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Showing Off a Little Restraint

May 02, 2000|BOOTH MOORE

The maddening fact that the Style cable channel isn't yet available to all subscribers in the L.A. area hasn't stopped the fledgling network from throwing parties around town. Friday it hosted a fete for design maven Rachel Ashwell to celebrate the second season of her "Shabby Chic" television series (which begins Saturday) and her third book, "Shabby Chic Home"(ReganBooks, $35).

Ashwell's Montana Avenue shop--full of slipcovered sofas in pale florals, whitewashed tables and piles of quilts--was a cozy spot for the party. Pink and white balloons tied with ribbons and sprigs of dried flowers floated above guests sipping champagne. Not so shabby, huh?

Ashwell has built a home furnishings empire based on the idea that cheap and unusual finds from flea markets and resale shops can be stylish. Ironically, she now has three stores to sell the look.

In her third book, "Shabby Chic Home," Ashwell illustrates a pared-down style using her Malibu home, where she now lives with her two children. She shows the step-by-step transformation of the dark home from something she describes as akin to the witch's house in "Hansel and Gretel" to a light, airy retreat.

"My things are still old and funky, but as I've matured, I have honed my aesthetic," she said. "I have fewer things now, but they are more special."

After all, one doesn't want to be too shabby chic. "I have two armoires in my bedroom. One is carved, with a large mirror, and the other one you barely notice, because it is plain white and melts into the wall. Two carved ones would be too much," she said. "You have to know where to stop."

*

Speaking of decor I'll never be able to afford . . . interior decorator Matthew White and his partner, Disney animation chief and theatrical producer Thomas Schumacher, entertained guests Saturday at their San Marino estate. The dinner party at the Villa delle Favole, which is decorated in a grand style that spans from ancient Rome to 18th century Venice, was one of several dinner parties given in nearby homes to raise funds for AIDS Service Center.

Producer of the musical "The Lion King," Schumacher was all talk about the show, touring in several countries and landing in L.A. in September.

"By the time you all leave here tonight, I'll have dozens of stage managers' reports faxed to me from around the world," he told guests at his table.

He recalled that in Germany, for example, he has an actor who is falling asleep onstage.

Perhaps he has trouble staying awake because audiences do not applaud at all during the show. But at the end, they burst into applause, clapping in unison, Schumacher said.

Most interesting. Who knew that a dinner party in San Marino would turn into a global tour of the habits of theatergoers?

Booth Moore can be reached at booth.moore@latimes.com.

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