Couture Prairie by Rachel Ashwell
I'm so excited to be part of the blog book tour reviewing Couture Prairie & Flea Market Treasures by Rachel Ashwell, from illustrated lifestyle publishers Ryland Peters & Small and CICO Books. I chose to review this book as I love Rachel's style "the beauty of imperfection".
The book is split into nine sections, starting with an "Introduction" into Rachel's love affair with Texas. In this chapter Rachel talks wistfully and fondly about her yearly treasure hunting pilgrimage to the Round Top antique markets in Texas. How on an inspired whim she bought the B&B she usually stayed in and how she dreamed of turning it into a village that would capture her aesthetic and provide a haven of inspiration to those that would stay there.
From there Rachel's couture prairie story begins with the quirky "Liliput Lodge" a Texan farmhouse built in the mid-1800's. Rachel tells the story of the house and how she has layered in her signature faded palette and bling and where the house could take it she had embraced her new aesthetic of stronger, darker, vivid hues. A particular example of her signature white-painted walls, soft blues, and time worn velvet is seen in the gorgeous "Seabury Suite" which is adorned with the prettiest aqua shade bling chandelier and funky little valance that frames the window. Rachel's new aesthetic sits comfortably in one of the bathrooms which is painted in a stronger Texas palette of grey blue and teal, feminised with silk ribbon, small bouquets of flowers, a pretty watercolour and a girly white shabby chic mirror.
Next up is "Three little houses on The Prairie" where Rachel tells the story behind the "Blue Bonnet Barn" an imperfect barn full of charm and personality. "Faith Cottage" a converted tool shed that is sumptuously cozy with faded rose printed bedspreads and pretty with delicate lace curtains and twinkly chandeliers. "Cornflower Cottage", a once upon a time chicken coop, that was converted into a little house with a bohemian bedroom and Spanish flair. Rachel has given it "The Prairie signature" by layering in her own aesthetics of faded floral bedspreads, monogrammed towels, trails of silk wisteria and a pinch of whimsy with a beautiful prom dress.
We then head to "Meadow Manor", a more formal property that Rachel has embraced by uncovering and adding her pretty charm to period details including keeping a few of the inherited stuffed animals, but adorning them with crowns of flowers.
From here we head to "Rangers Lounge" that houses the "Rangers Lounge" dining room which is the pulse of The Prairie. It's where the signature look of the tough and the demure is set, an absolute charm of an eclectic hodgepodge of flea-market finds laid out to inspire.
Then it's off to "The Pearl Barn", the party house! In "Hidden Gems" we get to see a few of the delighful surprises hidden on The Prairie's 46 acres, including the Shabby Chic Store, weathered green house and pretty outhouse . In "Making magical moments" we get to see "The Pearl Barn" whimsically styled up for an event, a small selection of Rachel's collection of mix and match china and inspiring floral displays. A whole host of Christmas inspiration from the decorated pink Christmas tree to close ups of vintage decorations and mantel displays.
In the last section "Timeworn beauty and imperfect treasures" Rachel takes us on a journey to the flea market in Texas that covers 300 acres and shares with us some of her most treasured finds.
Couture Prairie & Flea Market Treasures by Rachel Ashwell is a delightful hardback book full of gorgeous photographs of an irresistible location with an inspiring tale. At a recommended price of £25.00, I think this hardback book is a must have for all of us that love the iconic Shabby Chic style!