A distinct ‘lived in’ quality with a mantra of beauty, comfort, and function is what distinguishes the iconic brand Shabby Chic Couture by Rachel Ashwell. Celebrities like Jessica Simpson and Pamela Anderson have devoted entire homes in Los Angeles to this aesthetic and have allowed Ms. Ashwell to bring her design movement into their homes. Shabby Chic style has become an aesthetic movement. Most recently, it’s been punctuated by “Cottagecore” style, but shabby chic has been around for a long time, and it is Rachel Ashwell’s brand which has brought the joy of beauty and imperfection into the homes of so many since 1989.
Shabby Chic style is well worth studying because it brings us back to basics! Ms. Ashwell has written numerous books (below), most recently the adorable “Rachel Ashwell’s Painted Stories: Vintage, decorating, thoughts, and whimsy” released in April 2021. The images that she presents are a wonderful inspiration for how you can begin to think about where shabby chic style fits into your life. There are layers to this style and there are ways to personalize the aesthetic to lean into your favorite look! For example, I adore the color pink, so I would lean into shades of pink and anything that reminds me of ballet. Whereas, you could lean into pale blue instead if you prefer shades of pale blue to be the dominant color. In this way, you could add shells and have more of a nautical theme. You can also do this for different areas of your home or do themed rooms. Pinterest has unending ideas for DIY shabby chic decorations which can complement pieces you purchase.
There are no real rules to shabby chic, aside from the general vintage aesthetic melting well together. Something I find particularly appealing about the brand is the fact that it’s a merging together of proper British style with laidback California style. Ms. Ashwell’s upbringing is fascinating: her father was an antique books dealer and her mother was an antique doll seller. She grew up a Bohemian childhood in London. Her extensive experience with maneuvering flee markets was essential in recognizing value in certain pieces and moving quickly when you know that a piece is special or fits the aesthetic that you are building in your home. To me, shabby chic style is all about aesthetic appeal combined with functionality. First and foremost, you are living in your home! Make the most out of how it looks with a whimsical, fairytale appeal (even if you are on a budget) and maximize function at the same time.
Here is a list of some of my favorite items with whimsy that Shabby Chic is currently selling: