Born in Cambridge, England, Rachel Ashwell is the owner and founder of Shabby Chic, a chain of stores and product lines for the home that believes in the beauty of imperfection. Suddenly cottage style was popular again and seemed so . . . chic. Everything looks aged, worn and loved, patina-d, a little rough around the edges, the true marks of cottage style. A cottage in the English countryside of long ago would be occupied by poor people, who would try to re-create the comforts of their masters' grander abodes in their humble homes. They could not afford expensive furniture made from hard woods such as mahogany, cherry or walnut, so they had theirs made from local timbers like maple and pine. To disguise the poorer character of the wood, they painted it. Glass in windows was an expensive detail they could not always afford, so they painted everything in light colors, which was a cheap way of bringing in light and color into their otherwise dark and dull interiors.
Fabrics are printed with dainty little flowers, and nothing ever has to match. Furniture is often of the recycled variety, either cast-offs from family or collected from flea markets. The overall effect is comfortable, cozy and charming. Rachel Ashwell's designs always have that vintage, timeworn appeal, and her genius is in putting it together and taking the guesswork for the rest of us.
They aren't just found on those dainty teapots and cups. The iconic rose is a timeless and classic motif. Even if cottage is not your style, the rose can be interpreted a hundred different ways in many different styles.
Not too obvious. Texture and three dimensional techniques and appliques.
Right: Rose Tufted Rug, www.pier1.com, Below, left, Deconstructed Rose Pillow, www.westelm.com, Below, middle: Aubergine Rose Pillow, www.zgallerie.com
Not your grandmother's chintz. Rose motifs with a handcrafted, vintage feel are very up to date and sophisticated.
Left: Patch NYC Framed Rose Wall Art, www.westelm.com, Below, middle: Rose Landscape Shade, www.anthropologie.com
Downright obvious. Sometimes, nothing else is quite so charming.
Right: Rose La Vierzonnaise Giclee Print, www.chartingnature.com, Below:Simply Shabby Chic British Rose Pillow, www.target.com
For more on English cottage, check out these blogs:
One of my favorites: http://amongsttheoaks.blogspot.com/2009/04/roses-new-year-and-josephs-coat.html
Rachel Ashwell's: rachelashwellshabbychic.blogspot.com