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What Is 'Shabby Chic'?

If you’re at all into interior design you’ve probably heard the term “shabby chic” thrown around to describe this or that, but do you – or <em>they</em> – know what it means? HGTV, Martha Stewart, House Beautiful magazine and a slew of others have surely taken a stab at a definition, but as trends go this is one that has a lot of leeway in the particulars. Like with hipsters, it’s easy to have an idea of shabby chic in your mind without exactly knowing how to describe it. The best way to define it is to break it into its constituent parts and then reassemble it. So … <strong>Shabby</strong> We all know what this looks like. The only thing keeping something shabby from being classified as trash is the fact that it is not yet <em>in</em> the trash. Things can be shabby whether they’re old or new. This is what separates shabby chic from vintage, and that’s an important distinction to make. What makes something shabby? Well, lots of things. Is it dented, stained, ripped, rusted, faded, flaked, chipped or charred? Congratulations – you may have something shabby on your hands. What it’s <em>not</em> is repaired; if so, we have to call it “upcycled” or “reclaimed,” which are related concepts that deserve separate definitions. <strong>Chic</strong> This is really where the rubber meets the road. Shabby is easy to establish, whereas chic is very subjective and ultimately a matter of trending taste. Unfortunately, you don’t have the power to designate something as chic – it’s a collective power that swells with agreement among the masses. Careful, though! If <em>too</em> many people start to like it then it becomes mainstream and the next thing you know they’re selling it at Target as a “collection” by some artist you’ve never heard of. What will help is if the item is from (or looks like it’s from) a well-defined period of style, like shabby <em>Victorian</em> chic, or shabby chic <em>modern</em>. Otherwise, you know, it may just be … shabby. Before you decide, though, just keep in mind that shabby chic didn’t even exist until some trendsetter blurted the description into existence to describe a piece of junk leaning in a corner somewhere. <a title="ATG Stores Homepage" href="http://www.atgstores.com/" target="_blank">ATGStores.com</a> wishes you luck in defining your own style, whatever it may be.
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