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 Shabby Chic Valuable flea market finds...
A peeling, antique vanity in muted sea green...
An elegant, cracked chandelier...
An enormous, slipcovered sofa with deep, cushions...

Comfort, the beauty of imperfections, the allure of time-worn objects, and the appeal of simple practical living: these are the cornerstones of what has come to be known as the Shabby Chic style. Like the cosy familiarity of a well-worn pair of faded jeans, the dilapidated elegance of an Italian villa, or the worn grandeur of faded velvets and mismatched floral china handed down from your grandmother's attic, the Shabby Chic style is a revived appreciation for what is used, well-loved, and worn. It is a respect for natural evolution and a regard for what is easy and sensible.

The hundreds of lavish photographs in this book invite you inside the unique world of Shabby Chic. Rachel Ashwell, founder of the Shabby Chic home decor stores, for the first time provides her invaluable and much-sought-after advice on how to re-create Shabby Chic style in your own home. With engaging text and easy-to- follow instructions, Rachel details the Shabby Chic basics in a way that will put even the most apprehensive or novice decorators at ease. From flowers to fabrics to lighting, Rachel illuminates all of the elements essential to this unpretentious yet truly exquisite style.

A behind-the-scenes look at a flea market lets readers in on Rachel's personal secrets of how to cull hidden treasures from flea market trash--an old trunk, its paint peeling around the edges, can be given new life as a coffee table, while a chipped white iron salvage piece becomes the perfect frame for a vintage mirror. This book tells you not only how to restore these pieces but how to find the perfect place for them in your home. Gorgeous colour photographs and accompanying text reveal how this relaxed look works with a variety of different styles, from Victorian to Mediterranean to contemporary.

  Date Published 7/31/1996

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 Ratings 
 
Rated By: Rebecca Cazares
From: Tucson, AZ
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Finally a book that defines my style!
This book, which I received as a gift from a very thoughtful and insightful brother, helped me to gain better focus in my decorating efforts and pinpointed what was before only a very vague concept. Ashwell's photographs are excellent and the text is easy to understand and follow. She uses only a few direct words to convey her concepts and the writing style is refreshing. She even gives tips of what to look for at flea markets and swap meets. Although it seems apparent that her clientele is probably reasonably well off, her concepts are usable for any budget. I anticipate that I will be rereading this book often as I progress in decorating my new place in the "shabby chic" style.
Rated By: Risa Palazzo
From: New York
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: A wonderful primer on an accessible style
Shabby Chic has become a way of life thanks to the very innovative Rachel Ashwell, who now has shared the secrets to this wonderful style. Her book serves as a primer for those who may have admired this decorating style that blends comfortable old things to a great effect. The chatty, down-to-earth tone of the book fits this warm and cozy approach to home decor perfectly and will make you want to get out there and rummage through flea markets looking for old furniture with 'good bones", broken but fix-uppable chandeliers, tattered lamp shades and lovable odds and ends. The book is more than just pretty pictures -- it gives very concrete advice for creating rooms that have that nice lived in look and ways to save money while doing it. I highly recommend "Shabby Chic" and I look forward to Rachel Ashwell's new book that I heard will be coming out soon!
Rated By: A reader
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: It was definitely shabby !
I ordered this book on the basis of a decorating magazine review, a definite mistake. While the book was well laid out and written, the furniture used was just what the title says - SHABBY - right down to the rumpled, saggy upholstery. If the idea of the book was to show worn, distressed finishes, it succeeded, but I'd be ashamed to decorate any of the rooms in my house using the principles outlined in this book. It was definitely a BAD purchase.
Rated By: A reader
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Shabby Chic gives a warm, nostalgic feeling to decorating
I read Shabby Chic on recomendation of my sister, and LOVED it! It gives practical advice on shopping for overlooked treasures, and it is full of wonderful pictures that I love looking through again and again. What I took from it is, decorate with the things you love, and you can't go wrong. I happen to love things from the past, even if they aren't considered antiques, that can be doctored up to look cozy.

Rated By: A reader
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: I fell in love immediately!
I stumbled upon this book while browsing my local bookstore. I started reading it the moment I returned home. I fell in love immediately! It's upbeat text is refreshing. The Shabby Chic style is like a breath of fresh air for your home. Everything light and airy. Aswell covers everything in this book. What to look for, how to fix it and how to make it at home in your home. She also covers everything from textiles to chandeliers, from rugs to old china. It's all there. I've read this book over and over again! Shabby Chic is definately a family friendly style. I'm anxiously awaiting her second book, which is do out SOON!
Rated By: A reader
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Great coffee table book and reference guide!
Enjoyed this book thoroughly, because it showcases my personal philosophy: "out with the New, in with the Old!!" Although the author's clients and friends are obviously well-off, readers can easily transfer the hints and advice to their own personal style, regardless of their income level. Personally, some of my best finds have been from the Salvation Army, the Goodwill, and the side of the road! Rachel Ashwell has really scored a hit with this book!
Rated By: A reader
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: There are better books out there
I was deeply deeply disappointed with this book. I had come to expect more from the Shabby Chic then I was given this time around.
Rated By: SynapticRN@aol.com
From: Lost in bluegrass of KY
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Learn the criteria .......to make ur home comfy but chic!
I read this hardback from cover to cover.....an amazing feat for someone that is hard to entertain! Within these graphic intense pages I found my decorating base. I am sure you too will "find" what will enhance your surroundings too.
Rated By: A reader
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Fabulous decorating tips for easy living all in real style
This book pronounces the epitimy of style and easy living. Growing up with Shabby Chic in Venice CA, many times we werent sure what to call this style of my parents. They were right on in style and taught each of us how to develope and elaborate on our own. We are fortunate enough to have exciting reading and fabulous photos of direction. This book extends to everyone a chance to freshen up and live in peace if you only follow a few guide lines to start with. It couldnt be simpler than how Mrs. Ashwell puts it, truly "Shabby Chic".
Rated By: Keith
From: Somerville, MA
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: My Favorite Decorating Ideas!
Good design doesn't have to be expensive. Rachael pulls together elements and she joins them with similarities in their form and color. All this with "finds". This book gives creedance to our local decorating norm. Houses here are decorated with everyone elses' stuff off the street. Racheal shows us how to do it with flair.
Rated By: A reader
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: don't bother with this one
i read her 2nd book "treasure hunting" before this one. it was much better than "shabby chic". i would skip this book and go straight to her next one which was great.
Rated By: A reader
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: don't bother with this one
 I read her 2nd book "treasure hunting" before this one. it was much better than "shabby chic". i would skip this book and go straight to her next one which was great.
Rated By: A reader
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Take it easy on Rachel..she does have some good ideas
I wish some of the reviewers would be a little more open-minded and polite. I have enjoyed taking ideas from Shabby Chic and mixing them with my own. I never take anything too seriously. But I will tell you this..for those of you who love comfort and old things and fixing them up, stick with it and make it your own. Rachels book provides some great ideas, and you can be inspired by them but you do not have to follow everything. Be your own person. Someone wrote "faded fabrics are out" or something? I am sorry, but for those people who enjoy older, inherited looking items in their home that is something that will never die. This look, whether you call it Shabby Chic or not, will continue to evolve throughout time. Just because all the snotty designers are pusing a more cold, modern minimalist look with bright colors does not mean the classic old look is outdated. It is the one look that is never outdated if you work with it right to please you. And some of Rachels items are not expensive at all. I found her collection at Mervyns Southern California to be very fair priced, especially during the white sale, and purchased a few things that were simply classic and delightful, to mix with my own findings and makings. All and all, this is a nice book for your collection if you like to decorate and you like that style, but again, it is not meant to be followed completely. It is meant to inspire.
Rated By: M. Pass
From: MN
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Depressing and old hat
Isn't it time we moved on to fresher looks? A roomful of musty old furniture with peeling paint and faded fabrics had some appeal a decade ago, but enough already. I'd like to see this obviously talented designer and entrepreneur try something new. Clearly, she has a good eye. I hope she uses it to give us some NEW ideas.
Rated By: Cheryl L. Shaw
From: San Juan Capistrano, CA
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: A book that inspired me
I found this book extremely thrilling when I first read it. I had to run to Shabby Chic, and absolutely fell in love. That was 3 years ago. I still read this book periodically. It is so used it is falling apart. I derived great ideas from this book, added to my own taste, I now love my home. It is very practical with four children and Beautiful! My daughters love their rooms and join me in searching out fabulous items at the flea markets and goodwill stores. Shabby Chic is an inspiration, a quality and guide book. If you don't like the information in this book, you just don't get it. Hats off to Rachel!
Rated By: poofgirl
From: Brooklyn
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Wonderful picture book of casual living!
I received this book as a gift. I read it from cover to cover the first day. Ms. Ashwell demonstrates that flea market finds aren't smelly, useless junk but treasures to be unearthed again!

I found Shabby Chic useful as a jumping board for my decorating ideas. Lots of style without spending lots of cash- a must for students, newlyweds, young families and others who may be short of cash.

This is not a book or design aesthetic for people who tend to favor a "flawless" look to their home.

Rated By: A reader
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Still a favorite
Although this book has been out for a few years, it's become a classic. It's what got me going on my own flea market hobby. Now I can't stop, and I'm always looking for new books to guide me. For an even fresher look at the topic, I also love the new book called Flea Market Decorating, which I just bought this month. I especially like the variety of styles in Flea Market Decorating, which include everything from country cottage styles to newer contemporary looks.
Rated By: "iloveprovence"
From: Columbia, S.C.
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: A pleasurable guide to making home decorating decisions!
Rachel Ashwell's first decorating book is filled with lovely pictures and advice for creating a laid back, comfortable decorating style. The best thing about this book is that she shows the reader how to enjoy making your home inviting without breaking the bank. Even if the homeowner isn't completely enthralled with Ashwell's approach to decorating, by reading her, the home decorator can develop an eye for what would be long lasting appeal and the confidence to make decisions. Quite often, because of the expense and time involved, and because most people have to live with their decorating decisions, choosing furniture and accessories becomes quite daunting. Read Rachel Ashwell to help develop the confidence to decorate in your own style!
Rated By: Mervyn Passanante
From: USA
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Looks a little dated
This book was OK in its day, but when I picked it up again with the idea of giving it as a birthday gift to a friend, I saw that it looks rather dreary and old. For a fresher look at the topic, I recommend Flea Market Decorating, which I bought both for myself and for my friend's birthday. We love finding unusual accessories at second-hand stores, antique shops, tag sales, and flea markets, and Flea Market Decorating shows how to use those finds in fresh ways.
Rated By: "skylights90n"
From: Russellville, AR
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Don't bother
Can you say "sea-foam green" or "chipped white paint"? So can RA, over and over again. The photographs are uninspired and often so small that details are invisible. Better to take a walk through your local flea market and buy whatever catches your eye. Don't waste your money.
Rated By: "skylights90n"
From: Russellville, AR
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Dodn't bother
Can you say "sea-foam green" or "chipped white paint"? So can RA, over and over again. The photographs are uninspired and often so small that details are invisible. Better to take a walk through your local flea market and buy whatever catches your eye. Don't waste your money.
Rated By: Alix Leonard
From: LA, CA
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Very dated
I didn't pay enough attention to the age of this book when I got it. It is very dated. Sloppy slipcovers have come and gone. Chipped paint is passe. This was disappointing.
Rated By: Beth Hartford-DeRoos
From: Jackson, California
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Chic is never out of date
Contrary to what one reviewer wrote, while the book is a few years old it is still very much useful in 2001. Maybe one has to have lived in France, rural London or even in Greece to fully appreciate the authors wisdom. And page 141 has the ONLY non-fitting slip cover that could be described as "loose fitting and shabby".

Fact is the 7 Chapters are well written and well photographed. The topics of each Chapter are: Diverse Styles; Rooms; Hidden Treasures & Inspirations; Fabrics; Seating; Lights & Lighting; and Flowers. Have used the crisp and very neat fitting slipcover ideas she has on page 23 and 27 as well as the setting idea on page 27 where two same covered, sofa's are used in the viewing/screening room of a clients home.

Now... I am the only woman/female in this family. So with a husband, sons, male cats and dogs I love to save money as well as have furniture that men like and which looks good as well. Ms Ashwells book wins on all counts. Showing what works and what doesn't and why. She isn't just a woman who pays others to do what she says, she does it herself. The flea market piece and photos reminded me of the awesome Pasadena flea market that is so awesome!

It is also nice that she shows a variety of living styles from country garden homes, to zen simplicity, to more a seaside or Mediterranean mode. She offers wonderful information on choosing the right fabric for the piece of furniture and home environment. And information that even I did not know about picking paint. Appreciated the section on furniture restortaion and the photographs that remind me of my favorite haunts in SF and Oakland.

The book is one that you will actually pull off the shelf and read often. In my opinion it is worth the price.

Rated By: A reader
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Dated and boring
This book is as dated as the peeling painted finishes that show up on almost every page. Enough already! This style is over.

Rated By: BellaBella
From: United States
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Romantic style is always in fashion
Although I have to admit that "shabby chic" is not really my style at all, I love this book. The photographs feature interiors that look casually elegant and very romantic. While, I would not decorate an entire room in this style, this book inspires you to take a single element and incorporate it into a room. For example, a chandelier dripping with crystals or a vintage mirror with an aged patina could easily and seamlessly fit in with any decor. This is the type of inspiration you will get from this book.
Rated By: "calico-latte"
From: British Columbia Canada
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Beautiful Photos but lacks applicability
Lovely photos - so if you want a nice coffee table book, this is a lovely one to have. However, if you want practical information about how to develop and apply this style to your own home, this book doesn't provide basic practical guidelines (granted, I only glanced through it quickly because I found it boring). The author photographed, at the most, 3 separate houses to illustrate the book - way too many white slipcovered down chairs and sofas - and I LOVE white slipcovered down chairs and sofas. I'm looking foward to getting her more recent book "The Shabby Chic Home" because I think it will be more practical and applicable to my life. So while I didn't really like this book, I've not given up on this author, nor her unique approach to this style - I think her work is worth another look, but not this book.
Rated By: A reader
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Hardly "dated"...
A major aspect of Shabby Chic as presented in this book is to bring comfort, practicality and a personal touch to one's decorating. How is that ever "dated"? If your only goal is to keep up with the latest fads and re-do your house every year, then, no, this is not the book or concept for you. If, on the other hand, you would like ideas on how to incorporate both quality vintage pieces and fun contemporary finds into a decor that reflects your personal style, while allowing your home to be liveable and inviting, then give Ms. Ashwell's ideas a try.
Rated By: A reader
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Typical escapist material, but very beautiful
Contrary to many other viewers' opinions I do not believe in this book's practical worth for those on a tight budget. To me it was immediately obvious that the "shabby chic" ought to be understood in the British sense, of making wealth appear casual, spontaneous and a little worn round the edges, , rather than pompous and ostentatious. It is not about making something out of nothing. Trash to treasure guide equally it is not, whatever we may be invited to believe. For the budget conscious it is a stuff to dream around, not to get inspired. But, as escapist stuff it is much superior to many others of its kind, precisely because of this quality of lightheartedness and taking it easy, which are the all important qualities of un-self-conscious decorating.
Rated By: A reader
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: A Decorating Classic!
Simple, elegant style using vintage home furnishings & slipcovers. I love all of Rachel's Shabby Chic books. Unfortunately many people don't really get the "Shabby Chic" philosophy. I see a lot of people describing cheap newly distressed items as shabby chic or 1970s floral curtains as shabby chic. Buy the book before you judge the look!
Rated By: J.B. Sloan
From: Michigan
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Time to bury this one
Isn't it time that this fusty old book and trend were given a decent burial? The rooms are dated and busy, busy, busy.
Rated By: A reader
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Sorry I bought it
I bought this book based on a customer review, and I'm sorry I did. What I want is comfortable elegance in my home, but what I got was the last century's take on country/cottage design. Now what do I do with this book? Give it to my mother?
Rated By: A reader
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Shabby Chic
Very sorry I wasted the money on this book as well as her others! ;-(
Rated By: Alix Leonard
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: time to let this one die
The shabby, peeling paint trend is dead. None of my design clients want it anymore. This book is a relic of the past and should be allowed to die a dignified death. I challenge Rachel Ashwell to come up with something newer, more fun, and less depressing.
Rated By: A reader
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Grandma's comfort & Young Chic
I own 2 books that Rachel wrote including this one. I can't say how many times,I have used it for idea's for my 2 homes. It gives you so many beautiful pictures/idea's especially for my summer home. I even taped Rachel when she was on a tv show ,giving her charming ideas for her home and some TV stars. All the ideas were just as beautiful in a small apartment as in a stars home. A big thank-you for Rachel's idea's and for Target for giving us all a chance to pretend we to can live like a star. Great marketing!
Rated By: A reader
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: AN "INSPIRATON" BOOK
Rachel Ashwell's "shabby chic" concept is a creation no different than a painting. Some people will be moved and inspired by it while others will pass it by. Several years back many decoraters both private and professional hailed it as a trend and there were those that rushed out to copy Rachel's look for that reason only. Those are the people that tend to declare things are "dead" or "out-dated." They are the same people that dress to impress. They write reviews or make statements about what's "in" and enjoy being "in." That is their priveledge. However, declaring whether "shabby chic" is in or out is an opinion and not a book review. One would assume that a person that is searching for this book could make up his or her own mind whether "the look" is what is desired. The point of reading a review is to find out whether the book provides the information needed or wanted. That is my job as a librarian. When I read a review, especially a non-fiction review, I want to know if a book is well photographed, informative, clearly written, fairly priced etc. This book meets those requirements, but as an "inspiration" book and not a technical manual. I have read and heard both positive and negative reviews, but paid attention only to the ones in which examples were given to support the opinions cited. Many of my patrons at the library have asked for this book and as we have a limited budget, I make selections carefully. I read many reviews of the book first and chose to buy it based on it's uniqueness. In a small library, we can not have ten books on one subject and we can't afford to purchase books that sit. The patrons of the library have taken "Shabby Chic" out many times and taken ideas from it. There were those that did so because of the trend factor, but to this day, the book still goes out often. Some library patrons found themselves reflected in this look and enjoyed the ideas presented. If you feel drawn to this look, but are unsure about a purchase, I recommend that you go to your local library and request a copy. Many of my patrons enjoyed this book so much they bought their own copies, others wanted the book to be more of a text book than an inspiration book. As for myself, I found in the book a unique and romatic vision of decor presented for inspiration, but it is not a how to manual. Those patrons that tend to be their own person enjoyed it best. Those that were anxious about decorating to make their home appear well-turned and contemporary with others and who were not comfortable with risk or their own styles yet, felt they wanted more of a step by step approach. I am here to order my own copy because the book never seems to be on the shelf at work when I have a chance to take it out!
Rated By: Lulu N.
From: Florida
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Great starter book
This book will introduce you to Rachel's concepts. It's a good place to start. I enjoyed it more than some of her more recent books.

Rated By: Ivi
From: CA
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Good info
I've find the information in the book (text) very useful in creating a soothing, unfussy, shabby environment at home. However I was expecting it to be the otherway around; I thought there'll be beautiful photographs in the book and the text just going to state the obvious...
I was expecting more photos of the 'typical shabby' look (white walls, furniture, crystals, pinks, pastel colors, etc.) Instead you'll find a little bit of this and a little bit of that of varous styles mixed with shabby chic(traditional, modern and just a few of that typical romantic style)...so I am a little disapointed about that but on the whole, this book is o.k.