Delicate and detailed, yet inviting and comfortable are the hallmarks of Rachel Ashwell’s signature style. Photo by Sarah Pankow.

Rachel’s signature Shabby Chic style is all about creating perfect imperfection. Here’s how she does it:

  • First, figure out how the room will be used and what it needs to fulfill that purpose. “The saddest thing is creating a space in a house that is never used,” Rachel says.
An inspiration book, complete with photos and fabric samples. Photo by Sarah Pankow.
Two large inspiration boards lean side-by-side against the windows in Rachel’s office nook.
  • Create an inspiration book or board. Rachel’s book for a project might include something like a picture of a pink blouse or some rose petals that speak to a palette or feeling, items that help tell the full story of what the house could be.
  • Evaluate what you already have and what can be repurposed.
  • Start visiting flea markets. Rachel keeps a master list of what she needs to buy for clients. It may take time to find just the right piece, but the end result is worth the time and effort.
Rachel keeps things simple with a soft, monochromatic color palette.
  • Don’t overcomplicate things. Details are important, but you can get caught up in them and never get anything done.
  • Less is more. Rachel was inspired by the recent bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. “Get rid of things that you don’t need,” she encourages with the caveat, “but be cautious because you could regret it later. There is a real emotional empowerment in not hanging on to stuff, things that don’t serve a purpose anymore.”
Two-toned walls are one of Rachel’s favorite ways to add color to a space.
  • When it comes to choosing paint or fabrics, Rachel doesn’t have particular favorites. “It’s how it looks or how it feels,” she says. “Try the paint on the walls to see how it works.” She does recommend avoiding creams or icy white wall paint; instead, Rachel says, “stay with pure, bright white.”