Shabby Chic: Creating a space that's right for you
BY BRAVETTA HASSELL World Scene Writer
Saturday, July 28, 2012
7/28/12 at 6:27 AM
Whether you've recently bought a new home or have been living in your current one for years and want to update it with a new warmth, Rachel Ashwell's "The Shabby Chic Home" shows readers how to achieve a living a space that's all their own, that's right for their tastes and budget.
In "Shabby Chic," Ashwell sees the lovely bones of a home she bought in the late 1990s, sees some features she had not dreamed of, but then also sees potential. Ashwell sticks to her three decorating maxims - beauty, function and comfort - and transforms the dark-wooded California cottage that summons the witch's house in "Hansel and Gretel" into a bright and mildly rustic cottage. All of this while making few changes to the actual structure of the home.
Ashwell's budget allowed her to spend 10 percent to 15 percent of the house's purchase price on renovation - relatively modest in comparison to undertakings that involve a lot of tearing up and replacing of things.
"With children to raise, a business to run, and a life to lead, I simply don't have the time and money to do work that's not completely necessary," said Ashwell, a mother of two, who'd rented a house for nine years after her divorce before purchasing a home for her and her son and daughter. She writes she's more likely to ask "Can we keep it?" than say "Let's tear it out." So in the end, "what I got rid of had to go; I dispose of nothing lightly."
In her bathroom, for instance, the instinct may have been to knock down a few walls in the narrow space, make it luxurious, have separate bath and shower areas and room enough for ample storage. But Ashwell writes she simply wanted a pure white bathroom - with tiling inspired by the subway, white porcelain doorknobs and character-driven bathroom accessories.
"I wanted the most authentic feel," writes Ashwell, a former movie set designer and stylist, who created the Shabby Chic style in 1998 when she was in need of a home that was beautiful and practical.
Throughout "Shabby Chic," Ashwell describes the projects done throughout her cozy home to create the environment she wanted, one that pays homage to things she treasures: beauty, gentle colors, soft textures, florals, function, simplicity and an honest and playful measure of fancy.
Ashwell shares some insight she brought to the renovation as well as helpful ideas she picked up along the way in the book.
Things to consider when buying a house: "Don't feel you have to see 5,001 examples, if you really like the first one."
Having something custom-made doesn't have to be more expensive than buying it from a store. This is especially the case for something with specific measurements or functions.
"Less is more."
Things to remember when renovating plumbing: Be open to mixing old and new. "Combining the outward and visible part of an old faucet with a new and efficient plumbing fitting is not a big deal." Find old fixtures at local flea markets and salvage companies.
Things to consider when leaving it alone: Live with what you've bought for a bit. "Relax into it."
"The Shabby Chic Home" by Rachel Ashwell is available from Harper Design for $24.99.
Original Print Headline: Create a space that's right for you
Bravetta Hassell 918-581-8316
"The Shabby Chic Home" is by Rachel Ashwell.