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The Shabby Chic Home [Hardcover]

Rachel Ashwell
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 23 2000

Wonderful wide-plank floors, paned sash windows, an old brick fireplace, the charm of living with a home's small imperfections and making them a virtue. These are just some examples of what makes up a Shabby Chic home.

When she first saw what would be her future home, Rachel Ashwell, founder of the Shabby Chic line, was put off by its dark, witchy exterior, gloomy interior, and overgrown garden. But for weeks afterward, she couldn't get the house out of her mind. She went back, took a closer look, and started to see the charm that lay hidden beneath the surface. Excited by the challenge, she bought the house and went to work on it.

Inspired by the original design of the 1920s house, Rachel was able to transform it into her bright, cozy dream home, one that had the hallmarks of a Shabby Chic home: a practical amount of space, a relaxed atmosphere, and a comfortable beauty. Through simple instructions and detailed before-and-after photographs, Rachel reveals her decorating and entertaining secrets. Even the most apprehensive novices will learn how to incorporate Shabby Chic style into their everyday life and home.

Using her home as an example, Rachel shows you how to assess what needs to be replaced (in her home it was the dark tile in the pool and the bathroom doorknobs), make small structural changes (she exchanged a glass window for a glass door), and keep costs down while adding personal Shabby Chic touches. The gray marble countertop in the guest bathroom and the somewhat noisy glass-front refrigerator were fixtures she would have never chosen, but she left them alone and was pleasantly surprised by the character they added.

In her previous books, Rachel showed you how to recognize beauty in overlooked places. Now, in The Shabby Chic Home, she teaches you how to find it in the nooks and crannies of your own home and then apply it to everyday life. She reveals how work, love, a lot of white paint, and Shabby Chic details can turn any new house into a comfortable, functional, beautifully designed home.

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From Amazon

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.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat interesting...but overall disappointing March 10 2003
I was really excited about getting this book....I was hoping to get something that inspired me to find neat design solutions in the mundane and everday. You know...make something out of nothing.
Well, there WERE some good ideas like that in this book, but I felt that unless you were a HUGE fan of flowers and girly prints you wouldn't really find much of use in this book. Granted, it's probably a personal style conflict that made me return this book, but if you can find this book used and for a good price, go for it. Not worth the full price.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I am extremely disappointed in this March 14 2001
By A Customer
I thought, "Oh good! A book showing Shabby Chic style used in homes and rooms." Instead, there are lots of close-up shots of objects and very few over-all shots of rooms that let me see how this style is applied to real homes and rooms. The book just doesn't have much content once you get into it. Tight little shots of doorknobs, flowers, and other stuff do not add up to a BOOK that's worth the money. The title does not explain the book. I'm sorry I bought this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointed July 16 2003
Browsing the free pages shown on Amazon I thought I was going to get a book with lots of Photos of "shabby" style furniture and tips on how to get the look.Instead what I got was a book that reads like a 'day in the life of' story.I didnt want a biography.This book takes you along on the authors trips to assorted flea markets and whatnot and tells you what she bought and where she is going to use it.Not at all what I expected to get.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Shabby my foot! Sept. 3 2001
I'm glad i borrowed this book from the library, instead of shelling some dollars to buy it. For starters, the name of the book (and the movement) is a total misnomer. There is nothing shabby about the pricey pieces of furniture this woman uses to decorate her home. If you want shabby, then go to The Salvation Army. The shabbiest example in the whole book is the dresser she keeps in her bathroom, and that look is so popular nowadays that i bet you will pay good money to find something similar. The ornate antiques in her bedroom do not have an atom of shabbiness to them, and same thing with the fabrics chosen.
The photos are very beautiful, and as is the case with any decorating magazine or book, i can almost always find a nice detail to copy. What i found very irritating is that the author or her children were in every other picture. Not even Martha Stewart exerts such a cult of personality.
Also, some of the suggestions the author gives are unrealistic for most of us, because we lack the space or the budget or the time. How many extra pillows and duvets can you realistically store in your house? And how many of us have housekeepers tending over the place? Have you ever tried to find affordable antiques in California?!?! How about the little evening ritual of cookies, tea and flowers? The author is quite anal when it comes to detail, such as buying beauty products that are color-coordinated with her bathroom. What's next, combing the fringed ends of the "shabby" area rugs? The narrative was too aggravating. Stick to the photos, just in case you find something salvageable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and elegant sans the snobiness April 25 2001
The thing I love about Rachel Ashwell is the fact she is so NOT Better Homes and Garden which is boring and so middle class. What Rachel Ashwell does is bring class and elgance sans the stuffiness into our lives. And her ideas work whether you are doing a small college abode, your first home or a home you have lived in for decades.
Like most of her books she understands that (this may sound snobby..sorry) some of us have traveled well, and have evolved and simply want the elegance meshed with a less hootie tootie mode. The kind of home where we can walk in and see order but not the boring or sterile style that tract homes often denote.
She has a way of showing how to make a home out of a house. How to make the tract house look like a one of a kind mega bucks decorated home, and all on less money. She has obviously not forgotten her original intent, which was to decorate without breaking ones saving account or going into debt.
It is also nice to see a book that understands the piece meal ideal. That one does not have to redo the whole room in a week, but that using ones trek to the flea market, taking your time to redo a piece of furniture, and doing it right is what counts. Along with doing what YOU want and what makes YOU happy and not doing the cookie cutter decorating thing that sadly, most Americans do.
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By A Customer
I am a fan of Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic program. I tune in every week to get ideas and inspiration as I continue to re-do my own little house. However lovely the photos may be in this book (she turned a gloomy place into a sunny oasis) the kind of written text she offers can be found in an article from Better Homes & Gardens, or other home design magazine. It was quite dissapointing. Her home now has light airy feel to it in general, however, Ms. Ashwell advocates some rather weird ideas, such as choosing her make-up products for their packaging (so that they fit in with the decor!). What's up with that? This is just one example of some of the impractical advise in this book. I will keep the book because the photos are lovely and have provided me with inspiration for my own plans, however few. Ms. Ashwell' home looks lovely but does not look like a place the average person would have as a primary home (the walls are wooden planks!). This looks more like a vacation cabin than a primary residence. If you like coffee-table books with lots of beatiful photos, then buy this, if not buy a home design magazine at the newstand and save some bucks.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm workin' toward this house...
Except, mine will be on the Indiana or Illinois coast of Lake Michigan. I love Rachel Ashwell's frugal, classy style. Read more
Published on May 29 2003 by Shannon Lilia
5.0 out of 5 stars I Love this book
I've owned this book now for two years and I keep referring to it over and over. I wish that Rachel Ashwell would come out with these types of books more often. Read more
Published on July 6 2002 by Xenia
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit disappointed!!!
I must admit I usually write only positive reviews as I buy books very carefully. This is unfortunately a wrong buy. Read more
Published on June 11 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars a relaxed sweetness
the book possesses a relaxed sweetness that pulls out the decorater in all of us. being a designer i selected the book for inspiration. Read more
Published on Jan. 25 2002 by S. Barnes
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous decorating book!
This is a wonderful book for those who are tired of living in a boring space. The photography is inspirational and amazing. Read more
Published on Nov. 27 2001 by Lisa K. Pike
5.0 out of 5 stars Rachel has done it again!
Function, Beauty and Home Design....Rachel Ashwell's thrid book is the best! They say Three's a Charm and it is. Read more
Published on Oct. 21 2001 by Barbara A. Bernat
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful, resourceful book
I usually don't spend a lot of time reading books like these. I normally just look at the pictures and try to get inspiration. This book, however, is a refreshing change. Read more
Published on May 13 2001
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
The book covers some of the things I find in my favorite decorating magazines, such as Better Homes and Gardens, but it lacks the depth and the variety that I want. Read more
Published on Feb. 5 2001
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