For A Cozy Home

Shabby chic in interior design means opulence and elegance but also comfort and a nice cottage-style vibe. Most pieces resemble old furniture style but they are rarely authentic well-kept pieces, they usually are reproductions or restored old pieces. To differentiate itself from actual period décor, shabby chic items are usually painted and distressed to create the affected feel. If this sounds up your alley, you can turn your home into a cozy shabby chic oasis by learning how to DIY shabby chic furniture.


What Type Of Furniture Is Best For DIY Shabby Chic

Before we discuss how to DIY shabby chic furniture, let’s see what type of furniture is best for this type of DIY project. Shabby chic means turning your room into a welcoming and lovely place, therefore shabby chic is a great style for a comfy bedroom or living room.

Shabby chic kitchens are also lovely though. And so are bathrooms. Pretty much any room can look good decorated and furnished with shabby chic pieces. However, not all furniture works for shabby chic so, when looking for pieces you can transform, look for old school styles such as art deco, vintage or mid-century pieces. You don’t have to buy them new, you can go to antique or vintage stores where you can find amazing bargains or find cheap reproductions at local stores.

As for colors, the preferred colors in shabby chic are white, beige, and pastels.

Now that you know the main style and colors, you can select the furniture of your liking – everything goes here – vanities, chest of drawers, dressers, chairs, tables, and more.

What Do I Need For DIY Shabby Chic Furniture?

Once you have your furniture ready to be turned shabby chic, buy or prepare your materials. To achieve the desired shabby chic aspect, you’ll need:

  • Chalk furniture paint in 2 or more colors;
  • Clay paint;
  • Emulsion paint;
  • Acrylic primer;
  • Paintbrushes;
  • Soft buffing brush.

For cleaning and preparing the surface, you’ll need:

  • Sugar soap;
  • Sandpaper sheets;
  • Filler knife for repairs;
  • Protecting gear: gloves, apron, safety goggles, dust mask.

Steps For DIY Shabby Chic Furniture

The DIY shabby chic process can vary depending on the type of furniture you work on but also the type of products you use (follow product instructions for best results), and the desired finish, however, the following steps are usually required by all shabby chic DIY projects:

Prepare the Surface

It is important to prepare the wood by removing the existing finish to be sure the paint you use sticks properly to the surface. For furniture that was polished with wax, it is best to use a wire wool pad. For varnished furniture, you can use regular sandpaper.

Apply Acrylic Primer

Once you removed the finish, it is time to apply the water-based acrylic primer that ensures a smooth finish. This is not mandatory but it makes things easier for those who don’t have a lot of experience with painting wood.

Apply Paint Or Apply Paint And Distress

For shabby chic furniture, paint should be applied in two layers. You have to wait for the first layer to dry before applying the second one. If all you want is plain painted wood, you can apply the varnish now and you’re done.

However, if you want the distressed look, you have to apply paint in two different colors. After the first layer is completely dry, with a brush or a small sponge, dab furniture wax where you want the distressed wood look. The wax will reveal some of the base color. When that happens, use the second color to paint the entire thing again (don’t remove the wax). Once the second layer dried down, you can use a cotton cloth to take away the paint from the waxed areas. This will give the furniture the trademark shabby chic aspect.


Go over the furniture with furniture polish or beeswax to protect your work. And you’re done! Now you can decorate your home with the wonderful pieces you created.

Erin Emanuel