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Shabby Chic: Who thought of it? What is it? Where can we get it?  When did we fall in love with it? Why do we love it?  All good questions.

Who Thought of It?

Rachel Ashwell. She created it in 1989. Well, probably before that, 1989 is when she opened her first store in Santa Monica, CA. Did you know Shabby Chic is her brand? It’s not just a general term – it’s a trademarked brand of Rachel Ashwell, an interior designer.

chandI was surprised to learn that, I thought ‘shabby chic’ was simply one of our cobbled together words that are so popular these days. Nope!

Rachel opened her first store specializing in top quality, washable slipcovers for furniture. She knew we wanted a couch that was not only comfy cozy, but nice to look at. And a couch the kids could pile on and we Mom-types wouldn’t be freaking out about dirty, sticky hands. Slipcovers – washable – happy family.

What is It?

Shabby Chic is a softer, more feminine way of decorating our homes and it can even extend to clothes. I would think we could have shabby chic gardens – similar to cottage gardens. It’s natural fabrics in lighter colors like whites, creams, pinks, blue, taupe and all shades of those colors. A lot of cotton – wrinkled cotton. Softly wrinkled cotton, not that mess we pull out of the dryer when we wash yards of quilt fabric at the same time.

Where can we get it?

You can, of course, buy from Rachel’s store via her website, or from her stores. You can buy Simple Shabby Chic from Target. You can also make your own! White wood, distressed painted pieces, roses, white curtains, soft soothing colors – all of those things shadow_rose_blush_1will create a shabby chic look in a room. Use a little or a lot. A beautiful chandelier, candles, metal baskets holding balls of yarn or pillows. Lots of pillows on the couch or the bed. The whole point is to create comfort and be pleasing to the eye at the same time.

When did we fall in love with it?

The first time we saw it! There was a recognition – that’s what I’ve been trying to do all the time! That’s why I collect beach glass, lace pieces from the thrift store and paint my bookcases white. This is why I collect all these pillows and pile them on the bed. Who doesn’t need a pillow? Who doesn’t need a pretty pillow?

Why do we love it?

Because it’s organic. It’s a natural way of creating a welcoming room. There is nothing contrived about it. It’s simple and nondiscriminating. It welcomes you to take off your shoes and spend the day in cozy socks. It invites you to snuggle into that pile of pillows with a good bookvintage_rug_5 and a few cookies. It’s timeless. It doesn’t shock our eyes with modern sharp angles and shiny surfaces no one can touch for fear of fingerprints.

So, now we have the scoop on Shabby Chic.



On Wednesday we will look at some pretty awesome examples of shabby chic, and make suggestions on how you  can create your own look. On Friday, there will be a One Day Do-Over as I share a tutorial on how to make a shabby chic bookcase. I hope you’ll share these posts with your friends. 🙂

(All pictures are from Rachel Ashwell’s store online.)

What do you think about Shabby Chic ?


Author: Karen

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