When you begin decorating in the shabby chic style and with shabby chic furniture, it can be hard to determine where and how to incorporate some of the more stylistic pieces such as the chesterfield sofa – or the chaise lounge.

A chaise lounge is an upholstered sofa in the shape of a chair that is long enough to support the legs. The term chaise longue can refer to any long reclining chair. The name is a French phrase which is interpreted in English as “long chair”. They are normally described by an extended seat and low backrest toward one side.

Chaise lounges add a touch of luxury and history to home decor. Often the term chaise lounge brings to mind grand rooms used for relaxing, lounging, reading and drinking tea. This is a magnificent turn of the century chaise that I would die for.

chaise lounge

Like the chesterfield sofa, they were often found in the homes of the wealthiest, upholstered in rich fabrics such as velvet.  However, there are many more options and styles when it comes to choosing a chaise:

  1. Contemporary chaise longue: designed by Italian designer Vico Magistretti in 1996.
  2. Duchesse brisée: this chaise longue is divided in two parts comprising of a chair and a long footstool.
  3. Récamier: it has two raised ends and nothing on the long sides. The shape is similar to a traditional lit boat bed that is designed for drawing room and not bedroom.
  4. Méridienne: it has a high head rest, and a lower foot rest, coupled by a sloping piece. Méridiennes are asymmetrical day beds and the name comes from its typical use: rest in the middle of the day.

Given that most of us do not have the luxury of resting in the middle of the day, or taking a leisurely afternoon tea in our drawing room (like this gentleman – painted by Manet)chaise lounge painting

it can be difficult to see the need or purpose for a chaise. The shabby chic furniture style often incorporates luxurious and romantic items that provide more internal function than external. They are meant to invoke an atmosphere of grandeur and provide a sense of delight to a room.

Adding a chaise to the end of your bed or in a reading nook can bring some of that grandeur and delight into a space that otherwise might be lacking. A vintage or weathered chaise can also tone down a more modern or contemporary style, bringing the old world into your home. Making a chaise the centerpiece of your living room can elevate the entire space. Even modern chaise lounges provide a similar sense of history and luxury. Draping a modern chaise with a rich velvet blanket can increase the feel of elegance.chaise

As with most of the furniture we discuss here at Live Shabby Chic, antique stores and estate sales are great places to look for an older chaise. And newer pieces can be made to look more vintage with distressing techniques. Look for something that encompasses both the old world luxury you are looking for and your own existing furniture and décor styles.

The chesterfield sofa is one of the most iconic pieces of shabby chic furniture you can incorporate into your home. The rounded arms and tuft backs give these sofas an air of elegance, nobility and old world style.  Chairs and loveseats can also be found in the chesterfield style, but the size and space that the sofas take up in a living room impart a grandness that the other pieces cannot.

A deep, rich leather chesterfield sofa sets a tone of masculinity and strength that is rare in shabby chic decorating.  Combining this type of sofa with luxurious soft white blankets and pillows provides an unbeatable juxtaposition of the male and female in a home. These sofas are often chosen by men without even realizing they are decorating in the “shabby chic” style, which they surely would not admit to, even if they knew! Chesterfield’s can also be great compromise pieces for a couple who cannot agree on the level to which to take the style. They can tone down what some see as the frilly and overly girly aspects of the shabby chic style.

When the style originated it was common to find a velvet chesterfield sofa in the home of the wealthiest citizens, accompanied by other grand pieces of French furniture and Italian furniture. Velvet is much less practical today than it was back in the 1700’s when the Earl of Chesterfield (of whom the sofas are named) was exporting his favorite English styles to the new world with his officials.

The more traditional sofas in the chesterfield style have wooden feet and sit slightly off the ground, while some of the more modern versions will sit almost directly on the ground.  The number of cushions will vary depending on the design, anywhere from one to three across.  Some designers have incorporate the Chesterfield style into l shaped sofas, increasing the space they occupy in living rooms.

Chesterfield Sofa

Chesterfield Sofa

Other items such as headboards, ottomans and chaise lounge sofas often include tufting and are referred to as being designed in the “Chesterfield Stlye”. While these pieces do incorporate the tufting that traditional Chesterfield sofas are known for, they are merely an offshoot of the design. Sofas were the only items originally designed specifically in this style that was favored by the Earl of Chesterfield and therefore are the namesake.

Much like other shabby chic furniture and décor pieces, these sofas can be found in vintage and antique stores as well as at estate sales. However, vintage pieces that are still in good condition go very quickly and can be very pricey.  Many modern furniture makers and retailers carry Chesterfield sofas at reasonable prices.  When searching online sites such as eBay and Craigslist, include tuft and tufted sofa in your search criteria to pull in any listings from those who may not realize the traditional name of the sofa.  As always, with eBay, be sure to only search within the radius which you are willing to drive to pick up the sofa.

Pieces that are not in great condition, particularly if the fabric is worn and/or torn, can be purchased at a discount and taken to a furniture upholstery store for repair.  Before you make a purchase, call ahead and talk with the upholsterer about the type of furniture you are interested in (style, fabric type, size, etc.) to ensure they are experienced and comfortable with what you are interested in. Although many will be reluctant to give you a price estimate without seeing the actual piece of furniture to be repaired, try to get as much information as you can in order to consider the cost of the repair when purchasing the item.  What may seem like a great deal could turn into an extremely over budget new sofa if the repair is extensive.  If you have the opportunity to take pictures before purchasing to show the upholsterer, that would be best.

Whether you choose a new or used, leather or fabric (or velvet!) Chesterfield sofa, it will make a great and grand addition to your living space and set the tone for a chic space that appeals to all.



Shabby chic has become a very popular style of decorating in recent years. The mix of old world class and sophistication with the softness of ruffles and lace make it a favorite.  Often used interchangeably with French Country or Cottage Style, Shabby Chic incorporates pieces with an antique or aged look, white and off white color bases, cotton and linen fabrics, soft floral prints, and feminine touches. Furniture with the Shabby Chic look can be incorporated into other décor styles to add a vintage touch. In fact, shabby chic furniture pieces are some of the most easily identified pieces in the shabby chic style.

White shabby chic furniture is the most common, however off-white and occasionally light pastel colors can be found.  Pieces that are not truly vintage or antique can be made to look this way through a number of distressing techniques and there are a number of tutorials on how to paint shabby chic furniture online. If you do not have the space or budget for a new piece of furniture, this is an easy way to create your own by take an existing piece of furniture and painting and distressing it.

These dressers are great examples of reviving an old piece to a new shabby chic life. Check out our post on furniture makeovers for more examples and links to tutorials.

vintage dresser

shabby chic dresser








When it comes to incorporating shabby chic furniture pieces into your current style, the bedroom is often one of the best and easiest places to start.  Shabby chic bedroom furniture is very common.  Night stands, such as these from Amazon make a great, but small, entry in the shabby chic style.

shabby chic furniture

Vintage vanities with a matching vanity mirror can provide both function and style, particularly if you have a small bathroom or share one sink with a significant other, children or roommate.

Another way to begin to incorporate the style, if you have the room, would be a chaise lounge at the foot of your bed. This invokes old world royalty, when the ladies would lounge in their rooms on plush velvety sofas.  Chaise lounge sofas also make great additions to libraries, offices, and reading nooks, providing both style and comfortable spots for relaxing and reading.

Other bedroom pieces that fit well with the shabby chic style include large, ornate armoires and decorative jewelry armoires. In the dining room sideboard buffets are very popular.  Distressed furniture and unfinished furniture are also incorporated into shabby chic decorating.  Ornate, white mirrors can be an excellent way to incorporate the style if you do not currently have room for additional furniture pieces.  This type of ornate detail is classic for shabby chic pieces.

armoire detail

For those willing to spend time searching, local vintage and antique stores can be excellent sources of cheap shabby chic furniture. Estate sales are also great places to look. Often the hunt for the perfect piece to fit within your existing décor is as exciting as getting the new piece in place. Search for local estate sales online to find companies that regularly manage these events and get on their mailing lists.  For most sales, they send out advance notice, including pictures of many of the available items.  It is important to get to estate sales early if you see a piece that you are interested in, as the best items always go quick.

Online sites such as eBay and Craigslist can also provide excellent deals on furniture, but the search can be more complicated.  Often posts on these sites will not specifically describe the piece as shabby chic, French style or cottage style, so looking at lots of pictures will be necessary to find a diamond in the rough.  On eBay, make sure to select local pickup only, as shipping is almost always impossible or impractical for furniture pieces.

shabby chic mini desk

There are many ways to incorporate the shabby chic style into your existing home and existing décor.  Stay tuned for more specific posts on white bedroom furniture and shabby chic bedrooms.