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The shabby chic decorating style has enduring popularity, in part because the opportunities are endless. Fans know that there is always something out there just waiting to be discovered or transformed. Are you someone who enjoys a hands-on project? Or maybe it is the thrill of the hunt that excites you the most?
We ask because, in our experience, a lot of people in the shabby chic decorating scene seem to gravitate toward being more of a “Finder,” or a “Maker.” We’ll talk a little bit more about what we mean by this, but before we do, we should add that you can be both, of course! We used the term “gravitate” because this isn’t a black-and-white issue. It’s more of a spectrum, and you could even be squarely in the middle. The point of bringing this up is not to get you to label yourself. It’s to encourage you to think about how you’d like to participate in the shabby chic decorating scene. It’s also to get an idea of who our readers are, and to help develop and guide you toward the kind of content that you’ll be most interested in. Please feel free to play any and all roles, and enjoy the entire experience!
Creating shabby chic furniture pieces that are unique by hand, by using techniques such as painting and distressing, can be very fun and rewarding. And there’s no question that it is a big part of the appeal for many who get involved with the shabby chic decorating culture. It’s an opportunity to translate your creativity and imagination into a physical form via your own two hands. It’s a chance to reinvent a forlorn object in a new and interesting way that is personal to you. The appeal is undeniable!
We think of someone who is especially interested in transforming items by hand as a “Maker.” We’re going to look more closely at different project ideas, and techniques that you can use to create shabby chic furniture of your own.
For someone who is primarily focused on the maker side of shabby chic, finding a steady supply of items to work with can be a challenge. Purchasing newer or even brand-new items to work with is a possibility. That may not appeal at all to someone who is more of a Finder. But a Maker doesn’t necessarily want to spend day after day scouring garage sales and flea markets, or pouring over Craigslist postings. They may be more interested in leaving the car in the driveway, and retreating into the workshop to get creative. So streamlining the process of acquiring items to work with is a positive. For more on the advantages and disadvantages of turning new items into shabby chic furniture pieces, we have this post for you.
And yet, there are limitations when it comes to the Maker side of the spectrum. You may have caught our subtle reference to “leaving the car in the driveway” above, because for many creative types, there is no room to park in the garage. It’s much more valuable as a workshop than a parking spot! But not everyone has access to a space to work on, and store, furniture or other home accessories. In fact, many of those who may be most “in need” of uniquely-styled items, and creative experiences, are confined to apartments, or other living situations where taking on a project is not easy. It really helps to have a cottage with a workshop if you’re trying to create cottage chic furniture.
But all hope is not lost! In some cities (like ours), a Maker culture is developing, and that is leading to shared communal workspaces. Members typically pay a monthly access fee, which may or may not include some kind of defined personal workspace or storage space. They may even feature impressive equipment that is highly specialized or high tech (and far beyond what would be reasonable for most people to have on their own). Examples of this model include Portland, Oregon’s ADX, or the even more impressive Techshop operation, which has multiple locations in places like northern California’s Bay Area, and Durham, North Carolina. Another option is to take your own a tools and materials to an external space away from home. There are a number of developers who have gotten into the business of providing small spaces for monthly rental, catering to artists, professionals, and others who want or need a workspace outside of the home. One of the leaders in this movement is Activspace. The units at Activspace are typically pretty basic, though they do provide a range of different sizes and configurations. The smallest of these may be less than 200 square feet, for example, but they are pretty affordable, and from what we’ve seen, don’t typically require a long-term lease.
Maybe the logistical obstacles on the Maker side of the equation are too much to overcome at this point. Or maybe you’re just not that interested in creating things on your own. Well, you still have a chance to make your mark as a Finder!
For many in the shabby chic decor scene, finding the “perfect” piece is the ultimate thrill! We put the “perfect” in quotes because, when it comes to shabby chic home decor, it is often the imperfections that make something so great!
Sometimes, a shabby chic furniture piece will be just waiting to be discovered, already in lovely shabby chic form. but in many cases, the perfect find will be an item that is simply the starting place for your own creativity to take over.
The question of “authenticity” is one that is highly personal. For some, the thrill is in finding an item that is legitimately worn, via natural usage over time. For this kind of authenticity-seeking Finder, the idea of deliberately distressing something is not that appealing, and the idea of distressing a brand-new, store-bought item is unthinkable. For many others, achieving the shabby chic design aesthetic is the ultimate goal, and helping a piece along to get there is part of the fun! For them, it’s not so much about what you start with, as what you end up with.
Finally, we’ll mention one more profile, a specific type of Finder: the Decorator. The Decorator is a non-DIY type of finder. For any of the reasons mentioned above — lack of space, lack of interest — the decorator is looking for items that are ready to go. Once they are purchased, they can go right into the home. Decorators are very valuable to our shabby chic decor scene. They provide a market for the Makers. Buying ready-made pieces supports the creative types who sell their wares in small boutiques or online shops. It keeps our community going, and it also keeps unique items that might have been destined for a landfill from being tossed out with the garbage.
Anyway, our purpose here is to get you thinking about the many different ways in which you might participate in the shabby chic decorating world. As stated above, the point is not to get you to “type” yourself, but to think about what really appeals to you personally. Try one, or try them all.. we’re just happy to have you in our shabby chic scene! if you like our site, please help us grow our community by sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or any other social network that you participate in. We’ve included sharing buttons on our webpages to make it easy. Thanks so much, and good luck!