Shabby chic – a decorating style that uses old items in a new way to create a romantic setting. If you have not encountered this style yet, chances are before long you will attend a social event where “shabby chic” is everywhere. The style combines fabrics such as lace, burlap or vintage linens with old window frames, chairs, ladders, vintage dishware and more to create a rustic, yet romantic ambiance. The style is most often found at weddings, receptions, luncheons and other women’s events. Rarely will it be seen at a predominately male party.
Lace draped tables can be charming when combined with the right accessories. However, shabby chic can quickly become shabby tacky if you aren’t careful. It takes only one faux paux to ruin your vision. As I answer questions in event related forums and on several website discussion boards I have seen potential mistakes that the party host may not realize until too late will compromise the look and feel she is trying to create. Following are some of the issues.
Using burlap for table runners can add a touch of country to an event. However, asking a flower girl to wear a dress made of burlap can be a disaster in the making. Burlap sheds tiny fibers. It can be messy and it was never intended for clothing, which would be itchy and very uncomfortable. A better idea may be to sew a wide strip of lace down the center of a burlap runner, thereby adding a romantic touch to your decor, while protecting the flower girl.
Centerpieces consisting of low vases filled with a mix of inexpensive flowers can resemble a meadow of wild flowers. Spray painting a wine bottle and adding a couple of sprigs of silk flowers will look like what it is – shabby tacky.
Shabby chic is not an inexpensive decorating style. Old furniture, window and door frames, vintage linens and dishware cost money and require strong arms to move, set up and take down. It takes time to locate the right mix of linens and accessories. If you want to add a touch of shabby chic to your next event, take time to think through and try to visualize the finished look. It is better to err on the side of doing less than to try to over decorate on a limited budget and risk turning shabby chic into shabby tacky.