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10 Ways to Get a Shabby Chic Look in Your Bathroom

These romantic bathing spaces have faded character in spades

Houzz Contributor. I’m a London-based journalist with years of experience writing… More

A slick, ultra-modern bathroom isn’t for everyone. This room is often the only one in the house in which many of us get to relax; the place where we can lock the door, slip into the bubbles, and forget about chores, work worries or our children.

Consequently, a soft, escapist haven with personality and charm makes sense. Chandeliers, scuffed floorboards and antique chairs can all look brilliant in bathrooms, as can painted clawfoot tubs, upcycled vanity units and peeling fireplaces. Take a look at these bathing spaces for some shabby chic inspiration.

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Revel in the unexpected
Part of the beauty of shabby chic is mixing up different elements without fear. You might think a tub painted lipstick red would be too bright in a bathroom, but here it’s softened by the tongue-and-groove panelling – a staple of shabby chic – and quirky touches including the wirework rack, distressed paintwork on the cabinet and characterful sink.

If you do choose a freestanding bath, a ringed shower rail with a white curtain is a classic way to add vintage style – plus it’s très practical.

See 15 ideas for making your over-bath shower look beautiful

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Use artwork creatively
Family snaps don’t have to be confined to the top of the piano. A collection of mismatched photo frames adds to the shabby chic feel of this bathroom. Space them out over a wall for an old-fashioned feel; even try hanging one or two from hooks, as here. They’ll provide a smile and a little nostalgia every time you use the bathroom.

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Reclaim your vanity unit
The key to shabby chic is using what you have and/or what you love, not conforming to the usual off-the-peg showroom fittings.

This peeling old cabinet has been given new life as a charming washstand. Look out for second-hand pieces that can easily be upcycled into bathroom furniture. If a cabinet or table is solid enough to support a basin, and can be adapted for pipework, then it may work a treat in your bathroom.

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Be crystal clear
Bathrooms lights can, if you’re not careful, veer towards the boring. However, if you have a high-enough ceiling, a gorgeous crystal chandelier can transform your bathing space into a romantic haven.

Remember, though: you should always check the bathroom lighting of your dreams will conform to safety standards. For example, a suspended light fixture, such as a chandelier, should be at least 8cm horizontally and 20cm vertically from the rim of a bath or threshold of a shower. Lights also need to have waterproof seals; talk to your electrician for advice.

If the light you’d like isn’t an option, an easy alternative could be a pretty, crystal-drop shade hung over a conventional light fitting. And there are some lovely bathroom-safe glittering glass wall lights around.

Get expert advice on ways to light your bathroom safely and beautifully

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Play with fabrics
Bathrooms can often be all about hardness and light. Add softer touches for shabby chic style by using linens liberally.

Towels folded up in an old painted cabinet add a country vibe in this bathroom, as do cushions in sweet spriggy floral material piled on a wooden bench.

An antique-style fabric skirt to cover pipework or storage under a basin is another idea that would fit with this look, or even delicately flowery curtains if you have the space at your windows.

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Tread the boards
There’s a place for perfectly grouted, glossy modern tiles – and the shabby chic bathroom often isn’t it. Painted or bare floorboards can be a great way to add shabby chic character in the bathroom, as long as you take care and mop up spills quickly. Also get advice on sealing wooden surfaces to protect against moisture and steam (varnish will protect better than oil, for example), and try to fill gaps between boards if possible.

Best of all, wood feels warm under your toes, even in the midst of winter.

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Paper your walls
Wallpaper in the bathroom is too often discounted – we assume it will peel or become mildewed. But wallpaper can look sweet and add the ultimate shabby chic atmosphere, especially if it’s a floral number. Making sure the room is well ventilated and topping the paper with decorator’s varnish are two measures that should help to keep yours in good condition.

Choose large blooms, as here, if you’re feeling bold, or go for a delicate floral for a more subtle effect.

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Choose open shelves
Shabby chic is all about displaying pretty things rather than hiding them away. In this sweet cream bathroom, open shelving is a natural place to balance jars of bath oil, incense sticks and porcelain jugs.

Look for cheap wooden shelving units in second-hand and charity shops and simply paint them white for easy shabby chic styling.

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Bring in some brass
Golden taps have instant shabby chic appeal. While polished chrome can be stylish, it can also look unmistakably modern, aka the opposite of the shabby chic look. Gold, brass or copper have natural warmth and light; look for vintage fixtures for the feel of an old hotel in 1920s Paris.

Don’t you also just love the lavish drinks cabinet and silk dressing gown in this rather grand London bathroom. Martini in the tub, anyone?

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Reflect on things
Hang interesting mirrors in your shabby chic bathroom for an opulent feel. This gold number looks great propped on the mantelpiece, while an unusual round number sits over the basins. Look for intricate carved frames in second-hand shops –decorative is your friend when it comes to shabby chic.

In this laid-back bathroom, touches such as the wooden shelves, square tiles (starting to look fresh again) and fireplace add to a deliciously vintage vibe.

Have you gone for shabby chic in the bathroom? Share your ideas and photos in the Comments below.
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