Rachel Ashwell’s home
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Rachel Ashwell’s ‘Shabby Shack’ in Malibu

Rachel Ashwell’s home
By Barbara Thornburg

In Rachel Ashwell’s latest home, a 1960s clapboard house in Malibu’s Paradise Cove, her signature Shabby Chic look is in full effect, but she emphasizes that the house is far from perfect. “In the past, I would have replaced everything -- installed hardwood floors and new windows, changed the staircase and railing -- but it’s not necessary,” she said. “I think the cottage demonstrates how to work with what you have. Even when things are not exactly the way you want, you can make it work.” Here she arranges flowers at a table fashioned from reclaimed oak.

 (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Rachel Ashwell’s home
Ashwell takes a break on a vintage Adirondack-style chair that she bought at the Brimfield flea market in Massachusetts. Nearby an old wicker sofa without feet offers a quaint seating area. “It had two broken legs, so I just took the other two off,” Ashwell says. “It’s fine for a deck at the beach.” A long weathered bench -- one of her favorite versatile pieces -- acts as a footstool.  (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Rachel Ashwell’s home
A lack of legs on the sofa is inconsequential when this is the view. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Rachel Ashwell’s home
Ashwell considers this large vintage dining table a staple. It’s been with her in her various homes over the years. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Rachel Ashwell’s home
A weathered blue tray says “welcome” with mismatched vintage glasses and an old tea pot. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Rachel Ashwell’s home
A weathered wardrobe stands behind the dining table. Her signature look may be white-on-white, but Ashwell does include more color these days, part of her new “Russian peasant cottage style” inspired by a book by British photographer Tim Walker. “It’s a bit more bohemian with a slightly richer palette,” she says. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Rachel Ashwell’s home
Ashwell’s 48-inch round table, made from reclaimed oak, is part of her new furnishings line made in Los Angeles. It is surrounded by vintage spindle and ladder-back chairs that she bought on her last shopping trip to Round Top, Texas, home of a legendary flea market. “The more mismatched the chairs, the better,” the designer says.  (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Rachel Ashwell’s home
Ashwell placed a pair of daybeds, part of her Shabby Chic Couture line, in her home’s front corner, which she believes had been a carport at one point. Her faded floral pillows create her new bohemian Russian peasant look. The designer took an iconic piece from the 1960s --the bean bag chair -- and covered it in garment-dyed velvets in smoky jewel tones. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Rachel Ashwell’s home
In an alcove between the dining and sitting room, memory boards that Ashwell fashioned from cork and white-painted frames are loaded with family pictures and other memorabilia. “They’re like photo albums -- only hung on the wall where you can see them,” she says. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Rachel Ashwell’s home
By the weathered blue and gray table that serves as her desk, ball gowns from the 1930s and ‘40s -- newly dyed and restored -- hang on an old sconce, adding texture and color. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Rachel Ashwell’s home
Chair, ottoman and mirror form a classic vignette in the master bedroom: simple, casual, comfortable. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Rooms for kids
An old mirror hanging on the wall makes this small Shabby Chic room seem larger. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Rachel Ashwell’s home
As part of Shabby Chic’s evolution, Ashwell recently introduced her first sectional sofa -- a staple of contemporary living rooms, except finished in classic Ashwell style. “The idea behind our new Malibu Modular Sectional is that as your life grows, you can extend it,” the designer says. “It’s not as big as our normal sofas. Its smaller scale offers a lot of flexibility.” (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Rachel Ashwell’s home
Crisp poplin slipcovers that Ashwell calls Pinnies epitomize her quest for simple elegance -- and a brighter outlook. “You can just stick them in the washer on the cold cycle, then dry them on a line outside,” she says. “It’s more eco-friendly, and they’ll smell like sunshine.”

More profiles: California homes in pictures The L.A. scene: The L.A. at Home blog  (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
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