Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

@janisfaye instagram. Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture Store. White decor.

Interior Design Inspiration: Shabby Chic Style & Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

It was my pleasure the other day to speak with shabby chic stylemaker, interior designer, author, entrepreneur, and beautiful creative genius Rachel Ashwell of Shabby Chic Couture.

Rachel Ashwell grew up in London, the child of an antique book dealer and a doll maker. She fell in love with fleamarkets at an early age and from her parents, learned the art of buying and selling. Still a teenager, she moved to Hollywood as a stylist for television where she met her husband. When the couple parted ways, she found herself a single mom with two children who she preferred to keep with her on the job. When her simple slipcovers (which were custom made for simplicity sake) were coveted by her friends, she realized there was a void in the market. Shabby chic was born, and she filled her first Santa Monica shop with fleamarket furniture with slipcovers in August of 1989. More stores followed, and her business boomed. For a season. Bankruptcy and store closings were a sad chapter in her career, but Rachel was able to pivot and keeps the brand alive and evolving in her own signature, simple, beautiful way.

Image result for rachel ashwell a floral affair

Interior Design Inspiration: Shabby Chic Style & Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

Autographed copies of Rachel’s new book MY FLORAL AFFAIR
are now available!


Don’t miss these either! Shabby ChicRachel Ashwell The World of Shabby ChicRachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting and Decorating Guide, and The Shabby Chic Home.

Rachel Ashwell bless this house #blessing #shabbychic

A tender blessing. Interior Design Inspiration: Shabby Chic Style & Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

Tracing my fondness and deep admiration for Rachel’s empire requires time travel to the early 90’s
when life centered around babies, nesting, and a relentless love of vintage.

Country scene with linens on clothesline. #shabbychic #countrystyle

Country living as art. Interior Design Inspiration: Shabby Chic Style & Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture Tabletop by phoebe #countryliving #shabbychic #tablescape

Pretty pastels! Interior Design Inspiration: Shabby Chic Style & Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

Yaaaaa, I know what you’re thinking…get to it, mama!
What is she like anyway?
A wee crumb pour vous: for starters, she is
intelligent, deeply sensitive, eloquent, unhurried, and introspective.

"Pavilion" oval pedestal dining table by Shabby Chic Couture from Rachel Ashwell.

Country elegance. Interior Design Inspiration: Shabby Chic Style & Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture Store SF. http://www.shabbychic.com/stores#sanfrancisco #shabbychichomesromantic

Art: Laurence Amelie. Interior Design Inspiration: Shabby Chic Style & Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

Soft blue velvet French chair

Romantic and French inspired. Interior Design Inspiration: Shabby Chic Style & Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

Wanna peel back the onion a bit with
glimpses of Rachel Ashwell’s
philosophies, inspirations, and humility?
Even more glimpses from a previous interview with her here.

Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic® chalk and clay paint. #pinktable #fleamarketfind #shabbychic

Pretty in pink. Interior Design Inspiration: Shabby Chic Style & Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

Interior Design Inspiration: Shabby Chic Style & Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

We first discussed her endorsement of
“looking in the other direction” whether it be
shopping at the fleamarket, stretching
as an artist, or on a journey of
personal growth.

I find it fascinating Rachel is such a keen editor
of lovely yet continues to stumble upon unlikely,
yet consistent additions by gazing in the other direction.

If you are a part of the Shabby Chic®
brethren, you know Rachel’s mantra:
beauty
comfort
and function.

Other meaningful terms for her?
heirloom
quality
(“Keep away from mediocrity,” she reminds)
faith
art
freedom
whimsy
substance
mindfulness
purpose.

Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic #shabbychic #pedestalsink

Simple shabby chic bathroom. Interior Design Inspiration: Shabby Chic Style & Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

I asked about the brand’s timelessness and whether she finds relief in not having to re-invent each season.
She reminded me that in 2014, the brand celebrates its 25th birthday!

Sweet Dreams at The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell in Round Top, TX. http://www.theprairiebyrachelashwell.com/

Interior Design Inspiration: Shabby Chic Style & Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

Floral bedding in a shabby chic bedroom paradise.

Interior Design Inspiration: Shabby Chic Style & Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

Wow. How can that be?
She spoke with passion about
“continuation, rather than reinvention”
and how she joyfully anticipates a whole new generation of Shabby Chic® admirers who will embrace and interpret
for themselves the non-fussy style of Shabby Chic®

In terms of the hallmarks of the brand,
she says “25 years ago or tomorrow, they all fit seamlessly…in my heart, I walk my talk.”

Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture Store - Floris Sofa in White Denim with vintage accessories

Interior Design Inspiration: Shabby Chic Style & Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

Interior Design Inspiration: Shabby Chic Style & Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

Rachel’s Shabby Chic Couture® stores
have the same playlist of music pumping,
and I was curious why country music appeals.

She explained she loves the poetry and storytelling
of the genre, just as she appreciates opera.

She favors nostalgic country artists such as
Johnny Cash, George Straight, and Patsy Kline,
and recently in NY was fortunate enough to
attend a private concert by Willy Nelson.

Vintage truck at The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell.

Interior Design Inspiration: Shabby Chic Style & Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

A beautiful vintage handpainted chest in a shabby chic foyer. #shabbychic

Interior Design Inspiration: Shabby Chic Style & Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

Rachel Ashwell Couture Prairie: And Flea Market Treasures

is Rachel’s property book about her
small hotel in Round Top, Texas,
and TEXAS is very dear to her heart.

The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell in Round Top, Texas.

Interior Design Inspiration: Shabby Chic Style & Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

She is inspired by “The tapestry of Texas living.”
and contrasts it with other places she calls home…
for example, the “wide open, easy living” of California
living where “the climate plays a key role” or
“the academic culture in the UK
which was a bit tragic; a bit dark.”

Texas has stolen her heart with its colorful community,
spirit of gratitude, and its southern hospitality.

Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture - White Cabinet

Interior Design Inspiration: Shabby Chic Style & Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

Interior Design Inspiration: Shabby Chic Style & Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

You can’t miss the spirit of humility
in her creative endeavors and personal life,
and I wanted to know more about its roots.
As I suspected, Rachel’s love of the ocean
and nature is in part linked to her faith.

She spoke about
“the methodical rhythm of the ocean”
and her belief “I am not alone.”

In Cali, she can be found trekking 6 miles a day
along the beach, offering prayers of gratitude
“for music, for the land,…”.

Since I love Shabby Chic Couture’s line of aprons,
I asked what they mean to her.
“I have this thing about washing dishes.”
Ha! Me too. Again, a humble chore.
We chatted about how aprons are a nod to
the past and speak of an unhurried life,
a love of home, and unplugging.

me in my Shabby Chic Tom’s and Shabby Chic apron!

Autographed - Prairie and Flea Market Treasures Book

Interior Design Inspiration: Shabby Chic Style & Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

Highlights of creating Rachel Ashwell Couture Prairie: And Flea Market Treasures?
“The prairie came at a time when I lost my mother and was experiencing hard times. Where was I going to end up? I felt this need to put a stake in the ground.”

In essence, it was the prairie, a series of 7 or 8 structures
at first presenting as “kind of dark” which would save her.
At her new very un-Hollywood property,
“Emotionally, physically, and philosophically, the light was on me again…it was a soulful feeling.”

Clearly, The Prairie has nurtured Rachel well,
and the book in turn, pays it forward.

Pink Endurance banner by Rachel Ashwell o fShabby Chic Couture.

Interior Design Inspiration: Shabby Chic Style & Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

Ahhhhhhh.

I doooooo have a deeper understanding for endurance with the year I have experienced.

 

Ready to get your copy of Rachel Ashwell Couture Prairie: And Flea Market Treasures?

Rachel Ashwell's Prairie | A Shabby Chic Paradise

Interior Design Inspiration: Shabby Chic Style & Interview with Rachel Ashwell {2013}

Thank you so much, Rachel, for sharing thoughtfulness with Hello Lovely once more…if we spoke Texan, we’d call you a Darlin-Lovey-Lambchop, and I bet you’d like it. Probably.

Peace to you right where you are.

~michele

*photos: Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture®

*interview from 2011 here

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24 Comments

  1. September 16, 2013 / 9:53 pm

    Wow how beautiful! All her spaces are so relaxing and darn pretty!!
    Great post!
    Karolyn

  2. September 16, 2013 / 9:55 pm

    Michelle, Beautiful post! I love Rachel's attitude and style! Great post!

  3. September 16, 2013 / 11:15 pm

    I am a huge fan of Shabby Chic, and she always seems to down to earth. It is refreshing.

    I love the interview.

    P.S. Waiting for the results of my test, thank you for the encouragement

  4. September 17, 2013 / 12:35 am

    Oh how exciting! I adore Rachel's style, I always used her books as inspiration to daily living.

    I was hoping she would be at Brimfield in Massachusetts at the beginning of the month. Vintage and antique treasures galore!

    Thank you for sharing this with us. It's a perfect interview!

  5. September 17, 2013 / 12:39 am

    What a wonderful interview, I love 'continuation not re-invention.' She's as delightful as her decorating style.

  6. September 17, 2013 / 12:51 am

    Love the endurance banner.. I've followed her for years and visit her boutiques when I go to California. I think her Malibu store closed 🙁 so I'll be going to Santa Monica. Wouldn't it be exciting to visit her place in Texas?! I can't wait to hear what you think about her newest book. I'm sure it will be gorgeous and I'll be ordering it. The rustic, less beach ~ feel is really fun and a nice change. Her mantra .. beauty, comfort, function. My preference is a home that shouts SIT on me not DON'T touch. Fun interview Michele! xxL

  7. September 17, 2013 / 1:22 am

    Thanks for sharing your interview with Rachel. It was wonderful!

  8. September 17, 2013 / 1:26 am

    What a wonderful interview and I love her style – chic and comfortable!

  9. September 17, 2013 / 5:52 am

    She is unreal you know! Sometimes I feel she is simply unreal and magical and can make a crimped cloth look so ravishing. Love her and love you. To the core. 🙂

  10. September 17, 2013 / 6:01 am

    I'm a big fan of Rachel's style and I appreciate her focus on gratitude and imperfection. Although I don't know how she manages to juggle it all and keep her 'unhurried' vibe going. I'd love to follow her around for an entire day:) Thanks for sharing your wonderful interview Michele I'll definitely be buying her book.

  11. September 17, 2013 / 12:28 pm

    Wow this was amazing, she leads an enviable life but more than that I am impressed by her spirituality, her authenticity and her devotion to learning and her obvious deep gratitude for what is important.

    That is what I took away from this post, suddenly feeling very inspired, the perfect read to start my day, thank you Michele and Rachel!

  12. September 17, 2013 / 12:54 pm

    Darlinloveylambchop, this is such an inspiring interview. The idea of "looking in the other direction" just blows my mind. I never thought of it that way. I have a whole new level of admiration for her her. Thank you, Michele! I'll be thinking about this all day today. XO

  13. September 17, 2013 / 8:33 pm

    I have always loved Rachel!! What unmistakable style…..in fact she has inspired many of my paintings…..can't wait to read her book!
    xo
    Holly

  14. September 17, 2013 / 9:10 pm

    Oh how I enjoyed this post – and getting to know RA a little bit better. I can just imagine you two lovelies chatting the day away surrounded by rustic wood tables and buckets of frothy flowers. 🙂 Thank you for sharing this!!! ♥ PS You are going to LOVE her new book. It's just fabulous!!

    xoxo laurie

  15. September 17, 2013 / 10:26 pm

    i can see how the darlinloveylambchop could inspire your art, holly–your pastels are dreamtastic. 🙂

  16. September 18, 2013 / 1:17 am

    Ahhhhhh, only you can do an interview like that. Get right to the soul of it all. I enjoyed every word. I feel as if i really "get her" more now… and i really liked your descriptive words about "who is she, what's she like"… So interesting to me that she has ended up coming to ground in Texas, and listens to classic old country music. I love that…

    Cindy

  17. September 18, 2013 / 6:33 pm

    thank you, cindy. you share so many of the same sensibilities and should be making visits to the prairie to paint for Rachel!

  18. September 18, 2013 / 7:56 pm

    A lovely post by a lovely person about a lovely person! I'm excited to react the book soon…really want to stay at the Prairie soon too!

  19. September 20, 2013 / 11:15 pm

    oh, oh, oohhhh…..love this interview…. filled with SOUL and love and yes faith…..faith…..and the rhythm…..love it…..and from someone who just left the ocean yesterday…and suffering from major beach brain….this artistic water baby relates….thank you, michele.
    erin
    xxoo

  20. September 21, 2013 / 12:01 am

    @erin
    thank you. you made me smile.

    🙂

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