Is Shabby Chic Again?

June 2, 2012

Remember Shabby Chic?  I came across this image a few days ago and wondered what ever became of Rachel Ashwell and the look she made famous.  Creating a brand synonymous with her aesthetic and lifestyle, designer Rachel Ashwell founded Shabby Chic in 1989 on the philosophy of beauty, comfort, and function. Her first store, located in Santa Monica, CA, sold Rachel’s washable furniture slip covers and fabulous flea market finds.Comfort, the beauty of imperfections, the allure of time-worn objects, and the appeal of simple practical living: these are the cornerstones of the Shabby Chic brand. And I gotta say I’m good with that.  I love the idea of casual, easy and relaxed.  Maybe you’re too young to really recall the heyday of Shabby Chic, in the late 80’s I’m sure many a fine antique lost its value to a can of white paint.  Today real vintage pieces with honest patina and the charm of showing age are finding their way back into american homes.Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture flagship stores are located in Santa Monica, California, SoHo, New York and London’s Notting Hill neighborhood, with ever-expanding lines of bedding, furniture, accessories and vintage items…. So I guess Shabby Chic is alive and well.  There is a Simply Shabby Chic line of bedding and home accessories, created in 2004 through an exclusive partnership with Target stores, continues to bring the brand’s blend of English elegance and California casual to Target customers nationwide.What I’d like to close with is that while the Shabby Chic look isn’t for everyone, I believe Rachel Ashwell had a major influence in the mainstream embracing “not so perfect” vintage items into their homes, and maybe crystal chandeliers and cabbage roses aren’t for everyone, we all have some version of this in our homes.  Todays version of Shabby Chic is a bit more modern – neutrals and stripes, no flowers – and a bit more organic -tree stumps as coffee tables, etc – but it’s very much in style.


Happy June 1st everyone.  “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” is one variant of a common British superstition which states that a person should say or repeat the word “rabbit” or “rabbits”, or say the phrase “white rabbits”, or some combination of these elements, out loud upon waking on the first day of the month, because doing so will ensure good luck for the duration of that month.

Ligne Roset’s Pan Pan Decorative Rabbit and Pan Pan Table  are a  little something out of the ordinary, a rabbit integrated right into the table top and his larger buddy, a free-standing decorative object. Both pieces were designed by Barbara Kuehne-Thompson, whose background is similarly intriguing.  She left the United States for Vietnam at the age of 24. While there, she met Swiss entrepreneur and founder of Wetter Indochine, Michel Kuehne. Together they have managed to combine the skills of Vietnamese artisans with creative design to “…transform the pure forms of nature, bringing them into the home in a subtle, elegant way…” Linea

The Rabbit Lamp ($516.00) was designed by Front Design for Moooi in the Netherlands. Moooi’s Rabbit table lamp is part of the “Animals Series” by Front Design for Moooi in the Netherlands. The “Animal Series” include the Rabbit Lamp, the Horse Lamp and a Pig Tray Table. Who wouldn’t want a rabbit or a horse to lighten up your living room and a pig to serve your guests? The Moooi Rabbit Lamp is a very attractive whimsical modern table lamp. Everyone loves this unusual lamp which is highly decorative in form. The adorable Rabbit Lamp will add a unique flare to any room in your house.Moooi designs and produces their modern lighting and contemporary accessories in the Netherlands. No wonder Moooi’s collection is so attractive: the Dutch word for “beautiful” is “mooi”. A combination of elegance, grace and timeless good looks typifies the Moooi collection. Legendary Dutch designers of note include Edward van Vliet, Bertjan Pot, Jurgen Bey, Job Smeets, Maarten Baas and Marcel Wanders. Museum curators clearly have taken notice as well. Several pieces of the Moooi collection have already been snapped up for museum collections including the MoMA New York.

And this little cutie for you child’s room or just a bit of whimsy… available from or  I think it’s only $95.00 or was it pounds?!

May 31, 2012

Design is about getting color and scale right.  There is a dance between light and dark, flat and reflective, textured and smooth… depending on the music ( forgive the bad analogy) a project can become a dark sexy room, a light filled bright room or one of 100’s if not 1000’s of other “looks” or moods.  I really react positively to a light palette, with an accent layer in like in the photo above.  The banding on the mirror and the box on the table are enough to break up the tonal aesthetic of this bedroom.

Truth is, the reason I picked this image to blog about is design is also about the details. I love the way this writing-table has been layered.  Friends come over to my house and compliment me on my home, and it is pretty pulled together I’ll admit… but what is truly different about my house vs theirs is I’ve arranged my stacks of magazines and added a hand blown glass paperweight, or I’ve taken the time to refresh my throw pillows when I’m done using the sofa – bottom line, I’m an arranger.  It makes a difference.  Most people are afraid to try so they never attempt to fill a bookcase or layer a coffee table.  Unless you buying hundreds of dollars worth of accessories to attempt the job with, what have you got to lose?

Start with what you have. Group like items.  Think in odd numbers like 1’s, 3’s and 5’s.  Books make a good “lifts” for smaller objects, try laying some on their side and keep others standing up.  Try layering object in front of your books if your shelves have the depth to allow for it.  Plate stands are good for showing off pretty dinnerware but they are also good for displaying small paintings and photographs.  Your local craft store or design store should have a good selection of easels for just this purpose.

Go ahead and give it a try.  Empty a bookcase or clear off a coffee table and start from scratch.  First pick up the things you don’t want to put back, then group like items.  Then search the house for other items that might have the same mood or feeling – if you have antique bookends throughout the house consider displaying them as a collection for instance.  Now, I’m not saying that everything wants to be the same color and texture and sheen, on the contrary…  a few shiny frames tucked in with old books will really wake up your vignette.  If your working with multiple shelves, try making every other shelf feel like the same format.  Because book shelves can easily go to a busy place, the order of shelves feeling similarly formatted adds order.  Good luck!

Branch Out!

May 30, 2012

I’m loving the new Baum Mirror from Bungalow 5.  Anything rustic modern  usually catches my eye but finally someone has made a decorotive mirror that is a useable size (29″ x 31″) in a finish I love (antique silver leaf).  A pair over nightstands would be very pretty, it’s perfect in a small powder room and it’s a good size for over most fireplaces, although you might need a do-dad or two on the mantle.

This mirror from Carvers Guild is big in size and style. This is the largest rendition of the three sizes of Gothic Twig designed by Carol Canner at 26″ x 49″. The Gothic Twig has appeared in innumerable magazine editorials and is an award winner from the American Society of Furniture Designers. Shown in Silver Leaf with plain mirror it is also available in Antique Gold Leaf, Pewter or a Hand painted finish.

…and this from Archi-Arts.  Their Oval Branch Mirror has a metal frame with a bronze finish (other finishes might be available) and a clear, non-antiqued mirror.  the simplicity and clear mirror make this a good choice for a bathroom and of course it’s useable size at 29″ Height x 24″ Wide x 1″ Depth.  I would love to see this mirror done in a driftwood finish, think it would really look great.

Kelly Wearstler-ish

May 29, 2012

This dining room has some of Kelly Wearstler’s signature details, but I don’t think it’s her work.  Definitely her influence at work here though… the beautiful “stone” wallpaper is something Ms. Wearstler is known to do – malachite one of her favorites – only she typically does it with real slab materials but I do love the way this wallpaper looks.  So the mix of the wall organic and earthy mixed with the aggressive black and white rug is also a hallmark of Wearstlers work.  She loves the mix! the quirky-er the better!  and, last but not least, the 70’s spin most of Kelly’s rooms get this one gets too… the chandelier gives us that nod without being a disco ball, although it might as well have been one.

Lance Wovens

May 28, 2012

“The idea behind Lance was the merging of two cultures,” said Stefano Bruni, an Italian native who started the furniture and accessories company with his American fiancée, Anne Arnold, earlier this year. “Americans have powerful symbols that Italians love, like a flannel shirt, a Hudson Bay blanket, a pair of jeans. These are age-old American traditions that inspired our line.”

The line of woven leather pillows, benches, rugs and tote bags, which fans of Bottega Veneta will undoubtedly covet, was introduced in August at the New York International Gift Fair.  One looks like woven denim, another has the colorful stripes of a Hudson Bay blanket, yet another is a plaid one might see on a flannel shirt. The complete line is on the company’s Web site, A selection of solid woven calfskin 21-inch-square pillows $595 each and woven calfskin plaids $725 each.   are at Kristin Paton Home – a friends chic new home store in the heart of Cambridge – hoping to bring them to the Tri-Town area for my customers, we will see.  In the meantime, if you’re not in New England Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf’s also carry the line.

May 27, 2012

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!  I hope you have plans to spend time with friends, family or to do something just for yourself over the long weekend.  Memorial Day brings for me the true feeling of summer, BBQ’s, S’mores, fire-pits and summer shacks with exposed stud walls and claw foot tubs.  I look forward to, and relish the warm relaxed days the season and nothing seems to suit that lifestyle better than a uninsulated seasonal cottage close to the water and a short drive to a lobster roll.  If the tiny beach cabin I’m referring to has open walls and exposed rafter ceilings, all the better.  Nothing puts me in a relaxed state of mind like a relaxed interior.  An old cotton quilt, on a twin mattress day bed tucked in a window seat overlooking the sea (or a field, or forest)  and a nap sounds just about perfect.  Go find your “perfect” and have a great weekend!