Craig Young/ Loveland Daily Reporter-Herald
Furniture that looks as if it’s been around the block a few times is driving a fashion trend responsible for at least three new Loveland stores in the past year.
“Shabby chic” home decor features items that show obvious signs of wear – whether they came by them honestly or at the hands of an artist. The fabrics and decorations typically tend toward the feminine.
“The trend started on the West Coast, and it’s been going strong for about 10 years,” said Vera Murphy, who is opening Vera’s House Beautiful after successfully selling shabby chic items at an antique mall in south Fort Collins.
Murphy’s “vintage vogue shop” in a historic Loveland home is filled with furniture and decorations of all kinds.
The merchandise represents two aspects of shabby chic. Some pieces, such as an old window shutter from France with peeling bluish paint, are presented as-is, with wear from years of use.
More common is the used furniture that Murphy has painted and then “distressed” by sanding the edges to give a lived-in look. Like a movie star’s carefully cultivated three-day beard stubble, shabby chic can be very intentional.
She takes furniture that “has good bones in it,” she said. People are moving away from the stained and varnished wood look but will buy the same piece if it’s painted a fresh color and then aged a bit.
Murphy said she sees beautiful golden oak furniture selling at auction for a fraction of what it would have brought 10 years ago. “That’s not the look,” she said.
“People want to change their décor,” she said, “and it’s more affordable than going to a big-box store where you see the same-old, same-old.”
Alli Haukos opened Trina Rose Boutique in downtown Loveland in January after selling shabby chic creations online for several years. She said she and her husband, Corey Haukos, rented the store in part because they needed a better place to work.
“I am surprised how much we’re selling here,” she said this week.
Haukos, a native of Minnesota, said she grew up in her father’s workshop, where he created fine furniture pieces as a hobby.
“It kills him that I’m painting these,” she said with a laugh, adding, “but it’s what people want.
“This is all the rage right now,” Haukos said, citing blogs and Pinterest collections. “It’s just exploded.”
Haukos said typical shabby chic features light colors such as soft whites, light blues and light pinks. “I have a different take on it.”
She said strong turquoise hues are popular right now.
“A lot of people are scared of color,” she said, but they’ll buy a turquoise dresser or chair to add color to a room without having to paint a wall or entire room.
Nebraska Panhandle resident Charity May likes the look so much that she has driven the 2½ hours from her home in Harrisburg three times to buy furniture from Trina Rose Boutique.
“I like my furniture to have character,” she said, and “I can’t think of a store that does anything like that around here.
“I just like Alli’s work.”
A strong thread in the shabby chic movement is the desire to reuse things rather than discard them.
“Instead of buying new furniture and getting rid of your old furniture, you can use what you have,” said Jennifer Morton, who with her husband, artist Donovon Barnett, opened Eco Chic Furniture in July.
She said the store west of Loveland sees traffic from locals, Estes Park residents and tourists passing through.
Their store displays the creativity common in the shabby chic world. A dark red table in the front room was built from “stray pieces of furniture that may not have been fixable,” Morton said.
A coat hook features a flower-shaped decoration crafted from the covers of old baseballs. The cores of the balls, meanwhile, are covered with colorful fabric and used as décor. The tines of a pitchfork are attached to a battered wooden pulley from a block and tackle.
Sometimes, Barnett will “bury something in the ground and rust it up a bit,” Morton said.
Trina Rose Boutique’s Haukos said it’s important to reuse things that still have life in them.
“We’re just updating it to fit our modern homes.
“You’re still paying homage to the past.”