Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting and Decorating Guide

Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting and Decorating Guide

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by Rachel Ashwell

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It helps the healthiness both of body and soul to live among beautiful things.
—William Morris, 1882

Shabby Chic—the rich, practical, and time-worn style created by one of the world's top designers, Rachel Ashwell, mixes new and gently used items to create original, refined designs. In Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting &


It helps the healthiness both of body and soul to live among beautiful things.
—William Morris, 1882

Shabby Chic—the rich, practical, and time-worn style created by one of the world's top designers, Rachel Ashwell, mixes new and gently used items to create original, refined designs. In Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting & Decorating Guide, Rachel takes you on a tour of flea markets and secondhand shops to give you a behind-the-scenes look at her process for finding vintage treasures—materials, furniture, and decorations—so that you can design a Shabby Chic home.

As Rachel reveals, the Shabby Chic principles—comfort, function, and beauty—mixed with a dash of imagination and courage, and an understanding of how to spot a fabulous buy, will allow you to create a home that is beautiful, comfortable, and inviting. A place where children's dinners are served on mix-and-match antique plates at a table covered with lace from a renovated curtain set. A space where fresh flowers stand in antique jugs, complementing furniture covered in soft white denim.

This gorgeous volume will teach you how to recognize beauty in often overlooked places. The photographs and step-by-step guidance featured inside make it easy, fun, and affordable to create the kind of breathtaking, practical home you've always dreamed of.

Editorial Reviews

Mary Daniels
. . . Rachel Ashwell [is] the founder of the Shabby Chic home-decor empire and the queen of secondhand stylishness. . .
Chicago Tribune
Hamish Bowles
When she merged English country style with L. A. ease, Rachel Ashwell didn't realize she was unleashing a phenomenon.
Vogue Style
Barbara De Witt
If Martha Stewart's operation in New York has cornered the market on proper home decorating and style advice, Rachel Ashwell of Malibu is setting herself up as a funky West Coast counterpoint. . . . It's for those people who want a nice house, but who want to put not just their coffee cup, but also their feet, on the coffee table. . . . Ashwell has a penchance for breaking traditional design rules. Shabby chic favors slipcovered sofas, peeling paint and rusting patio furniture, a laid-back decorating style that works well in houses full of fabric and furniture from boomers' childhoods.
Los Angeles Daily News
Karen Tina Harrison
Shabby Chic [is] a down-home yet genteel style of decorating that blends European refinement with American practicality. . . . Rachel Ashwell describes her style in her beautifully-photographed, idea-filled new book, Shabby Chic.
%#151;New York Post
Rebecca Harris
Decorator Rachel Ashwell's book is an instruction manual for decorating like a star, without a celebrity's budget. Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting & Decorating Guide is. . . filled with glossy pictures, how-to diagrams and tips for decorating and refinishing. . .
Westside Weekly
Los Angeles Daily News
Judy Griffin, interior design chairwoman with the American College for the Applied Arts in Los Angeles, said the shabby chic look caught on quickly for two reasons: It appeals to people's yearning for the safety of childhood, and it provides an inexpensive way to redecorate.
Library Journal
Even those who favor a decorating style other than Ashwell's "old money, cushy comfort, and crafted indifference" will find that her newest work offers helpful tips on purchasing decorating and clothing items at second-hand venues, most notably flea markets. Ashwell has already covered some of this material in Shabby Chic (LJ 9/15/96), but she goes into more detail about the types of items to look for, including textiles, glassware, clothing, and furniture, and discusses how to clean and prepare them for use. A resource list of publications, antiques stores, and flea markets is given, primarily for Southern California. Public libraries in that area should purchase Ashwell's book, and others will find it useful as this eclectic style of decorating remains popular.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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8.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.51(d)

Read an Excerpt


Comfort, the beauty of imperfection, the allure of time-worn objects, and the appeal of simple, practical living: These are the cornerstones of what has come to be known as the Shabby Chic style. Shabby Chic, the home furnishings label and retail chain I founded in 1989, is now recognized not only as a brand name, but as a decorating style. Though some may find the phrase "shabby chic"--the idea that something "shabby" (faded and dilapidated) can be considered "chic" (elegant and stylish)--paradoxical, the two elements go hand in hand. Shabbiness, in its shunning of what is too new, modern, or ostentatious, as well as in its rebellion against perfection, is precisely what makes this comfortable look so alluring. The cozy familiarity of a well-worn, beloved pair of faded blue jeans--versus the starched stiffness of a new pair--is the appeal of Shabby Chic.

I didn't invent this relaxed style. Europeans have long appreciated this approach to living: Witness the dilapidated elegance of an Italian villa, French castle, or English country estate whose owners can easily afford new furnishings, but prefer the worn grandeur of faded velvets and peeling vanities handed down from their ancestors. Shabby Chic represents a revived appreciation for what is useful, well loved, and comfortable, for those things that some might perceive as being too tattered and worn to be of use or value.

Collecting important, rare, or costly objects meant to be seen and not touched is not part of the Shabby Chic philosophy. My philosophy of decor is that nothing should be too precious. A child should feel free to put her feet on the sofa, a guest, his cup on the coffeetable. I believe in cozy, not fussy; relaxed, not stiff. I believe in living in, on, and around one's things, not merely with them.

A roomy, slipcovered chair big enough for a child and a dog or two, with slightly wrinkled, worn fabric and ample arms perfect for plopping your legs over; an old trunk, its paint peeling around the edges, given new life as a coffee table; a vase of roses from the garden, a bit wilted, a few petals missing; a vintage mirror, framed with a white floral iron piece salvaged from an old gate and chipped in places, but still charming; a slightly rusted flea market chandelier; a scratched-up coal scuttle used as a bread box; an array of vanilla-scented candles adding a warm glow to a cozy room--these are some of the elements of the effortless, inviting look I prefer. Colors in keeping with this way of living tend to be soft, palatable tones such as seafoam, mint, and celadon greens; dusty roses; pale sky blues; and ivories, creams, and grays that appear to be muted by age, or crisp, clean whites that blend with everything. Brighter or darker colors can occasionally be a part of the look if they are treated with subtlety, combined with white or light colors, or if they appear to be faded by time.

But Shabby Chic goes far beyond the stereotype of a few tea-stained florals and some cushy chairs. Some have called this shabby yet elegant look "a marriage between the laid-back, breezy ease of Los Angeles beach life and the romantic prettiness of English country life at its most casual." Others have described it as having "the aura of old money, cushy comfort, and crafted indifference" or as "the merging of a romantic, old-fashioned, aesthetic appeal with modern functions." To these qualities, I would add that the style suggests things that are inherited rather than store-bought and handcrafted rather than mass-produced. It is also a style that is appreciative of the beauty of process and evolution.

What People are saying about this

Mary Daniels
"...Rachel Ashwell [is] the founder of the Shabby Chic home-decor empire and the queen of secondhand stylishness...."

Meet the Author

Rachel Ashwell is the creator of the Shabby Chic style. In 1989, she founded the Shabby Chic home furnishing stores and then later, the Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture stores. She is the author of Shabby Chic, Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting and Decorating Guide, The Shabby Chic Home, and Shabby Chic: The Gift of Giving.

Amy NeuNsinger is a photographer whose work has appeared in numerous magazines and advertising campaigns ranging from beauty to travel.

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Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting and Decorating Guide 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I caught Rachel Ashwell's show for the first time on the Style Network a few years ago and she spoke to me. I discovered a passion for decorating and caught the flea market style bug. If you get the concept and now need the roadmap, this is it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This lovely book takes the reader on a delicious trip into flea markets and other sources of Shabby Chic style. Hoping to find more direction on how to achieve Ashwell's style in my own home, I was instead inspired to achieve my own look by using some of her decorating principles. But don't expect these principles to be outlined for you. The chatty and personal style of writing is more like reading her personal shopping journal. Overall I found this book more enjoyable than instructional, but there is quite a bit of useful information in it, especially for first-time flea market shoppers.