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Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home

When I was in LA this past July on my book tour, I had the honor of meeting Rachel Ashwell who attended my signing and mood board event at Anthropologie. It was surreal to meet her for a second time, the first was in 2005 when I went to one of her warehouse sales and shyly asked for an autographed copy of one of her books. It was amazing to have the table turned and I felt a huge shift inside when she was at my signing… so much HAS happened in my life since 2005 that even I can’t believe it sometimes.

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at home

Rachel, who most of you know as the founder of Shabby Chic and who created the Shabby Chic decorating style in the first place, has had a very full career as a designer, author, television personality and so much more. Currently, she’s celebrating the launch of her latest book, Rachel Ashwell: Shabby Chic Inspirations and Beautiful Spaces (which is lovely) and hosting book signings in these locations. In this post, I’ve snapped photos from my visit in her home and shop, including her inspiration journal that I kept peeking at while she spoke over tea and sweets. I am forever inspired by handmade books packed with collected images and things – loosely curated but always a theme when those doing the collecting have a good sense of personal style. Below are more photos from her home in LA…. This one is from the tabletop where I sat with Rachel discussing her new book, my book, blogging, social networking, her roots, business in general… It was a very full and memorable discussion that I’ll never forget.

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at home

In addition to products, Rachel is also enjoying these girly gorgeous retreats that she sets up for creative ladies in her ranch in Texas called The Prairie, decorated in her signature style, of course. Her successful Simply Shabby Chic line at Target is still going strong and she has an online shop and four boutiques called Shabby Chic Couture located in London, New York, Los Angeles and on her property at The Prairie B&B in Texas. Despite the peeks and lows of being such a massive brand with a huge cult following for over 20 years, Rachel has found her comfortable landing spot after lots of change in her own company and is completely at ease being smaller but better than ever. My kind of lady.

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at home

I’m sure you are wondering how I was able to get into the private home of Rachel Ashwell. I wondered that through most of my visit, in fact! Well, it was quite easy – she openly invited me and my friend, Leslie Shewring. She’s been following my blog and knows of my book because she contributed to Decorate. We also share a connection — one of her best friends, Amy Neunsinger, is someone I know as well – we shot her home for Decorate and if you have the book, you’ll see it throughout.

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at home

A glimpse into Rachel’s home office and mood board

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at home

A fireplace mantel with leaning art work and an old, battered wooden cabinet from Texas in soft blue in the living room.

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at home

Even her office was loaded with feminine details like this boho style pillow lazily lounging on her office chair and a big basket of ribbons on her file cabinet.

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at home

I love how she displayed vintage ceramics on the ledge above her kitchen sink just at the window. It was beautiful to look at them but also to see the garden view outside. I also appreciate details like beads and ribbons adorning cabinet handles. I do this too, so there was a sense of familiarity when I came across them throughout her home.

Rachel Ashwell's Kitchen

Her kitchen is a little old and new. I personally love hardwood floors in a kitchen combined with stainless appliances so I think this looks a bit country but also smart.

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at home

This corner in her dining area was so pretty, I loved how the light streamed in…

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at home

I found mirrors throughout her home, in every room it seemed… I love how they add a sense of space. In this one, you can see the reflection of her guest bathroom. Isn’t the wallpaper lovely?

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at home

Rachel had a rack of vintage clothing randomly placed in her living room – rather unexpected, but very Rachel. I couldn’t stop looking through them, each piece was unique and had some sweet detail from smocking to decorative buttons…

Rachel Ashwell's Living Room

A view of her living room… the ethnic touches on the sofa make it very global, which I like.

Details

More details from adorned handles to rustic finishes and embroidered vintage art work.

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at home

Rachel is a very spiritual person, evident throughout her home. All of the saints were represented and even a Buddha. Her en suite bathroom had gorgeous tile on the floor and felt very serene in gray, pale blue and white.

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at home

Her bedroom was paired down, simple, pretty…

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at home

Another bathroom in her home had some vintage details I had to capture, though I didn’t have my DSLR on me and my amazing lens so I had to make due with my old point and shoot. After taking the photo on the left, I grabbed the flower and a necklace from an adjacent room and placed it on a table in front of a window – the lighting was so perfect, I had to capture it somehow.

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at home

The artwork in her dining room was particularly pretty and varied. I also liked this golden headboard in a spare room upstairs.

After visiting Rachel at home, we left feeling elated and energized. We grabbed a snack at Le Pain Quotidien and then hit Shabby Chic Couture in Santa Monica. Here are a few snaps of some things in the store that caught my eye…

Shabby Chic Couture Shop, LA

Shabby Chic Couture Shop, LA

Shabby Chic Couture Shop, LA

What a special treat to spend hours chatting with such an inspirational lady in the world of design. I mean, seriously, imagine creating a decorating style that is known around the world? That’s quite a contribution and something that will always be associated with the one and only Rachel Ashwell. Thank you Rachel for inviting me into your home.

(images: holly becker, taken with a basic point and shoot)

Posted in designers, Home Tours on October 07, 2011
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A Stylish Polish Home

It’s time to explore a stylish space but not in New York, Berlin or Los Angeles, but in a country town in Poland! It’s a modern, natural style home outside of Warsaw together we’ll get to know the home owner and some decor trends over there. After writing recently about my desire to see homes in places that aren’t in your typical hip metropolis, I decided to do some research to see what I could find in Poland of all places. We’re only about 3 hours or so from the border and we pass license plates on the autobahn quite often from PL and I wonder what it’s like over there, I really have no idea… And then I heard that my book will be translated into Polish next Spring… so my interest is definitely piqued so let’s take a little trip, shall we? How are some people decorating in Poland today?

Home Tour: Natural Style in Poland

Home Tour: Natural Style in Poland

This gorgeous space belongs to Joanna “Asia” Gwis and her husband Seba along with their fur kids Fika the dog and four cats Antek, Koksik, Koko and Paproszek. [Are those not the cutest pet names ever?] Asia and Seba have owned their old wooden home for about four years and live 30 minutes outside of Warsaw in the countryside. Asia is an illustrator and graphic designer who works on freelance projects for magazines and book publishers and she authors her own decorating blog, Kavka while also running her small online shop under the name Oh Kavka where she sells her illustrations and a few handmade dolls.

Home Tour: Natural Style in Poland

Home Tour: Natural Style in Poland

Home Tour: Natural Style in Poland

Home Tour: Natural Style in Poland

The layout of the house goes something like this — the ground floor is one big room so it’s an open space with a separate bathroom – so they have their living room, dining area and kitchen more or less together. Then, on the first floor, there is another big room where they have their office, bedroom and master bathroom. So that’s the lay of the land. I thought I’d ask Asia a few questions about her inspirations, Polish trends and people there who inspire her so her thoughts and links are below.

Home Tour: Natural Style in Poland

Home Tour: Natural Style in Poland

Home Tour: Natural Style in Poland

Home Tour: Natural Style in Poland

Home Tour: Natural Style in Poland

How do you develop your creative eye? I love traveling. Visiting new places is the most inspiring thing because you can learn something new and also it can change your everyday views. You are able to see many new and interesting things during your travels but then once you are home you can look are your own objects around you in a new and interesting way!

Home Tour: Natural Style in Poland

Home Tour: Natural Style in Poland

Home Tour: Natural Style in Poland

Home Tour: Natural Style in Poland

Home Tour: Natural Style in Poland

What inspires you about living in Poland? Nature, folk art and little, forgotten places like this house or this one which I took at this open air museum in Tokarnia. I prefer the Polish countryside more than urban landscapes.

Home Tour: Natural Style in Poland

Home Tour: Natural Style in Poland

Home Tour: Natural Style in Poland

Home Tour: Natural Style in Poland

What are your favorite Polish interiors magazines and blogs? To be honest, I don’t have any favourite polish magazines or blogs. I buy Dom & Wnetrze or Polish editions of Elle Decoration (it’s not as good now as it once was) from time to time but I prefer international magazines because there is a little fear for Polish magazines to show “real” spaces, the way most of us here are living, without expensive furniture and designed by a well known interior designer etc. I prefer to see places like that over the flashy, expensive homes which is why on my blog I have the, “Visit with Kavka” series, which shows homes with a personal touch, mix of furniture and styles, etc.

Home Tour: Natural Style in Poland

Home Tour: Natural Style in Poland

Home Tour: Natural Style in Poland

What are some trends in interiors in Poland at this time? I don’t personally follow trends as I’ve been very faithful to my own style for years but I can show you what trends I’ve observed lately in magazines here so you can catch a glimpse into what is hot in Poland.

  • Trend #1: Clean and graphic like this or this.
  • Trend #2: Classic, weathered wood and somewhat country like this or this.
  • Trend #3: A bit minimalist like this with retro touches.
  • Trend #4: Bold and elegant like this, this or this. Also this.
  • Trend #5: Mid century touches, here are some examples 1 or 2.
  • Trend #6: An eclectic Asian vibe.

Who are some Polish stylists or designers that you love? I absolutely love everything made by the stylist Basia Dere?-Marzec, whom I wrote about on my blog not to long ago. You can also see her online portfolio here. I also like Ola Wasilkowska who is a young Polish architect with great talent and vision.
I also like the spaces by designers Agnieszka Kossowska and Katarzyna Baumiller from Baumiller Kossowska because they are tasteful and accessible.

I hope that you enjoyed this peek into Poland today and thank you Asia and Seba for the warm welcome into your ultra cool home.

(Images: Joanna “Asia” Gwis)

Posted in Home Tours on July 21, 2011

Relaxing Amsterdam Apartment

When I was in Amsterdam recently at our blogger’s event, Meet The Blogger, I met Desiree from the Vosges Paris blog through her friend Karine Kong from online design shop Bodie & Fou. Intrigued by Desiree because she was so enthusiastic, personal and friendly, and since she had reached out to me long before the event, I decided to chat her up a bit. She is quite a passionate decorator! Once back home after the event, she wrote to me about her home and shared some lovely photos of it that got my attention – you’ll see why in two seconds…

Desiree lives in Amsterdam in an 85 square meter small ground floor apartment with a little garden next to her living room. The building is about 23 years old and was built when the city of Amsterdam started to revitalize the eastern docklands. She is happy to be surrounded by water and history and says, “There are plenty of old warehouses and during my daily shopping I find myself often in former warehouses… I also live very near to the city center which is A+.” Her children are grown and have left home but she is close with her neighbors and colleagues and has a beloved cat called Mister Cheese. She is inspired by Amsterdam and her life there roaming the city, “I love to bicycle through my city… ideas for my home can pop up any moment — from seeing a beautiful piece of furniture to finding an old piece of wood or seeing a bare wall,” explains Desiree.

She also loves to find inspiration through reading blogs, interior magazines and books, “You will find them (magazines/books) in every room of my home”. In fact, the decorating idea for her studio came to her one day while considering her vast collection of magazines and how much she enjoys displaying them. Around the same time, she noticed that her local post office was throwing out old tables and she got the idea of displaying her magazines on them. She even found an industrial cart (see image below) outside of the post office destined for the trash that she grabbed and brought home. Score!

While she loves design, her day job is in a very important, meaningful profession as a social worker where she is not able to decorate but to reach the heart and change lives in a different way. Decorating and blogging help her to use her creativity outside of her important role in helping others in her community. Her life has a good balance that works for her. When it comes to decorating, Desiree doesn’t do it professionally but as a hobby. She simply loves experimenting. “I like to try things out. I can display a set of posters on a wall and leave them there for a few days and then if I still like them I may frame them and give them a permanent spot and if not, I’ll simply remove them and move on,” Desiree says. No stress! Just fun!

On the wall in her living room she has installed lots of different things in a single hue since finding a common theme among different objects unifies the collection. “Your home does not need to be too serious. I add things and change them very easily. Someone once told me when I was thinking way to much about what color to add that, “It’s just paint!”, so you can change it again if you don’t like it,” which helped Desiree to not take decorating so seriously.

This creative lady loves her home mainly because the atmosphere is calm — something she needs after a long day as a social worker which can be quite the opposite! She likes how the rooms flow from one to the next visually, and to do this she keeps the foundation colors the same. Each room has white walls and a concrete focal point. By repeating certain colors and textures, yet using them a bit differently in each room, she is able to create this calm flow throughout the home.

With her color palette being so limited, you may wonder why her home doesn’t feel cold. The secret to making a home that has so much gray, white and black into a cozy abode is to use various shades and finishes (glossy, matte, etc.) and to use lots of texture and mix in natural elements. You can spot everything in her home from recycled rubber to natural wood, vintage wood, fur, glass, concrete, metal, recycled wood, metal and paper — all add texture and life — and is a smart way to inject warmth into an otherwise cool palette. Great trick!

What a lovely apartment in Amsterdam! Thank you dear Desiree for sharing it with us!

(images: desiree and ikea family at home)

Posted in Home Tours on July 11, 2011

Corners of My Home

I was thinking about what to blog today and all of a sudden I thought that perhaps you’d be interested in seeing a few of my favorite things that are in my work room and living room, which are two rooms near to one another, in my home. I love seeing the details in the spaces of others and know that you do to so perhaps you want to see a little glimpse into my life. These were not styled or shot very well as the lighting in here is rubbish with a storm brewing outside, but they are a genuine reflection of how I live and so I hope that you like them.

Corners of my home

Okay so first, remember this post about looking for storage? Well, after posting that I decided to just buy the dream cabinet that I really wanted instead of settling on something that I didn’t want only because it was a few hundred dollars cheaper. In the end, I’ll end up selling or replacing the one I don’t love so it will cost me more long term so I decided to buy a piece that I will have for the rest of my life. I contacted Lys Vintage and to my surprise, they still had the vintage cabinet from France in the lovely grey-brown that I like so much and even better news – they had a driver who could deliver it the next day. Talk about good timing.

Corners of my home

Corners of my home

Corners of my home

Corners of my home

When I got it home, I put lots of our favorite things in it that my husband and I collected over time. I asked him if I could use some of his antiques to display and he was very willing to share his prized collections, including many antique books – some handwritten dating back to the early 1600′s in which he is very fond. I love all of his collections, combined with mine, and that I have some temporary space for some of my favorite design books. I’ll move my design books into a larger cabinet with all the others still boxed up, but for now at least I have access to the best of the best.

Corners of my home

The first door that you see tilted out slightly is a door and a window leading to the balcony. The other double door leads to a second room as large as this one but I’ve shut the doors because I don’t want you to see the boxes that lurk there. I’m still furnishing my home, it’s taking me forever, but at least I have some corners of my home together while I decide on what to fill all of this space with.

Corners of my home

I wish I could say I cleaned up for your visit today, but I didn’t. I have magazine files on the floor from a project I was working on and on the table, stacks and stacks again of paperwork and things. This room doubles as my dining room currently but we usually eat in here when we have guests, otherwise we eat in our other dining room. Yes, we have three places to eat in our home – a kitchen table in the kitchen, a dining area outside of the kitchen in our very wide hallway and then this room which is a formal dining room. I have to make roman blinds for this room shown above, and get a pendant for over the table, and get some new chairs… but you know, it is what it is and I’m not making excuses for it. I like my home. My windows are not as dirty as they look by the way, though our window cleaning guy is coming over on Monday (thankfully) so they’ll be crystal clear soon enough. :)

Corners of my home
Stacks of magazines and stacks of Japanese craft and interiors books… on an antique Swedish bench that I want to paint, I think I may paint the top a minty green and the legs a matte gray, and then do something else but that is a surprise. When I finish I will show you. My makeshift lighting is a vintage green glass jar from the flea market filled with odd bits because I’m quirky like that… and inside are some Christmas lights because I really like how they look at night.

Corners of my home

I showed you my first wintergarten in this post, here is my second one above. I did very little to it, I have plans… I’ll show you once I set those plans into motion. But for now, at least there is something in there so it doesn’t look lonely. I always try to put something in a room until I am able to do what I really want to do in there because at least I can enjoy it for now.

Corners of my home

I have lots of little stacks in my house – books and ceramics mostly – things that I’m obsessed with!

Corners of my home

Above is a piece of furniture from IKEA that I have in my work room – it’s going to have a facelift though as I’m bored with how it looks and I want to paint it and do something fun, including new “knobs” because the ropes are cute but I’m not in love with them as they are.

SO those are some imperfect corners of my home that I thought I’d share today. I love my home, I’m happy here and cannot wait to get it finished but as it is for now is okay with me until I can furnish it and do the curtains, etc. I can’t wait to show you more as I continue to work on things!

(images: holly becker for decor8)

 

Posted in Home Tours on May 26, 2011

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