Type to search

Shabby Chic Garden Ideas


If you want a stunning garden that looks vintage, undemanding and almost effortless while still looking incredibly stylish, shabby chic[i] is the way to go. The shabby chic look is easy to achieve, and it is one of the cheapest style designs, especially regarding home interiors and exteriors. The best thing about shabby chic gardens is that they tend to circle back every few years. So, if you’re a little on the lazy side, you can leave your garden alone, with a bit of regular maintenance, and it won’t be long before it’s hip and new again.

If you’re looking for a garden design idea that is simple and works well with anything you can find, we have spectacular shabby chic garden ideas for you.

What Is A Shabby Chic Garden?

A shabby chic garden is simply a style of garden that has a retro or vintage feel. It’s one of the most popular garden design styles because you don’t have to have perfect symmetry or have all of your pots, plants, furniture etc. to match. You can add some new pieces, as long as they have a classic look, and you can also repurpose other items. In fact, if you can combine some modern pieces with others that with a slight look of wear and tear, you have a fabulous combination. 

Where many modern gardens may be minimalistic in design, the rules tend to go out the window when it comes to a shabby chic garden. You can create corners with lots of planters, furniture or other decorations, create intricate pathways with stunning borders or add vintage features to the sides of a building or along the fence line. The sky is the limit, and you decide when your shabby chic garden is complete. 

Shabby Chic Garden Ideas

english garden full of plants for full shadeUK

You can easily create your own shabby chic garden ideas to make your garden feel well loved, lived in and cosy. For example, you may already have a garden shed full of old planters, windows and doors, or a variety of odds and ends that may have been previously destined for disposal.

On the other hand, you can also make use of newer materials that you can shabby yourself with the right paint effects. Scour antique stores, markets and private sales to get your collection of shabby chic accessories together. Not only can you easily achieve the shabby chic look, but you may also save your budget and the environment by reusing and repurposing old items. 

Include Wooden Furniture

Wood is timeless and always looks elegant in any garden setting. Ditch the kitschy plastic furniture and opt for wood instead. You may have an old wrought iron bench with wooden seating or a full teak bench sitting around. Bring it outside and rejuvenate it. If the metal looks rusty, sand it down and give it a rustproof coating. Apply a thin layer of paint so that the undercoat is still visible. You can do this for both wrought iron and wooden furniture. 

Not everything needs to look old and weathered for a shabby chic look. You can get new wooden benches and simply add some old cushions or throw rugs over them. Choose a classic design that looks good now but will look just as good many years from now. 

Placing wooden furniture is just as important. Think of placing your wooden furniture at the far end of your garden and create a path towards the setting. This creates a retreat that you have to stroll towards, and with the right plants, your secret retreat is complete. 

Be Inventive With Planters

vertical herb garden in shabby chic planters

The best thing about a shabby chic garden is that you can go crazy with planters without actually having to buy planters. There are many different things you can use as planters instead of actual planters. Here are a few things that you can use to create unique upcycled planters instead of boring old planters:

  • Tin baths – Depending on the size of the tin bath, you may be able to plant a mini garden. You can plant ground cover plants around the edges with a taller feature plant in the middle. 
  • Old garden buckets – Don’t throw out those old garden buckets, especially if they have a hole in the bottom. These make great planters, and you can place them around your patio, under windows or along the fence. If the buckets still have handles, you can even use them as hanging planters. 
  • Watering cans – You can have a lot of fun with watering cans as planters. You can plant herbs, flowering plants and more. Place them on old pieces of garden furniture or hang them on a fence so that the can looks like it is being tipped to water.
  • Old ladders and step ladders – An old ladder is perfect for a shabby chic garden. You can place it overhead and hang planters from it or lean it against a wall or fence and hang small planters from the rungs. An old step ladder is also great to use as a display for your repurposed planters. Place one larger one on each step or a couple of smaller ones. 
  • Old drawers – This one may seem a little crazy, but an old bedside or chest of drawers can be repurposed into an eye-catching planter. Open the drawers at different angles and either place small planters in each drawer or waterproof the inside of the drawers, fill them with dirt and plant your favourite small plants. 
  • Boxes – if you have any old wooden boxes lying around, reuse them as planters. Give them a coat of pale green, white or beige paint but let some of the wood show through.
  • Old (or new) planters – Just because you want to get creative with planters doesn’t mean you can’t reuse old ceramic or terracotta planters. If you need more planters but can’t find vintage-looking ones, see what you can find in plastic ones. Add a vintage touch with a metallic coat of paint as a base coat and a lighter colour, such as off-white, in thin strokes over the metallic base coat. 

Reuse Broken Furniture

Many people throw their broken furniture out and quite often on the curb for the rubbish truck to collect. If you know when the “rubbish” will be out in your neighbourhood, drive around and see if anyone has thrown out any old furniture pieces. While they may no longer be usable as actual furniture, you may be able to create a new feature out of them. An old bench can become a display for planters, while an old bed frame can be hung on a wall as a frame for a mural or anything else you can think of. Of course, if you’re lucky, you may still be able to fix an old piece of furniture, such as chairs or tables and place them near your wooden benches. 

Add A Lighting Fixture

garden lights in a shabby chic garden

Enjoy your shabby chic garden during the day and into the night with some charming lighting fixtures. You can add an old lamp post to a planter or use mason jars with candles placed strategically around the edges of your garden, on tables and benches or hang them from a rope, an old ladder or on hooks along the fence. 

Put Up Garden Signs

No shabby chic garden can be complete with a sign or two. They don’t need to be fancy or made of anything expensive. In fact, you can join together a few slats of timber, decorate old garden tools or even repurpose an old picture frame. Think of signs welcoming guests to your garden or add your family name to the sign. You’re only limited to your imagination. 

Go Antique

a wooden dining table set with plates

The shabby chic look is definitely retro, so it makes sense to add some vintage garden ideas to your shabby chic garden. Add an element of old romance to your setting by placing an old lace tablecloth over a table and then serving tea in old, mismatched cups and saucers. You can also opt for some traditional plants, such as an old English rose bush. For a finishing touch, find an old bird bath and a birdhouse to entice local birds to come and sing for you. The idea is to create vintage charm in your garden and a place you’ll love to spend your time. 

Try D.I.Y

It’s not always easy to find shabby chic furniture and décor, so you may need to create some of your own. There are many different ideas[ii] you can use, from repurposing old windows and doors to putting up a mismatched collection of plates on a fence or wall. 

If you are confident enough, you can also create a pathway to different areas of your shabby chic garden using old, weathered bricks and pavers, create a wall feature using broken tiles or simply add a coat of paint to a garden shed to make it look old and weathered. 

Creating Your Shabby Chic Garden

When creating a shabby chic garden, keep it simple to start off with and take your time. The best thing about this garden style is that you can start with some basic pieces and spend the next few years adding more when you find pieces that you like. But what about when you’re fully satisfied with your shabby chic garden? It’s time to make yourself a nice cup of tea or pour yourself an elegant glass of wine and go out there and enjoy your fabulous garden!


 [i] https://24housing.co.uk/this-is-why-shabby-chic-never-goes-out-of-style/ 

[ii] https://www.apieceofrainbow.com/vintage-garden-decorations-ideas/ 

Anna Sharples

Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches - a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.

  • 1

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *