17 June 2011

The Prairie–Rachel Ashwell’s Bed and Breakfast in Texas

 

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I’ve had a crush on Rachel Ashwell for a long time.  In case you have never heard of her – she’s the pretty English girl who came to America and reinvented slipcovers.   I sometimes wonder if we ever would have gotten back into slips if not for Rachel.  Maybe, but maybe not.  She created her own line of furniture with slips after realizing nothing child and pet friendly existed on the market.   Along with the furniture came wonderful prewashed fabrics, a chain of stores, a handful of books, and a relationship with Target – which really put her in the minds of most Americans.  Her bedding line at Target remains a favorite all these years later.   For me, it was this book above, The Shabby Chic Home, which was published in 2000, that really sealed the deal for me.  It remains one of my favorite home redo books.   I was fascinated with how she took an old dark and “witchy” brown house in Malibu and transformed it into a light, bright, feminine haven.   Over the years she has moved again and again and many of her subsequent books tell their own house renovation story – but this one – her second book – remains my favorite.  I never understood why she moved from it, or how she could move from it.   If I lived here, it would take a crowbar and trailer hitch to pull me from it screaming and crying.

 

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Here’s a before picture of the witchy brown house’s yard – how unappealing can you get?

 

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And under Rachel’s hand, the yard turned into a magical place – the turquoise blue water is still one of the prettiest colors I’ve seen in a swimming pool.

 

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BEFORE:  The brown was painted a soothing a whitish cream color.  

 

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AFTER:   There was this tiny whirlpool placed under the stairs.   Does it get any prettier or more feminine?

 

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Hammock piled high with Rachel’s fabrics.

 

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Inside, the house was all brown too.  Until Rachel painted everything.

 

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The same view – overlooking the kitchen and the pool. 

 

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Her dining room – what gorgeous floors!!!   Alas, everything must come to an end and Rachel moved from this house into others.  

 

Her last book tells the story of her current house and its redo, along with several friends and clients’ houses.   This cover is beyond gorgeous with its pink velvet gilt settee, the chandelier (of course!) and Rachel’s laid back Californian dress style.  

 

 

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Her new house is beautiful without a doubt.  Her style has subtly evolved over the years with new colors added to her palette. 

 

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Her bedroom kills me.  Those slightly mauve silk curtains are luscious. 

 

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Her bathroom is luxurious, yet simple at the same time. 

 

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This book is coming out soon – highlighting an artist’s work of Rachel’s collection of tutus!  The paintings look gorgeous.

 

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Look for the two tree posts to turn into The Prairie.

 

Perhaps her most fun undertaking of late was buying the bed and breakfast “The Outpost” in Round Top, Texas.  Wow.  Rachel Ash well serving coffee and rolls to Texans????   Well, it’s not really such a stretch if you follow Rachel.  She’s been a fixture at the twice yearly Round Top antique fair for quite a while.  She usually stayed at The Outpost, so when she learned the owner was selling, Rachel bought it.   Newly renamed The Prairie, it has four guest houses on it, along with a gathering lodge, and a soon to be open retail store (yes!)   Rachel has spent the last few months painting and redoing everything to her own specifications.   She brought a truck load of furniture and bedding and antiques to finish it all up.   Just recently The Prairie opened its doors to visitors.   I couldn’t wait to go and see it all for myself, so last weekend, my daughter Elisabeth drove me to Round Top to check it all out.   As luck would have it, Rachel was “downtown” in Round Top celebrating a birthday with a local so we missed meeting her.  Elisabeth was even more disappointed than I was!

Most devastating, I had a huge computer crash and all my pictures from the day were lost!  Thankfully, Rachel’s assistant Kim was nice enough to lend me their gorgeous photos which probably are a lot better than mine were anyway!

 

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The Prairie is located right near Round Top which is perfect for the antique fairs.  It’s an hour from Austin for quick day trips, but the real fun is just relaxing in the total quiet of the property. 

 

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The Ranger’s Lounge is where all the action is.  You check in here and have breakfast here too.  Plus there’s a great area to sit around on cushy Rachel Ashwell furniture.

 

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The dining area is typical Rachel with lots of flowers, baskets, and slipcovers.

 

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The Ranger’s Lounge makes a great place for a party or a wedding.  Elisabeth kept saying she wanted to get married here!!

 

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BEFORE:  The lounge area used to be painted a dark green, which Rachel repainted.

 

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AFTER:   The lounge area is now painted a fresh white and is filled with Rachel’s furniture.  Antique portieres separate it from the dining area and kitchen.

 

 

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The little bathroom at the Ranger’s Lounge – I loved the sink!!

 

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Behind the Lounge is this pergola that overlooks the property.

 

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BEFORE:  The original house from the 1800s on the property as it was – painted a golden yellow.

 

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Today the house has a fresh coat of white paint.  There are porches and balconies with great views across the property.  An English flag flies in Rachel’s honor along with the Texas and United States flags.

 

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The living room at the Liliput Lodge is adorable – filled with white slips and floral curtains.

 

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The dining room has the old wagon wheel light fixture.  Rachel thought about changing it out, but decided she actually loved it.

 

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In the dining room, antique fabric was used for the shades.  The styling is so Rachel – lots of china and flowers. 

 

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This bedroom reminds me of Rachel’s own bedroom.  It’s so pretty and feminine.  I love the pink petticoat pillow.

 

 

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This pink bedroom features double beds piled high with an assortment of her bedding.

 

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BEFORE:   The former owner painted these walls blue, which Rachel kept, but all the furniture was moved out.

 

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AFTER:  The same bedroom decorated by Rachel.

 

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One of the bathrooms in the Liliput Lodge.  Each bath is stocked with toiletries and plush towels.

 

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BEFORE:  The Cornflower Cottage used to be bright orange.  These colors are just not in Rachel’s palette.

 

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AFTER:  The Cornflower Cottage is now painted white with blue trim. 

 

 

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The Cornflower Cottage has this wonderful white bed and lots of peeling painted furniture.

 

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The bathroom has wonderful tile, but it’s shower is brand new and huge and fabulous!

 

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BEFORE:   The Bluebonnet Barn was dark.

 

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AFTER:   The Bluebonnet Barn has a fresh coat of white paint.

 

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An old iron gate opens to the Bluebonnet Barn.

 

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The brick floored living area of the Bluebonnet Barn – filled with comfy Ashwell furniture and antique chairs.  There is also a separate bedroom here.

 

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Brick floors, claw foot tub and pedestal sink.

 

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The Meadow Manor is an 1800s house – and is further away from the others.  If you want privacy, pick this house.

 

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BEFORE:  Rachel debated whether to remove this wallpaper, but decided in the end to keep it.

 

 

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AFTER:   With Rachel’s white furniture and pared down style, the wallpaper really looks great.

 

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Another view of the living room.

 

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The second living room features Farrow and Ball wallpaper and white painted floors.  Since there are no closets in these old houses – each room features a wooden clothes rack – seen on the far right of this picture.  In another nod to life how it once was, Rachel installed an clothes line on the property!

 

 

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The kitchen only needed new white paint on its floors. 

 

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One of the two bedrooms in the Meadow Manor.

 

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The second bedroom is darling in pink and white stripes – so typical of Rachel’s style.

 

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Love the pink fabric in a gilt frame!

 

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This picture says it all:  the linen closet at The Prairie – piled with bedding from Rachel Ashwell’s line.

 

For more information on The Prairie – go HERE.

 

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Finally, I just want to say, I’ve been a huge fan and great admirer of Rachel over the years.  The English Rose who became the quintessential Californian girl captured the hearts of so many women like me.  To know that she now call Texas home and is putting down roots here just makes me love her all the more!  Who would have ever thought it?  I remember the first time I heard she had bought the Round Top bed and breakfast, I was floored and excited beyond belief.   For years I’ve looked at pictures of her houses and lifestyle and wondered what it would be like to live like Rachel, surrounded by her fluffy bedding, downy sofas, old china and glassware, and all the trinkets she collects from around the world.  Now, at The Prairie – you really get that chance to experience her aesthetic up close and personal.   What a treat! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

61 comments:

  1. WOW!!!!Thank you for this post! It must have taken you so long!
    She is amazing !
    Have a PRETTY DAY!
    Kristin

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  2. Joni, I have two of Ms Ashwells books and I too just absorb each page. How fun to see this in person. All the beds look like big puffy clouds. That is how I love a bed to look. The cotton covers look like old soft thin cotton, love that look. Thank you for sharing all you know about Rachel and her new venture, Kathysue

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  3. So coincidental, this post. I tried to visit this past weekend, but they were all booked. Hope to get a tour soon. Altho, I think I just did! Your posts always offer such amazing detail. Thanks! And hope you're doing well.

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  4. I know, let's paint everything white. Now will you give me a book, show and furniture deal?

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  5. Thank you so much for showing these wonderful room transformations! Very fascinating seeing how Rachel's style has evolved over the years and yet remained the same. I'm with you on the house in Malibu. I'm from California so I loved her all the more for taking a funky California house and making it beautiful. Love your blog!

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  6. If you love the Shabby Chic look, have a look at the bedding at The Linen Works. Kind of similar, perhaps a bit more pared down and simply gorgeous.

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  7. I love Rachel and her style too! I just ate up every pic in this post. The before and afters were especially appealing to me. such a treat this morning Joni!

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  8. I was mad for her shabby chic when she first came on the scene, I bought all the books, then disavowed it for a while but eventually I realised that her style has had the most influence on me over the past 15 years or so and see so much in my home that relates back to the original Shabby Chic book. I think this will always be my favourite style. It sounds silly but it feels like shabby chic is in my DNA now.

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  9. That was an amazing post about an amazing lady and her incredible talent for making the world a prettier place. Last year I had the chance to enjoy the grand opening of her boutique in London. The party was one of the prettiest occasions next to any wedding.
    A stay at the new B&B is definitely on my bucket list!
    Becky

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  10. I too loved what Rachel did with her Malibu home -- so lovely. I admire her guts and entrepreneurial spirit taking on a new business and life in Texas. It's amazing to see how fresh the property now looks - a really interesting post. Thanks!

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  11. The problem I've always had regarding shabby chic is I can't imagine a man would want to live in a house so feminine.

    Interesting tour and thanks for posting.

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  12. What a great post...must have taken you forever! THanks for doing it...loved it! So much fun and beautiful inspiration here!
    :)

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  13. Joni,

    Your posts never disappoint! I feel so happy when I see there's a new one. I know I'll learn something new or at least, feel really inspired.

    This places feel so light and beautiful. You see that every one of them was done with love and knowledge.


    I hope you have a wonderful week. Is your kid coming over for Father's day?


    xo


    Luciane at HomeBunch.com

    PS: Drop by to see my "Cool or Fool" of the week. I know you always have a strong opinion for things and I'd like to her yours on this one! :-)

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  14. Another fabulous post and inspiration to visit this newly renovated establishment. It seems so much fresher now!
    Thanks, Joni, for the tour.

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  15. I'm with you how could Rachel leave the "witchy house" after she made it so beautiful and inviting. Her bedding always makes me want to take a flying leap onto the beds. I have a pair of down stuffed slipcovered chair I bought from her store in NYC 16 years ago and they're still going strong. Love her, wonderful post!

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  16. Very few people affect the design world the way Rachel did. I love the way she mixes precious and common, treating each with the same respect. Really, really, great post - thank you!

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  17. My girlfriends and I were in Round Top this spring and were desperate to get a look at Rachel's new digs, but sadly never got to see it. Hopefully in October I can catch a look, or even better get to stay at such a wonderful property!

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  18. This was a great way to start my Saturday! Love her bedding line, and I can't wait to get her book.
    I remember when you found out she was moving.
    Thank you for sharing these beautiful images, Joni.
    As always, great post.
    Teresa
    xoxo

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  19. Wow, it just went on and on with amazing makeovers! I am in love with the barn redo. Those are the first ceiling fans I think I have ever liked! I didn't like some of the wallpapers but I'm sure they looked better in person when you actually stand in the room. Rachel is amazing and I love how she has evolved her look to a slightly more sophisticated look at times have changed. She can never do any wrong!

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  20. It's amazing what white paint and some slipcovers will do. I'll bet the former owners are so happy she's there giving the place all that love. So nice that she settled in Texas and thanks so much for the peek!

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  21. Oh noooooo!!! I will be the only one with this opinion maybe, but I feel this is ALL WRONG. While I agree the house needed some updating/editing and mostly lighter paints, I do not agree that making everything girly girl frilly and fluffy necessarily makes it "better". This is a cabin in Texas for Chrissake....has masculine bones to the architecture....it's like taking a really tomboy girl and putting her in frilly pink lace dresses. No No No

    A light tailored look would have been much better with maybe a frill here or there in the bed/bath area, but that's it.

    To me she violated that house. LOL

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  22. Oh Joni, you are blessed to have Rachel in your neighbourhoud!! Oh what a wonderful B&B! It would be a nice place to marry as Elisabeth says!! She is right!!
    Have a nice weekend Joni!
    xx
    Greet

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  23. I have been in love with Rachel Ashwell and her look for years. Although I never went "all white", I just love her philosophy that it should be pretty, but functional, and can be imperfect. Thank you for sharing this Jonie! I must get her new books!

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  24. Rachel makes some of her money flipping houses, so it's no surprise she sold the "witchy" house. I hope she got out before the housing crash. If so, she probably made a million or 2 right there. Unfortunately it was the crash that helped cause the bankruptcy. It makes sense she would buy in Texas, since it looks to be bouncing back. So she should make a profit when she sells this place. She's a good businesswoman, first and foremost, and the frills are just part of the image. Rather like Laura Ashley in that respect.

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  25. love Rachel's aesthetic..her lovely sense of design..the gorgeous washed out fabrics and faded prints...
    it's so comfortable and relaxing..fabulous write up on her as well..

    maureen

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  26. I've said it once and I'll say it again... the sheer number of photos you post is amazing. A feast for the eyes! I get so excited when I see one of your posts show up in my "blogs I'm following" feed! Keep 'em coming!

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  27. What a great transformation on the Malibu house, that creamy white paint made such a huge difference! I would love to live there. I've been to Round Top...super cool place! She will have great success there.

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  28. In Texas! I had no idea. Beautiful, wonderful post, Joni. Sending love...

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  29. Rachel and so many other exciting entrepreneurs are calling Texas home!! These images are so inspiring Joni. Lots of them show the simple power of paint! (and of course Rachel's furnishings!

    xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena

    Come and join my Giveaway from the Novica Artisans!

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  30. Love it and hope to stay sometime. But I bet a reservation will be very hard to come by, especially during antique weekends/weeks.

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  31. Hi Joni, thanks for the tour. First, to have a purchased the property is a real feather in her cap. There are probably a million different ways those wonderful cottages could have been decorated, but she has always stayed true too here idea of what is beautiful.

    I could see someone like Mary Emmerling doing a wonderful job with that property too...don't you think?

    xo kelley

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  32. She is the Queen of Shabby Chic and truly did invent the look. She does it so well and never forgets the chic part. Most people do and just do shabby, which looks like a shack on a farm or something. This retreat looks very inviting. Thanks for sharing.Richard at My Old Historic House.

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  33. Love your post+Rachel xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

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  34. I've read that Rachel's decor is a result of "...a woman refusing to grow up." She quite aptly has achieved that marvelous feat by allowing our childhood to grow with us, and to respect our past, and our heritage, from whatever country we hail. Whitewash has long been the staple of decor--so it's really historically correct. Just enjoy Rachel's talent that stems from her heart. Great post, Joni.

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  35. I so totally agree Joni! I have some of her books and the first time I saw that book showing that house transformation in Malibu, I couldn't believe how gorgeous it looked. And really, not difficult to achieve that kind of look? I mean, who doesn't have the money for some white paint?? That is what makes her aesthetic so charming. Thanks for sharing and if I ever get to Texas (I'm a huge "Dallas" fan - have the whole series on DVD) again, I will have to go there!! :0 (I've only driven through the great state and stayed a night in San Antonio!)

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  36. Thank you so much for sharing the tour with us Joni! What a wonderful place it must be for a getaway!
    I have every one of Rachel's books and have been strongly influenced by her style. Can't get enough of that shabby stuff *winks* Lol! Vanna

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  37. this is rachel ashwell from shabby chic.
    thank you so much for this beautiful blog.
    i normally dont write comments, as life is sooo busy.
    but i wanted to thank you and all the other bloggers out there who have supported me in my shabby endeavors over the years, and most recently all that have welcomed me and my "village" into the Texas community. i hope by spending more time there i may just get to meet y'all over time.
    the Praire by Rachel Ashwell has for sure become a dream come tru and one i love to share.
    in time we will be holding events and seminars and other exciting opportunties for us all to continue our creative shabby worlds.
    thank you all from the bottom of my country heart. rachel

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  38. Absolutely gorgeous!! I love how she's really bringing in the rustic element with her look.

    Lovely!

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  39. I just wanted to let you know how much I love your blog, enjoyed this post. The pictures should have their own book. My dream is to one day visit & simk in one of those beds...show a little & who know maybe my next wedding will be there... dream on.. thanks for such a beautiful post. xo Laura

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  40. Absolutely gorgeous post!! I forgot how much I love Rachel Ashwell and her girly cozy style. That first house you showed is gorgeous! I want to float in that pool and eat pastries. It's amazing what a coat of white paint will do for something. I can't wait to visit The Prairie with my mom someday! She would love it! Fabulous!

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  41. Oooh what a beautiful post, I too have always been a fan of hers and still pull her books out as the shabby chic style she created will never go away...in my book that is!LOL! I heard she was opening a B&B here and am so glad you gave us a tour....I can only hope to get to see it in person someday! Thanks again for such a great post!
    Cathy aka Girls Gone Junkin n Texas

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  42. BEAUTIFUL POST!!!

    maryam

    http://athomewithmaryam.blogspot.com

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  43. great update! what a great treat with my Sunday morning coffee! as always!

    Happy Sunday and Happy Father's Day to "Mr. Slippersocks"!

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  44. Hello Joni and readers-
    This is my desperate cry for help! I need to pick a wall oven with micro/convection on top and a refrigerator that will stand next to each other on the wall of my kitchen. I think the brands must match since they will be right next to each other. My choices are Jenn-air which has a nice looking wall oven but I don't adore the fridge. Electrolux which doesn't have a micro convection but the handles are beautiful. Electrolux Icon (the handles are a little bulky but the fridge front is flat which is nice.) Of course I want a Wolf- Viking look. Champagne taste on a beer budget! I think the GE monogram oven is great but all those Bulky handles! btw I want a french door fridge. And the handles on the Monogram would be too much I think. Kitchen's not that big! If you design loving people could help me with my decision I would be eternally grateful! xoxox

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  45. What I think could have been so great is if Rachel could have come up with a sort of Texas hybrid of her shabby chic with more of the Texas vernacular combined with her style to come up with a new twist on her style that would still definately be her but with this location acknowledged and honored. It would have been a creative, imaginative new take on her style.
    This place is just her same old, same old with a few differences by default due to wallpapers and tile and such that were already there. I could have hit the local Goodwill and a few garage sales and come up with this. Really.
    Don't get me wrong; I love the popularity she brought to white slipcovers as much as anyone. I love the way many people have taken what she started and ran with it, taking it to another level. But some of those buildings really weren't done any favors,in my humble opinion, with the paint she put in and on them. And it's all just SO fem. Men may get itchy just walking through the place. I think she could have toned it down, thrown in some Texas, (and allowed a few more yards of fabric for the curtains. Geez.) and still maintained her style. The place looks cheap to me. This is not a Malibu beach house. (which was lovely, by the way)
    The term "one trick pony" comes to mind; that sounds harsh, I guess. Don't intend it in a really mean way. But this place to me just looks pretty shabby and not really all that chic.

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  46. Hi Jonie,
    My sister and I were there the day the previous owner had a "yard sale". We found out that day that Rachel was the new owner...I went nuts...I love her. But I'm smarting a bit over the new paint, especially the casita. For me, it was a Tex-Mex jewel...not so much now.
    However, I would love, love to spend a couple of days there! Not today, it's too hot!
    Thanks,
    West U Andrea

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  47. I have long loved Rachel Ashwell. When her designs first became popular she was a real breath of fresh air, and I don't think her "lookl" will ever go completely out of style. I am quite sure I personally will always love the look of fine, but mismatched china on a rustic table top and floaty cloudy cotton bedlinens. I am English myself and think there is no home more charming than a quaint and cozy cottage, BUT, and I can't believe I am saying it . .most of these spaces don't look quite right to me. Everything Rachel has done has always looked so, so right to me before! As I was looking at the photos I began to feel that the building will look much better when the gardens have grown in, when they are surrounded by green grass and flowers and more lushness . .then I realized, this is a more rustic area of Texas, those gardens just may not grow there or they may not look right there. I also realized that I was wanting, in my mind, to make them look like ENGLISH cottages on the exterior so their new interior would "fit" them. Bottom line, to me, this kind of decor just doesn't seem to "go" with these building. Someone wrote that Mary Emmerling might have done a great job with the property, and I hate to say it, but I thing I agree,

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  48. She lost me with the new paint on the Cornflower Cottage. The old color was so dear and the new color is not. Maybe she will see the way clear to expanding her pallet. The stronger color brought out the "look at me" quality that was so attractive in the original picture. White, the cottage dies.

    By the way, what exactly did you say when you found out the computer had lost all your pictures !!! Ann

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  49. i love her books and her way of life. this is a wonderful example of what she does best... being rachel. xx

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  50. Thank you for this great post, love Rachel and what she has done with the place, it is a breath of fresh air! I can't WAIT to visit!!

    Laura

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  51. The "before" of the Cornflower Cottage was so perfect. It looked appropriate, welcoming and finished. The white paint doesn't look any good at all on that building. It just looks pathetic and sad now. Why did she have to rip out all the plants? I guess they weren't the right color. Hopefully when she sells it, which is what she will probably do in a few years, the new owner will put some of the life and personality back in.

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  52. Fabulous post! Full of great information and gorgeous photos!

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  53. If you loved the transformation of her Malibu pad...here are some before and afters that are sure to inspire....http://www.raenovate.com/2011/06/galveston-beach-house.html
    Munger interiors really outdid themselves on this Galveston gem!

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  54. We read your blog every day, and what a wonderful way to start the day! Thank you for all of the fantastic, inspirational images.

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  55. Wow....this is a great post...
    the thing I love about RA is her use of white or creme on her walls. To me, that is the beauty of her decorating. I have always loved a creamy white on walls...it so showcases all our treasures. :)

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  56. I adore Rachel's style- it encompasses my two favorites- English and west coast style. I think so many styles are hyped in other regions, and west coast style is often overlooked. She has captured it perfectly- casual, light filled, beautiful! I never could fathom why she sold that first house either!! I was stunned when I learned she'd sold it. And she didn't even ask me if I'd like to buy it! ;) great post.

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  57. HI GREAT BLOG. STOP BY & SAY HI :) GIO

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  58. so SO SOOO In love with this place. We have just booked a Thanksgiving weekend wedding here and will be the first since Rachel re-opend the property. I really can't wait! Thanks for the great story and all the eye candy!

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  59. This is a great before and after.

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