Miniature beach café: shabby chic furniture tutorial

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13 August 2020
Learn how to make shabby chic furniture perfect for your miniature beach café with this seaside themed tutorial by Moi Ali. 

Shabby chic furniture fits perfectly with the seaside theme and Moi Ali shows you how to make flags, tables, chairs, a sideboard and a dresser that will beautifully complement your beachside café.

How to make shabby chic furniture for your miniature beach café 

By Moi Ali.

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You will need

  • Cocktail sticks
  • Kebab skewers
  • Scrap of card
  • Coloured or patterned paper
  • Glue


1. Chop the pointy end off the cocktail sticks and cut the skewers to the desired length.  


2. Paint the cocktail sticks and kebab sticks in cheery colours to match your paper. 


3. Cut a template for your flags. Use it to cut out flag-shaped pieces from your jolly paper. Cut a few rectangular flags for variety. Make some flags short and some longer.


4. Fold the paper around the cocktail and kebab sticks and secure with glue. 



You will need

  • Cheap round unpainted tables
  • Paint (white plus a colour to match your interior)
  • Thin white fabric – sufficient to cover your tables
  • A decorative top fabric such as gingham or other printed or coloured fabric
  • A length of narrow lace
  • PVA glue
  • White thread
  • Assorted items for your table displays – crockery, cutlery, food, cups and a teapot


1. Sand rough edges then paint your table legs. There’s no need to paint the whole table, as the tops will be covered up. For a trendy vintage feel, paint some tables white and others in your choice of accent colour. Measure your table top and cut the white fabric at least 4cm bigger all the way round. Allow sufficient overhang to form pretty drapes of cloth. An old shirt, hankie or pillowcase would be suitable materials.


2. Stitch lace round the edge of the white fabric with a few tucks so the lace curves around the circular shape of the table. Alternatively, use fabric glue or PVA, but go easy on the glue as it over-stiffens the hem.


3. Cut a square top cloth to a suitable size. Pull a few threads around the edge to create a fringe.


4. Glue the white cloth to the table, applying glue round the edges of the table. Hold in place for a minute or so. Using diluted glue, create natural-looking soft folds or pleats in the table cloth so it hangs well.


5. Put a small amount of glue around the edge of the table, sufficient to hold the fabric but not so much that the glue seeps through and hold the top cloth in place until the glue ‘grabs’.

If necessary, add dots of glue between the two cloths so that it hangs in a natural way. Arrange tea cups, plates of cakes and other sundry items in an artistic fashion. When happy with your arrangement, glue (or tacky wax) each item in place.


Want to see how Moi made the beach café building, along with more nautical-themed items to accessorise your interior? Subscribe to the digital library and access these projects, along with more than 10 years’ worth of archive content to get stuck into! 

Chairs, sideboard & dresser

You will need

  • Cheap chairs – Moi used a mix of wire and bare wooden chairs for an informal look
  • Buffet sideboard (Moi used a bare wood buffet from Dolls House Emporium)
  • Dresser (Moi used a ‘mahogany’ dresser from Dolls House Emporium) 
  • Paint in your choice of colours
  • Patterned fabric such as gingham (you can use the same as for the table cloths)
  • Matching thread
  • PVA glue
  • A scrap of pretty paper
  • Light tan shoe polish


1. Sand the wooden chairs and sideboard. Paint them white (or your chosen colour). You’ll need two coats, sanding lightly between. Sand lightly after the final coat to create a distressed look on the wood.


2. Line the drawers in the sideboard with pretty paper.


3. Apply shoe polish to the wooden furniture and buff to a shine for an antiqued effect.


4. Create the dresser in the same way but paint it blue. As Moi's is mahogany the final distressing creates brown ‘show through’. Glue plates and other items to ‘dress’ the dresser.

5. Pile the buffet with cakes and tasty treats. Secure with Tacky Wax.


6. If you want upholstered seat backs on the wire chairs, cut a piece of thin card to size and glue to it a piece of thin foam. Cut fabric 1cm larger all round than the card. Cover the card/foam with fabric, gluing the 1cm fabric overlap to the reverse of the card (the side which has no foam). Secure to the chair by stitching in two places, giving the appearance of deep buttons.


Now, how about making a miniature golf putting green for your beach café customers to use?!

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