On a recent trip through Goodwill I stumbled across an original hardcover edition of Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic from 1996. I snatched it up immediately having never owned a copy of the first book that introduced the world to her incredible style. Of course I’m more than familiar with the unmistakable staples of the Shabby Chic movement: soft floral feminine fabrics, muted tones with natural fibers, chandeliers galore, salvaged antique furniture preferably with some peeling paint and the predominant color of white and it’s infinite variety of tones at the core of the design.
I was in my early twenties when I was first introduced to the Shabby Chic look. Like many others I immediately fell in love with the casual elegance and charm of the soft palette of colors, and paired with the relaxing comfort of the fabrics and textures it created an inviting and peaceful space. Utilizing treasured pieces of furniture, whether they be antiques or flea market finds balanced the lush fabrics. Lighting is a key component and my feeling is that Shabby Chic breathed new life into chandeliers. Before this style took hold chandeliers had their place in interior decor but they were usually relegated to entryways or grand ballrooms. Chandeliers as casual lighting throughout a home was so novel and yet so visually appealing it was hard to resist.
Upon returning home with my new/old copy of Shabby Chic I actually sat down and started reading the book and of course pouring over the pictures. The pictures and styles conveyed are just as relevant today as they were in 1989 when Rachel Ashwell says the style was invented. More than 30 years later you can see elements of Shabby Chic everywhere you look. I feel like over the years very few components of the original look have changed and it’s morphed into something called farmhouse style which really just means casual elegance. Rachel Ashwell is a style icon and as an artist and lover of beautiful things there‘s no denying the monumental influence she’s had on me as well as millions of other people in our design choices. I will treasure my copy of Shabby Chic and will be continuously inspired by the vision of it‘s creator! Long live Shabby Chic!