The Orchard Blog

October 23, 2013

Has Shabby Chic Had Its Day?

Once upon a time shabby chic was ‘the’ buzz word in interior design. Creative, unique, and most importantly beautiful. Better still it was (or could be) economical, re-cycling (or what we fashionably like to call ‘upcycling’ nowadays) old items and giving them a new lease of life over purchasing a brand new, mass produced item from the high street.

A quintessential shabby chic styled kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage never went away but ‘shabby chic’ gave it a new lease of life. Outside of areas renowned for their flea markets or brocante hotspots, rummaging through car boot sales and charity shops became all the rage again, socially acceptable to one and all, particularly to fashionistas and interior design followers. Everything old and tatty was instantly labelled shabby chic or vintage. It mattered not what it was, an old chest of drawers or a dusty old book, now it was a ‘shabby chic project’ or a vintage objet d’art. As the movement gathered pace, those wily old retailers were quick to spot a trend and added an extra 100% to what they would have happily previously sold for a few pounds!

A typically rustic French Brocante store

Ouvert All Hours!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very quickly what was a quirky and cool idea by an English born American expat became a worldwide phenomenon. From a single store in Malibu California back in 1989 through to Oprah Winfrey declaring on national television that “Rachel Ashwell has single-handedly turned shabby into chic and it’s caught on like wildfire.”

One of Rachel Ashwell's phenomenally successful publications

That quote was made back in 2006, since then the journey of shabby chic’s Godmother has not been entirely plain sailing. In 2009 she filed for bankruptcy, had the shabby chic bubble finally burst after 20 years? Had she been ‘found out’, a charlatan who had hood winked the world into believing any old tat could grace the pages of the glossiest interior design magazines alongside the bespoke and the expensive? Manufacturers and designers of brand new, contemporary or vintage styled furniture breathed a collection sigh of relief in the firm belief everyone would return to buying good ol’ new things again!

Well here we are in 2013 and if you look around shabby chic seems to be in rude health. The fortunes of Rachel Ashwell and the ‘shabby chic brand’ may have floundered, and as others have suggested sold out by licensing a massed produced branded range with a department store, but the concept at large is thriving. We now perhaps know it under other guises, perhaps you are familiar with the label Nordic Chic, perhaps rustic luxe, or how about vintage inspired? All have the shabby chic principles at heart, something once beautiful, now a little care worn, re-discovered, perhaps cleaned up or re-engineered slightly to produce something once more beautiful in a new old way. Bars, restaurants and even high street fashion stores are styled with shabby chic inspiration; rustic apple crates are the default way in which to display items nowadays and old scaffolding planks are the only shelving worth having.

The de-rigeur way to display merchandise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course we can’t all scour the brocantes of Paris or the vintage boutiques of Shoreditch. Fewer of us still are prepared to pay over the odds for vintage chic from emporiums that are more museums of style than consumer friendly retail outlets. Thankfully the world of manufacturing has finally caught on that new and shiny is no longer king. Micro producers and even larger scale manufacturers have overhauled their design thinking and their ranges alike. Techniques have also now evolved and we can produce items with a vintage look and feel on a larger scale that still have a hand made touch, or at worst an element of hand finishing. Better still such pieces can be made with an eye on sustainability, recycling and with a budget in mind. As coveted as a coffee table manufactured with old railway timbers with original castors from a 1950’s industrial cart is, the price tag is only for a select few.

Shabby chic therefore has undoubtedly evolved, the phrase may be a bit tired, perhaps a tad overused or even regarded by the cognoscenti as old hat but the ethos remains strong. Retro will always be cool, vintage will always be beautiful and invariably the old ways will always be the best way. We now might have more vintage inspired product on the market than actual vintage but it is at least available to all. Well designed, beautifully made and with much of the character of a genuine antique. So lets be thankful, lets celebrate the old school, shabby chic is not dead it just evolved, moved on, as it has done for generations. The guiding principle…, have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. Thanks Mr Morris.

November 17, 2011

Go a Little French

Filed under: Reproduction French Furniture — auctiondesigns @ 4:36 PM

There are some stunning pieces of French Shabby Chic Furniture around at the moment and the stores have many different pieces on offer – both online and on your local high street..

Long gone are the days of MDF coffee tables and mass-produced wardrobes and now we are embracing the style of romantic-inspired chaise, luxurious dressers and old-fashioned sleigh beds.  Traditional French shabby chic furniture is made from beautiful craftsmanship, using several types of wood and many different fabrics.  It can be difficult to choose a statement piece of French furniture when there are so many choices available.  You could choose a large coffee table full of rustic charm or an oversized chest of drawers to dominate your bedroom.  Whatever piece you choose, a piece of French shabby chic furniture will transform your home and transport you to the Paris of yesteryear – even if you live in Folkestone rather than France!

You can always choose a replica piece of furniture with a much lower price tag if price is an issue.  Replica French shabby chic furniture is now available at many online stores so your next home purchase could be just a website away.

November 11, 2011

Reproduction French Furniture

Filed under: Reproduction French Furniture — auctiondesigns @ 4:34 PM

Key features to look out for in finding your latest piece.

Any items featuring gold-leaf detailing is a bonus if you can find it.  Usually something using this style of detailing and type of material will be slightly higher in price but it does give a great finish.

Aged or distressed finishes are a must-have.  This will give the piece of reproduction French furniture its character and ensure it looks homely and loved.

Any hand-finished detailing of beads and fabrics and embellishments is worth having.  It means that the piece has had time and effort put into it and will almost certainly be a one-off as no two pieces will turn out exactly the same when it is hand finished.

Metallic handles or miss-matched handles can make a piece stand out.  There are many different handles available so you need to make sure that the overall look that it creates flows, rather than just picking some random handles and sticking them on!

Any painted items should be in either: antique white, burnished gold, matt black or a mahogany finish.  Don’t worry about looking for anything which is too perfect.  Also remember that laminate and light woods are a no-no.

If you can find any silk fabrics, these are very luxurious – a real find if you come across a piece which has some in its detailing.  More commonly used as a detailing tool on things such as dressers and stools, an accent of silk can really set off a piece and make it stand out in your room.

Hand-carvings and intricate detailing should be obvious on a piece of reproduction French furniture.  This is especially true of the detail added to dining tables and oversized mirrors.

September 30, 2011

Reproduction French Furniture and Boutique Hotels

Filed under: Reproduction French Furniture — auctiondesigns @ 9:59 AM

Boutique hotels are currently boasting amazing examples of Reproduction French Furniture up and down the country at the moment.  There are some great styles available, many of which are designed in mahogany and painted in  gold, white or black with intricate detailing.  Some particular standout pieces include huge sleigh beds, ornate dressers, wardrobes and occasional tables.

The genre of boutique hotels are known for their style and charm and this is reflected in the people who are paying to stay there.  The design of these hotels attract customers who are looking for somewhere a bit special and the furniture certainly forms a part of the look of these unique hotels.  Boutique hotels are renowned for their individuality and are a far cry from the typical larger hotel chains which cater for the mass population.  Reproduction French Furniture chosen for a specific theme in a hotel adds to its authenticity and gives the paying guest something a little bit different.

Of course, there will always be a market for those super-chains, especially for the businessperson and their need for a bed for the night.  If, however, you are looking for something a bit special then it’s fantastic to curl up on a rustic French chaise in one of the many boutique hotels that are on offer.

July 12, 2011

What Story does your Reproduction Piece tell?

Filed under: Reproduction French Furniture — auctiondesigns @ 5:58 PM

Many types of reproduction antique furniture exist in today’s market and Reproduction French Furniture is just one of the many options available to adorn your home at a very affordable price.  French furniture is incredibly steeped in the country’s history and has a sense of style running through each piece, with every ornate detail, and every carved cornice.

Reproduction French furniture can take inspiration from many eras of French history.  Ornate Gothic pieces arrived in the Medieval years with larger-than-life seating and tables moulded from French Oak.  This period also brought with it chunky carving which you can often see in reproduction pieces – usually in the form of religious scenes and symbols.  The Renaissance period brought with it a heavy Roman influence and much of the furniture actually resembled replica buildings in their ornate design.

Many eras and styles followed, each taking influence from political issues and reflecting it back into the homes of the French people.  The history of French furniture design is rich and an intriguing topic of research.  Each piece seems to have a story to tell and it can be as much fun finding out about the history of your piece as it is with owning it in your own home.

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