By design, shabby chic is all about a worn-around-the-edges lived-in look that provides homely reminders of days gone by. Get the look right, and you’ll soon be creating familial and homely spaces; get it only half right and your abode will simply look “shabby.”
Which is where the home of Lisa, single mom to Selby, comes into play. Spotlessly clean, and an utterly safe and well-cared-for house for mother and daughter, it was still furniture hell. Definitely of the “snatch-and-grab” school of design — where absolutely no thought goes into decorative planning — it was assembled from hand-me-downs, dumpster diving and junk store raids. Displaying none of the effervescent personality that simply radiated from both our girls, we knew we had to help.
What remained glaringly obvious throughout the entire time we spent on the project was that Lisa was a devoted and hard-working mom who would have done anything to make Selby’s life better. That said, as is typical of so many families with limited resources, there simply wasn’t a lot of spare cash for any of the glamorous extras we so desperately wanted to lavish on them.
Our first change was to pull down the wall that connected a particularly gloomy kitchen to a similarly depressing living room — both of which had all the style panache of a garden shed. Our plan was to brighten everything to the power of 10. We installed a combo of timber doors (mixed with glossy doors) and added a host of stainless steel appliances. Then we painted the walls a brightening pure white and set about furnishing with tangerine-coloured sofas from Ikea.
In Lisa’s bedroom, because we’d spent so much on demo in other parts of the house, we really had to watch our budget. So we reused several hand-me-down furniture pieces, which we brought to life with a fresh coat of paint. We bought budget monochrome wallpaper but then hand-painted red flowers onto the existing design to provide a fabulous finishing detail. Then we treated the pine floor to a coat of scarlet paint to pull everything together. Finally, we positioned an antique style hoop back bed (our only big-budget item) to add immediate designer presence.
In the family/TV/room/ den, we added a wall-hung aquarium (which looks more like a plasma TV) to house a school of goldfish. Our coup de grace, however, was a wild pencil-striped and multi-coloured wallpaper that blurred the corners of the room and made it appear much larger.
We’re thrilled to report mother and daughter are both doing well and settling beautifully into their thoroughly redesigned — and ultra glamorous — space.