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 Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting and Decorating Guide Put the living back into living room. Forget your worries when a dish breaks and you are left with seven, not eight, dinner plates. Top designer and creator of the Shabby Chic furniture line Rachel Ashwell, who has scoured flea markets since she was a child and is a set designer in Hollywood, provides countless tips for decorating inexpensively in a timeworn style. Learn the trade secrets so that you, too, can find the treasures to make your home and wardrobe charming and chic.
  Date Published 7/1/1998

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 Ratings 
 
Rated By: Alexendrena Bathemess
From: Orlando, Florida
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Inspiring
I fell in love with "Shabby Chic" a couple of years ago when I visited her store in New York. While I found a lot of her things to be quite expensive, they did inspire me to be far more creative and open-minded. This book is a wonderful source of information from flea marketing to how to fix and clean your finds. Like Rachel, I grew up flea marketing with my parents, and now as an adult I am applying her philosophy to my marketing and decorating. I highly recommend this book, along with her others and if you are a real die hard, check out her show on the Style network. Thank you Rachel!
Rated By: A reader
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Beautiful, yes, but ...
I enjoyed the beautiful photography in this book, even though the hand-writing around the little sketches was very hard to read. And I admired the author's keen eye for treasures and the hard work she put into refinishing pieces of furniture. I drooled over the stunning photos of the curtains and hand made lace and linens, the old heavy linen sheets she tracks down, the wonderful coordinating faded chintz ruffled pillows. I just have a couple of questions. 1) Where exactly does one go to find this stuff if you don't live in a major city? Our flea market has X-rated exercise videos and beanie babies and old magazines, but is very short on quaint furniture and heavy old linen sheets and handmade lace. 2) Should one manage to lug home quaint old wooden furniture, fix it up, and cover it with all the quaint old antique knicknacks (obtained for JUST PENNIES, of course) - where in the house does one put all this stuff? I reiterate, this is a beautiful book to look at, and dream about, and it could serve as inspiration. But I think it's kind of impractical if you don't live near an enormous flea market. The "pickers" snatch up all the good stuff before the general public ever sees it, and what is left is so ridiculously expensive it's not worth it.
Rated By: "iloveprovence"
From: Columbia, S.C.
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: A fantastic photo gallery of clients' and friends' homes!
I enjoyed Ashwell's first decorating book, but this "guide" is among my favorite decorating books. I enjoy the wide range of homes she shows. The only drawback is that a few of the little homes seemed so nice and perfectly organized--and then the photographs were limited. If the pictures for these homes were more extensive, I believe I would have given this book 5 stars. I love the white, off white, and antique white walls. The rooms have a very pure look to them because of the wall color and a limited wall decoration, and yet there are delightful splashes of color in the prints. Ashwell's restrained, yet lovely approach to decorating is welcoming and relaxed. I like it a lot. I'm even starting to enjoy pink!
Rated By: Kimberly A. Lackey
From: Laurel, MD
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: What is this book about--decorating or Rachel?
I like the shabby chic look, and I love looking at the photos in the book, and I would even buy the other books in the series. But like Martha Stewart, Rachel is trying to make this all about HER. ...where does one find flea markets of this caliber? Most flea markets around here (Kansas City) sell beanie babies, fake Tommy Hilfiger, and overpriced figurines. Flea markets are becoming increasinly expensive, as vendors who have no idea what they're selling put marked-up prices on their trash. Sorry, but I can't afford a trip to Paris to scavenge for furniture.

Buy the book for the photos and ideas, but don't expect to cheaply duplicate her look, and don't say I didn't warn you that you'd get sick of Rachel-this and Rachel-that.

Rated By: A reader
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Charming and Inspirational
This lovely book takes the reader on a delicious trip into flea markets and other sources of Shabby Chic style. Hoping to find more direction on how to achieve Ashwell's style in my own home, I was instead inspired to achieve my own look by using some of her decorating principles. But don't expect these principles to be outlined for you. The chatty and personal style of writing is more like reading her personal shopping journal. Overall I found this book more enjoyable than instructional, but there is quite a bit of useful information in it, especially for first-time flea market shoppers.
Rated By: Julie Lovisa
From: Indiana
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Inspiration for antique/flea market shoppers
While some of the people who have read this book dislike Rachel Ashwell's chatty tone, I find it personal and very informative. I think that she has exquisite taste and is a genius at vintage decorating. This book will help you to ferret out the quality finds at a flea market or antique mall and put them into use by providing tips on what to look for and how to restore them to charming beauty. There are sections on collections, decorations, and vintage clothing, among others, and the book finishes with a look at some finished homes done in impeccable Shabby Chic style. The pictures are beautiful, the text is as if a friend were talking to you, and the whole package is entertaining and inspirational.
Rated By: thecastlebookroom
From: Bakersfield, CA
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Rachel has an eye for Design & Beauty!
I thouroughly enjoyed this book. I deal in thousands of books and this book is one of the few that is staying on my shelf as a reference. Rachel thouroughly captures the art of design, and sees beauty in the simple but unique items that we run across in our everyday lives. I feel she helps people to see that decorating can be fun, whether were rich or poor. It is not a book of rules but creativity! Thanks Rachel! Keep up the good work and I am looking forward to your future books!
Rated By: Claudia P. A. Soares "Bjørgum"
From: Trondheim, Norway
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Tips from a shabby chic friend
It took me a long time to found out the name of Rachel Ashwell. The best part of it is that, when I met her, she already had 3 books published and I could buy them all almost at the same time.

I'm very glad I found Rachel Ashwell books. I was introduced to her through the last book, Shabby Chic Home, (already reviewed and my favourite) and I've just finished with her first one, Shabby Chic, after reading the second one, The Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting & Decorating Guide. And I loved them all.

What I love in The Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting & Decorating Guide is the same thing I loved in the other two: (and I aim to find in her books to come) her "personal" and simple way of writing and decorating. I have the feeling that she writes the same way she talks to her closest friends, telling us the secrets of her life and style. As in her other books, The Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting & Decorating Guide gives the reader the feeling of being her close friend.

I didn't notice it, but I've always been a "shabby chic" myself and I have experienced stories very similar to Rachel's ones during her hunting for treasures on flea market trash.

Although I'm giving up the flea market style (I got really tired of living among "lots" of old/used things and I am crazy for my new home with only a "few", but new, things) I still find Rachel's tips very useful. Because it doesn't matter your style, the size of your house or your budget. Elegance and simplicity you acquire by putting yourself on your projects. And that's what Rachel Ashwell books are all about: simplicity and elegance. She really inspires me.

Go for it because she's really good!

Rated By: B. Chandler "xyzzy"
From: Arlington,Texas
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: There is a thin line between shabby and trashy
I personally do not like anything called shabby or chic. I had to read this book in self-defense. My wife is always trying to sneak this stuff in the house. Just today I spotted a white lace ceramic plate protruding from the plant ledge.

I suggest that if you must do this to do it correctly. This book is very helpful in not only what to combine, but also where to find it. Pay close attention to the resources in chapter 8. Rachel does not skimp on the color pictures and several views of the same thing.

If you attempt this with out a guide you will end up with shabby trash. Imagine a leopard sofa next to a red wall.

Rated By: A reader
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Rachel Ashwells Treasure Hunting & Decorating Guide
Really good and interesting. Rachel takes you step
by step in the renovation of her newly purchased home.
Great ideas and insights.
Rated By: Laurie Bernat
From: P-ville
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Teasures Abound!
In her second book Rachel takes us through the flea market. It is true to the form of her show and there are very many helpful hints inside! A must have for someone venturing out into the world of french country and flea market decorating!
Rated By: Ellen Oliver
From: Mobile, Alabama
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: My Inspiration
I have been waiting for this girl, Rachel, for a long time. I came out of the depression area and all I have in my home is used furniture. Well, Rachel showed me how to turn my early and late depression furniture and items into a beautiful shabby chic home. I love all her ideas. She is the perfect person for people like me. She shows me how to use flea market finds and turn them into pieces that my friends would die for. I refer them all to Rachel and her books. I had rather go buy a piece of used furniture now than go buy a new piece that cost thousands. I can make each piece of furniture my very own with her help. Thanks Rachel.
Rated By: Molly Durst
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: a very useful book
From time to time over a period of several years, I pull this one off the shelf and flip through it. Not only is it refreshing to have someone tell you (for once) that it is okay to have an imperfect house, but to go on and say that well worn slightly imperfect items have a personal value in their own right. This philosophy, very different from the holier-than-thou decorators, immediatley caught my attention when I grabbed it up.
This book is very practical because of the furniture fix-up guides located throughout. Sand it down, putty up the holes, slap on a new coat of paint (although Rachel is fond of pastel pink and mint green, I personally prefer darker tones, either way, it works, you can create something very personal) ta-da! It's like having all new furniture, and you just saved a ton of money. This book is filled with advice on where to find bargains, how to repair and refurbish used goods, and take care of what you own (complete with a guide to how to remove different types of stains on different types of surfaces). It also lists the best places to find good bargains, flea markets, tag sales, antquie malls, etc.
Combine this book with a few faux finishing techniques, and you'll probably find a way to be more comfterable with the decor of your abode, then when you get bored again, you could always sand it down and try and different color paint, or make a new slipcover, etc.
Rated By: Molly Durst
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: a very useful book
From time to time over a period of several years, I pull this one off the shelf and flip through it. Not only is it refreshing to have someone tell you (for once) that it is okay to have an imperfect house, but to go on and say that well worn slightly imperfect items have a personal value in their own right. This philosophy, very different from the holier-than-thou decorators, immediatley caught my attention when I grabbed it up.
This book is very practical because of the furniture fix-up guides located throughout. Sand it down, putty up the holes, slap on a new coat of paint (although Rachel is fond of pastel pink and mint green, I personally prefer darker tones, either way, it works, you can create something very personal) ta-da! It's like having all new furniture, and you just saved a ton of money. This book is filled with advice on where to find bargains, how to repair and refurbish used goods, and take care of what you own (complete with a guide to how to remove different types of stains on different types of surfaces). It also lists the best places to find good bargains, flea markets, tag sales, antquie malls, etc.
Combine this book with a few faux finishing techniques, and you'll probably find a way to be more comfterable with the decor of your abode, then when you get bored again, you could always sand it down and try and different color paint, or make a new slipcover, etc.
Rated By: Molly Durst
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: a very useful book
From time to time over a period of several years, I pull this one off the shelf and flip through it. Not only is it refreshing to have someone tell you (for once) that it is okay to have an imperfect house, but to go on and say that well worn slightly imperfect items have a personal value in their own right. This philosophy, very different from the holier-than-thou decorators, immediatley caught my attention when I grabbed it up.
This book is very practical because of the furniture fix-up guides located throughout. Sand it down, putty up the holes, slap on a new coat of paint (although Rachel is fond of pastel pink and mint green, I personally prefer darker tones, either way, it works, you can create something very personal) ta-da! It's like having all new furniture, and you just saved a ton of money. This book is filled with advice on where to find bargains, how to repair and refurbish used goods, and take care of what you own (complete with a guide to how to remove different types of stains on different types of surfaces). It also lists the best places to find good bargains, flea markets, tag sales, antquie malls, etc.
Combine this book with a few faux finishing techniques, and you'll probably find a way to be more comfterable with the decor of your abode, then when you get bored again, you could always sand it down and try and different color paint, or make a new slipcover, etc.
Rated By: Lakiesha Roberts
From: USA
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Overall, a nice book for inspiration!
I have enjoyed the shabby style way before it bacame "chic",so I was curious as to what the "inventor" of the look had to offer. I like the How To section on repair and cleaning,I found it refreshing that someone was willing to share trade secrets! This book is a woderful tool for personal inpiration. Nice photos of rooms for ideas. My only regret is that more people will find out about it and make flea market shopping that much harder!!!!!
Oh well, that is part of the fun..... enjoy!
Rated By: K. Hemmer "kathehemmer2"
From: Syracuse, NY
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Lovely and so British-It shows both elegance and decay as
only the English can in all it's glory. Ms. Ashwell teaches us how to look for the best wood, the best crystal, hidden beneath the flea market dust. Ms. Ashwell then teaches us how to refinish it and restores objects to a new beauty different
than their former state.You will never stroll through a flea market with out really looking again at possibilities in each
piece. I give this 4 stars,because there are people who can only have new in our disposable society.kathehemmer2
Rated By: Brooke Whitehead "Brooke_nic"
From: Vandalia, IL
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Fab Fab Fab!!!!
Rachel did a wonderful job with this book. It is right up my alley with intersresting ideas that add charm to everything. It is incredibly inspiring. It is beautiful and totally teaches you how to let your inner light shine thru in all that you do.
Rated By: Debby Hooks "debsnwc"
From: Lafayette, LA
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Excellent read!!
I love Rachel Ashwell's writing technique - very down to earth. Obviously she has a lot more flea markets at her disposal and antique stores but her advice and the way she puts it is very understanding and most of all "doable". I don't believe this type of "decorating" will ever go out of style as some people have said - I like the "lived in" look and not the "pompous" look, where you're afraid to touch anything as you might get it dirty! Everyone loves my "shabby chic" at home and comment how "comfortable" and relaxed they feel when they do come over. GREAT book with GREAT ideas - I look at it often.
Rated By: vintagegirl "vintage girl"
From: Waterloo, Ontario Canada
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Beautiful, Calm & Serene...
When I first heard of Rachel Ashwell, it was through VICTORIA magazine, when I read an article about this book. I fell in love with that "shabby chic" style and have been collecting ever since. What I love about this and her other books is that they are so beautiful, calm and serene. Rachel teaches us that old items, either in their found state or painted fresh white, are to be cherished as little pieces of history, and I can tell you that the old linens, silverware , china and furniture that I collect (and use!) are much better made than most of the new items available today. What I most love about her books is that she shows you how to create a calm and serene refuge at the end of each day. Buy this book, you won't regret spending the money. It's my very favorite book and I own a lot of them!!
Rated By: Lazy Reviewer "junnie"
From: Gaithersburg, MD
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: It's an autobiography of Rachel
The book does have some nice pictures, but all in all, it's mainly about Rachel Ashwell's childhood stories and about the few things that she picked up from the flea markets. The things she wrote were repetitive and concentrated only on her narrow range of colors. The book doesn't inspire you for new ideas that you can create when you do go out on your own to flea markets, but only about the selected items that she bought from the markets. The book would probably be better if it's a all-picture book.

I don't know how she can live with only used clothes...I guess it's just not my kinda thing. I don't mind a few used items, but ALL? ick!

One thing, though, I really liked about the book is the "how-to" pages on how to clean various materials, and that comebined is about 4 pages of the entire book. I wish she didn't use the handwritings as some areas are hard to read.

I am glad that I got to read it as a library book; that I did not buy it.
Rated By: Marie Tachau
From: SOBE, Florida
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Beautiful Intro Guide to Shabby Chic
Great introduction to the concept. Gives remarkable ideas to transform a room, home, space or help recognized potential of items found in flea market and garage sales, into wonderful pieces for your home.

Remember the local "Target Store" helps a lot.
Rated By: Sandra De Zilwa "RetroDiva"
From: Norway
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Not so shabby, very chic
This is the most gorgeous how-to-book out there! Mrs. Ashwell takes you along her journey, as she visits her treasure-hunting grounds for furniture and fabrics that convey a sense of history and adventure. Her style is very romantic and feminine, so this book is a find for all you girly-girls out there. Shabby Chic is presented as a life style, and she consequently adds a chapter on clothes and accessories. You will find plenty of inspiration to embrace a more eco-friendly and glamourous way of life through her tips on what to select (quality) and how to restore and clean out your "new" treasures. It has certainly made me want to re-upholster my old chairs and sew new curtains out of the faded fabrics my Granny gave me. This book will bring out your inner interior-designer and your slumbering artist. Life should be bright and fabulous. Enjoy!
Rated By: Virginia Allain
From: Poinciana, FL
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Inspiration for those who love vintage things
Before I even finished the book, I had to rummage out my odd selection of cream pitchers and glasses to fill with wildflowers. The photos inspire you to enjoy vintage fabrics, china and furniture in a fresh way.
It's been years since I've made the early rounds at Baltimore and Pennsylvania flea markets looking for the unique items that make a home special. Reading this book makes me take a fresh look at some things stashed in my closets. The lovely photos of rooms show uses for mismatched linens and distressed chairs.
The book branches out from just decorating by following Rachel on her flea market searches. It also includes a chapter on vintage clothing and also one on decorations (old silk flowers, etc.) for parties and packages.
Her style focuses on a palette of whites and faded pastels. She recommends some thrift measures like substituting pressed glass for crystal. Use it in abundance; for instance, put a bud vase at each place setting on the table. In general, it won't be totally inexpensive to get this look for your home.