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Articles on this Page
- 04/29/11--14:49: _Pink Princesses
- 05/27/11--08:25: _Petite Buds And Gra...
- 06/24/11--07:28: _Life's Inspirations
- 07/14/11--08:04: _Time, The Greatest ...
- 08/07/11--10:41: _Summer Blooms and F...
- 08/20/11--09:58: _Heart, Souls And Pu...
- 08/29/11--11:15: _Timeless Art & Craft
- 09/02/11--07:31: _Behind The Scenes
- 09/06/11--11:19: _Forever Changing Tr...
- 09/18/11--12:05: _Home And Play On Th...
- 09/25/11--19:34: _Inspiration And Beauty
- 09/27/11--12:55: _Pastel And Purple F...
- 10/04/11--16:13: _3 Years Gone By
- 10/18/11--07:07: _Thank You Marie And...
- 11/11/11--11:50: _HOME
- 12/01/11--12:28: _A Beautiful Artist
- 12/19/11--08:23: _GIRLS BEST FRIEND.....
- 01/05/12--12:35: _Enjoying Our Dreams
- 01/24/12--13:26: _LEAVING LONDON
- 02/08/12--13:36: _EVERYTHING PINK
- 04/29/11--14:49: Pink Princesses
- 05/27/11--08:25: Petite Buds And Grande Blossoms
- 06/24/11--07:28: Life's Inspirations
- 07/14/11--08:04: Time, The Greatest Gift
- 08/07/11--10:41: Summer Blooms and Forever Florals
- 08/20/11--09:58: Heart, Souls And Pure Genius
- 08/29/11--11:15: Timeless Art & Craft
- 09/02/11--07:31: Behind The Scenes
- 09/06/11--11:19: Forever Changing Treasures
- 09/18/11--12:05: Home And Play On The Range
- 09/25/11--19:34: Inspiration And Beauty
- 09/27/11--12:55: Pastel And Purple Favourites
- 10/04/11--16:13: 3 Years Gone By
- 10/18/11--07:07: Thank You Marie And Sofia....
- 11/11/11--11:50: HOME
- 12/01/11--12:28: A Beautiful Artist
- 12/19/11--08:23: GIRLS BEST FRIEND.........
- 01/05/12--12:35: Enjoying Our Dreams
- 01/24/12--13:26: LEAVING LONDON
- 02/08/12--13:36: EVERYTHING PINK
I have been lucky enough to be in London during the preparations and actual event of the wedding of Kate and Will. There has been a wonderful celebratory feeling for weeks. Most every street has union jack flags or bunting.
While walking down a street I came across this window. Brought back memories when Keep Calm & Carry On got us through some dark days.
A few nights ago after working all day at my publishers I took myself for a wander around my home town of London.
I walked to Westminster Abbey and over to Buckingham Palace.
After I wandered through St. James Park which connects the houses of parliament to Buckingham Palace, I came across a lovely lodge from the mid 1800's.
Next I decided to see if red white and blue were the only celebration colors, so I went in search of a pastel palette for a princess.
Every where there were souvenirs incorporating Kate and Wills portrait by Mario Testino. Some renditions became a little tacky. But in years to come they will likely be nostalgic treasure's.
Am not sure if a law was passed that every store had to have bunting strung .........I continued my search for pastel bunting.
I have been giving much thought as to why 2 billion people are expected to watch the wedding. And I myself, carved out the time to connect in my heart with the meaning of the day. Not just be an observer.
In the end I came to thinking, that no matter what we say, no matter how independent we are, no matter what tough face we put on, the princess dream never dies.
Hope, I think is an ingredient of being human. And even if we have put aside hope for ourselves, we still love to see others finding their prince and live happily ever after.
PINK of course is the color for princesses. I have spoken for years, about the right pink. Not too salmon or coral. Pink is the color of love. Quiet pretty love.
We have nearly sold out of these lovely paintings at my stores. But while we had several in the store, the energy was pure romance.
I wonder if people that shy away from pink are broken hearted and they would prefer not to be reminded.
For me, I will take pink to heaven with me..........finding pink treasures is my way being a princess. Placing them in my Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture stores, is my way of passing on my hope, that if we believe in pink, our prince will one day come.
No doubt about it, one has to tread carefully with pink, as with love. Too much or too sweet can turn to a sugary syrup. Pink needs to be special and have its space. At The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell in Texas, I have sparingly placed a few pink vintage pieces. So far our cowboy guests have not complained.
I can get so wrapped up in my indelpendant happy life and being Miss Responsibility. So for me, I rely on pink to remind me I have my story book dream.
For those who can't take the whole princess pink thing too far there are always smokier versions that still keep us girly.
As the wedding preparations unfolded I think we all connected to the true elements of this fairly story.
Watching beautiful Kate, marry her prince. Watching Prince Will, knowing Diana would be so proud. Kate's parents, seemingly to have raised their children with traditional family values......and then there is Harry, he will be the next to follow. Could the story end perfectly happily ever after and he marry Pippa, his mummy watching from up above.
And while I wandered home, the night before the wedding, I was thinking of my sappy country music, and voila, Texas crossed my path, round the corner from Buckingham Palace.
My time has filled my heart that fairy tales do come true, and until such time, a little bit of pink tides us over...
HOMAGE TO A FLOWER
Would I have the knowledge of a flower
That of knowing just what color I should be
What shape to take and where and when to be these things
As well as that
How long to stay and when to change that form
To draw my petals close as darkness falls
And open myself to the suns seductive warmth
And then to know
Now is the time to shed that shape and color
My naked center breathing soft until another spring.
(Written by my mum)
Flowers, flowers. The world is unimaginable without flowers.
Such diversity of attitude........sometimes a little accent is all that is needed, and sometimes an abundance. Sometimes they are the co star, sometimes the star of the show.
While less is more is my mantra in decorating, sometimes I love an explosion of flowers.......
At The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell B & B, I had a couple of opportunities to layer flowers on top of flowers and then some.
When flowers are used in their faded form, there is a wonderful sense of faded beauty.
"You can't always get what you want" so said the Rolling Stones......
This does apply so often in life.......
I am so proud that in the world of Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture, we do all we can to break that rule. We have recently introduced a Bespoke Bedding and Drapery program, which is designed in such a way that "you can get what you want" So nice to be able to say yes, in the world of so many NO's........
I have finally put the finishing touch touches on my latest book, Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Inspirations and Beautiful Spaces.... 12 plus extraordinary homes. Flowers of course played a big role throughout, so I suppose I could be forgiven for going over the top on my cover!!!!!
I went to the flower market in downtown Los Angeles...... I did my best to control my need to buy just one more bunch....
Couldn't decide on Peonies or Lilacs.....maybe both I thought.
But then in the end..................
View other beautiful floral inspirations at any of our three Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture Stores.
Life has often been my inspiration for my creativity.
Being a designer of a brand I have evolved but remained consistent with signature qualities and characteristics. But I do pride myself with being an authentic designer, not one who pulls ideas from trends and forecasts. Sometimes I take a creative license and bring into my world ideas that may step out of what is expected. But ultimately there is a common thread of beauty, comfort, and function.
I have created a signature for myself, of pastel colors, soft vintage fabrics and crackly paints. In recent years I have become more open to seeing and blending other aesthetics to perhaps inspire me or to accept "as is". My malibu cottage and my Liliput Lodge (at The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell), satisfies two very diverse rhythms of nature.
I have posted many painting of Laurence Amelie. Her tutus and flowers are such a perfect fit for Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture stores, and I took no risk in clearing wall space for her.
However, along with Laurence, is her lovely boyfriend Umbaldo. He is an artist in his own right. I see him as the masculine side of Laurence. His work is masculine and abstract. I would understand if not everyone understands where this work sits in my world, but I find peace in the abstract.
For me as an artist, I think it is most important to just be open to letting life guide us to what we need to create. And in that innocence I think wonderful things come.
We will be opening a Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture store at The Prairie in September.
There would have been a day when a dark blue floral print (albeit wonderfully vintagy), would not have made it into my palette, but Texas has opened me up to a whole new world of color........as I have said before.....Marie Antoinette goes to Texas is a perfect vision for the marriage of my aesthetic and that of Texas. It may take awhile to see how to blend it all, as we know, art is not a science, but life, as we see it.
This is country through and through. But will sit happily in the California sun, a loft in New York or in an old townhouse in London.
The more I step outside of what I know, the more mistakes I will make. But always it will be true.
I decided to give myself the gift of time this summer. As wonderful as all my busy world is, I felt the need to step back and just absorb and experience my life. Between the ebbs and flows of my career and being a mother, it has been a long long time that I have had the opportunity, to take time. Each day I am learning a little more how to sit in that place, and golly, what a gift.
Even though there are some design "no no's" at the beach shack, it lends itself perfectly for friends and family to come and go as they wish. Everything is a little sandy and moist but the view forgives any imperfections.
I have quite a list of things I would like to do in my "quiet time", but I realize, once I slowed down, catching up on sleep was #1. I have always prioritized in my designing to have little snoozing places, when going to bed isn't called for, just a place the "rest my eyes", as my mum used to say to me, and I have now adopted.
Seems like others have similar thoughts as these Folks Beds have been selling like hot cakes from my Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture stores this summer.
I have quite a few house guests coming thru this summer. So when I am in town I wanted to make sure I still had a private hide place to take a few minutes.
This would be called a "box room" in London, but in the U.S. it's my walk in closet. It has always seemed just too much space to designate to my jeans and white t shirts so just recently I decided to let this be my hideaway and popped this beautiful lovely day bed...... (from Spain I am told, via England flea market).
One of my favorite joys is to have time to smell my roses. During all my travels during pruning time, my garden escaped being cut back, causing a rather chaotic end result. I usually like to direct the chaos but this year it's literally carved its own path.
However in my front garden, some of my favorite rose bushes have become diseased!!!! I don't know whether its in the ground or a spray, but my usual lovely floppy rose heads are struggling to blossom, and when they do they are tiny and shredded.
I have spoken to many about this problem and so far no diagnosis and I have even been told they may simply will not get well. So for now, I am taking the time to talk to the rose bushes. Since they got so sick, they have grown so many more thorns, its as though they don't want anyone near them. My arms are rather scratched up but I'm still hoping they may come back. If anyone out there has ever had shriveled small but blossomed roses, and found a cure, would love to know.
One of my house guests is lovely Laurence and Umbaldo, my artist friends from Paris. For those who follow my blogs, Laurence was here in the spring and did a magnificent collection of paintings of tutu"s and flowers. Most of which have been sold.
Like any artist, Laurence is always experimenting with composition and color. During her stay this summer I have requested more of her spring collections, but she is also painting some palettes from her hugely successful show in Paris this summer. By the time she is done, we hope to have paintings in all our stores.
One of my most pleasurable tasks is gathering elements for the Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture little museum at The Prairie in September. I am pulling together some archival prints and designs, inspirational elements and media over the past 22 years. This exercise started off for myself, but actually think its worthy of sharing my journey.
I have also had the luxury of being able to pop into my store in Santa Monica, its been in the same location for 21 years now, and Janis does such a wonderful job executing my vision. I'm sure its nerve racking for them for me to have time on my hands, but for me I am loving taking the time to see all the little treasures amongst the bigger ones....
I often talk of how I have embraced the beauty of imperfection. But sometimes things are broke beyond repair. At least to repair in the form of which it was intended. A few days ago when I was clomping around my house, in my cowboy boots, for some reason a favorite cup, and different saucer just fell of a shelf. Don't know why. I was at first worried. Wondering if it was a sign.
I looked at the broken pieces and wondered if they could be glued back together again. The pieces were pretty splintered so I wondered if I was supposed to throw away. But still even within the splinters, little rays of gold and pinks shone, and my lesson was to let it find its voice and transform into something else. I have asked Laurence's boyfriend (he does abstract art) if somehow he can incorporate into a painting somehow....will keep you posted.
As the days of July tick away, I still have August ahead of me. To complete some of my projects and to continue embracing the true value of down time.
Two words are at the fore front of my mind. Humility and generosity. I am wanting to enter the fall with a little more of both in my character. I want to be more generous of my attention to others and not be so distracted. To listen more. And to always remember that to create wonderfulness is ALWAYS a team effort. And to accept compliments on behalf of our team, our village.
While I appreciate each and every season, summers abundant flowers makes for daily gifts.
I love gathering vines and wildflowers from my own garden or sometimes local alley ways. Tall branches and trailing stems so easily create beautiful drama.
In one short month my roses have gone from frail closed buds to new plump petals. In my last blog I asked who had experienced sickly roses, and many thoughts were shared. A combination of suggestions, along with daily words of encouragement from me, have fairly quickly given new life to many of my roses. (thank you to all who gave guidance).
There are so many simple ways to present floral displays. I'm an instant gratification arts and crafts person. All these ideas are easy little projects that create big statements.
My feeling is Wisteria should be excused for such short blooming moments. Its as though it needs lots of prep time to create its abundant beauty. Weeping viney branches dropping a carpet of petals is worth the wait and the fleeting explosion of color.
Just down the road from The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell is the most profoundly peaceful and happy graveyard.
While fresh flowers are I believe one of gods greatest gifts. Their beauty and fragrance is magic at its best. And the endless interpretations are forever for us to enjoy.
I always dreamed of having a little floral named girl.....and my daughter Lily was that dream come true.....
Faith is like a lily, lifted high and white, PERFECT!!!!!!!!
And then the latest added inspiration in the world of Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture™ is a faded little big chair.
Floral inspiration fuel forever florals.
Follow my journeys and inspirations on twitter.
Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture™ online store NOW OPEN.
On September 27th I will have my first book signing for my new book, at the opening of our Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture™ store at The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell B&B in Round Top, Texas.
Then in October I will do a little tour around the country and will keep you posted where I will be.
I am really quite excited to share my stories of how this book came to be. Every house has an important connection to me by way of being extra-ordinarily inspired and or dear dear friends of mine.......
Three true artisans are featured. All young and lovely and quite brilliant. While being fresh in their approach to product and design, their values and lifestyles are frozen in time from the last century.
Their home gives new meaning to the word "living". Story telling is a bi-product of their authentic, romantic and soulful aesthetic.
I so enjoyed being invited into this world of timelessness. I photographed these artisans in the depth of the winter in London. Hot soups, hot chocolate and little burning fires played into the timeless days. Story telling, whimsy and pure creativity got us through the inevitable logistical challenges.
Emma is a scrap goddess. Everything that passes through her hands is held close to her heart and adorned with some sacred embellishments.
And then there was Huw. The Shabby Man. You will meet him in my new book.
Where is his clone?
Huw has dusty chandeliers with pink drops, sheets will teeny rose buds and many moments of prettiness, but in his world, its just beauty with no gender.
The patina in huw's little London house is mellow and warm. Modest, simple and so cozy and appreciated.
Huws decorating is very understated, nothing contrived. His editing of what comes into his home is natural and sooooo, just sooooooo.
I am excited to share these homes with you and many more.
You can pre-order a signed copy of my new book at www.rachelashwellshabbychiccouture.com and also check out these lovely artisans websites.
Over the years there have been selections of quilts at Simply Shabby Chic at Target and Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture™. However truth be told I have never paid much attention to the culture, history, passion and world of quilting.
As always, whenever I am involved in any project my inspiration book is where I gather my thoughts....
This collection of of quilting fabrics are designed from archives of Shabby Chic fabrics from years gone by.... lovely pink, blue and green florals, stripes and solids...
While the Shabby Chic palette has had a signature of pastels for 20 years and more, choosing the exact colors is a crucial part of the design process. Paint, yarn or nature contributes to the recipe of the perfect palette.
Sometime back in the spring was when I was first introduced to the quilting community. I loved the timelessness of the craft. Quilting circles, creativity and conversation. Such a rare hands on socialization in today's society. The quilting world to me stands for old time values, appreciation of detail, patience and pride. I have always been a knitter, which has similar qualities, but I am so happy to have been introduced and welcomed into this new community.
There are several wonderful collections under the Treasures by Shabby Chic, available at different quilting stores across the country, and actually the world. (view the stores at ShabbyChic.com)
Cool summer nights or cozy winter days, a quilt applies. And knowing the handy work and care that is stitched into every quilt is pure love.
I love this collection so much. One day soon my laundry room at my B and B, The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell will have some new additions of these lovely fabrics, stitched into yummy quilts.
Many have asked how my roses got well.
I removed a lot of mossy dirt around their base. Too much water it seemed. It was hard to access one rose bush with particularly thorny bushes. Its as though it wanted to be left alone.
But like a loony person, I spoke daily to each and every bush and bloom, and little by little I removed all the ripped and tattered petals. And now truly every blossom is in full healthy bloom.
The moral as I see it is we all need the human touch and talk, even if we put up our thorny barriers.......
I built a barn in my backyard. Over the years it has served many purposes. At the moment it is a photo studio. Now that rachelashwellshabbychiccouture.com is open for online business we are in need of some simple product shots.
The village grouped together, and we shot all our new fall collections.
The shot doesn't need much propping because the light in the barn is just magical.
Am learning that much as though I like to shoot with lots of mood and ambiance, when shopping online, clarity is the most important.
This has become a staple for our collection, however from time to time we change out the fabrics. This is our fall introduction. Will be be in the stores in September.
While we are so excited about having our online store open, popping by is still a magical moment, even for me after all these years.
We pride ourselves that every thing in our stores is just the creme de la creme of home furnishings. Many hands have to touch what we design.....therefore we are limited with how quickly we can produce things. We cannot make our petticoat tablecloth and bedding collection quick enough, so its a test of patience for all, for us who produce them, and for our customers who order them. In the late fall we will have more. But as we know, good things are worth the wait.
This is just a peek over the next few weeks, more and more yummy products will show up, all shot in my barn out back.
Seems to me that the wonderful thing about treasures are their values and beauty are forever changing.
I gave myself the treat to wander through my Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture™ store in New York, and just enjoy. Vintage pieces I had bought in the past. Some I clearly remembered. Some revealed details that had past me by previously.
While the initial search for treasures for my stores and my home is a sacred adventure, I never bore of the new qualities that are forever evolving. I don't segregate this thought to just material treasures, but also people treasures and lesson treasures. As we spend more time discovering the many layers, there is always a new beauty to experience, seemingly never ending.
A beautiful Florentine table and purple porcelain flowers, visual symphony to my eyes.
The craft of balance and acceptance is a quality I am always striving for. Sometimes it is my aesthetic ability that teaches me how the unexpected opposites, balance each other, and bring out the best.
There are moments in our lives where accents of decadence finds a home. I like to welcome these in heirloom qualities, so they can be shared for many generations to come. Quality and classic needs to be part of a decadent recipe in my book.
When searching for treasures, often it is the patina that finds my attention. The most magnificent piece is without magic for me if the patina isn't alive with texture.
These beauties were on a wallpaper trunk and porcelain umbrella stand in my store. Both are so beautiful and rare to the eye. Sometimes I question how I part with such treasures. For me discovering and acknowledging value and beauty, is often enough. Letting unique qualities pass thru my hands onto others is often enough for however long they last in my world.
And that is why it is always such a treat for me to go to a store, to experience one more time, the treasure I found, and perhaps discover another layer I didn't see before.
See these and other treasures at any of our Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture stores.
Busy busy time these past few weeks but getting good at finding moments to refuel. There is an element of The Prairie where time stands still. And somehow in that stillness it is easy to be productive.
I find when I visit places that have history, quietly tucked away, that I feel safe. I think its knowing life has trodden paths before me.
500,000 miles on the clock. maybe out of warranty but what stories it could tell.
One of these days it will get repaired, but until then its a good leaner.
Without even trying I seem to be starting my own little flea market........after years of being the seeker, treasures are now coming to me. How novel.
So special that I have a place in the world where I can work, play, and be quiet with friends, family and just people passing through.
And all the little details made it here too.
Even with such a balanced life sometimes bad dreams slip in.....and then .........
On top of all else we pulled of a photo shoot so we can share some photos of all that goes on......including a wedding!!!!!
And then finally I found a home for my precious arch I lugged back from London.
Please click on my book on the Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture™ website for events and book signings that I will be attending.
Opening of Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture Store™ and book signing at The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell B & B.
On Tuesday night, September 27th from 6pm to 9pm we are having a celebration of our new Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture™ Store at The Prairie By Rachel Ashwell B&B in Round Top Texas. Would love to see as many of you who are in the neighbourhood.
I always dreamed of having a little hotel someday, but somehow having a little shop on the property makes this all so real.
My mantra of beauty, comfort and function continues with these Prairie inspired accessories. And our hottest cake at the moment is our subtle little faded blue horse shoe Prairie T shirt
My 7th book is also part of our celebration for which I will be signing them right away before I begin my book tour across this great country travelling to NY, LA, SF and over to London.
(Please see events posted on Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture website)
Over the past 20 years my books have been my vehicle to present my creativity and aesthetics. I have photographed numerous light and airy rooms of a pastel palette. Lots of pink and white creating romance and my feminine flair.
In my latest book I have included some homes that are outside my expected aesthetic, but still they have a common thread of my values of my design and lifestyle. And in doing so, their aesthetic and values resonate with me too. So on first glance, if my palette seems to have shifted, I hope you too can be inspired to see the beauty with a fresh set of eyes, into the soul of these homes.
The following photos are some of my all time favorites. You may have seen them on prior blogs or on my recent tweets or facebook posts. Some are whimsical, some inspirational. To me some are metaphoric and some just plain pretty.
While just beautiful, this also represents to me that the unexpected in life can be the best wows of life. It reminds me to think outside the box in all I do.
Sometimes I find my best creativity just flows naturally. Without too much thought. Just letting pretty things find pretty things, creating beauty.
My fleamarket travels gives me a wonderful resource to searching and finding treasures.
I particularly love finding theatrical props. For their scale, handmadeness and window to fantasy......
Ballet shoes are timeless beauties. I have always loved their qualities and patina. Silk and pink. I had many hours of joy sewing in the ribbons for my daughters shoes, all the while giving me inspiration for details that I have emulated in my own design work. So often I have matched the color of ballet shoes in my fabrics.
A pink fantasy. A perfect vehicle to imagine the "if's and maybes" of life.
Sometimes I come across a place or a thing, that simply leaves me in awe. Wondering "how and what" and just humbled by the found beauty.
Every time I look at this amazing house in London, I see something different. Sometimes I see a faded elegance of days gone by. Imagining what life was lived during its stages of decay. Sometime I simply see the multi layers of pink and red. I have also sat on the pavement outside this house, and just stared and stared.
This purple carpet is the perfect metaphor that life is about the journey. In this case a wisteria journey.
And then sometimes life is about the destination. Where the journey is less significant.
Please forgive me if these photos are not new to you. But I wanted to see all my faves in one place.
Over the next few weeks I will be traveling for my book tour so will bring some new adventures and new wows to share.
Please click here to see my book tour schedule.
My children continue to find their passions and understand the true values of life and love.
Four Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture Stores (N.Y., LONDON, L.A., TEXAS) stand proud after some big bumps in my shabby world.
Two books have been published, The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell (a precious B and B and base for creative projects), has opened.
Simply Shabby Chic at Target continues to be a partnership that I am so proud to be part of.
And other projects have been launched in the world of Shabby Chic. Quilting Fabrics and products in Michaels under Treasures by Shabby Chic, a line of furniture under the Shabby Chic Brand is sold across the country at furniture stores (different to Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture™ stores) and back in my home country at House of Fraser Stores there is a complete world of Shabby Chic products.
"Are you getting enough rest and taking care of your self," is what mum would be saying. However, October 13th is 3 years since she passed away.
Through out all my busy busy days of the past 3 years, not one day has gone by that I don't think about mum. Some days with a giggles, some days with a tear, some days with such gratitude of the depth of substance of who she was, and some days just wishing I could be greedy and that she could have been here for these past three years.
The wonderful thing about having my mum is that her inspirations live on through many facets of my life.
The core of how I live my life. Accepting imperfection takes away intimidation. The ice is already broken. With the influence of technology today it seems speed, the pretense of perfection and deletion of what was, makes for the absence of an authentic life, in some instances negating history and reality. Mum wouldn't have done well with that notion of deletion and retouching.
On a practical level, her little tiny booth in Camden Passage in London was my entry into the world of retail.
Sometimes she would want to go to the loo and ask me to "hold the fort". I never made a sale for her, but I could hold a good conversation even as a pre-teen and keep her customers engaged till she would return. To this day, I'm not much of a sales girl.
To this day I can only sew by hand, but the hum of a sewing machine is a nostalgic comforting noise to me, as I would often hear this as i was going off to sleep as a child.
The art of creating has flowed from mum to me and through both of my children, through art, music, gardening and seeking of the soul.
In comparison to mum, I have had a very public life. One she wouldn't have wanted for herself. Sometimes I question if her daily practice of her art, with no agenda other than that of practice, and her choice to be anonymous is what allowed her to be really quite brilliant.
Mums piano playing was always a big part of "nana visits"
In their younger years I continued the tradition of playing the piano as my children would go to sleep, knowing the loveliness they would feel as I did when my mum played for me.
Mostly, what my mum passed on to me, was how to love a child. Often expressed in her art. Perhaps from a void in her own childhood. The relationship of the love of mother and child was of the greatest value of all to her.
This is "forever to keep " for me. Both in the material sense and spiritual.
So for all mums inspirations that has given me such a rich life, and that is now passing on to my children, it is her gift of how to love a child, that is the greatest gift of all. I do miss her often but her leaving was in the normal flow of life, and
she more than anyone would accept that path.....she was a true gift to me.
P.S. As only Mum would do. My "valuable bits" long gone now, except for the precious thought and envelope.
For information of book signing events, please click on home page of www.rachelashwellshabbychiccouture.com
I keep it no secret that Sofia Coppola's movie, Marie Antoinette has been an endless source of inspiration for me. I love her luscious attention to detail, the sumptuous palette with the occasional quirk.
Even amongst the Big Picture of a movie or a little vignette, it is those little details that elevate art from mediocrity to magic.
Combining flea market treasures, a touch of luxury and bargains from the 99 cents store inspired by Marie, is so very shabby and chic.
The funnest part of being inspired is absorbing a vision and translating it into our own world. And then the search for the treasures.
Even for the most ordinary celebration over the top details can be layered in. Or fanciful in the most simple setting..........
In my new book, Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Inspirations and Beautiful Spaces, I have included a diverse array of homes and aesthetics. All sharing the same common thread qualities. Sharon Osbourne's dining room is a perfect example of Pure Beauty.
For such a little accent, hats bring such attitude. I have been collecting floral vintage hats for years. Never quite as lavish as Marie, but maybe I will work my way up.
While I am known for my rumpled feather and down white slipcovered sofas, I also love to compliment with comfy elegance.
I know I am not alone with being continually inspired by the vision Sofia Coppola gave us all with her translation.
The covers of my last two books are quite different but for sure have elements of the tattered elegance, which I couldn't have visualized, without Marie or Sofia.....forever thankful to them both.
So in the end, the wonderful thing about being inspired is how we see different qualities, and then make them our own, whether by way of an accent or a visual symphony.
You can see more inspirations of Marie Antoinette online at www.rachelashwellshabbychiccouture.com
Such a teeny little four letter word that has such significance.
My life choices have had me moving Home many times, and the past few years I have spent little time in my HOME. It is just in the past few weeks, that some of my long term commitments have been completed so HOME is where I am.
I would be lying to say that even though I have a beautiful nest, when I stop it takes a little time for me to reconnect with being still. My garden is the place I can do that the most. Early in the morning, to observe what cycles of life have lived and died in my absence.
Home for me has always been full of creativity. During the times when my children were young and continuing to this day, creative projects are always midstream somewhere.
It is known that my home is the house to come and do projects.
You have seen many posts about Laurence and Ubaldo's pilgrimages to my Barn a couple of times a year. Having beautiful paintings at the end of their trip is a wonderful manifestation of the real treat, to be part of their process of creating.
Funny that I ended up making sunny L.A. my home, as my inner wiring is a better fit for a location with seasons. Natures rhythm is a good pace for me. But I have this glorious fireplace that takes me off into the fantasy of an old welsh cottage, without having to go anywhere.
My bedroom sanctuary is another magical moment.
last week I hosted a party for www.cocodot.com In my time of recharge there are few people I would surrender my space to, my dear friend
Amy Neunsinger is one I would and did. And she threw a spectacular party. Where I could just float, and enjoy the beauty she created, with Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture beauties.
And then when its time for me to go on the road again......I will go to the home that has a piece of my heart.
I do hope wherever and whatever home is to you all, it is a place of peace. As I have learnt that I can travel the world many times, and its the inner peace that makes HOME IN OUR OWN HEARTS.
April 2009 was a really wonky time for me.
On a particularly dark day, Lisa Dirkes sent me a copy of a lovely book she had illustrated. She wrote an inscription for me that were the exact words I needed to read, at that time.
Anyone who has followed my blog over the years will be familiar with the works of art of Lisa Dirkes. Many times I have shown her work, sometimes for the purpose of its
beauty, and sometimes because her message has a profound and relevant message.
Just last week, Lisa so very sadly and way too young passed away. I am wanting to share a few of my favorite pieces.
Lisa's path crossed my world when she initially worked at my Newport Beach CA Store. Life was not always kind to her, but she had a most wonderful spirit.
She was also a very important player during the opening of The Prairie By Rachel Ashwell. She kept our village fed while all hands were on deck to open.
Every year I host a holiday dinner at my home for my staff and village..... through thick and thin we have continued this tradition for many years now.
During the course of the year, days fly by so very quickly. Welcoming people into our homes is a genuine expression of appreciation and warmth. I truly enjoy the opportunity to spend time with my team who day after day, throughout the year are dedicated to their jobs, and always give more than is required. I so appreciate the work ethics and passions of "the village".
While the holidays are customarily red and green, somehow I manage to navigate my palette and still be part of the tradition. I have been collecting pink Santa's for years. Some are a little worse for wear, but non the less I love them.
This week I took myself to the downtown Los Angeles Flower Market. I love love to go.
Buying flowers by the bulk fills my stomach with butterflies. Knowing I have all the stages of beauty ahead of me. From the modest bud, to the flamboyant blossoms, and then the wilting rose. Hmmmmmm
I so enjoyed making little floral moments for the party.
Spray painting branches and leaves are such a lovely way to bring bling to a celebration..... and then adding a moodier palette by way of violet anemones creates the tapestry of my aesthetics.
As I am playing with my best friends (flowers) for my party display, I ponder on all the different ways flowers can be applied and enjoyed... WHO NEEDS DIAMONDS?
And to end the evening I bought a little rose plant, for all to take home.....and hopefully blossom and grow in the way we will as a village.
I so appreciated having the opportunity to have such a team in my life, truly, because it does take a village.
Happy holidays to you all.....may you all have a very pink and flowery season. And thank you to all who find the time to pop by and read my rambling thoughts.
The last few years has been the stage of my life of much movement. It comes with the territory for us all as parents, as career people, as seekers in life.
Many beginnings, adjustments, endings, letting go and of course growth. Somehow the daily rhythm of life keeps us on track, but with each New Year we are given a moment to double check ourselves, our goals and our values.
So much in life excites me, and I so enjoy the process of creating, that I often find myself not taking quite the time I should, to enjoy what I have already accomplished.
2012 is the year for me to stop and smell my own roses, enjoy my relationships and if I feel the inkling to build, I will build on foundations already laid.
For those that have followed the my journey, my stores hit a wonky bump in the road in 2009. Thanks to passion, vision, hard work and a village, four Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture™ stores are proudly open for biz.
For me, 22 years later than when I opened my first store, I still love nothing more, than popping by, seeing my associates and custys, fluff some pillows or move a chair. These stores are still my creative playgrounds, where not one spec of quality or design is ever compromised. its where we tell our whole story, where the magic starts.
I plan to spend a few months at the Prairie myself this year. The B and B is humming along. I will be hosting my first ever seminar on Inspiration and Business from Feb 24th thru Feb 26th.......golly I will be talking for 48hrs!!!!!!!!!
Of course the flea market is work, finding treasures for the stores and online, but it's also my fuel for inspiration. I will be shopping the fleas till my very end.
Laurence Amelie and Ubaldo, my lovely French artist friends are planning to come stay with me and do another glorious collection of paintings.
Meanwhile my design team and I will continue to collaborate, and design for the Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture™ stores.
And we will continue creating loveliness for our program with Target under the Simply Shabby Chic label and other license partnerships.
Even though our village has changed pathways over the years, we know our route so well now, that our days are productive and just lovely.
I plan to enjoy my own home this year.
I have traveled much these past few years, but it is time for me to settle for a while.
This is my kind of dream home. I had a vision and now I have to make some memories......
I plan to walk up and down that path loads this year.
I hope to slow down time , maybe freeze it if I can.....
I saw this wonderful installation at Marburger Farms Flea market at Magnolia Pearl. Apart from being beautiful, I loved the idea of everything beautifully standing still!!!!!!
So I am hoping for myself, and those who are on a similar track of life, this year, to pop on our angel wings and fly to our dreams, but to take the time to enjoy the dreams we already have.
Set to launch at Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture™ Spring 2012!
I love her but you can "like" her on her facebook page.
I am just coming to the end of my trip to my home country, London. The main purpose of my trip was to see my father and regroup with my London store.
In February it will already be 2 years old. It's a teeny little hole in the wall, just off of Portobello Road, but thanks to a lovely staff (Paulina, Pascale and Amel), it's becoming a solid little powerhouse.
While this store has the same "village" of support that the U.S. stores have, This staff is literally on an Island but they do a wonderful job in making the ocean apart seem like a puddle. Our values and quality at Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture is a labour of love for those behind the scenes and our big little presence in London translate all that we stand for.
When I travel I always keep my eyes open for literal inspiration and abstract. Resting my head at The Covent Garden Hotel is my indulgence. I have always loved the opulence of their needlepoint curtain and valance, and I translated this story at The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell B&B with some faded vintage fabric in the Rangers Lounge.
With my store being on the doorstep of Portobello Road, I am able to pop in and out..... not so much time for fleamarkets, so my favorite treasures I am able to fit in my bag.
Much different to the magnificent masterpiece I found in a flea market last time.
(Check out the header in the photo of our fabric archway above)
I had a couple of rainy day walks through the streets of London. Selfridges is one of my favorite large stores. They do a lovely job to be a huge store with a boutique mentality.
They had an installation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy......
of course I loved the scrap book, art studio elements. A different world to my florals and fluffy world, but the exploration and depth of substance makes it just as intriguing to me.....
I took a train ride to Petersham Nurseries. A little bit of a shlep, but again, a passionate project with careful attention to detail. A very famous place to eat, buy plants and flowers, and home accessories too.
You may see me borrow some of these ideas down the road.
A highlight of my trip was to visit Pearl Lowes Home (for those of you who follow my Facebook, twitter or now Pinterest, you will have seen some of these photos, as I was too excited to share.)
She lives with her adorable hubby and children and dog, deep in the heart of country side. (you may have seen her home in my latest Rachel Ashwell Inspiration Book)
It's lovely to see all the elements of cozy cottage living, that I love, in an authentic settings. Muddy boots, runny noses, baking of cakes and lots of mushy cushions......
I hope soon to be carrying these in my Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture Stores, in the UK and U.S., in this lovely raspberry shade, and other yummy colours too. Pearl loves my Notting Hill shop and happily hung this rustic star in her cottage.
While I didn't sleep over, one day I hope to. Just love her guest area, love of course the palette, the personal touch while also minimal......
So all in all, I had a lovely whirl wind trip. Dad is ok for the moment. I am off the NY to see Jake and my New York store, and then home to get ready for my seminar at The Prairie.
A few planes in between, so once again the angel wings will come out, and then for back up, my butterflies too.
Valentine's Day and Easter promotes my favorite ever palette, not that I need an excuse. We can always justify why pink works.......
Pink has been referred to as the colour of love. It evokes romance, calmness, nostalgia for innocence and just simply pretty.
I wore this little pink blouse to shreds, (and still it hangs in my wardrobe). I wore this to shoot the cover of my Rachel Ashwell Interiors book and then to nearly every book signing event that followed.
The shade is a perfect bluey pink and the the silk draped just right. And each time I put it on it was like my "cloak of comfort."
Whether as a gift to ourselves or received from another, Pink roses are never a disappointment. (once a date bought me an orange Bird of Paradise, who knows what could have happened if he"d just chosen pink roses)
Whether threadbare from a fleamarket, or beautifully restored, there is never a better place to feel like a loved princess than on a pink chair.
And if the chair just isn't so pretty, a simple pink slipcover can make a dramatic transformation.
Washing pink lace and silk by hand in a pink bowl is meditation and therapy all in one.......just priceless.
This should be an inspirational peace sign.....dreamlike and just a big AHHHHHHHHHHHH.
The accent of pink amongst flowers brings such joy and eye candy.
I love the array of colours that fall under pink, from magenta to faded red, to blush, to ballet slippers (just don't like salmon and coral.)
I love how this house shows a little but of it all.......
And then don't forget, our most compatible day of the Year......Valentine's Day, where Everything Pink can be accepted by all......