Shabby Chic Interiors: My Rooms, Treasures, and Trinkets is a new edition of a title published first in 2009 by Rachel Ashwell, a designer with all the moves. She is a serial home dweller whose philosophy is “wherever I am, I make my nest, even in a rented home or hotel.” And of course, each move provides fodder for a new book. I have the theory that, when it comes to home decorating, doing it is more fun than having it. (I could certainly be accused of this myself.) And it’s easy to see that Ashwell loves the process.
The book takes you to her latest house purchase that occurred when her nest emptied. You have to get past the line that says, “So I then I began the curious mission of “unrestoring”; heaving out brand-new cabinets and deluxe whirlpool baths until I got back to the authentic and real.”
You got it. She ripped out all the improvements recently made by the previous owner who also wasn’t happy with them and so moved along. The sleek new kitchen cabinets made way for ones that are wonky and worn. And she tells you that her construction team cheered her on.
Don’t get me wrong. I like the pretty rooms she creates and the homes of others that she takes you to. Some of them, like the Milches’ house in the chapter “Dogs, Art & Literature”, might be properly labeled authentic.
This is one very stylish woman who has made a career out of being a very stylish woman. I’m just hoping that her style inspires you to live and work well with the comfortable old things you already own or discover.
On the other hand, you could just enjoy the pictures without reading the text and then you won’t have to think of it all as cultural commentary.