Treasures and Travel

Restore Mind Body & Soul Time - Blog Image 1

I am so very grateful that my god given talent and my chosen path is that of an artist.  However a vital component to creating and evolving is being mindful that we must restore our souls and refuel the creativity bucket…I try to prioritize at the start of the year by taking a few days to focus on quietening my mind, while giving my whole body some still time.  This helps me create a new stage for the year, for new story telling.

Blog Image 2 - New Year Treasures

With with my creative button refreshed I went on a quick buying trip to San Diego.  There my fav find was this floral sink, for which I now have to find a bathroom!!!!  Then along with my team, I designed a new TEAL FLORAL FABRIC COLLECTION and we created some everyday but extra ordinary pillows. for spring…….

Blog Image 3 - SADIE Precious Soul

Here and there i had my babysitting duties of SADIE (lilys dog)……….

And then my travels started.

Blog Image 4 - Crossing The Atlantic

I have found that another way I can get my creativity to flow is to follow the seasons.

Blog Image 5 - Rainy London RASSC Store

My next stop was home to LONDON for some dreary English whether.  London is where I am wired best, allowing myself to go inwards, physically and metaphysically speaking.

Blog Image 6 - Best Treasure In UK

SInce i moved my DAD to Los Angeles the UK has been off my circuit recently, but the moment i step foot on English ground and specifically in my Nottighill Store, i feel home….. (thank you Paulina, Pascal, David and Harriet for feeling like my London Family)

Blog Image 7 - Best Little Big Store

Its a teeny little gem of a store, kind of one street off the beaten path, but the best ever…Often i am asked if i could open stores in many other locations, and while i rarely never say never, it is very important to me and the family of Shabby that i have personal connections with each of my stores..they are all reflections of my soul, my story and my art. How we merchandise is a story we are wanting to tell…..and the only way i know how this can be authentic, is to have a personal connection with my stores, my village and the products that paint the picture..

Blog Image 8 - Magical Laurence

This past visit to London Laurence Amelie popped over from Paris as a special guest at my Prairie Book Signing. Such a special event. People came from many countries in Europe to be part of the evening……we brought The Prairie to London by way of a country band……and the combo of Prairie stories and Laurence’s curated exhibit left the evening nothing short of magic.

Blog Image 9 - Yummy Flea Market Snack

What would any trip be without a flea-market visit…….The Nottinghill Store team and I set out on a cold dark rainy Tuesday to Kempton Park Antique Fair. This is by far my personal favorite conditions to shop in……

Blog Image 10 - Soggy Princess

This was my first sighting at the fair…..  I wanted to use our field trip as an opportunity to enlighten my associates on why i choose the pieces i do……some pieces needed explaining and some are more obvious.  This chair sang to me from the moment i saw it……regardless of its condition it held volumes of inspiration in my eyes… it happens it still has life to offer as a place of rest,  with a little reloving and restoring, and so it found a space in our London store, but it will also spread its beauty in a future designs…..

Blog Image 11 - Tea Time

For any one who knows me, or most english people, they know we all have our inner tea time clock at 430……i have always said, no matter where, why not have tea in a proper cup,  i am not a tea snob, pg tips or liptons, with a load of milk and a tad of sugar, in a beautiful cup is all i need. (and a few cookies)

Blog Image 12 - Beauty Time

Im not a big primping girl, but the little i do, i believe in princess time….. this vanity is like no other i have ever seen. by the time we all found it, it was pouring with rain so we had to inspect under a plastic tarp….. still it was obvious to us all this was a treasure we had to buy…….even with the little imperfections…..

Blog Image 13 - Babbington House

No, this isn’t Downton Abbey, but a wonderful wonderful Hotel in the English Countryside…… near some vintage shops of course….. After a rainy stormy drive down from London i entered into a world that to me was perfection. i’m a rather fussy hotel guest. somethings always not quite right……Babbington House is “everything right”

Blog Image 14 - Elegant Heaven

Balance of regal, classic with a quality modern edge, in a palette that is perfection was my introduction into this world….. Us Brits can be a little snobby and reserved, yet somehow though the formality of tradition, my uniform of muddy cowboy boot, jeans and hair not quite right was welcomed as though i was wearing a ball gown..

Blog Image 15 - Attached To My Feet

If my boots don’t belong somewhere, chances neither do i.

Blog Image 16 - Upstairs Downstairs

I gathered as much inspiration wandering the property  in the upstairs quarters to the downstairs……. (on a side note i wanted more downstairs action on Downtown Abbey this season….if it weren’t for ANNA and Bates …….)

Blog Image 17 - Rainy Streets

Wandering the countryside and popping into little shops gives me immense joy, both for treasures of people and things…..(as i do in Prairie World too)….

Blog Image 19 - Stairways To Treasures

My friend Pearl Lowe put me in the direction of Frome Somerset (St Catherines Hill), where i came away with oozes of inspiration, some in bags, some in my head.

Blog Image 18 - Beauty Everywhere

England will always hold a piece of my heart, for now it holds my son too, recently he made the move there…..

Blog Image 20 - Jake & Lily

I have some special people, who whenever i visit, its as though only days have passed since the our last visit…….maybe its the common thread of tea and treasures……  I always have my camera on hand, as these friends live such mindful and meaningful lives, and their decoration style is an extension of their humility and appreciation of loveliness.

Blog Image 21 - Friend Food For Thought

My head left london spinning with ideas, my heart left london filled from visits with friends and family……… and already March is here!!!!!!.

PRARIE time coming up…..TEXAS TREASURES coming.


I have been thinking quite a bit about the value of time……

Once again pondering the thought of the compromises we accept in exchange for speed and instant gratification. I am trying in my own life to keep check on my values so that relationships I have, designs I create, all get the Time needed, to be meaningful and magical……


The Beauty of Imperfection is at the core of the value of Shabby Chic….while fading makes for a quieter aesthetic, to me the evidence of life engrained into fabric by way of washing or sun bleaching, over time tells a beautiful story…….

For a couple of decades now I have been pouring my heart and soul into my designs for Shabby Chic… creativity is seamless to my stream of consciousness……but I do need to give my creativity time to flow as no artist can force a vision. My creativity often comes from a back story that I then translate…….


My thoughts wonder a million miles away, but then I reign them back in via my design studio and find some magic from my journey. My job as a designer and a biz person is to find the balance of keeping magic and avoiding mediocrity.


It’s easy for a brand to get caught up with “the bottom line” and the calendar of when one is forced to be done with creating magic. But I would rather have empty shelves than mediocrity just filling a hole. It takes a village of people to understand the process and appreciation that spending the time is worthwhile to bringing beauty into the world.


I pride myself that most everything that passes thru Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture® started from a thought, and intention and then many craftsmen’s expertise to create a product of value……..


Lily, my daughter, too has learned that nothing magical happens alone or overnight…it takes vision, communication, collaboration, work and time…..and then little by little great things happen. It may not be the most economical way to create magic, but that’s where priorities and values kick in….and the love of MADE IN USA…….


Many of you know my lovely friend and artist Laurence Amelie. I host her twice a year to come to my home to create her magic. She lives in France which certainly has no shortage of beauty……but Laurence finds the Southern California light and the inspiration of my garden fuels her creative juices.


It’s fascinating for me to observe Laurence’s process. She paints from her soul, that is evident of the end result. And sometimes her work flows quickly, and sometimes it takes a while. For sure soulful art cannot be forced. Some days she spends hours and hours and hours in the barn, and other days some quick fleeting moments…..big magic, little magic in her own time.


However we find love and trust in our lives, there is no better way to warm our hearts. It doesn’t happen overnight even if sometimes we think it does….. but trust that is tested overtime is home for us all.

My home in Los Angeles is surrounded by my best manifestation of a vision … garden.

BuildingDreamsMy dream garden was always in technicolor in my mind.


I always dreamed of having a pathway, overflowing with lavender and other ground cover, leading to my gate, leading to the shops…… A million hours are spent by me and others, gazing into the beauty……truly priceless and worth the wait to create the magic, that in due course feeds more magic.


I recently designed a wedding at THE PRAIRIE

I took forever to create the littlest details. I had no reference to time. My process was similar to that of a tapestry, made with the teeniest of needles. Each stitch of equal value to the end result.


I am trying to carve out more time to write more blogs. I do them all myself….so I need that precious component of time…..when I do I will do one of this wonderful wedding…..

I have to be sure to refill my inspiration bucket. It’s the nature of artist to always be “on” and “open”….but we still need to put ourselves in situations that might trigger our creativity. sometimes directly, sometimes not.


Music, especially country, paints stories in my mind. Sad stories, wide open spaces….all contribute to the back stories of my designs. A recent visit to Nashville, for a book signing to the lovely IRON GATE store, was everything I had hoped for and more.

Music on every corner…… from the Grand Ole Opry, to The Blue Bird Cafe and George Jones Tribute concert….inspired me to give my work the depth only time can create.


Seeing, hearing and feeling other artist work is time best spent….and pure inspiration. Unexpectedly  can be the most powerful. For me a new movie Saving Mr. Banks has given me volumes to ponder…..the true back story of the writer of MARY POPPINS I had no idea such movie held such mindful meaning…….”let’s go fly a kite” will always open up my heart forever more.

The passion and heartaches of the writer has validated my commitment to keeping my story authentic and true.

We all get creative blocks, where our flow just gets stuck…..knitting for me is a good outlet….. I don’t pass away time but for me I view knitting as having evidence of time, thru every stitch.


At the end of January I will be popping over to my homeland…..will take some time to go to the English Country side. Where for some reason to me, time is just a little slower….

And then 2014 is quite the year… we venture into 25 years of our Shabby Chic Journey…..

Thank you all for coming with me………


P.S…….it has taken the time Dad needed, but he is finding joy again….



My Love Affair With Flowers

SurroundedbyflowersNot a day goes by when flowers don’t play a significant role in my life. Whether by way of my design work of prints, inspiration for a palette, gratitude for beautiful fragrances or heaven on earth in my garden.

My appreciation and need for flowers crosses over into obsession, never quite enough…….
Sometimes I am able to satisfy my needs directly from my garden. Sometimes a supermarket can do the job…..
But any excuse to pop to a flower market…off I go. Over the past few months I have shared my journey via social media to markets in NY, SF & LA.  for various projects. Each and every time I have to give my self strict budget controls or I get completely carried away, with “just one more”.
PeoniesIf I had to choose just one flower, it may just be the Peonie. My fave being pale pink. They can be a little spendy so I tend to let them take centre stage by themselves and don’t mix with other flowers…..I just love how big and open they are, revealing their core, vulnerable but strong.
OrchidsTropical flowers are not my thing. (once a date bought be a bunch of “bird of paradise”, and there was never a 2nd date). However some Orchids really do speak to me. I love how they last a long time. There was an abundance of cut orchids at my most recent trip to the LA Flower Market…… nearly fake looking they were so perfect.
Pale pale Hydrangeas from Holland.
Fat floppy Purple Iris
White Lisianthus
Purple & White Lilacs
Pink garden Roses
Pink Peonies
Baby pink Stocks……= a symphony……………….
This past week my excuse for my over abundance of flower shopping was for a design installation and our party for the opening of our new San Francisco store. (2 excuses in one week was a good camouflage for my need to hang with flowers.)
SanFranciscoPastSadly our store on Fillmore Street in San Francisco closed its doors back in 2009 when my company hit a bump in the road. While I have no immediate plans to open a lot of new stores, our hearts were truly left behind with the San Francisco store closed……

HappyInvitationIt was a happy day when we were able to reopen our doors and hearts to our customers in San Francisco. I’m always happy when my travel allows me to stay on the ground. I love love road trips. I find the transition from city to city to be more of a natural experience than those unfriendly skies.

ArrivingEntering a city by way of a bridge is such a civilized gateway….and San Francisco has some of the most beautiful.
SignInstallationEach project we take on at Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture has to be carefully considered as actually we are a “big little” company…..We have our village and we pull together to make magic happen…..sometimes just in the nick of time. Our sign was being installed as I pulled up on my car…….
MyFancyDressAs most of you know I’m pretty attached to my jeans…….and when I meet y’all I like to be my authentic self so to really make an honest connection. But sometimes an event warrants dress up time. These embroidered pants are my version of “dress up”, while still being in my own skin.
I popped out to the local San Francisco Flower Market as they were closing. Cannot imagine why no one had snapped these up. They had the juiciest petals in the best ever shade of lilac….and complimented by the smokey taupe ceramic vase. Truly an ahhhhh moment.
A lovely localish (to SF) company called Tartellete supplied these lovely cupcakes. I’m still on my “No -Sugar” moment so these little beauties tempted me though out our party.
And then sometimes after all the socializing, I just like to be quiet and look around at all the little magical moments that layer into what I consider my art and expression………
SadieAnd then Lily sends thru a photo of Sadie’s beauty day…..