When Rachel Ashwell introduced Shabby Chic® back in 1989 I instantly connected to her beautiful yet comfortable style. Rachel’s aesthetic of pretty pastels, distressed finishes and peeling paint, soft cushions and a riot of roses still charms me to this day. So I was thrilled when Cico Books invited me to participate in the blog tour celebrating the launch of Rachel’s newest book Couture Prairie and Flea Market Treasures! Rachel graciously answered some of my questions, and I would love to share her answers and a few of the many gorgeous images from her book with all of you.
Want a copy of this lushly photographed book all for yourself? Then be sure to enter my giveaway by leaving a comment on this post by midnight CST on Septmember 20th, 2013. Tell us what you love about Shabby Chic® and Couture Prairie Style, and I’ll choose one reader to receive a copy of the book. I’ll announce the winner on September 21st, 2013. Best wishes to all who enter and please enjoy the interview and images below!
1) The photos in your new book are simply beautiful and I see a lot of my favorite Shabby Chic® elements, but definitely with a new twist! In what ways does Prairie Couture differ from Shabby Chic Interiors?
One of the beauties of Prairie Couture is that it houses many of my ‘never to sell’ treasures. Certain pieces are a tad more theatrical than I might place in an everyday home setting because there is an element of short stay moments that embraces the notion of whimsy and fantasy. The palette of The Prairie is in keeping with the climate which is for most of the year very dry and hot sometimes with heightened breezes which creates a uniform of crackly paint or bleached and dried out wood. In comparison, Shabby Chic Interiors covers many different aesthetics from a beach house to more of a formal town house setting.
2) How has the Texas landscape and lifestyle influenced your design aesthetic?
There is a primitive flavour to the Texas landscape and lifestyle that inspires my design work to be often on a larger scale based upon the big ole barns and rambling farm houses but more importantly, the lifestyle is that of southern hospitality; always welcoming the unexpected guest to sleep over and have a bite to eat. Also, the décor of bedrooms and dining rooms is always one of a greeting to the welcomed visitor. The various unfinished woods of a light patina or dark is one that layers beautifully into the palette that I’m famous for of pale pink, robin’s egg blue, and white.
3) What venues and services do you offer for wedding celebrations?
We have housed everything from the elopement of just the bride and groom to weddings of 150+ people. We have recently completed construction on The Prairie barn which is manufactured out of reclaimed wood, vintage wallpaper, and vintage corrugated metal. This is an events barn for weddings or any other celebrations where it can be converted to a place for eating, dancing or a combination thereof. We have acres and acres of beautiful countryside to setup tents or stages where we setup fairy lights everywhere. For smaller events The Ranger’s Lounge can house up to 30-50 people; vintage china, mismatched Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture® napkins, tablecloths, and Prairie logoed glassware all contribute to a quintessential Shabby Chic® wedding. For bigger events, our trademark floral arrangements are called Prairie Floral Barrels which is an abundance of wildflowers and roses depending upon the season, plopped and curated naturally into a barrel. We have many picturesque moments for wedding backdrops from our props such as circus painted archways, vintage cars, and a 4ft tall papier-mâché wedding cake from a prop department; all give a wonderful visual for future memories.
4) What advice do you have for brides-to-be who want to infuse Prairie Couture style into their weddings?
The basis of The Prairie Couture wedding is obviously a country aesthetic, but I also think it’s nice to personalize a wedding. In fact, I’m currently working on a wedding where the obvious personalization of napkins, glassware, and other elements all have customized logos of the bride and groom. But the nice thing about The Prairie is that the pallet can be flexible, so depending on the bride’s preference, we could have a Shabby Chic® wedding of pale pinks and pale blues and personalize it, which also lends itself to being highly romantic. Or if preferred, a more authentic Texan style is always nice, so the choice is really for the bride to choose and can be easily accommodated.
5) I enjoyed reading about your adventures at the Round Top Antiques Show! I attended once a few years ago and it was amazing! I came home with a huge stash of vintage trim. What is your all-time favorite treasure from the show? Do you have particular items you always look for?
Other than looking for beautiful patina pieces of furniture which might be a huge cabinet or a footstool, one thing is vintage dinnerware in more of a hodge-podge design of colour. More so today than in the past are vintage silk flowers- I find these decoratively gift wise such a powerful and useful little accent. For these flowers crinkled in the hot Texan sun I have found steam from a hot kettle often brings them back to life.
Many thanks to Rachel Ashwell, Cico Books, and Ryland Peters & Small for sponsoring this post and the giveaway!
For more about Rachel please be sure to visit her website: www.rachelashwellshabbychiccouture.com
Couture Prairie By Rachel Ashwell is published by CICO Books and is available from www.rylandpeters.com
Follow @cicobooks on Twitter for all the latest details on the blog book tour and more.
By Kimberly Jones