The return of an original...

Rachel Ashwell's new book.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or so the old saying goes. But while there may be many who strive to achieve the same look, no one does it better than the original Shabby Chic designer herself, Rachel Ashwell.
I read several months ago that her business had fallen on hard times: A badly-timed expansion that came just as the bottom was falling out of the economy forced her to declare bankruptcy and close her retail stores. Her Simply Shabby Chic line at Target, however, was unaffected, so many may not have known of the trouble, since that seems to be her widest outlet. When I read on her blog - which is lovely, by the way - that she was writing a new book (her first in several years), I wasn't sure what to expect. There have been so many people who have played on the Shabby Chic name and brand, I wondered if there was anything really left to say. Or show.
Curiosity got the better of me, though, and I ordered her book - "Shabby Chic Interiors" - from Amazon. It arrived about a week ago and as soon as I got it out of the box, I knew I was in for a treat. It was bigger than I was expecting, and of course I was instantly in love with the pink couch on the front (shocking, huh?). Reading through the book, I was reminded why often the original is indeed better than the imitators. Rachel Ashwell has an ability to see beauty other people miss - and the ability to convey that beauty in her decorating. It's an innate sense, honed I'm sure by years of flexing that muscle. Her new book is wonderful - the look is still hers, but it has evolved. Beauty spills from every page.
Maybe proving the point that an original is often a hard act to beat, even when down, I came across this recent article in the New York Times about the quick rebirth of Ashwell's company. Oddly enough, the same recession that helped end her business as it was may provide her salvation. In tough times, people tend to turn back to simpler ways, back to making due with less, back to seeking out beauty as a way to soothe their soul. And so, her company has been reborn, with a new partner and some modifications. It seems Ashwell's slightly rumpled, light and comfortable form of beauty is back in vogue. If you get a chance, check out her new book and see for yourself.

The original - her first book.


  1. you've sold me! :-)

  2. So glad she is back and hopefully her business is booming. I will keep an eye out for her new book.

  3. I've adored her for years and years and you're one does it quite like her! I need to get the looks fabulous.

    Thank you so much sweet friend for your kind words and well wishes!

    Love and hugs,

  4. I am itching to get my hands on this book, I am waiting for my bookstore to call me as I am on the list...

  5. I did not know she has a new book out.. I have her first one and then another one.. This new book sounds really great,, I am going to check out my book club and find her new book... I can't wait to see it...


  6. I looked at it at B&N and it looked pretty good. She's expanded her colors to include some darker furniture so that was nice to see that she's updating her look.


  7. Isn't her new book wonderful? You are right, she is the original and can see beauty in so many things others just walk by.

  8. Wow, I remember that first book! She's fabulous!

  9. This book is definitely on my wish list. I follow her blog too and was so sad at her troubles but in true Rachel fashion, she is turning things around and doing it her way...thank goodness!

  10. So glad things are going wonderfully for her again.

    I signed up a follower of yours last week I think as I so admire your lovely blog and Beauty is so very important to me also. Come see me when you have a moment - new blog: Beauty and Blessings

    Cynthia K.

    P.S. One of your previous posts showed some wonderful decorating ideas--you remember the teacups in drawer used to hold jewelry. I love that and I'm so disappointed in myself that I didn't think of that - I have so many "orphan" teacups too!! It is just my type of style - I will surely copy it.


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