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Rachel Ashwell


Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Design Inspiration: London Olympic Games, Downton Abbey And Her British Heritage (PHOTOS)

Posted: 08/10/2012 7:14 pm

There's so much wonderfulness coming out of London in recent times: the 2012 Olympic Games, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the most wonderful inspiring and Emmy-nominated Downton Abbey TV series. This show has provided a wealth of inspiration for designers everywhere. The British heritage and aesthetic is inspiring fashion and home decoration around the world, especially in the U.S.

My British heritage has certainly given me an awareness of history, roots, authenticity and an appreciation of detail. Much of my design work over the years circles back to something from
my home country that has inspired me.

Click through the slideshow below to see all of the various ways this is continuing into the world of design.

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  • Crown Hooks

    You're seeing the crown motif everywhere now. Anything with a crown is both playful and traditional at the same time. Mixing different applications of a crown motif is a way to create what I call organized chaos in decorating.

  • Red Regal Chair

    A find from the London Flea Market.

  • Crown Glasses

    These glasses have the crown motif too. <a href="" target="_hplink">Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture </a>

  • Lilacs

    Another royal symbol, purple became popular in 17th century England as a mark of the rich and powerful. In recent years I have gravitated towards purple, lavender, violet and anything in-between. While shooting my most recent book cover, I had an abundance of peonies and lilacs to choose from. Lilacs won, as I wanted a feminine but strong statement.

  • The Hill Magazine


  • Lace Mesh Balloon Shade

    Kate Middleton continues to be a wonderful inspiration in so many areas. She has a wonderful balance of grace, fashion and tradition. Never stuffy. Her wedding dress and subsequent less formal frocks give inspiration for layering lace, creating eclectic romance. Ballon shades from <a href="" target="_hplink">Simply Shabby Chic, $24.99.</a>

  • Lace Napkin Detail

    Vintage inspiration

  • Lavender Rose Quilt And SSC Headboard

    This headboard has all the makings of a classic British woman- soft, feminine exterior with a sturdy iron core beneath. Cover your bed with a quilt, which represents quintessential countryside comfort. Layered textures are a way to blend soft floral bedding without being too 'frou frou'. Layering a soft throw and decorative pillows gives a sense of royal abundance. <a href="" target="_hplink">Simply Shabby Chic Headboard- Sour Cream, $127.99-$143.99 </a> <a href="" target="_hplink">Simply Shabby Chic® Quilt - Purple</a>

  • Cabbage Rose Panel

    Window treatments are often the anchor of a room's decor, and also have to be highly practical. Cheerful and cozy while creating privacy and warmth. Soft roses and florals are signatures of mine that I inherited from my British heritage. The British are certainly known for the eccentricity and unique sense of humor. Not sure I know another country where pink taxis with flowers are commonplace! But on a dreary grey day, it certainly is reason to smile.

  • Floral Fabric

    more inspiration

  • Pink Taxi

    color inspiration

  • Timeworn Treasures

    I often like mixing my timeworn treasures with traditional but new and sturdy elements. This book shelf would be the perfect home for some of my more fragile pieces. <a href="" target="_hplink">Simply Shabby Chic Classic Bookcase, $279.99 </a>

  • Timeworn Treasures

    Timeworn Treasures

  • Flea Market Finds

    Speaking of timeworn treasures, since I was a little girl, I have been scavenging around the flea markets all around the world. I still get a thrill from heading out in the dark and early mornings in search of treasures that have a sense of history tied to them. Inspiration presents itself as soon as my eyes are open to possibilities. Portobello Road in London has been an old favourite of mine for many decades. While quite the tourist site now, bargains are still to be had.

  • Portobello Road

    Antiquing at Portobello Road

  • Downton Abbey

    Award winning television show

  • Queen Victoria Jubilee Mug

    Queen Victoria Jubilee Mug

  • Rachel In Studio

    It is always helpful to have an idea of what to look for while shopping and editing through a flea market, but I always remain open to those magical one -of-a-kind treasures. The Brits embrace organized chaos in terms of decoration that  then manifests into a hodgepodge room. Somehow it just works. Color palette, theme, or just anything that is beautiful, comfortable and functional, can usually find a way to fold into a British decorated room. This is me painstakingly studying the details of something vintage, to see how I can translate it into a future heirloom. I hope you'll do the same with your newfound treasures.

  • Vintage Treasures

    Vintage Treasures

  • Vintage Treasures

    more vintage treasure

  • Vintage Treasures

    Vintage Treasures