My Love Of Malibu

by Rachel Ashwell

I came from London to live in Los Angeles in 1989. I lived in and around Hollywood for about 7 years when I became pregnant with my daughter Lily, and with my then husband we moved to Malibu. We rented a wobbly wooden shack on stilts on the beach. Malibu was much different in some ways and it other ways it is as though time has stood still. I raised both my children there, the beach was their playground. In front of one of our houses was a big rock out in the ocean named “Pelican's Rock” for all the pelicans that made it their home. When the tide was low we  spent hours and hours exploring sea life on that rock.

It's where I experienced my first earthquake, where all the neighbors congregated on the beach at 4am. Overtime I have lived in seven houses in Malibu, some owned, some rented. Some were beach shacks, some cottages, and even after I didn’t live there anymore I bought a mobile home as I didn’t want to let go of my Malibu ties. The Shabby Chic Home book was about my favorite ever home, and to this day I regret selling it. I didn’t think through why I was even selling it and by the time I came to my senses I couldn’t get out of the sale, even though I tried. 

Malibu was where I first formulated the idea of Shabby Chic. Its where I made my first ever slipcover. Its where I experimented with washing fabrics (velvets and damask), that I was told were not washable as they would become puckered and floppy. Its where in-between my kids nap times I tested tea staining white floral fabrics to make them feel vintage. Its where I made sun bleached florals by leaving fabrics to fade in the sunny ocean breeze. Its where I sold pencil sharpeners and erasers on Wednesday afternoons at my children school, and learnt about inventory and cash flow.

Malibu has a wonderful sense of community. Where people from all walks of life come together. People from mansions and mobile home parks mingle in the local supermarket. Mudslides, floods and fires come with the territory. This most recent fire (named the Woolsey Fire) has been one of the most destructive. The whole city of Malibu was evacuated, people leaving not knowing if they have a home to come home to. (many houses have been lost.) Animals too have been misplaced. Its been extraordinary seeing the community pull together. Naughty little boys I remember from my kids school days, became heroic men, helping putting out hot spots as the winds threat to spark more fires. Working tirelessly with the Fire dept. Donation banks have been set up to get supplies to those on the front line, and to gather everything that will be needed for all the families that have lost everything. As I have already said, some things have changed over the years in Malibu, but the community and sense of family is as strong as ever.

There is a tremendous amount of damage but I am certain the community wont stop until everyone has found a way to put their lives back together. And like with me, nothing will ever take away the precious memories of Malibu Living.

The Shabby Chic Home book is newly priced at $10 and 100% of the proceeds for the signed book will go to the Boys and Girls Club of Malibu until the end of the year.


  • I lived, as I believe thousands of other people did, the life I couldn’t live through your books. There was as much in those pages about how to live as there was about what to live with. You brought soul, simplicity and grace back into our homes. Thank you.

    Barbara Chambers on

  • Rachel,
    I love what you do and enjoy so much reading about your life. You bring sunshine to the darkest days….thank you!


    Kathy on

  • The Shabby Chic Home book is my favorite book. I loved the simplicity and thought you put into that house. And could never understand why you sold it as it was so perfectly Shabby Chic. Now hearing your explanation clarifies why. I guess we all have some regrets.

    Michele Last on

  • Thank you for being such an maxing inspiration Rachel. 💜🙏

    Karen Waring on

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© 2017 Rachel Ashwell