Most people are familiar with the hallmarks of Rachel Ashwell's shabby chic style: fabrics in pastel florals and stripes, chintz sofa covers, antique-store and yard-sale finds turned into home furnishings and accessories. At the heart of this breezy style is a very practical idea: don't buy new--use what you have or can find at thrift stores and secondhand shops and enjoy the old-fashioned charm that only aged pieces acquire. The same idea goes for houses. The Shabby Chic Home
shows how an older home can take on a shabby chic appeal by being brought up to date without sacrificing any of its charm.
In The Shabby Chic Home, Ashwell walks readers through the renovation of her own 1920s home, from the purchase of the originally dark and gloomy house through the repainting (using layers and layers of white paint) of the home and the rebirth of the garden, yard, and pool, to the final decorating of the home for herself and her two kids. Along the way, readers receive advice on how to choose from among the thousands of paint colors, how to decide whether to live with the old or buy new, and why remodeling an older home might not be such a good idea. The latter part of the book explains how to add touches of shabby chic style to every room of a home--old or new--for a finished look. The result, shown in dramatic before-and-after pictures, is a home that's comfortable enough for a family to relax in, but still elegant and beautiful.
Don't let the floral patterns and chenille bedspreads fool you: Ashwell's advice throughout is common-sense and economical. For instance, she recommends not wasting your time looking through every decorating option--if you like the first idea, color, or plan well enough, save yourself the time and stress and go with it. She also suggests resisting the immediate desire to throw out the old and bring in the new; try living with things as they are for a while, and you may find yourself surprised at how well you've come to like the funky tile in the bathroom or the noisy glass-door refrigerator. Here lies the appeal of a shabby chic home: sometimes old has a charm and lived-in look that can't be purchased from a home improvement store. --Kris Law
From Library Journal
Ashwell (Shabby Chic and Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting & Decorating Guide) shows how she transformed her own Malibu home, a 1920s natural-wood dwelling built by a Swedish boatbuilder, into a reflection of the "Shabby Chic" style that she has popularized with her home furnishings and fabric lines. Taking a house with "good bones," she dramatically changed the look of the house with simple adjustments, such as using lots of white paint. (To those who protested her painting the natural wood, she replied, "Oh, well.") Given the continuing tendency to gut or tear down older homes, her recommendations are refreshing. A good purchase for public libraries.
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