The second in the series of women who have influenced my views on interior design is Rachel Ashwell of Shabby Chic.
In 1989, when most of us were thinking modern, she was recycling and upcycling old and discarded decorative items, showing us that there was a certain laid back glamour we could all attain, with a bit of elbow grease. This English woman, transplanted in California, took up where Laura Ashley had left off, mixing that shabby, very british aesthetic with a touch of faded French je ne sais quoi.
Ever since then, I have been painting furniture white, moving on more recently to bolder colours. I have mixed unmatched chairs, planted old fashioned roses and re-invented old chandeliers. Well worn Louis chairs in faded colours are still in the top ten and vintage linen is still doing the rounds.... I think even Martha Stewart owes a lot to this stylish girl.
I had wondered what had become of her until recently when I saw her (now not so) new book at the gift fair. All I can say is the last copy I had left in the shop - that I had hoped to take home - was stolen. By a very style-conscious thief!