Take a sneak peek into the home of Rachel Ashwell, founder of the Shabby Chic brand and discover her design and interior inspirations for creating a beautiful, comfortable and liveable home…
"Home truly is where we hang our hats, and I have hung my hats in a lot of different places. When I move into a home, I never quite know my length of stay but 'home is where the heart is' are the truest of words. My philosophy is that wherever I am, I make my nest, even in a rented home or hotel. With flowers, music, candles, and beautiful, comfortable, and functional things, a home will be that much lovelier a place for our hearts to be."
Authentic is the way I would describe my kitchen. While I have affections for squeaky cupboards, wonky drawers, and dripping faucets, the reality is that every kitchen needs careful planning and to function well. I removed most of the cupboards and installed a couple of open shelves, my philosophy being that if you don’t use it, lose it, and if I can’t see it, I forget I have it, so all my new and vintage dinnerware and odd useful charming things end up for daily use, not always as originally intended, but used nonetheless. The countertops are of pure white Thasos marble honed to take off the shine and straight-edged— any bevel would have been too fancy. A rough wood dresser houses a multitude of things, and baskets sit underneath, storing essentials. On top, a microwave and books rumble together in orderly chaos. Farmhouse sinks to me are a must for any home that can house one, and I love how they bring instant cottage or castle to the story. Pots and pans and cleaning things are actually hidden away in unsqueaky drawers under the countertop, concealed by crudely constructed rough wood doors.
My office at home
Other than a couple of pale blue painted harvest tables, a white leather chair, and breezy voile curtains hung on a set of French doors, everything else in the room evolves and changes as my projects command. Fortunately everything that pops in is usually so lovely in some form or another that process and mess always look beautiful. Behind my desk is a memo board that’s an ever-evolving work of art. Cards made by my children share equal status with my bits and bobs and dates to remember, mainly already past.
The hodgepodge room
This room could easily have been the forgotten space or the walk-through room at best, had it not been the recipient of a misplaced but much appreciated fireplace more suited to a drafty castle than my sunny Californian home. But nonetheless, its presence gave the room the upper hand over its sister room where the television and the kitchen sit. I have always loved dark brown leather Chesterfield sofas but never had the right home. Finally this seemed right. However, I did change the leather set of cushions for sage velvet so I still had elements of my mushy comfort. The shallow but densely strung and clustered crystal chandelier hangs low over the coffee table. Dimly lit, with candles and the fire, it is nearly impossible not to have a romantic moment.
I am just as happy in a beach shack or a barn in the fields of Texas; however, when I want the classical, luxurious hotel experience I am often left disappointed with corporate luxury. This bedroom was my stage to create the Grand Hotel that I have yet to find: a place to play out my imaginings of being a princess. Decadent plush silks, velvets, and crumpled linens were my vision. To me, a test of lovely bedding is if the bed looks equally yummy unmade. A vital glamour element is vintage lighting: chandeliers, wall sconces, and lampshades (often tattered) make the story real.
For more interior inspiration from Rachel, check out her book Shabby Chic Interiors, photography by Amy Neunsinger © CICO Books.