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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
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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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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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Shabby Excuse for a Decorating Book Jan. 18 2001
I have never been so furious than when I started realizing what this book was really about : How to get an Unsuspecting Public to Pay for the Rennovation and Decoration of Your Newly Purchased Home".There were at least four pictures of Rachel's bedroom, three of her kitchen, and one page devoted to a glass (not even crystal) door knob. When your book has the word decorating in it, you tend to think you're going to get decorating ideas, not 30 personal photos of the author & her family (16 of which are the author herself!). As for the photography in this book, it's lovely, she really knows how to focus the camera on an open drawer w/plastic hair clips, and make it look decorated (fine if you have so much room in your vanity that you can devote one drawer to clips, and leave it open to boot!) There are less tha 20 pages of decorating related material in a book of 200 pages, and some pages are questionable. Not once do you see something shabby made to look Chic as the title implies. Lets face it, a french provincial antique giant armore painted w/blush paint and a cream wash can hardley be considered Shabby when it probably cost very close to this side of $1,000.00 used! Ashwell has reached the ranks of such peers as Truman Capote & Margaret Mitchell, if her name is remembered anywhere outside of California, she'll be known for one book and one book only, and even that comparison is a major stretch! Trust me, don't be one of the readers that assumes "she's done it again" because she mostcertainly has not. But perhaps you could use a book filled with expensive pictures the Ashwell's flower vase, the four items on the back of their comode and my favorite, the picture of THE LABORERS THAT WORKED ON HER HOUSE.It's no wonder Rachel's smiling a big grin on her face on the cover and I know why!DO NOT PAY FULL PRICE FOR THIS BOOK!
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5.0 out of 5 stars I'm workin' toward this house... May 30 2003
Except, mine will be on the Indiana or Illinois coast of Lake Michigan. I love Rachel Ashwell's frugal, classy style. She gives you a truck load of inspiration and understands empowering people to design, no matter if they are wealthy or shopping in ritzy alleys or at estate sales for goods. The results create sentimental elegance. If nothing else, you learn the power of white paint and good hard do it yourselfing. This book takes you there and Rachel does an excellent job of pulling you into her home. She leaves nothing out and the photographer deserves enormous credit. Buy it or check it out at the library today.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I Love this book July 6 2002
By Xenia
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. This book continues to provide me with decorating inspiration. Also, I very much appreciate the fact that she doesn't go on and on for paragraphs at a time. Many other books on decorating have a tendency to become boring with too much wording. Rachel just gets to the point. Rachel's home is lovely and the pictures are fabulous. It's too bad that the Shabby Chic stores throughout the country do not follow her advice about home decor articles being inexpensive. I was utterly shocked and completely disappointed that the prices of things in the Shabby Chic stores are way through the roof, and unaffordable for anyone except the wealthy. It is a total contradiction of what Rachel Ashwell advocates in her books.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A bit disappointed!!! June 12 2002
By A Customer
I must admit I usually write only positive reviews as I buy books very carefully. This is unfortunately a wrong buy. I like the Shabby Chic style and since she's the person to get inspiration from on this style, I immediately bought this book without hesitation. I must say I wasn't inspired at all not even on one item and I am usually quite easily inspired by just reading a mag, browsing through ebay or simply walking around the market. The pics are big but on flowers?? I think I should've got the first book instead.
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Most recent customer reviews
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. 28 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
2.0 out of 5 stars Shabby my foot!
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. Read more
Published on Sept. 3 2001 by Manola Sommerfeld
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and elegant sans the snobiness
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. Read more
Published on April 25 2001 by Beth DeRoos
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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