Tuesday, 8 April 2014

What do I mean by Shabby-Chic?

What do I mean by Shabby-chic?

Ten years ago Takis and I owned a unit in Melbourne and a holiday shack three hours out of Melbourne by a lake.

The Seaside Shack

While Takis and I loved the shack we decided to go ahead and try to purchase his grandfather’s home in Greece. We realized that this meant we would have to make some changes to our living arrangements in Australia. In the end we sold the shack, and let the unit, and we bought a cheaper, family home in the country but close to our family. We had by now retired and we wanted to be able to visit them and have them visit us when we were in Australia. It was sad selling the shack but at the time Greece called us!

                              The House in Greece

This has meant that over the last ten years we have lived in a city unit, a seaside shack, a mountain hideaway, and a house of a Greek island. And, since retiring, we have found ourselves very busy, moving furniture, and decorating and furnishing houses. It has been a lot of hard work!

Because of our circumstances the shabby-chic decorating has provided us with a sound style basis. It is also a style I like. 

While I love looking at pictures of modern and spare homes, I do not think I could live in one. 

I’d miss:

*   Glimpses of a mysterious and muddled garden through the windows. 

Though I have to add, this is not as ‘casual’ an approach as it may appear. The planned ‘overgrown’ garden is a conceit. It, of course, needs a lot of attention, perhaps even more than a neat clipped and graveled one. 

The very small balcony of our Melbourne Unit provided our outdoor living space, and garden.

Now the outdoor furniture sits in a larger outdoor living space where there is enough room for all the family to visit for a BBQ. 

*  The excitement of numerous points of interest that catch my attention wherever I look, and a sense of history, if not of ‘the historical’ at lest of  a personal sense of history.

This is especially noticeable in the Greek House, with its collection of things from the family's past, and items that we have brought with us from Australia.

* The feeling of malleability; that this is a place where things can be moved about now and then.

The dresser in the shack, decorated with blue plates

The dresser with a collection of 'brown ware' in our present kitchen

Over the years I've realised I feel comfortable living with…

* The very real presence of greenery outside, that tumbles into the house.

* The walls and the tops filled with mementos and natural objects, but with a real sense of artistry

* Personal objects intermingling with old and new objects, in a mix and match that works

Shabby-chic for me is beautiful and very practical. 

It is …

Colour Adaptable 

Beside the furniture arrangement changes a new coat of paint on an old chair, a new batch of cushions, a change of curtain arrangement can update the setting.

Touches of blue certainly suited our seaside shack. And blue looks good on some Greek Islands, though on our northern island I chose to keep shutters the traditional maroon and work around that colour scheme.

Position Adaptable

A change may be motivated by a change in colours; to suit the season or the place. It may be because of a change the use of a particular room.

The bed Takis made for our shack, with a view of the water and touches of blue on the veranda.

The same bed with a different view of trees, and touches of green outside.

In our houses, as the children left home we've made certain fairly big changes to layouts.
A room that was once a dining room became a study, and we made a bedroom into another study so that now Takis and I have a study each. We also now entertain and eat our regular meals at the large kitchen table, an arrangement that suits our present lifestyle.

My desk in the unit, crammed in a space between kitchen and living room

The same desk in a room of my own.

Not Expensive

I think the greatest joy for me is that my space can be my ‘art gallery’. I can always move items, update and improve, in ways that need not be expensive. 

And, if I had to say just 3 things, Shabby-chic means

A Background of Cream - Giving an Airy Sense Space

I’ve found that cream – light cream not yellow-cream – works well as a background colour on which other colours can be arranged. Although I’m often tempted to try a coloured or wall papered wall I hold back, knowing that this will ‘fix’ the contents.

                                      The cream tiles in the Greek bathroom.

The cream paintwork in the Greek House

Comfortable Malleability 

It is a flexible style that allows you to take items from one house to another. Or move things from one room to another.

There are problems of course. Husbands are not all that fond of changes, so I don’t move the furniture every year!

Also I try to move paintings when he’s not around, and quietly paint over any holes left behind, so that he is not ‘discomfabulated’.

Being All About You

It is a style of decorating a house that reflects your family's past and present interests.
And while having many items on display means more dusting I've found it’s worth it.

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