Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture

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Rachel's Blog

Monthly Archives: April 2012

  • My Everything Barn...

    I was drawn to my home because of its hodgepodge qualities. When I decided to buy it, it supported the reality of my soon to be "empty nest", but also the revolving door of house guests. It is plenty big when needed, and quite cozy when it's just little old me.

    I have shared with y'all, my garden is the pride and joy of my home. All that was lacking to complete my country home in the city fantasy was a barn. So a few years ago I set to transition my dream into a reality.



    Barns have always held a magical quality for me. Something about the way the light shafts play thru the gapes and cracks....hide and go seek moments along with extra space for "whatever".....


    Leftover and hodgepodge chairs and dinnerware are the perfect aesthetic for a barn party, somehow anything else would feel forced.


    I squeezed quite a few into this event.......many wows and ahhs, along with some comfortable quiet moments...

    From time to time my barn is used for photo shoots for our www.rachelashwellshabbychiccouture.com website....

    It's a wonderful blank slate with texture and character, and the lovely light is our best friend.


    The cement floor, white washed paneling, big barn doors and high ceiling allow for product we are shooting to be complimented by but not in competition with the setting.....the product being shot is center stage, with a wonderful chorus in the background to support its magic.


    Occasionally I buy more than had planned so my barn serves as a temporary overflow. Problem is, once a piece gets this close to my home, sometimes it slides over to the "forever to keep" section. (this Spanish trunk certainly did).


    The inside outside quality of a barn is so classic. Allowing for an intimate impromptu dinner party, along with my star of sticks.....(Love these. We get them from time to time in our stores)


    Over the past few weeks and during prior visits, I have shared with you all, the transition of my barn into an artists studio. Specifically for my dear friend Laurence Amelie. She visits me twice a year from France. She says the light is better for painting in California than in Paris. But I think she also enjoys my company!!!!!! And my garden path that she walks each day to the barn.


    Laurence Amelie is inspired by beauty in movement. Flowers and tutus have been her subjects of the past two seasons. As with all artists her interpretation changes from painting to painting. But the end result is always nothing less that breathtaking.


    I can only imagine that first brush stroke on a blank canvas is as daunting and exciting as the empty page, waiting for words......


    Laurence's process is nearly a spiritual journey to observe.......while I cannot paint I can appreciate the absorption in the story telling through brush strokes that are an extension of feeling.......


    One cannot be neurotic about paint splashes if you welcome an artist into your home. It just comes with the territory. An adjustment at first, but now the left behind splodges are rather endearing.....


    In Laurence's wonderfully stylish way, even splattered in paint, sometime literally from head to toe, she still has an air of elegance.


    While the Spring 2012 was nearly all Tutus, the diversity of her palette gave way to very different atmospheres of each painting. Always playful, always with such movement, always ahhhhhhhhhhs.......


    As with my vintage treasures, Laurence's paintings are right under my nose, and I so want to keep many. but then I feel greedy and want to share her beauty as I do my fleamarket treasures with the world. But sometimes, I have regrets.



    So today Laurence is back in France. She was quite sad to leave. Her paintings are selling before the paint is fully dry. I walked down my garden path to the barn today to see the extent of the paint splashes.........and truly, if I didn't have a photo shoot this week in the barn, I would leave every little splash left behind, because even Laurence's splashes are magic to me.....



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  • Round Top Fleamarket And Prairie Living...

    I have just returned from a few weeks at The Prairie. The Perfect balance to me of productivity (treasure hunting,socializing (with my Round Top family), and creativity, inspiration, peace and many ahhhhhhhs and wow moments.


    I truly love the spirit of the locals, so very genuine and tough and sensitive....all rolled into one.

    As many of you know, I am now the proud owner of The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell. It serves as a home for my heart but also a very practical purpose during flea market week for me and my village and others on a similar path to me.


    While I don't actually have my own special room as they are all so lovely, I am flexible to whatever is available, I do seem to find myself upstairs at Liliput Lodge in the blue room. This is one of the most authentic rooms and structures on the whole property. I can live out my "Little House on the Prairie" to my hearts desire. And no matter where anyone sleeps, we all congregate to the Rangers Lounge for Danny's breakfast.......yummy. yummy.

    I spent over two weeks, shopping and shopping. From Warrenton to Carmine, to Marburger and the Big Red Barn, and everything in between. I truly could have kept on going......but the check books were used up and it was time to go home.

    I purchased big wow pieces and ditsy little details that make all the difference.




    Many people have asked me to share the costs of my treasures. Truly the prices are all over the place. For me, who has stores to fill, and a team of people that help move the treasures across the country and restore when needed, I can pay more in some instances, and less in others than if I were just a private shopper.

    But I do so appreciate the search that went into a piece, way before it flows through my hands. I am just so thankful to a fleeting part of the history of whatever it is I find.


    I am always on the search for scraps of vintage fabrics for curtains and to make into decorative pillows. The scraps can be quite spendy now, but if used sparsely (using a more affordable fabric for the back), a vintage fabric pillow can be all that is needed to create a wow from a simple chair or sofa. And the more mixing and matching the better.


    We are getting more and more requests to hold weddings in our barn (more to follow), so I spent much time building our library of vintage china for renting...... I loooove vintage china. Love finding odd matching pieces in $5.00 boxes to layer with the creme de la creme beauties. Truly gorgeous.

    It's always such a rush to see the piles of treasures build as the days go by.



    The barn will be complete early May. I just might have to have a wedding one of these days......

    So with our treasure hunting behind us.....all the yummy pieces will begin the next part of their journeys until they land up in one of the Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture Stores, (or online, under vintage treasures), and eventually into a loving home.....


    Not a lot of walk by traffic, but for sure a destination store.....

    All in all, my time at The Prairie was as lovely as ever.

    I was able to have many chats with guests and customers, and also just be quiet to reflect.....a wonderful way to bring magic to my stores and be inspired over and over for future design......



    I wanted to thank all who have given me gifts over recent times. Every forever to keep present, or flowers, or yummy foods are so very appreciated by me. Over time I will try and say thank you to y'all, but my village doesn't include a thank you person, so for now just know I am so appreciative for your thoughts and words and gifts. I am also trying to keep up personally with the various streams of social media. My personal Rachel Ashwell Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and blog are all written by me, and I read every single one of your comments.

    It takes quite some time to communicate in a way that feels authentic and true to myself and also be of interest to y'all. I try to photograph life as it goes by, but sometimes I just want to experience life and not worry about recording other than my simple little memory.

    So if there are times where I seem not to do such a good job of sharing through social media, it might just be I was so caught up in the moment, and that's a good thing..... but thank you for reading and commenting on my journeys... .........

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