As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I was giddy with excitement to be invited down to London to meet Rachel Ashwell. As the founder of Shabby Chic, she has created one of the most influential interior design movements of the last few decades. Rachel had a book signing and seminar in her Notting Hill shop, to coincide with the launch of her beautiful new book, The World of Shabby Chic.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that Rachel’s work is a huge inspiration to me. I first came across one of her books many years ago, and instantly fell in love with the idea of reusing and re-loving vintage pieces, furniture and textiles, with their faded elegance and patina. Her colour palette of soft whites, pastels and muted greys have shaped the palette I’ve used in my own home, and I was encouraged to embrace decorating and furnishing in white and pale shades, despite having a young family with sticky hands!
So as you can imagine, I felt pretty star struck (and nervous!) when I walked into the beautiful shop just off Portobello Road. Rachel was kind enough to sit down with me and tell me a little bit more about the mantra behind Shabby Chic – Beauty, Comfort and Function. When her children were very young, she wanted to have a beautiful home, but to not be that mother who worried about the children climbing over the sofas’s with grubby hands and shoes – an idea which I found such a breath of fresh air when I first read one of her books when my daughter was little. Washable covers for sofas and chairs, and furniture which celebrates the beauty in chipped and worn paint makes this the perfect interior style for families. We had such a lovely chat, and I loved hearing about her treasure hunting at the flea markets and antique fairs across the States. She is so passionate about the Shabby Chic lifestyle, and I came away feeling utterly inspired.
I spent a good half an hour taking some snaps in the shop, which is the very essence of Shabby Chic – amazing, soft sofa’s that you can snuggle into, tinkling chandeliers, divine vintage furniture and exquisite paintings by Laurenece Amelie.
The seminar was wonderful, we made ourselves comfortable on the huge sofas and Rachel talked us through her new book. How she inherited her love of treasure hunting at flea and antique markets from her parents, her first job in Hollywood which meant she had access to the props rooms for both 20th Century Fox and Universal Studios (I love this story!) and the journey she has travelled over the years, from starting the business whilst bringing up small children, to the brand Shabby Chic as it is now. I went down to London with two copies of her books and she kindly signed them for me – I even got a snapshot with her!
I have been sent a copy of the new book, and I’m very much looking forward to reading it cover to cover over the next few weeks – I will be posting a review once I finish it. You can follow Rachel on Instagram here and her beautiful blog is here.
Have a wonderful weekend!