The shabby chic kitchen is one of the more popular kitchen styles, especially in country kitchens. True shabby chic style should be one of timeless elegance where kitchen units and furniture has a slightly worn look and doesn’t necessarily match. So long as the pieces in your kitchen are closely related in colour or tone you are well on the way to creating a shabby chic kitchen. The idea of this appealing style is to assume the grace and beauty of a bygone era, when life was altogether more natural and simple.

A shabby chic kitchen is characterised by unobtrusive colour schemes coupled with rustic style comfort; white, off-white or very pale muted tones are best, making the décor appear effortless and completely uncontrived. Before re-designing your kitchen take account of the existing colours, kitchen cabinets, tiling, work surfaces and appliances.

Bear in mind that the layout  and even the size of your existing kitchen is going to challenge your design skills so before you start you need to determine whether you have enough space for additional pieces of furniture, cabinets or shelves.

Begin to consider how you could change the current look of your kitchen to achieve a subtle shabby and rural feel. Remember even re-painted walls and adventurous paint effects on a few pieces furniture, along with the right accent pieces will give you your shabby chic kitchen.

Try to maximise the amount of light coming into your kitchen by painting the walls in plain white, lightly toned pastel or off-white tones and be sure to keep any windows light and airy. Dainty curtains, rather than blinds, are an excellent way to emphasise the shabby chic look especially pretty floral prints. Alternatively you could use crisp lace nets covering just half the window.

You can liven up the kitchen walls with homemade stencils inspired by the surrounding trees and hedgerows or plants in your garden. If you prefer the idea of wallpaper, perhaps on one prominent wall – for a homely effect, choose a gentle floral pattern, such as tiny bunches of forget-me-nots and roses or something obviously bucolic that reflects your love of the countryside.

The floor in your kitchen is an important factor when looking to create a long standing the shabby chic look. Unattractive floors will need to be re-modeled either by giving wooden floorboards a new lease of life or by laying a stone floor or tiles throughout the whole kitchen. Old, but sound, floorboards can be restored by sanding, staining and varnishing.

Do however avoid dark staining as this can make you kitchen feel uninviting and gloomy. Pale wooden floors can incorporate an interesting painted design feature that pulls together your new soft and natural look. For a more homely effect you could also add lots different mats, making sure that you to pick colours and textures that complement your walls and flooring.

If you don’t want to splash out on new furniture and kitchen cabinets the existing pieces can be re-vamped by applying a paint finish, which is then distressed to whichever level of ‘shabby’ you want your kitchen to look. If you are not sure how to do this yourself it may be worth appointing a professional to do the job.

With a little forethought and planning you can create just the right uncontrived shabby chic look but, be careful not to over-clutter working space or surfaces and avoid anything with too much of a modern look. Replace any modern hardware on kitchen cabinets and door furniture with something more appropriate, such as ceramic knobs and consider putting in a farmhouse sink as it is such a great vintage style accent.

Indeed the more authentic kitchen items you can find the better; you could try looking round some reclamation yards or antique markets.

Sometimes it is worth buying old cabinets, doors or pieces of furniture just to acquire some old style accessories. If your current kitchen appliances don’t look right have them repainted to match or replace them with retro style appliances.

True shabby chic is understated, so you don’t need to have every item in your kitchen distressed, miss-matched or floral but do add plenty of appropriate accessories to your kitchen to achieve the look.

You may want to include antique books and magazines, early embroidered hand-towels, Victorian spice racks, wrought iron hooks, well-worn canister sets and pastry cutters.

You could also include old kitchen utensils and kitchen scales, vintage photos, grandma’s baking trays, copper pans, smoothing irons and plenty of fresh country flowers and plants in old clay pots or pretty china containers.

The real secret of creating a shabby chic kitchen is to utilise less than perfect items to build up a beautiful ambience, so do check out jumble sales, garage sales and even skips for discarded items. Someone else’s throw-out may just be what you were looking for as an important display piece. Don’t forget that any really tired or worn stuff can be transformed with a clever paint finish or a fabric face-lift, giving new life to a neglected treasure and ultimately your home.