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Rachel Ashwell's journey and inspirations.
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  • 06/24/11--07:28: Life's Inspirations
  • Life has often been my inspiration for my creativity.

    perspective

    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.

    expressive

    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.

    signature

    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.

    laurence

    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.

    umbaldo

    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.

    inspiration

    PS...

    Exciting peek.

    We will be opening a Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture store at The Prairie in September.

    shop

    truck

    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.

    mabel

    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.

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  • 07/14/11--08:04: Time, The Greatest Gift
  • 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.

    beachshack

    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.

    folkbed

    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.

    goldbed

    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.

    chaos

    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.

    rose

    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.

    book

    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.

    laurence

    tutu

    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.

    museaum

    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....

    candles

    notes

    brooches

    crates

    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.

    china

    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.

    humility

    LL

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    wildflowers

    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.

    recoveringroses

    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).

    flowers

    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.

    birthday

    wisteria

    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.

    graveyard

    Just down the road from The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell is the most profoundly peaceful and happy graveyard.

    painting

    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.

    lily

    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.

    Chablis

    Floral inspiration fuel forever florals.

    Follow my journeys and inspirations on twitter.

    Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture™ online store NOW OPEN.

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  • 08/20/11--09:58: Heart, Souls And Pure Genius
  • book

    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.

    hanah

    Their home gives new meaning to the word "living". Story telling is a bi-product of their authentic, romantic and soulful aesthetic.

    decor

    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.

    bicycle

    Emma is a scrap goddess. Everything that passes through her hands is held close to her heart and adorned with some sacred embellishments.

    heart

    And then there was Huw. The Shabby Man. You will meet him in my new book.

    Where is his clone?

    typewriter

    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.

    huwchair

    The patina in huw's little London house is mellow and warm. Modest, simple and so cozy and appreciated.

    huwdecor

    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.

    www.jamesplumb.com

    www.wornwithlove.com

    www.huwgriffith.com

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  • 08/29/11--11:15: Timeless Art & Craft
  • quiltingfabric

    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.

    inspiration book

    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...

    palette

    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.

    slc

    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.

    gardenrose

    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)

    wickerchari

    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.

    backyard

    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.

    laundry


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  • 09/02/11--07:31: Behind The Scenes
  • roses-all-better

    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.......

    barn

    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.

    beau

    The village grouped together, and we shot all our new fall collections.

    soho

    The shot doesn't need much propping because the light in the barn is just magical.

    beds

    Am learning that much as though I like to shoot with lots of mood and ambiance, when shopping online, clarity is the most important.

    shoot

    unionjack

    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.

    store

    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.

    matches

    petticoattablecloth

    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.

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  • 09/06/11--11:19: Forever Changing Treasures
  • 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.

    stepping

    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.

    never

    A beautiful Florentine table and purple porcelain flowers, visual symphony to my eyes.

    decayed

    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.

    abundance

    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.

    patina

    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.

    colour

    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.

    forever

    See these and other treasures at any of our Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture stores.

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  • 09/18/11--12:05: Home And Play On The Range
  • Swing

    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.

    step

    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.

    companycar

    500,000 miles on the clock. maybe out of warranty but what stories it could tell.

    prairiesign

    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.

    treasures

    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.

    prairiestore

    prairiestoredetails

    And all the little details made it here too.

    teatime

    Even with such a balanced life sometimes bad dreams slip in.....and then .........

    dreamcatcher

    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!!!!!

    futurephotos

    And then finally I found a home for my precious arch I lugged back from London.

    arch

    events

    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.

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  • 09/25/11--19:34: Inspiration And Beauty
  • bookandshop

    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.

    souvenirs2

    I always dreamed of having a little hotel someday, but somehow having a little shop on the property makes this all so real.

    fadedfloral

    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

    tshirt

    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)

    smokierpalette

    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.

    quintessential

    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.

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  • 09/27/11--12:55: Pastel And Purple Favourites
  • 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.

    seeingisbelieving

    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.

    artbyhappenstance

    Sometimes I find my best creativity just flows naturally. Without too much thought. Just letting pretty things find pretty things, creating beauty.

    pink roses

    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......

    balletshoes

    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.

    playinghouse

    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.

    fadedred

    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.

    path

    This purple carpet is the perfect metaphor that life is about the journey. In this case a wisteria journey.

    pinkdestination

    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.

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  • 10/04/11--16:13: 3 Years Gone By
  • remains

    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.

    spirit

    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.

    MothersPoem

    The wonderful thing about having my mum is that her inspirations live on through many facets of my life.

    beautyofimperfection

    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.

    journey

    On a practical level, her little tiny booth in Camden Passage in London was my entry into the world of retail.

    shop

    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.

    protecting

    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.

    messy

    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.

    mumgarden

    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.

    charcoal

    Mums piano playing was always a big part of "nana visits"

    duets

    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.

    funnymemory

    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.

    jakeandfinn

    motherand child

    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.

    apresent

    P.S. As only Mum would do. My "valuable bits" long gone now, except for the precious thought and envelope.

    preciouswords

    For information of book signing events, please click on home page of www.rachelashwellshabbychiccouture.com

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    eyecandy

    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.

    promdresses

    Even amongst the Big Picture of a movie or a little vignette, it is those little details that elevate art from mediocrity to magic.

    broochesz

    MA5_1

    Combining flea market treasures, a touch of luxury and bargains from the 99 cents store inspired by Marie, is so very shabby and chic.

    bling

    The funnest part of being inspired is absorbing a vision and translating it into our own world. And then the search for the treasures.

    roundtop

    Even for the most ordinary celebration over the top details can be layered in. Or fanciful in the most simple setting..........

    petticoatshade

    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.

    gorgeous

    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.

    hats

    While I am known for my rumpled feather and down white slipcovered sofas, I also love to compliment with comfy elegance.

    mushy

    I know I am not alone with being continually inspired by the vision Sofia Coppola gave us all with her translation.

    fantasy

    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.

    behindscenes

    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.

    mariewashere

    You can see more inspirations of Marie Antoinette online at www.rachelashwellshabbychiccouture.com

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  • 11/11/11--11:50: HOME
  • Such a teeny little four letter word that has such significance.

    home

    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.

    HomeFlowers

    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.

    malibuart

    It is known that my home is the house to come and do projects.

    floraldisplays

    laurence

    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.

    apron

    birthdaycake

    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.

    spectacular

    My bedroom sanctuary is another magical moment.

    bedroom

    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.

    cocodot

    cowboystars

    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.

    range

    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.

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  • 12/01/11--12:28: A Beautiful Artist
  • 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.

    book

    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.

    3010

    3025

    3011

    3026

    0646

    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.

    prairie

    petals

    paint

    dogs

    beauty

    thanks

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  • 12/19/11--08:23: GIRLS BEST FRIEND.........
  • 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.

    opendoor

    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".

    prettyinpink

    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.

    dozen

    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

    karmakar

    I so enjoyed making little floral moments for the party.

    bling

    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?

    collage

    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.

    whiteroses

    I so appreciated having the opportunity to have such a team in my life, truly, because it does take a village.

    lennon

    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.

    Love, Rachel

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  • 01/05/12--12:35: Enjoying Our Dreams
  • 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.

    opening

    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.

    collage

    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.

    prairie

    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.

    fleamarket

    Laurence Amelie and Ubaldo, my lovely French artist friends are planning to come stay with me and do another glorious collection of paintings.

    laurence

    Meanwhile my design team and I will continue to collaborate, and design for the Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture™ stores.

    designteam

    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.

    page

    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......

    home

    I plan to walk up and down that path loads this year.

    roses

    pathway

    I hope to slow down time , maybe freeze it if I can.....

    dress

    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.

    angelwings

    PS:

    building

    AND

    lily

    Set to launch at Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture™ Spring 2012!
    I love her but you can "like" her on her facebook page.

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  • 01/24/12--13:26: LEAVING LONDON
  • 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.

    londonfront

    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.

    bigtreasures

    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.

    archways

    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.

    brooch

    Much different to the magnificent masterpiece I found in a flea market last time.

    masterpiece
    (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.

    window

    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.

    shortcuts

    hyacinths

    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......

    bluedoors

    perfectsofa

    sticksandcurtains

    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.

    guestsleep

    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......

    countrybathroom

    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.

    angelwings

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  • 02/08/12--13:36: EVERYTHING PINK
  • Valentine's Day and Easter promotes my favorite ever palette, not that I need an excuse. We can always justify why pink works.......

    MYWORLD

    Pink has been referred to as the colour of love. It evokes romance, calmness, nostalgia for innocence and just simply pretty.

    behindthescens

    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."

    roses

    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)

    Throne

    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.

    cinderlla

    And if the chair just isn't so pretty, a simple pink slipcover can make a dramatic transformation.

    therapy

    Washing pink lace and silk by hand in a pink bowl is meditation and therapy all in one.......just priceless.

    pinkprom

    This should be an inspirational peace sign.....dreamlike and just a big AHHHHHHHHHHHH.

    detailamelie

    The accent of pink amongst flowers brings such joy and eye candy.

    crumblinghouse

    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.......

    P.S.
    And then don't forget, our most compatible day of the Year......Valentine's Day, where Everything Pink can be accepted by all......

    valentineday

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    driveway

    ON FEBRUARY 24TH - 26TH WE HOSTED OUR FIRST EVER SEMINAR AT THE PRAIRIE BY RACHEL ASHWELL BED & BREAKFAST.

    As with most new ventures, whether it be a store, a book, a TV show, a bed and breakfast...... once myself and my village decide to do something that seems viable and meaningful, we just work out how to do it.

    exercisebook

    I have never been one to learn much from a classroom or instruction manual, so it was rather profound to think I was to have my own classroom, of sorts.

    However, the combination of the inspirational qualities of The Prairie and my journey of my life and career, I felt I did possibly have some wisdom to share.

    The focus of the seminar was Creativity (Inspiration) & Business.

    Guests from all over the country started to gather on Friday afternoon.

    magicalmeals

    We started off with a little historical tour of The Prairie, to explain the hows and whys!!!!!

    wheremyheartis

    Over the course of the weekend we walked through the history of Shabby Chic.

    logosoveryears

    I shared my journey of the past 22 years of how my stores came into being...... and where we are today.

    storewall

    I have had openings and closings of stores over the years.

    startingagain

    RASCtoday

    We talked about my books and TV show......and other pivotal points of my career.

    booksandTV

    I have so enjoyed meeting all that have been touched by my design work. I acknowledge the influence of celebrities spreading the word of their love of my work.

    celebrities

    I so enjoyed sharing how life has been my inspiration....from the sticky fingers of my kids.

    jakeandlily

    And of course no seminar of mine would be complete without honoring my mum. My teacher, my inspiration and the example of "the beauty of imperfection."

    mumsworld

    And then of course somehow always Marie Antoinette always shows up in my work. Either directly or indirectly. I love Sophia Coppola's vision. Sumptuous and quirky.

    marieantoinette

    I opened up my inspiration book, to demonstrate direct and indirect translations of inspiration.

    tearsheets

    My inspiration book is forever changing. Some pages are forever to keep pages, some get borrowed for other projects, I add, I take away, I ponder, I see different elements at different times.......but always I am guaranteed to be creatively refueled.

    I explained to all, that sometimes I get inspiration from the sensibilities of others rather than their aesthetics.

    exhibit

    I was moved by the presentation of these ordinary elements, made extra ordinary by the focus of detail. Inspiring patience and appreciation of what is important to another.

    sconceandcrystal

    And then also how to see the power of the curve ball, the unexpected.

    Time really went so fast. all who came were so generous with their patience to listen, digest, ask questions and share their own journeys.....

    We watched two movies that have been very meaningful in my life. Out of Africa and Miss Potter. We all had hot chocolate and were mesmerized.

    The characters in both movie demonstrated passion, disciplines, focus, creativity and love......

    We all agreed we could have done with just a little more time. But then sometimes the best times are had when its not quite enough.

    All guests stopped by the store on their way out.

    prairiestore

    I was glad that I felt I was able to just be me, I was proud of my village who "pulled it off", seemingly seamlessly.......

    And lovely Grace made a take home token for all......

    vintagesouvenir

    Sometimes when something is so perfect, its hard to imagine it can ever be repeated, but hopefully.......

    lourdes

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    I have just returned from a few weeks at The Prairie. The Perfect balance to me of productivity (treasure hunting,socializing (with my Round Top family), and creativity, inspiration, peace and many ahhhhhhhs and wow moments.

    boysbarbecure

    I truly love the spirit of the locals, so very genuine and tough and sensitive....all rolled into one.

    As many of you know, I am now the proud owner of The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell. It serves as a home for my heart but also a very practical purpose during flea market week for me and my village and others on a similar path to me.

    slept

    While I don't actually have my own special room as they are all so lovely, I am flexible to whatever is available, I do seem to find myself upstairs at Liliput Lodge in the blue room. This is one of the most authentic rooms and structures on the whole property. I can live out my "Little House on the Prairie" to my hearts desire. And no matter where anyone sleeps, we all congregate to the Rangers Lounge for Danny's breakfast.......yummy. yummy.

    I spent over two weeks, shopping and shopping. From Warrenton to Carmine, to Marburger and the Big Red Barn, and everything in between. I truly could have kept on going......but the check books were used up and it was time to go home.

    I purchased big wow pieces and ditsy little details that make all the difference.

    breakingice

    trashcan

    fleamarketcollage

    Many people have asked me to share the costs of my treasures. Truly the prices are all over the place. For me, who has stores to fill, and a team of people that help move the treasures across the country and restore when needed, I can pay more in some instances, and less in others than if I were just a private shopper.

    But I do so appreciate the search that went into a piece, way before it flows through my hands. I am just so thankful to a fleeting part of the history of whatever it is I find.

    vintagefabrics

    I am always on the search for scraps of vintage fabrics for curtains and to make into decorative pillows. The scraps can be quite spendy now, but if used sparsely (using a more affordable fabric for the back), a vintage fabric pillow can be all that is needed to create a wow from a simple chair or sofa. And the more mixing and matching the better.

    vintagechina

    We are getting more and more requests to hold weddings in our barn (more to follow), so I spent much time building our library of vintage china for renting...... I loooove vintage china. Love finding odd matching pieces in $5.00 boxes to layer with the creme de la creme beauties. Truly gorgeous.

    It's always such a rush to see the piles of treasures build as the days go by.

    treasures

    thebarn

    The barn will be complete early May. I just might have to have a wedding one of these days......

    So with our treasure hunting behind us.....all the yummy pieces will begin the next part of their journeys until they land up in one of the Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture Stores, (or online, under vintage treasures), and eventually into a loving home.....

    prairiestore

    Not a lot of walk by traffic, but for sure a destination store.....

    All in all, my time at The Prairie was as lovely as ever.

    I was able to have many chats with guests and customers, and also just be quiet to reflect.....a wonderful way to bring magic to my stores and be inspired over and over for future design......

    PS....

    beautifulgifts

    I wanted to thank all who have given me gifts over recent times. Every forever to keep present, or flowers, or yummy foods are so very appreciated by me. Over time I will try and say thank you to y'all, but my village doesn't include a thank you person, so for now just know I am so appreciative for your thoughts and words and gifts. I am also trying to keep up personally with the various streams of social media. My personal Rachel Ashwell Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and blog are all written by me, and I read every single one of your comments.

    It takes quite some time to communicate in a way that feels authentic and true to myself and also be of interest to y'all. I try to photograph life as it goes by, but sometimes I just want to experience life and not worry about recording other than my simple little memory.

    So if there are times where I seem not to do such a good job of sharing through social media, it might just be I was so caught up in the moment, and that's a good thing..... but thank you for reading and commenting on my journeys... .........

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  • 04/23/12--13:48: My Everything Barn...
  • I was drawn to my home because of its hodgepodge qualities. When I decided to buy it, it supported the reality of my soon to be "empty nest", but also the revolving door of house guests. It is plenty big when needed, and quite cozy when it's just little old me.

    I have shared with y'all, my garden is the pride and joy of my home. All that was lacking to complete my country home in the city fantasy was a barn. So a few years ago I set to transition my dream into a reality.

    barndream

    siesta

    Barns have always held a magical quality for me. Something about the way the light shafts play thru the gapes and cracks....hide and go seek moments along with extra space for "whatever".....

    barnlunch

    Leftover and hodgepodge chairs and dinnerware are the perfect aesthetic for a barn party, somehow anything else would feel forced.

    royaltybarnstyle

    I squeezed quite a few into this event.......many wows and ahhs, along with some comfortable quiet moments...

    From time to time my barn is used for photo shoots for our www.rachelashwellshabbychiccouture.com website....

    It's a wonderful blank slate with texture and character, and the lovely light is our best friend.

    vintagetreasure

    The cement floor, white washed paneling, big barn doors and high ceiling allow for product we are shooting to be complimented by but not in competition with the setting.....the product being shot is center stage, with a wonderful chorus in the background to support its magic.

    overflow

    Occasionally I buy more than had planned so my barn serves as a temporary overflow. Problem is, once a piece gets this close to my home, sometimes it slides over to the "forever to keep" section. (this Spanish trunk certainly did).

    gathering

    The inside outside quality of a barn is so classic. Allowing for an intimate impromptu dinner party, along with my star of sticks.....(Love these. We get them from time to time in our stores)

    pathofroses

    Over the past few weeks and during prior visits, I have shared with you all, the transition of my barn into an artists studio. Specifically for my dear friend Laurence Amelie. She visits me twice a year from France. She says the light is better for painting in California than in Paris. But I think she also enjoys my company!!!!!! And my garden path that she walks each day to the barn.

    book

    Laurence Amelie is inspired by beauty in movement. Flowers and tutus have been her subjects of the past two seasons. As with all artists her interpretation changes from painting to painting. But the end result is always nothing less that breathtaking.

    transluscenttulle

    I can only imagine that first brush stroke on a blank canvas is as daunting and exciting as the empty page, waiting for words......

    waitingformagic

    Laurence's process is nearly a spiritual journey to observe.......while I cannot paint I can appreciate the absorption in the story telling through brush strokes that are an extension of feeling.......

    laurence

    One cannot be neurotic about paint splashes if you welcome an artist into your home. It just comes with the territory. An adjustment at first, but now the left behind splodges are rather endearing.....

    plastic

    In Laurence's wonderfully stylish way, even splattered in paint, sometime literally from head to toe, she still has an air of elegance.

    splattered

    While the Spring 2012 was nearly all Tutus, the diversity of her palette gave way to very different atmospheres of each painting. Always playful, always with such movement, always ahhhhhhhhhhs.......

    marie

    As with my vintage treasures, Laurence's paintings are right under my nose, and I so want to keep many. but then I feel greedy and want to share her beauty as I do my fleamarket treasures with the world. But sometimes, I have regrets.

    gotawaY

    collage

    So today Laurence is back in France. She was quite sad to leave. Her paintings are selling before the paint is fully dry. I walked down my garden path to the barn today to see the extent of the paint splashes.........and truly, if I didn't have a photo shoot this week in the barn, I would leave every little splash left behind, because even Laurence's splashes are magic to me.....

    grandfinale

    blankwall

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  • 07/30/12--14:51: Living Life
  • Where in the world did THREE MONTHS GO!!!

    Time has flown by, I have been soooo busy.  I have  attempted to be not so busy with a mini stay vacation.....which turned into a teeny time off.

    But that's the downside of not wanting to take time out from life.......however I would be lying to say I've been cranky and should at the very least give my friends, family and work village, a rest from ME........


    DAD AND FAMILY.....

    In May dad made the move from London to Los Angeles.

    Since mum passed, my dad has been lost, and he/we thought returning to his roots in the USA might help him feel grounded. (dad was born in Chicago but has lived in London for 60 years)  Moving was quite an ordeal emotionally, logistically and practically, with the whole big ocean to cross.....



    Mum was such the glue and warmth in our home, I didn't really know my dad so well. So this has been a new relationship for us both.

    Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimers so he is living nearby in a facility that supports his needs. I am learning how to handle the disease and my relationship with Dad.  Its not easy, but a lesson in tolerance, acceptance and patience.

    As time goes on I am learning the various forms gifts present themselves to us. And so much of how we receive, is our own prospective.


    I have been keeping in touch with y'all thru Facebook and my latest form of communication in Instagram.

    So this blog  isn't all news to y"all. I am learning all the bells and whistles of Instagram so I can share my journeys ......


    My stay vacation was at my Malibu Beach house.

    Not so far from my LA life, but a world away.......my cell phone and texting don't work so emails support less of a  "knee jerk" reaction to questions. So I do unwind a little.

    Malibu is world famous (ala Baywatch), for bikinis and waves............my Malibu is a little different. I of course love the warm ocean breeze, but will happily enjoy a long walk on a grey day....


    My sad songs fit right at home on these days.


    July 4th fell under the June gloom cloak and I didn't do much other than catch up with some sleep and peek at some fireworks.....

    As silly as it sounds, sometimes I just love to putter amongst my own stuff. When I get so busy I find myself having to delegate out "to do " things in my life, that I actually love to do, laundry, ironing, folding is one of those things......

    The joy of seeing my linen cupboard, filled with archives of my sheets, from years gone by, gives me simple joy.


    And then sometimes, I am happy to have a little celebration.......In Malibu the star of the show is always the ocean........ early start and early good nites seems to be the rhythm of social gatherings........

    Talking of parties......

    A friend of mine decided to have an impromptu birthday party and so I had a lovely excuse to create some magic.....


    No matter what the season, I always like to set the tone of any celebration with whatever flowers I can find an abundance of to create luxury and WOW.


    Following the mantra "IT'S ALL ABOUT THE DETAILS". I popped flowers at each "water moment"


    The vibe of the party was somewhat country and I wanted to keep the flower budget down due to how many I needed.  So I focused on bundles of wildflowers placed on foam inside several wooden barrels.


    My friend had a favourite supermarket bought cake. I gave it some specialness with a few roses.


    And then I sprinkled extra petals on the path... I certainly didn't come up with this idea but each and every time I implement it, it always feels so magical......


    I completed the spontaneous celebration with creating an "ahhh" moment at the head of the table.

    Bits and bobs of vintage flowers and layers of vintage fabric were the perfect ingredients.......my usual influence of Marie Antoinette complimenting a blueberry crate of hydrangeas with a little bit of country.

    It was truly a lovely event, many WOW moments without too much fuss and bother..... 

    And now back to work.....


    Fortunately as hard a I work, I love what I do.  Its where my creativity gets to play and where I get to work with my village.

    Recently I worked on some Fall 2012 product collections......

    My imagination visited Italy, Russia and Paris and aesthetically told stories......



    I have never been to Russia, but I have been fascinated by what I have read of the cottages, fabrics and eclectic beautiful hodge-podge decor .


    Often my decor is thought Of as being oversized, but actually I love love small spaces. I have been focusing on smaller scale furniture for fellow cottage and shack lovers....


    Patience is a virtue in my world.....process of product development. It takes time to get all the little "je ne sais quoi" details. Getting the patina, the hand of the fabric, or the finish of the wood, is no easy feat.....it doesn't always work. Sometimes an inspiration from an authentic vintage piece just doesn't work out.  And sometimes with a lot of effort and trial and error something wonderful is created, usually through a collaborative passion and understanding.


    The manifestation of much talk, ideas and effort, the simplest most spectacular table is about to be launched into Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture. SO very rewarding for all concerned.


     I have more projects lined up to share. Instagram is such a great tool for that.


    This fantasy took us to Paris, with that in mind, the little touches had a backstory and I had a wealth of yumminess to pull from......and share with y'all.........

    My last little share is a surprise delight to me.....

    Over the past few years I have managed to gain a pound here and a pound there.  To the point my favourite jeans had to be put in the (don't fit but can't part with, side of my closet!!!!)

    I also just wasnt feeling great.....I have tried many different diets overtime.....A friend of mine invited me to join a weightwatchers group with her and some other ladies.


    While the point system is there to help with portion control, I have found that it has helped give me the structure to make my meals a special moment. Whatever and whenever I eat, I appreciate, and I make as pretty as I can......

    After weight watchers no "on the go" snacks anymore.....

    We meet once a week, for our weigh in and our camaraderie time.  We share stories and frustrations, and I find this process of a support group very powerful. something I haven't done much in my life. And on those busy days when I think I don't have time to do the 10,000 steps a day, (part of our goal to success),  I remember my team and off I go, one step at a time.....And the pounds, little by little, are leaving us all.

    To come......


    Next blog not so far away....

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  • 10/16/12--11:28: Treasures...

  • Golly, another 3 months have gone by.  I truly thought it had been only one and a bit...

    Once again, busy busy bee........ I continue to post daily on FB, Instagram and Twitter but my dear sweet blog, where it all started, I have been so neglectful......




    I have just returned from the Fall Round Top 2012 Antique Show. Lots of treasures although they hid themselves from me a little more than usual.


    More than anything what I love about  these particular flea markets, is the palette, patina and pretty paint.....
    some pieces are embellished and repainted, years ago or maybe more recently. But no where in the world is it more exciting to watch my pile of treasures grow and see the colours flow into each other, truly like a symphony.


    Function and beauty is my criteria as I search thru the fields. over the course of the 2 weeks that I shop, I sometimes see the same things, and what initially appeared to me to be junk on a few days becomes a treasure.....



    I often smile when two very different treasures seem to just find each other.....and create poetry of sorts.


    Amongst the large flakey painted cabinetry, its always a nice change of pace to fumble thru boxes of little things.......once upon a time someone else's treasure.....and now for a while at least, mine.




    Sometime treasures are already sold by the time I find them, and that's just a bummer

    But sometimes also I come home, and pieces haunt me and I wish I had bought them. Sometimes in the context of the fleamarket something might seem to expensive, or just not quite "something" but once home I wish I had gone with my instinct. 




    The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell is now in its second year and taking on a dreamlike quality. Sooooo much to do there always. What with searching for treasures from sunrise to sunset.


    AND 

    (still working on Memoirs too)

    AND


    AND 



    AND


    Danny worked his magic to transform our former tool shed into a suite fit for a princess (or ME!)

    AND 


    Another masterpiece of Danny's. For weddings and other celebrations in life. Many a time on my last visit I would just go quietly sit to absorb the true wonderment of this building. A true example of something AWESOME.

    This little greenhouse hasn't yet found its true function on the Prairie yet, but it certainly was the show stopper this visit, having allowed itself to be draped in the most beautiful vine with teeny purple flowers......



    Jake and I went on a little long road trip  through up state New York and Vermont, seeking beautiful vintage fabrics. He and I have a similar comfort with silence but value conversation when the time arises....we traveled hundreds of miles, popped on some ferries........heirlooms for others, memories for he and I.


    A few days prior to my excursion with Jake was fashion week in NY.......Lily gave a little sneak peek in NY of her long awaited Holiday 2012 apparel collection. (November launch) As with my world, it was her vision from beginning to end, but she too found a village to support her.




    Even though my uniform of jeans and white (sometimes grey) t shirts, have had little contribution to Lily's inspiration, my obsessive attention to details, authenticity, quality and substance is certainly evident in her work. Every stitch is sewn locally so her standards are achieved, vintage laces and buttons help tell her story........so similar to  the values of her mama, her prices are higher than some other, but her pieces are forever to keep both in quality and aesthetics....so priceless. www.lilyashwell.com



    A little California beach cottage that I recently renovated with the recipe of vintage wallpaper, fabrics and tiles was the backdrop for Lily's photo shoot.........a little house with quite a presence.



    Lovely print on the dress and pattern on the floor.


    I have stolen moments in Malibu over the last three months... I can always count on all that Malibu has fed me over the past 25 years.......fuel, peace, inspiration....ahhhhhhhhs.



    A very metaphoric experience for me..... trust and breathe......



    Found  little moments of playtime with friends and family. remembering to TRY and be playful. Not always so easy for me.....
     

    Dad and Me.....

    We are nearly 5 months into his transition from independent London living to restricted LA life.

    Alzheimers is a journey for all involved......but I am relieved, proud and humbled to say, during this process I have found a treasure in my dad, that I never knew was there....his forgetfulness and confusion causes for frustrations but he also forgets that he didn't ever show his feelings..... until now, and now he shows them, from time to time.

    I find when I return from a trip, he is at the top of my list, because I want to see him.......that's a treasure and a WOW for me......



    PS: oh and then Jaimee, Tait and Finn, welcomed little OTIS......its been a busy 3 months.......



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  • 03/07/13--07:47: "Back to Blogging"
  • If any one is still there.........I am finally getting caught up with my writing projects.


    My upcoming book is the biggest culprit  of why I haven't had the time nor the creative head space to blog these past months ........ But I think it will be a forgivable excuse.

    Rachel Ashwell Couture Prairie has been a joy to work on. I feel guilty to take much credit for such beauty, as the subject matter is just one big "eye candy".  And the story of how this London girl, found home on the range, was an easy one to tell.

    We will have our launch party for the book at The Prairie during Fall Antique week, so hoping as many of you can plan ahead for that event.....I promise to wear a dress (and jeans.)



    This was a proud milestone in my career. While photos have no language i am glad that my stories, values and journeys that are bring meaning to my aesthetics, can now be understood in other countries.








    It is a very challenging balance when one is creative, but also owns a company, of how to allow for creativity to flow, be recharged, have time to absorb and ponder......all while still being involved in cash flow, inventory, personnel and all else that goes into a business.

    A place to start for me, is to have a creative vibe within the office.....

    Chandeliers and floppy flowers, share space with legal files and spread sheets. Both are of equal importance to sustain a company.





    I find that every piece of my design process should be as inspirational as possible, journals, writing materials, tape, paper....somehow it brings depth to the end result.




    As I approach my 25th year in retail, (Santa Monica store is in the same location), I pride myself that my own personal standard for excellence has only risen and risen. It is so easy, with rising costs of rents, materials and every day life, to try and cut corners to either make more profit or offer a product of less quality......But in the world of Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture™, my value is to create products with meaning. with details that sometimes only we know behind the scenes are even there. But in the end, I do believe what is evident to all is that everything that has our label on it, carries with it a little soul of substance.

    I am happy to say i have had some time to make new family memories......

    I can go as far as to say, my dad is happy.......

    As much as I dearly miss mum, it is clear to me why dad is still here.

    A relationship I never knew was there, now has a place, and its quite lovely.......


    Life's biggest most ginormous and huge gift is that of our children.

    I could go on forever and talk and then there are no words to describe how much I love them.....but I like them too.....

    We had a lovely reunion in NY this winter, going down memory lane of ice skating and hot chocolate.....

    Jake keeping me steady on my feet, as I had done for him 21 years prior......and Sadie is Lily's new addition.....what a big positive presence this little puppy brings into the world.



    Growing up in London but living in Los Angeles is a quite a cultural change....and of course to me, now home. but my inner wiring yearns for seasons. I need the inward months, the months to be shy, the months to bloom and the months to shine........

    So I gave myself this January and February a winter this year in NYC.

    My daily run was along the Hudson River, and as freezing as it was, I think I finally found my endorphins.

    The NY skyline, the river with the ferries tugging along, the fluffy snowflakes and puppies in their shoes was all an exhilarating, sight and I could have run forever.


    For those you follow me on FB or Instagram, much of this isn't news. I do write all my own social media, therefore while I am a busy bee, I only have so much news to spread around......


    Even way back then, lily had a thing about vintage clothes, and oh so very fussy about the details. so it is rather fitting that now she has begun her own clothing line, simply,  www.lilyashwell.com



    I have been in the furniture business for 25 years, but in my mind sofas, bedding, accessories and fabrics are the manifestations of my story telling....

    I have observed, Lily too starts with her stories, and the clothes are her vehicles to tell her stories.



    Lily loves flowers as I do .......of course she is inspired by me, her dad and her childhood. but it is now full circle of the inspiration that she brings to me........



    I actually miss blogging. I love how spontaneous instagram and FB are to share my adventures, but I intend to get back on track with blogging, now my book is off to the printers, and before I begin the next.......my memoirs and history of Shabby Chic.....


    Or do think about coming to The Prairie B & B for Couture Prairie Book launch in the Fall along with a beautiful collection of Laurence Amelie Fall 2013 paintings.


    For whoever is still around to read this......thank you. thank you thank you........



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  • 03/21/13--20:58: DREAM CREATED.....
  • This week the village of Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture worked towards creating a magical moment in NYC for the DIFFA event held at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show.



    The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell serves as such inspiration in so many ways, from flea market shopping, to diversity of aesthetics that still all fall under the values of Beauty, Comfort and Function, so finding a way to bring the peace and magic to all corners of the globe.



    Any excuse to go to the flower market whether on the East or West Coast.  It's my one obsession and where I admit to being somewhat greedy.


    We have limited budgets when participating in these types of events. Jake and his buddy Ben built the structure in the basement of our Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture store. Paint fumes fought with our fragrant candles but I love projects that come together with the village and in our village.......

    Early mornings, late nights...all with the common thread of wanting to create something of meaning and substance.


    Somehow we got some extra teeny bags that were way to small for the postcards.....so now I will design something to fit the bag.


    I have a little traveling road show of my favorite special treasures that I use for magical installations.

    Panels of vintage lace and floppy flowers speak 1000 words, quietly but beautifully.sometimes my floppy flowers become smooshed and a quick steam over my kettle brings a spring back in their step.


    I love Bennison fabrics more than any other fabrics in the whole entire world. there is something about the palette and the touch that is unique. Spendy for sure, but a little goes a long long way.


    All the little details of drippy candles. mix match china, fake, floppy and real flowers, makes for a symphony of beauty. If you are in NYC area this weekend, please stop by Pier 94 at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show.

    My vision perhaps, but my treasures of bits and bobs and my team who shares my passion made for a special event .....all for a special cause.......DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting Aids)

    All that is left now is what do I wear to the ball......

    Maybe a dress from Lily's collection.....



    Next week will write and show photos from the fields of the flea markets in Texas and The Prairie......