Listen up all you flea marketers! Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting and Decorating Guide, considered by many the "Flea Market Bible" hits shelves July 2 in paperback, perfect for toting around in your bag to all those summer sales. We chatted with Ashwell, who is celebrating 25 years of Shabby Chic with a new flagship store in Soho, a B&B in Texas, another book on the way, and nearly 10 years with Target on her "Simply Shabby Chic" line, one of the longer partnerships in the Home category.
"The Target piece is really important to me as my store's price points and demographics can't reach everybody," Ashwell says. "The couture customer is comfortable mixing a Chanel jacket with an H&M skirt and it's very much the same in my business—people spend $3,000 on a bed and then buy a Target bedspread for it."
With plans to add more categories to her Target line next year and her overall business on the rise, it seems Shabby Chic—which could be argued was on its way out—might be here to stay.
"People say, 'Oh Shabby Chic, that was that amazing brand in the 90s.' But, what's old is new again" says Ashwell. "It'll be up to them to decide if I'm current or a has been."
While Ashwell is communicating the range of Shabby Chic through spaces within her stores and hotel, be it more British Downton Abbey, rustic Texan, or the classic whitewashed floral, she makes sure every space maintains her three fundamentals: beauty, comfort, and function.
And just for us she offered up a few tips on how to create her "timeless" romantic English-Californian style in the Midwest.
1. Use calming colors, pastels always work.
2. Layer blanket, throws, curtains. Try tacking up curtains that you can always change.
3. Use rugs instead of wall-to-wall carpeting to show off the floors.
4. Lighting is very important. Dimmer switches cost nothing and can change a room from romance to practicality instantly.
5. Scent. Bring in the coastal breeze with gardenia or a light scent.
6. Music. Classical or something soothing like Enya.
"Homes more than ever need to be calming places," she says. "Make sure you checkbox all those senses."