Rachel Ashwell – Shabby Chic

I treated myself to this book a couple of weeks ago, as a result I was googling Rachel Ashwell and I stumbled across her blog.  I may have squealed a bit, she’s been such an inspiration to me over the years – all my made over furniture is down to her.  However you might not know her name, but she is the lady who bought ‘Shabby Chic’ to life and made it a fashionable home style.  From her blog and a quick surf  it sounds like she’s had a hard year with her company going bankrupt January 2009

But she has decided start again and bring a new store to London “Shabby Chic Couture” which will be more upmarket – I’m guessing like an upmarket Laura Ashley/Cath Kidston store. And considering how well Anthropolgie is doing, she couldn’t have moved to a better city.  I don’t know when it’s opening, but I look forward to stopping by when it does. Good luck Rachel!

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But She’s Pretty…

As you know my husband is very tolerant of my Shabby Chic/Cath Kidston habit  He doesn’t moan about sleeping in a rosy duvet, or the dining room chairs I made over with Kidston fabric.  But I made a new purchase and he’s not feeling it’s patchwork beauty – he described it as ugly!

But I think it looks lovely on the chaise in our bedroom, which is my magazine/coffee snuggling area

What do you think?

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Homesense finally opened in Cambridge yesterday – hurrah!  It’s the sister shop of TX Maxx and only sells home items.  I’ve been saving my birthday money for the opening and I couldn’t get there for the grand opening as I was at work yesterday, so you can imagine I was a little impatient to get there today.   We headed there mid morning, despite my whinging that I had to get there as soon as it opened and it was a really pleasant surprise.  The store is really well laid out, less jumble sale like than TK Maxx and beautifully decorated and my do they have some bargains! And also what Credit Crunch the store was packed and people weren’t just looking they were buying – a lot!

There is some great garden items for the summer which I looked at, but lacking any storage I didn’t go for any of the cool laterns that caught my eye.  The cushion section is fab and when we stop arguing about if the main colour should be blue or green then I’ll buy some 🙂

I picked this David Austin Rose book up for my Mum’s birthday (she never reads the blog so I’m ok sharing it with you)

But upstairs….oh my……


They had bedding including the discontinued classic rose (which I’ve spent 18 months trying to get on ebay) and summer blossom duvets, and I had a moment which rarely happens anymore where I couldn’t decide and so I bought both.  I have a little shoppers remorse, but not a lot as they were reduced from £80 to £24.  I might have also popped in the matching rose pillowcases.

There was also cute melamine plates, so I bought one for Miss L.  A plastic jug, which will be fabulous with Pimms or cocktails in when we have summer BBQ’s.  So all in all I bought what would have been I worked out £245.00 of goodies for £70 – now that is what I call a bargain and I will certainly be going back.

I’ve waited for years to get this on our bed and lucky for me I have a very understanding huband!  I’m going to be a very happy girl when I snuggle up in bed tonight.

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Cath Kidston New Catalogue

There must be a new marketing genius at Cath Kidston, they’ve made a great job of the new look website.   And look what was waiting for me when I got home today, the new Cath Kidston magazine/catalogue!

It’s a completely fresh new look and everything in it looks fabulous and there are some great ideas of how to use her products.   Darn it was trying to pay off my credit card! That said my birthday is in a couple of weeks so I might just leave it lying around in the lounge as a small hint – he he!.

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Chair Makeover

Back in the day when I got my first flat, I was broke and couldn’t afford any new furniture.  I had a small dining room area and I wanted a table and some chairs to entertain my friends and family.

Mum and I went to a car boot sale and found the 1940’s table on the left for £5 and a memory that’ll be with me forever is us giggling whilst trying to lug it across a field to the car. The chairs came someone I worked with kindly donated me a couple of chairs from a relative that had recently died, also from the 40’s.

The table I tried to get stripped as it was quite damaged but apparently the lacquer they used in the 40’s just turns to glue and goes all sticky. So instead I painted it with a cream eggshell and it looked great – the envy of my friends! The chairs however were a nice dark finish with tapestry seat pads, and I left them alone….

Fast forward 10 years…..3 moves, a husband and child later and I still have the ‘temporary’ furniture! The table is faring well and when Miss L as a baby had play doh’d it, painted on it or had chucked her food over it, I didn’t mind and just re-painted it every couple years and chucked a Cath Kidston Oilcloth or table cloth over it for a bit of colour.

The chairs however did start to look really worn, so I sanded them, painted them cream, got some wadding from the market, picked up some cheap Cath Kidston fabric from ebay and re-covered the seat pads. In hindsight, the cream rose maybe wasn’t the best idea but as it was so cheap and easy to do, it doesn’t matter that much if I replace the material every year. I’m thinking blue stripes or pale grey floral for next year, and I might even change the paint colour?

My husband threatens every now and again to get an Ikea table and chairs, but I can see us having these now forever 🙂

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Girlie Day Out

Yesterday we had a girls trip out to the ‘Girlie’ shop as Miss L calls it near my Mum’s in Norfolk.  Miss L adores this shop as do my Mum and I and as all the men were at work and we’re on holiday we thought we’d have a rummage.

We’ve been a couple of times before but yesterday was the first time I’ve had the sense to take some photos!

The Bathroom Area

One of the beautiful bed areas

I want this lamp, but my lovely husband would kill me.  I still think I should have been an Edwardian 🙂

I can’t wait to go back and shop there for Christmas!

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Fireplace Makeover

I read on ‘Restyled Home‘ about imperfect makeovers (transforming something ugly into something beautiful on a shoestring budget).  Well as I have a rainy day here, I finally have time to post mine.

When we moved into our 1934 house 5 years ago, we had *the* ugliest fireplace in our lounge.  Although a good Art Deco shape it was gray and brown and beige – just disgusting!  So we looked into getting a new one, and then realised that it would cost about £2000 which we didn’t and still don’t have. So here’s what I did….


The original fireplace tiles but the structure is a decent shape.


I primed it with tile primer, which you can get from Homebase and then painted it Farrow and Ball ‘Slipper Satin’ Eggshell and it came out better than I imagined.  I then added some Sid Dickens tiles and it looks like a real focal point now.  In fact we’ve now made that room our dining room and it looks very elegant lit by candles.

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I’m feeling a bit broke, what with saving for holiday money and trying to budget for the months ahead, shopping has kind of gone out of the window recently.  But I needed to get something to sort out our post mountain in the hallway (how we get so much is beyond me!)

So I thought I’d hit TX Maxx and see what they had.  Well for once it came up trumps, I can never find anything to wear there as they seem to only have things up to a 14.  But the homewear is normally pretty good, I get lots of white cotton sheets there which are always very well made.

But having a rummage I managed to find a ‘shabby chic’ post sorter for a whole £6, it’s great I’m really pleased with it and it looks lovely in the hallway.

And then I saw from the stairs the best thing ever!  Betty when she was a little she had a chew on my Coach purse I was given as a bridemaid present a couple of years ago (husband had left it in the kitchen for ‘safety’ – MEN!). Now I’m really picky about purses and it was just perfect less so when the handle was chewed off! and I was heartbroken that the dog had trashed it.  I’d looked online at replacing it, but they are about £150 which I really don’t have.

But from the stairs in TX Maxx I spotted a familiar handle, so I literally ran across the store and there was a Coach purse, slightly different colour and design but perfect for me and the best thing….it was £15 🙂

So I’m a very happy girl today 🙂

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End of the Holidays

I’ve had a great day, as I was making breakfast this morning a very pretty UK copy of Country Living came through the letter box. Lilacs are just beautiful and the picture on the front cover just made me feel all spring like this morning.

As we’re coming to the close of Miss L’s easter holidays, today we went on a mother and daughter shopping trip. Obviously we had to go to the Disney Store (goes without saying!), and then we went onto Ark which is a favourite for us both. They sell just the most gorgeous trinkets, Cath Kidston goodies and lots of other things you can buy ‘just because’.

Then I spotted a market stall called Nettie-B which had a selection of really pretty ‘shabby chic’ tea towels and bags, so I treated myself and my Mum to a tea towel each £3.50 each a complete bargain! I’ll be going back there next time I’m in Cambridge.

Then it was off to Baby Gap as two of our oldest friends are having a baby in July, and there were some gorgeous things in there. Summer babies are so lucky to have such pretty things, poor Miss L was bundled up for the first three months as it was so cold! In fact everything in there was so cute I came home and asked to have another baby, husband looked at me like I was mad and then pointed out we have the dog – fair point! 🙂

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