I'll Be Home for Christmas
Don't worry if you can't find a one-horse open sleigh, just be sure to get out of the house and into the spirit of Christmas! Whether you're heading south like a snowbird or traveling to be with family for the holidays, Christmas travel is certainly more than just a destination. I spend more time than usual perusing antiques during the holidays, and Round Top, Texas, is one of my favorite places to do so.
Round Top is known for its antique fairs, held each January, April, June, and October, but the small town has a plethora of arts-and-crafts and antiquing activity throughout the year. One woman who has made her mark on Round Top is Rachel Ashwell, international designer and creator of Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture.
Ashwell's style gained popularity through her London, New York, and Los Angeles stores, where she sells her designs—pieces that evoke a sense of the past with a fresh, clean look. She had been traveling to the treasure trove of Round Top for seven years when a familiar bed-and-breakfast property became available. Ashwell jumped at the opportunity, refinished the house in her own style, and dubbed it "The Prairie." It's a space that she fondly calls "a magical bubble" and now rents out to fellow antique hunters in Round Top. She loves it so much that she stays there when in town, all the while managing her international Shabby Chic Couture business.
I reached Ashwell (RA) in London, and she took the time to answer a few of my design questions about what she calls the flea market capital of the world ... and this is coming from a woman who has shopped in many parts of the globe.
P. Allen Smith (PAS)
PAS: Round Top is quite a departure from your other locations. How is your style enhanced or altered by location, especially a place as unique as Round Top?
RA: Even though I am a London girl who has lived in Malibu, I have always had an attraction for the country western aesthetic and culture. Jeans, cowboy boots, and country music have been part of my life for as long as I can remember.
PAS: The Prairie sounds like the perfect canvas for you!
RA: Many people have a preconceived idea that Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture aesthetics is all about white, pink flowers, and chandeliers, which of course is my signature. The Prairie allows me to demonstrate the versatility of my aesthetics:
PAS: You've created so much in Round Top; what are you most proud of?
RA: Making The Prairie home for myself and all those I love brings me great pride. When I bought the property (formerly The Outpost Inn), I inherited the owner's labor of love, and this legacy continues through The Prairie by the love and labor of all involved.
PAS: With that much going on at The Prairie, what does a typical day in Round Top look like for you?
RA: Up at 6:30, then 10,000 steps around the fields with Pearl the dog. At 8 a.m. I get my chef Danny's yummy yummy breakfast, where I meet and greet guests. By 9 a.m. I jump in the timeworn, open-topped Jeep with my associates and shop and shop and shop, stopping for food and drinks and chats on the way.
PAS: What are some of your favorite places to eat, drink, and relax in Round Top?
RA: My favorite place to eat is in our own backyard with Danny cooking barbecue, listening to music, taking in the wide open prairie ... but Royer's Cafe, Pie Haven, Stone Cellar, and the little stands on the side of the road are pretty great too.
PAS: After a full day of shopping and food, drinks and chats, I bet The Prairie is a welcome reprieve.
RA: Absolutely. I'll relax with a hot cup of tea (others prefer a cold beer), reflect on the day, and ride a horse!!
photos of The Prairie provided by Rachel Ashwell