2011 Interior Designer Interview: RACHEL ASHWELL {Part 1}


Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic blog

Color me humbled.

Then throw in a few mixed feelings.

While honored to be invited to

interview Rachel

(a creative hero for so many of us)

I felt suddenly anxious…do I ask the

easy, safe questions about ruffles or go for it

and inquire about the substance stuff I truly

long to hear about?

Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Inspirations

Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic Inspirations

Of course, I went for it!
And since Rachel is beautiful inside
AND out, she took valuable
time to share her earned wisdom with us.
(I had to divvy up the discussion
because I wanted to be sure you
didn’t miss any of the gold…this is part one.)

Today (Oct. 10) is
THE day Rachel’s new book
Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic Inspirations
hits the stands so I can finally dish
about all the shabby chic glorious lovely
within its pages.

Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic Inspirations

I adore this book.

12 unique homes are highlighted,

all of which embody:


the beauty of imperfection,



and Rachel’s love of shabby chic.


Rachel’s blog

MR: What I appreciate most about your work

is not a particular floral print or slipcover but your

generosity of spirit and humility as a designer.

The vulnerability revealed in your books

and design is brave and different.

How important are these qualities to you?

RA: From the day I opened my first store,

21 years ago, I have always prided myself
with being authentic to my aesthetics and unrelated to trend.
I do consider myself an artist foremost, therefore my
work is a true manifestation of my heart and soul,
with my life being my inspiration.
So all I can do, is be honest
with the words I speak.


Rachel’s blog

To be bravado if my spirit is soft and vulnerable

would make all that I do untrue.

And while I know people enjoy my aesthetics,

I also believe I have sustained my audience

over the years, due to the honest substance that

is felt behind my frills and flowers.

lighting – Shabby Chic Couture

MR: You recently blogged about a cup breaking
in your home and your hesitancy to throw it away.

You said “my lesson was to let it find

its voice and transform into something else.”

What have you learned about honoring brokenness, 
beauty in imperfection, and living with flawed objects? 

RA: It is no accident that I have had a career centered
around embracing the “beauty of imperfection.”

From a very young age, I would observe

my mother’s process of restoring antique dolls.

While a fashionable and lucrative profession some

40 years ago, most of her peers would restore

to the point of perfection.
My mum had boxes and boxes of frayed ribbon,

crinkled velvets, boxes of dye, all as part of  her process

restoring the dolls’ clothes to enhance its character of age, rather than eradicate the evidence.

And in doing so , I learnt how to know when to stop

the restoration process and to embrace the cracks,
creaks and brokenesses.

I often find metaphors and parallels with life
and my design work.

And knowing nothing is really perfect,

except perfectly imperfect, is much less

intimidating whether it be a person,

a room or a treasure.

Perfection to me is too intimidating

to get close to.

dining accesssories – Shabby Chic Couture

Inspired by the humility and splendor

of Shabby Chic’s creator through

the years has soooo enriched my love of

home and nesting.

As Rachel continues to bloom,

so too does my admiration for her.

More of the interview will be shared

in the days ahead, and I highly recommend

you get your paws on

Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic Inspirations

this second!

Do you own Rachel’s books?

Shabby Chic

Rachel Ashwell The World of Shabby Chic

Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting and Decorating Guide

The Shabby Chic Home

Shabby Chic Interiors: My Rooms, Treasures, and Trinkets

Peace to you right where you are.




  1. October 9, 2011 / 8:37 pm

    Michelle, I loved this interview and will be back for the next!! I have 3 of Rachel's books and loved reading about her process of design. She is meant to do what she is doing most definitely. I can not imagine how it feels to have created a style or design aesthetic that will continue on for the years to come and that others will write about. Pretty amazing when you think about it. Ms. Ashwell is a pretty amazing lady indeed,Kathysue

  2. October 9, 2011 / 9:09 pm

    Michele, A very beautiful post. She sure has had an influence on so many. Her designs are beautiful and you know when you see them, they just are a creation oh her. She is amazing.

  3. October 9, 2011 / 9:48 pm

    Michele, you did a great job with the interview. I also have a passion for imperfect items, which is probably what drew me to Rachel's first book years ago.

  4. October 9, 2011 / 10:07 pm

    Thanks for part one. What an insight into Rachel's design process, in part due to your intelligent questions. I look forward to part 2 and her book.

  5. October 9, 2011 / 11:41 pm

    Oh my god! You interviewed Rachel Ashwell!!?! That's so awesome! I loved your questions, and her answers! I have already been scouting around for the book, won't be here for another week. I was enchanted with the story about her mom, enhancing the dolls she was restoring, and still knowing when to stop and let their original worn imperfection shine through…
    and I love how Rachel is sensitive and contemplative (is that a word?)…
    can't wait for the rest of the interview…


  6. October 10, 2011 / 6:33 am

    Thank you for sharing about this book I have got to get my hands on it it sounds wonderful. Thank you so much sharing and for linking up to our party Show and Share this week! Come on back this Wednesday to link up your current projects.

    A mommy's life…with a touch of YELLOW

  7. October 10, 2011 / 12:00 pm

    This quote " I learnt how to know when to stop
    the restoration process and to embrace the cracks,
    creeks and brokenesses."

    Sums up perfectly 'Shabby chic'.

  8. October 10, 2011 / 12:41 pm

    This is the first time I hear about Rachel and I'm so glad I came here today. She seems to be a very nice person and also so talented!

    Wishing you a lovely week, Michele.


    Luciane at HomeBunch.com

  9. October 10, 2011 / 1:10 pm

    Lucky you Michele to get to interview Rachel I have all her books and will definitely get this one too. Rachel has been such an influence on me over the years and I don't like frills but love all the shabby perfect imperfections. I can't wait to read the next installment!

  10. October 10, 2011 / 1:32 pm

    Starting my day here with you and Ms. Ashwell! (How cool is that!)

    Talk about someone who is authentic and staying true to who she is!

    I have visited her store in LA and she has has phenomenal eye. She does not like stuff and her rooms are very calming & always fresh . Good for the heart and soul. Very Scandinavian lovely and very YOU, Michele!

    Can't stand perfection either. I will frame her motto "Perfection to me is too intimidating
    to get close to." I want to go as far as saying that perfection is boring!

    Very fun interview! And what great questions!



  11. October 10, 2011 / 4:38 pm

    Rachel has been such an influence and continues to be for me. i have shabby chic linen shams on our bed in the most beautiful muted floral, and i'm pretty sure i'll wear them out before i tire of them.

    so timeless!

    can't wait to share more of the interview!

  12. October 10, 2011 / 8:52 pm

    Hi Michele, I loved reading this. I love the notion of 'beauty in imperfection' at home, in life. Look forward to reading the rest of the interview, well done sweetie x

  13. October 10, 2011 / 11:51 pm

    i gotta get my paws on this new book! loved reading your interview…she is the reason i started my shop and fell in love with shabby chic style…sigh…

  14. October 11, 2011 / 2:22 am

    Love her,
    love you,
    love this
    interview and
    can't wait for
    the rest!!
    xx Suzanne

  15. October 11, 2011 / 3:58 am

    How fabulous for you to interview Rachel! WOW! That is so exciting – and the interview was GREAT!! Can not wait to read more!
    Have a pretty day!

  16. October 11, 2011 / 5:35 am

    Thank you Michelle! For your lovely comment, and for telling me about this blog post. You are right – loved it! How lucky to get to interview Rachel. And yes, the new book is fantastic, so much inspiration.

    love your header photo. I bought new ballet shoes in my size, my thinking was to wear them around the house to scuff them up and give them a worn air. Could not do it. I may walk around in ridiculous heels, but I cannot walk in pointe shoes – those things are evil!

    have a wonderful week. so happy to have found your blog.

    sadie x

  17. October 11, 2011 / 8:16 am

    Wow, Michele, how exciting…was the interview face to face… her philosophy is, I think, particularly valid today, with all aspects of the media pushing for perfection..Rachel was (and is) ahead of her time. Looking forward to more..Robx

  18. October 11, 2011 / 10:20 am

    You interviewed Rachel Ashwell!!! WOW. And dude I love her style. I will not find the book in India just right now but I will hover around in landmark. This is coming home with me.

  19. Anonymous
    October 11, 2011 / 12:01 pm

    Magnificent! (As usual. 😛 )

  20. October 11, 2011 / 3:05 pm

    Beautiful interview with a beautiful person. It's lovely how her mother's work ingrained the "imperfectly perfect" concept in her and how she continues to be true to this.

    Sometimes I wish I had had good parents who could've shown me the beautiful things about life, but that doesn't matter now as I have eventually found this path thanks to lovelies like you who help me discover even more lovely!

    Hugs hugs,
    Meera xx

  21. www.rachelashwellshabbychiccouture.com
    October 11, 2011 / 3:30 pm

    Thank you michele for asking such thoughtful questions, and hearing my answers. rachel ashwell

  22. October 11, 2011 / 4:58 pm

    i so honor your honesty, rachel. thanks for all the lovely you continue to bring to us.


  23. October 11, 2011 / 6:32 pm

    Found you via Rachel and enjoyed your interview.

    Rachel has always been an inspiration to keep going to an artisan like myself who has been working with imperfection for several decades as well. Some of my best finds have come from those who didn't get the idea that chipped and broken items should be cherished. Thank you…


  24. October 11, 2011 / 10:07 pm

    Wow, you do a fantastic interview my gorgeous lady. And Rachel's answers are just as glorious as the images you shared.

    Bravo, hun, honestly this was fabulous. You were SO right to go for it but I never had any doubt anyway 😉

    Can't wait for Part II and the shout out on FB was well deserved!

    Big stupid sloppy kisses baby xxx

  25. October 11, 2011 / 10:21 pm

    How exciting Michele!!! 😀 Rachel is definitely an inspiration for me… when I met her, I was shaking – I was so excited!! I have her books and refer to them often and just ordered her new one 😉 Great interview! Thanks for linking up and sharing this at Feathered Nest Friday!

  26. October 12, 2011 / 3:50 am

    What an inspiring interview… I'd loved your thought provoking questions and her perfectly lovely replies. You did a great job, and I can't wait to hear more… Thank You!

  27. October 12, 2011 / 1:39 pm

    Love Rachel and what a fabulous interview. Awesome photos as well. Thanks for sharing at DIYbyDesign.

  28. October 13, 2011 / 1:43 am

    I have read Rachel's books and my favorite thing ever was the quote you showed here on humility. I printed and hung it in my kitchen for a long time. Lovely post. Thank you for linking up with Home Sweet Home!

  29. October 14, 2011 / 1:12 am

    Such a lovely interview. You are so fortunate! I adore Rachel Ashwell – as an artist and a truly beautiful spirit. Too, I love her shabby chic style and the beauty she finds and creates, but it is the infusion of "Rachel" that makes it so captivating; if that makes sense. Her blog is such a refreshing read too. I never miss a post. I'm hoping to travel to her ranch someday for a stay. Thanks for sharing with Air Your Laundry Friday.


  30. January 20, 2012 / 2:54 am

    What a wonderful interview! I think we have all been touched and influenced by Rachel Ashwell's designs. She has created a lifestyle of sorts and invited all of us to experience and stretch our own imaginations. I have all of her books and look forward to her newest. I adore shabby imperfections and love her quote. Your interview is fabulous and I look forward to part II. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

  31. January 20, 2012 / 4:10 pm

    What a wonderful experience you had! I love all Rachel's. Thanks for sharing with us and of course I'm looking forward for the next 🙂

  32. February 28, 2013 / 12:11 am

    These were deliciously rich, scrumptious interview questions. Yeah, the answers were classic Rachel, so uber cool. But I was so impressed with what you chose to ask. The broken teacup and her philosophy about embracing our cracks and imperfections transcend design. This is really a beautiful approach to living life….
    great interview Michele.
    Leslie (Gwen Moss)

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