Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home
When I was in LA this past July on my book tour, I had the honor of meeting Rachel Ashwell who attended my signing and mood board event at Anthropologie. It was surreal to meet her for a second time, the first was in 2005 when I went to one of her warehouse sales and shyly asked for an autographed copy of one of her books. It was amazing to have the table turned and I felt a huge shift inside when she was at my signing... so much HAS happened in my life since 2005 that even I can't believe it sometimes.
Rachel, who most of you know as the founder of Shabby Chic and who created the Shabby Chic decorating style in the first place, has had a very full career as a designer, author, television personality and so much more. Currently, she's celebrating the launch of her latest book, Rachel Ashwell: Shabby Chic Inspirations and Beautiful Spaces (which is lovely) and hosting book signings in these locations. In this post, I've snapped photos from my visit in her home and shop, including her inspiration journal that I kept peeking at while she spoke over tea and sweets. I am forever inspired by handmade books packed with collected images and things - loosely curated but always a theme when those doing the collecting have a good sense of personal style. Below are more photos from her home in LA.... This one is from the tabletop where I sat with Rachel discussing her new book, my book, blogging, social networking, her roots, business in general... It was a very full and memorable discussion that I'll never forget.
In addition to products, Rachel is also enjoying these girly gorgeous retreats that she sets up for creative ladies in her ranch in Texas called The Prairie, decorated in her signature style, of course. Her successful Simply Shabby Chic line at Target is still going strong and she has an online shop and four boutiques called Shabby Chic Couture located in London, New York, Los Angeles and on her property at The Prairie B&B in Texas. Despite the peeks and lows of being such a massive brand with a huge cult following for over 20 years, Rachel has found her comfortable landing spot after lots of change in her own company and is completely at ease being smaller but better than ever. My kind of lady.
I'm sure you are wondering how I was able to get into the private home of Rachel Ashwell. I wondered that through most of my visit, in fact! Well, it was quite easy - she openly invited me and my friend, Leslie Shewring. She's been following my blog and knows of my book because she contributed to Decorate. We also share a connection -- one of her best friends, Amy Neunsinger, is someone I know as well - we shot her home for Decorate and if you have the book, you'll see it throughout.
A glimpse into Rachel's home office and mood board
A fireplace mantel with leaning art work and an old, battered wooden cabinet from Texas in soft blue in the living room.
Even her office was loaded with feminine details like this boho style pillow lazily lounging on her office chair and a big basket of ribbons on her file cabinet.
I love how she displayed vintage ceramics on the ledge above her kitchen sink just at the window. It was beautiful to look at them but also to see the garden view outside. I also appreciate details like beads and ribbons adorning cabinet handles. I do this too, so there was a sense of familiarity when I came across them throughout her home.
Her kitchen is a little old and new. I personally love hardwood floors in a kitchen combined with stainless appliances so I think this looks a bit country but also smart.
This corner in her dining area was so pretty, I loved how the light streamed in...
I found mirrors throughout her home, in every room it seemed... I love how they add a sense of space. In this one, you can see the reflection of her guest bathroom. Isn't the wallpaper lovely?
Rachel had a rack of vintage clothing randomly placed in her living room - rather unexpected, but very Rachel. I couldn't stop looking through them, each piece was unique and had some sweet detail from smocking to decorative buttons...
A view of her living room... the ethnic touches on the sofa make it very global, which I like.
More details from adorned handles to rustic finishes and embroidered vintage art work.
Rachel is a very spiritual person, evident throughout her home. All of the saints were represented and even a Buddha. Her en suite bathroom had gorgeous tile on the floor and felt very serene in gray, pale blue and white.
Her bedroom was paired down, simple, pretty...
Another bathroom in her home had some vintage details I had to capture, though I didn't have my DSLR on me and my amazing lens so I had to make due with my old point and shoot. After taking the photo on the left, I grabbed the flower and a necklace from an adjacent room and placed it on a table in front of a window - the lighting was so perfect, I had to capture it somehow.
The artwork in her dining room was particularly pretty and varied. I also liked this golden headboard in a spare room upstairs.
After visiting Rachel at home, we left feeling elated and energized. We grabbed a snack at Le Pain Quotidien and then hit Shabby Chic Couture in Santa Monica. Here are a few snaps of some things in the store that caught my eye...
What a special treat to spend hours chatting with such an inspirational lady in the world of design. I mean, seriously, imagine creating a decorating style that is known around the world? That's quite a contribution and something that will always be associated with the one and only Rachel Ashwell. Thank you Rachel for inviting me into your home.
(images: holly becker, taken with a basic point and shoot)