Shabby chic refers to a type of design and decorating style that incorporates using furniture, sofas and pieces of art from older design periods, specifically ones that look a little bit worn, in order to create a pleasingly aged but elegant design scheme.
The furniture can draw on a number of different historical design periods, including 1800s country French, Shaker designs, and many others. Most pieces are meant to look as though they are old and worn and have perhaps been handed down for several generations.
To accompany furniture, shabby chic also usually features a wide variety of wallpapers, wall hangings, paintings, and linens that imitate this sense that things are old. One of the principle means of making things look older is to bleach or distress fabrics. Linens should appear worn, though they are not, and especially new linens should be as durable as those not prepared in the shabby chic style. Buying worn looking linens is somewhat comparable to people buying new clothing that has been artfully ripped, torn or stonewashed to appear older.