Shabby Chic Decorating Ideas for Porches and Gardens

Do you love the shabby chic look? Keep the style going in your garden or porch by embracing the same design principles beloved in the cottage home: distressed furniture, soft pastels and feminine accessories.

By: Karli Sanders

Photo By: HGTV fan SpackleMuddPalin

Embrace the Imperfection

Distressed and timeworn furniture is the epitome of shabby chic decorating. RMS user robinelise embraces the original paint and patina of her small porch by leaving the window and door frames unpainted, as well as bringing in old, antique furniture to display her potted plant collection. Metallics are normally seen as cold and modern, but this entrance's galvanized steel siding was popular in home designs from the 1930s. It only adds to the antique ambiance of the porch.

Inside Meets Outside

Shabby chic gardens are a continuation of the style inside the home. Shabby interiors are full of floral prints and soft pastels, echoed on this fence row by roses, salvia and catmint.

Functionally Feminine

RMS user shellshabbygirl shares a passion for gardening with her father. Together they converted an unused screened-in porch into a cottage-style gardening shed. Shabby chic elements like a chandelier, distressed door frame and the use of white give this utilitarian space a decidedly feminine feel while remaining comfortable and lived-in.

If It Ain't Broke

This wraparound porch has great bones. Rather than painting over the woodwork, RMS user antiqueshopper left it alone and brought in white wicker furniture to capitalize on the space's existing vintage vibe.

Look to Your Own Region

There are many interpretations of shabby chic decorating, but distressed furniture and the use of wrought iron are seen throughout the various sub-styles. RMS user shellshabbygirl created a prairie chic look in her screened-in porch with an antique iron daybed, dried wheat bouquets(popular in her area of the country) and vintage accessories like the rusty lantern and crystal chandelier.

Use It or Lose It

There are no fancy showpieces in the shabby chic home. Everything is recycled, upcycled and lived-in. This relaxed rule carries into outdoor rooms too. RMS user cobbcottage's porch is used all year long, so it was paramount that the space be comfy and inviting. A thick, antique quilt and printed pillows ensure that the porch swing is used for more than just curb appeal.

Storybook Style

Shabby chic decorating has always played up the whimsy and wonder of everyday life. What's more whimsical than a pink cottage playhouse? Surrounded by pink roses, it's a page right out of a fairy tale.

Expect the Unexpected

A variety of flea market finds were given new life in this shabby chic porch by RMS user vanillacandle. The overall affect is an inviting and comfortable porch, perfect for a cup of tea and a good book. Giving new uses to old things is the most exciting part of shabby chic decorating. An old fireplace on a porch? There are no rules with shabby chic! It's all about doing what fits your lifestyle and makes you happy.

High-Style Hardware

It's not just furniture and accessories that get repurposed in shabby chic design. An old pedestal sink gets a new lease on life as a birdbath in this cottage garden. A sink would also work as a container — just fill with potting soil instead of water.

Informal Elegance

When it comes to the cottage or shabby chic garden, manicured borders are out and full, freeform planting is in. To capture the cottage style, plant hardy perennials like hydrangea and tea roses — forget symmetry. Demure pastels like pink and lavender are the must-have color palette in a shabby chic garden.

Layers of Style

Signs of wear and tear are integral to shabby chic design. Layer upon layer of paint has been peeled back on this gardening shed door to create a rustic chic look Rachel Ashwell herself would be proud of.

The Shabby Modern Home

This hanging daybed is a contemporary take on shabby chic. Bolder colors and bigger prints are seen in the pillows, but the use of a functional bed on a porch is a reminder of shabby chic's comfortable and relaxed sensibilities.

Cottage Comfort

Simple comfort is the basis of the shabby chic lifestyle and there's nothing more comfortable than a sleeping porch. RMS user niarainivysky built this old-fashioned sleeping porch onto her old farmhouse. The room is totally functional — she sleeps in this rustic retreat in the spring, summer and fall. The porch features many shabby chic elements, like a chandelier and breezy fabrics, but the use of darker colors and Old World art create a more masculine space any man would feel right at home in.