My Floral Affair – Review of Rachel Ashwell’s Newest Decor Book

My Floral Affair – Review of Rachel Ashwell’s Newest Decor Book

It’s Day 298 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project, and because I’m in love with My Floral Affair, Shabby Chic founder Rachel Ashwell’s newest decor book, I’m excited to write a review about it. My own romance with Shabby Chic began in the 90s and will soon celebrate its 30th anniversary. Sometime in my youth I became an Anglophile (probably due to devouring all that Jane Austen). In college, where I majored in English Lit of course, I pledged a sorority whose colors are pastel pink and green which only fed my preference for the colors. Then in my early 20s I became a bit obsessed with design and developed a a deep, abiding love of flowers and pink roses in particular. The combination of the above is what initially drew me to English Country decor with its prevalence of large scale cabbage roses on chintz fabrics. When I opened a copy of Victoria magazine and saw a spread of Rachel Ashwell’s Malibu home and her Shabby Chic style – a mix of English cottage, California beach cottage and romantic French influences, with white and pastel painted furnishings set against white walls – all with a profusion of pink flowers – I fell SO hard and have been devoted ever since. I own all the Shabby Chic books, and couldn’t wait for the eleventh, knowing My Floral Affair wouldn’t disappoint.

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A quintessentially Shabby Chic corner of my dining room/office. This buffet with a restored Simply Shabby Chic mirror, clock, lamps & crochet edge table runner. Decor -Target. Book – B&N.                                                   The addition of Easter flowers from my sweet hubby & My Floral Affair make it even more lovely. Stoneware water pitcher used as vase – TJ Maxx. 

The timing of the book’s release is ideal. March came in like a lion and it’s gone out like one too! Here in the midwest, we had the threat of twelve inches of snow toward the end of the month (it turned out to be much ado about nothing) and got a blanketing of it the day after a frigid Easter/April Fool’s Day. No joke! (I couldn’t resist). Worst case scenario I probably suffer from a bit of Seasonal Effective Disorder, and don’t enjoy winter all that much at the least. Between the cold, rain and snow, Spring Cleaning didn’t hold much appeal until I got ahold of a much anticipated copy of My Floral Affair. Pages of gorgeous, yummy decorating from Rachel Ashwell’s own homes as well as those of others in England, France, and Norway, all with flowers as the focus, make for tantalizing visual eye candy, and have inspired me to freshen up my Shabby Chic space in many ways, including with flowers.

As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose ShabbyChicophile, I’ve been a one-decorating style kinda woman for a while and I like it that way. My style is not trendy and it’s definitely not modern as my hubby and stepsons like to point out. I’m fine with their ribbing though because I realize they’re not accustomed to homes that don’t look as if the showroom display was shipped to the house and set up. I’d go mad in a space like that. Instead, I’ll take Shabby Chic, timeworn and timeless for life. Oh, and filled with flowers.

If you’re looking for some inspiration to freshen up your home or office this spring, Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose inspiration is abloom in My Floral Affair, available at http://www.shabbychic.com or http://www.barnesandnoble.com.

Be savvy & chic,

~Pink Collar Coach

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Restoration of Shabby Chic Mirrors and Other Shattered Things (Like Us)

Restoration of Shabby Chic Mirrors and Other Shattered Things (Like Us)

It’s Day 291 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project, and the restoration of a Shabby Chic mirror made me think about the restoration of other shattered things. The  mirror was purchased for a song back in the happy days when an abundance of Rachel Ashwell’s  Simply Shabby Chic line, made exclusively for Target, crowded the shelves.  In the house I brought my babies – now fourteen and thirteen – home to, it graced my bathroom vanity. I don’t recall where it lived in the townhouse I moved into, thus ending my homelessness. Much of that time is a blur…When I married my sweet hubby and moved into the home we now share almost eight years ago, I lovingly hung my prized mirror in our bedroom. It’s a heavy piece – I just didn’t realize how heavy until it fell from the wall, shattering not only the mirror itself but the beautiful carved wooden frame. Carefully, I wrapped the broken pieces and stored them until the day would come when I’d have it put back together again. More years than I can account for later, that day finally arrived in the form of a Christmas gift from my hubby. We shipped the mirror off with our window cleaners. Today, after some needed spring cleaning, I set up my beautifully restored Shabby Chic mirror. It reminds me so much of other shattered things.

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Beautifully restored Simply Shabby Chic mirror. The clock & everything on the sideboard is SSC. Replacing the brass knobs with acrylic crystal look ones echoes the glass in the lamps & mirror. All from Target. The Shabby Chic inspired floral painting and inspiration board – TJMaxx.

Generous as he is with me, my husband still balked a little at the cost to restore the mirror – $42. He could see the price tag on the frame insert – $9.99 – and wondered why I didn’t just replace it. But that’s not my style. I’ve been drawn to shabby since long before it became chic. I find beauty in broken things and experience joy in their restoration, which aligns to Shabby Chic’s principle of beauty in imperfection. Add to that the fact that the mirror is rare (that mass production of Simply Shabby Chic items for Target was short lived and now they only carry linens for the most part), and it’s not so easily replaced – at least not for me. Having an authentic mirror that is based off the one my design role model and most inspiring entrepreneur has in her home means something to me. Besides, I doubt I could find one that’s more beautiful in my eyes.

As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose creative, I see my shattered mirror the way I believe God, the Master Creator, sees us – His shattered things. We are intricately carved in His image, with his imprint and design, but our sins are heavy. So heavy that their weight sometimes causes us to fall and shatter. In our broken state, others don’t see our innate value and may feel we aren’t worth the expense of restoring. But God still sees us as beautiful, rare – a treasure. No expense – including crucifixion of His only begotten Son – is too great to bring us back to wholeness. The finished work – done on the cross – restores us. This week, as we prepare our hearts to celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it’s not lost on me that like my Shabby Chic mirror, like us, His shattered things, He once was broken and shattered. Praise God He is restored, ensuring the restoration of those of us who trust Him, too.

How Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose are you in the you view shattered things in your personal and professional life? How could they be restored?

Be savvy & chic,

~Pink Collar Coach

Decorate with Vintage Plates

Decorate with Vintage Plates

It’s Day 273 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project and a Goodwill find has me inspired to post about how to decorate with vintage plates. This weekend, after Zumba and lunch, my Soul Sister Kibby and I hit one of our favorite jaunts – the Goodwill store. We utilize a “Divide and Conquer” approach with Kibby scouring out fashion finds while I score vintage decor. Kibby spied some Calvin Klein boots that are perfect for me. I’d been looking for some black ones since my booties are showing wear and tear. Now I have new ones that are stylish for a song. As much as I love them, I’m equally enamored with a Royal Albert “The Lord’s Prayer” vintage plate.  It’s so pretty that I wanted to show you how you incorporate inexpensive vintage plates into your home or office decor.

How to Decorate with Vintage Plates

  1. Search antique and thrift stores, yard sales, and flea markets for vintage plates.
  2. Shop TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, and Home Goods for vintage inspired plates.
  3. Look for plates with colors, motifs, and Scripture verses or sayings you love.
  4. Group similar plates in the same room for maximum impact.
  5. Hang plates using plate display adhesive, hangers or racks that can be purchased at craft, hardware, home, or discount stores such as Walmart.
  6. Place plates on acrylic, iron or wooden plate holders.
  7. Enjoy!
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Royal Albert “The Lord’s Prayer” plate displayed on black iron stand that complements writing. Plate purchased at Goodwill for $1. The stand came with another piece I don’t use.                         The pair now lives in the foyer with other similar hue floral plates. 
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Ten Commandments plate w/ holes and a string for hanging. Beneath it, a gift from two decades ago. An antique store find and a gift received twenty years ago, both are displayed in the foyer. 
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A Royal Albert “Bless This Home” plate from TJ Maxx. The Old Country Rose pattern is a fave! With its vibrant green leaves, it hangs in the master bedroom and picks up the sage green walls. So Shabby Chic!

As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose decorating enthusiastic, sometimes I like just getting back to the blogging basics. I’ve always wanted to have my home and decor displayed in magazines. That was before blogging opened the “online magazine” possibility up to any of us who have the desire to share with the Web community. If you’ve found your way to my little corner of it, I hope rather than reaching for a painting or tchotchke to fill a space, you’re inspired to add some savvy & chic style to your home or office. Vintage plates are a great way to decorate!

Be savvy & chic,

~Pink Collar Coach

Bringing Shabby Chic Back (Rachel Ashwell as a Romantic Homes Monthly Contributor)

Bringing Shabby Chic Back (Rachel Ashwell as a Romantic Homes Monthly Contributor)

It’s Day 268 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project and I’m delighted that Romantic Homes Magazine is bringing Shabby Chic back by having Rachel Ashwell as a month contributor! I fell in love with this style of decorating back in the late 90s soon after Rachel Ashwell, its founder, opened her Malibu “shop heard round the world”. At that time, authentic Shabby Chic magazine spreads featuring Rachel’s work (and not all of the knockoffs we see today) graced every bookstore and newsstand. Around Y2K Rachel’s popularity grew to celebrity status and so did her list of clients which included Jennifer Lopez, Pamela Anderson and Jessica Simpson. Any time I needed a Shabby Chic fix, I could pick up a copy of several different magazines and get lost in pages of eye candy and inspiration. Around 2009 this Pink Collar design maven took some unsound business advice that cost her dearly and resulted in bankruptcy. (I know because I researched her for a graduate study project on organizational leadership). Stores dotted across the country and in her native England closed their doors and only her California, New York and London sites remained open. While still able to access the much diminished Simply Shabby Chic offerings at Target and the occasional book or magazine feature, I missed regular doses of this decorating style and its originator. Seeing her name and home on the cover of Romantic Homes today and learning Rachel Ashwell will be a monthly contributor means they’re bringing Shabby Chic back!

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Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic home gracing the cover of Romantic Homes.                                       The magazine sits atop my Simply Shabby Chic luggage stand in my office.  

Fellow bloggers and French Country decorating enthusiasts might appreciate this: Rachel Ashwell isn’t the only one who’s joined the Romantic Homes staff.  Courtney Allison, the incredibly successful blogger behind “French Country Cottage” is the magazine’s new Editor. I must confess, other than Shabby Chic, Courtney’s style is one of the few that has inspired me, not only in decorating but in becoming a blogger. She’s perfected the art and truly made it into a career, maximizing and monetizing every opportunity – something to which many bloggers aspire. You can visit Courtney’s site at www.frenchcountrycottage.net. Though Courtney’s style is different than Rachel’s the Shabby Chic influence is evident in the editor’s French Country decor. The editor stated,  “She will be sharing vintage treasures, design inspirations and much more.” Hopefully “the more” means more Shabby Chic inspired homes featured!

As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose life long decorating enthusiast with an interior design degree, there was a time when I wanted to do it full time. I landed really good jobs but hated the “selling side” of things. Even so, I never stopped doing freelance work and still offer interior coaching as part of my business. In fact, I’d just done so with a client right before I found the magazine while picking up a birthday card for my son. What I felt when I saw it could probably be described as joy, which reinforces that the decorator in me is alive and well. Now thanks to Romantic Homes bringing Shabby Chic back, my favorite decorating style is too.

What’s your favorite decorating style? How are you Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose about exposing yourself to it and expressing in your home and/or office?

Be savvy & chic,

~ Pink Collar Coach

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like A Savvy & Chic Christmas Series – Boy’s Room

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like A Savvy & Chic Christmas Series – Boy’s Room

It’s Day 196 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project and I’m excited to kick off an “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like A Savvy & Chic Christmas” series, starting with a boy’s room, namely my son’s. After not using Santas in my Christmas decorating for years, it’s so much fun to deck the halls (and every room) with them now. And while I used to almost dread the profusion of red and green that clashed with my soft interiors every Christmas, I can truly say it’s now the most wonderful decorating time of the year!

So why was Santa excluded from my holiday celebration? For nearly a decade I attended churches that frowned on Santa because they felt Xmas was literally taking the Christ out of the holiday. Somewhere along the way I became a Christ follower as opposed to being religious. There is so much freedom in that! And I also learned that the birth of Christ and Christmas can coexist. In fact, I believe kind Saint Nick would have been the first to bow down and worship baby Jesus – The Reason for the Season. An ornament with Santa, hat in hand and on bended knee kneeling by the manger is one of my favorites. But I’m not blogging to try to convince or convert anyone to my way of thinking; just sharing my personal journey and how I came to peace with Santa sharing Jesus’ birthday in my home.

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I’m a sucker for white Santas holding white bottle brush trees. Whenever possible, I have him positioned to proclaim the birth of Christ. The crown symbolizes Jesus as King of my heart.

And the red and green thing? Anyone who knows me they’ve never been my thing. So until the last decade or so, I stuck mostly with white, silver and gold decor. Then I began incorporating Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic pretty, pink and pastel take on Christmas into my interiors. Now I truly get into the decorating spirit! Again, the look is not for everyone, if you want to color outside the traditional red and green box (pun intended) and add some Savvy & Chic style to your Christmas decor, I’ve got a few tips.

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The Christmas house on the right was my first. Though dark, it was the first I’d ever seen and I fell in love, especially with the bottle brush trees. Like the burgundy house, the one on the left and the village in the middle all have touches of red. This makes them ideal for my son’s room. The burgundy tree in the background of the village ties in so well with the original house…
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I didn’t have a tree for years. Now each room is graced with at least one, often many, in varying sizes. My son’s room gets decked out in green bottle brush trees that tie in with the ones on the Christmas houses. His room has blues, purples, and golds, so these are nice but still masculine.
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Try as I might, I must confess as a new blogger and photographer, I couldn’t get the lighting right for this picture, even in natural daylight. It has me thinking maybe I want a camera for Christmas…Now I only use my iPhone. Still, you can see how all of the elements play well together. the whites, golds, and bottle brush trees are the common denominator. The lamp is an antique store find that I painted cream to match the shade. The Simply Shabby Chic green curtain with a subtle blue stripe has been in my son’s room since he was an infant.

As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Christmas decorating enthusiast, I hope this post has inspired you. If you want to be Pink Collar Savvy & Chic with your decor, here’s what to look for:

Savvy Chic-ing Christmas 

  1. Santas in whites, creams and pastels. If carrying a bottle brush, this can be incorporated into the room’s overall scheme.
  2. Christmas houses with bottle brush trees. There are new ones out there or you can find vintage versions online at eBay, Etsy, or by doing a search.
  3. Bottle brush trees bedecked with ornaments. Here’s where I mix in the traditional colors with my Savvy & Chic palette to make the look cohesive.
  4. Shop TJ Maxx, Home Goods, Marshall’s, Target, Hobby Lobby and antique/flea market/secondhand/thrift stores.
  5. Use what you love and have fun!

Would love to see any pics if you decorate this way already or are trying something new.

Be savvy and chic,

~Pink Collar Coach