Designer Spotlight: Rachel Ashwell, Queen of Shabby Chic
August, 2011
Designer Spotlight: Rachel Ashwell, Queen of Shabby Chic













Rachel Ashwell is without doubt one of the most talented and successful designers of our time. In 1989 she launched her interiors brand, Shabby Chic, which has been a huge success and is now also one of the most coined phrases in the interiors industry; a style that is coveted by millions all over the world.

On the back of the success of her vintage-inspired brand she has released numerous books as well as opening boutique stores in USA and London. Now her gorgeous Shabby Chic collection is available to a wider audience thanks to her exclusive collaboration with House of Fraser. To coincide with the launch of the range, Rachel took time out of her extremely busy schedule to chat to the House of Fraser in-house blog:

What inspired Shabby Chic?
Beauty, comfort and function. I wanted to bring the beauty of imperfection into the home, but in a practical way. That’s why one of our first Shabby innovations was removable furniture covers.

What is it you think people love about the brand?
Shabby has a beautiful neutral colour palette which blends in easily with what you already have in your home, so it’s essentially a very simple scheme to work with. It can also be quite affordable – you don’t need to spend huge amounts to create the look.

Your mum restored antique dolls and teddy bears and your dad was a rare second hand book dealer – do you think their professions influenced the design direction behind Shabby Chic?
Yes definitely. The introduction to my last book was dedicated to her (mum), because although I had no interest in dolls, she taught me almost subliminally how to restore aged things to their original function without denting its character. It was through her that I discovered the beauty of imperfection. My father, on the other hand, taught me how to think quickly on my feet in a market situation.

You’re known as a big fan of flea markets. What are your top flea market shopping tips?
Well on the practical front, take cash. Vendors don’t like cheques. Also, have measurements with you – it’s one thing deciding that cabinet will fit through your front door but what about turning it round the corner into your living room? Also – it’s great to have half a mind open to new things but it’s always handy to take a shopping list.

What are your top 3 interior decorating tips?
Less is more – don’t cram too much into a space. Choose a theme – whether it’s based on colour or style. And, thirdly, remain patient – particularly if you’re re-designing your home or have just moved in somewhere. Start with the necessities first and then let the other things take time.

You live in the States but are English born and bred – what do you miss most about England?
The culture and the history – the fact that Beatrix Potter lived here, Wuthering Heights was written here and there’s nowhere quite like it.

{Images courtesy of House of Fraser}