April 2020 Issue
Meet the Home Owner:
Our next feature comes from Ashley Whiteside, who we spotted from Instagram and instantly fell in love. It was her dining room in particular that had us swooning and the rest was the icing on the cake. See how she transformed her new bungalow in Wake Forest below.
What made you select this house?
It’s embarrassingly accurate for someone to say that I’m the type of person that sees significance in *everything* because I’m guilty. There were signs everywhere! We vibed with this house ten or eleven years ago when we first saw it being built, and were visiting my in-laws that lived around the corner. They told us they’d seen a new neighborhood of modern bungalows being built, so of course we checked it out immediately. We were then newlyweds, and living in Oklahoma City. Flash forward to late 2019, and we’d moved to the Triangle to be nearer to my husband’s family — it was time to find a house. After some fruitless months of searching, we went on a drive to clear our heads, having vowed to take a step back from house hunting for a bit. We ended up in this neighborhood again, a curious wandering to check out that house we’d been visiting so many times over the years. It shocked us completely to find that THE HOUSE was for sale! There was a lot more deeply rooted irony surrounding the entirety of this, but we felt it was all meant to be, and giggled like idiots when we soon got to call it our own. Admittedly, the signs weren’t the *only* reason we bought it. The style, proximity to family, size and neighborhood were all akin to hitting the jackpot for us.
How has adjusting to this house been like?
Every home has its own minutia to mentally absorb, and begins to shape routines. This was to be expected. What we were not prepared for and I feel like I continually process is what it’s like to live in new construction. I grew up in historic homes (sometimes glorious, sometimes a nightmare, sometimes back-breaking labor), and since we’ve married, we’ve lived in homes built in the 30’s to 50’s. Providing the most contrast with this experience is that our last home was built entirely of concrete and we fully renovated it before moving to NC.
Even the most basic things are different — we now hear floor creaks which never happened in the concrete house, and even more odd, we don’t have to worry that the electrical will need to be redone anytime soon. Ha! Further, this house is surrounded by wooded lots on three sides, and doesn’t get the same insane boost of natural light that we loved in our last two homes. As you can see, I leaned into that fact and chose moody, cozy paint colors that dramatize the space, which is polar opposite to the mostly all-white of our last two homes. A last adjustment in this home is that it was built Green Certified, including all kinds of upped efforts to insulate, use less water, and so on. While I love this awareness and intentional step towards sustainability, the neighborhood kids just *do not* understand how to use a low-flow toilet. I’m tired of cleaning it up. Hahahahahaha
What do you love most about this home?
The lot it is situated on is surrounded by wetlands that can never be developed, so we are surrounded by woods. Our view from the living room, kitchen, screen porch, and master are all of the greenery. There’s even a creek back there, but it’s so shallow you only hear running water after days of downpours. Also, I love the challenge of weirding-up new construction, and the way it looks a bit like a seaside cottage from the front. Once we start working on the exterior, there will be more of that brought out, I’m sure.
What was the biggest difference from your last home? Frankly, they are both dwellings, and that’s about where the similarities end. Our last home in OKC was an Art Deco concrete cube painted in a light shade of pink! If curious, there’s a Design Sponge feature of it so you can see how we took it from seashell wallpaper to bright, modern and eclectic. Beyond that? Old vs new. Pink vs Blue-Green. Art Deco vs Bungalow. Concrete vs Wood. Having to fix everything vs Feeling guilty when we want to change something only for style because it’s still in good shape. Expected inconveniences vs Feeling annoyed or slighted when something hasn’t fared well after only a decade.
What is your design philosophy?
In the most radically simple way I can describe it, I want to be surrounded by beautiful, interesting, ambient spaces that make me feel something. Beauty fuels me. Lighting calms me. Vintage pieces with a story invoke my curiosity. Weird art envelopes my brain and heart simultaneously, causing me to pause and soak it in. The best design really makes me feel something. Styles and trends and functions are all fluid, but I want a space to feel good and right all the way to my bones.
Also, of critical importance, I know exactly what I DO NOT WANT. It’s a first step I ask of all clients when styling homes, and even back when I was planning weddings. You have to weed out the stuff that doesn’t serve you! For me, that’s anything chevron print, overstuffed furniture, faux finishes, beige walls, hotel art, or things that feel generic and overdone. No doubt that those things are particular to me and my personality, but everyone has something. Side note: my husband would possibly add that his “something” is sculptural chairs that aren’t actually for sitting, and, well, that’s a real tragedy since we already have three. Oops?
Who or what is your biggest design inspiration?
My gut combined with my favorite Instagrammers and Wes Anderson movies and museums and artists and that weird idea I had once and a flower I saw on the side of the road and J. Crew catalogs and the way I just watched her try something that wasn’t my taste but I know how I could take it where I want it and also books. Never, never, never do I have to go out seeking inspiration. Rather, I need to reign it in and edit out which ideas aren’t worth pursuing.
Why is creating a beautiful home important to you?
[See earlier where I mentioned my design philosophy and how I feel it so deeply....because that’s real.] I grew up in a family that cherished beauty, was deeply sensitive to chaos (though full of it), and witnessed that being surrounded by order in the physical realm had great effect on the psyche. This is exactly the causation that led me to a career in Interiors — I know that the effect of dwelling in peace, in rightness, and how profound the effect is on a family.
What is your favorite piece in your home?
I struggle to choose a favorite. Runner up: My collections of vintage and modern artwork. Top Tamale/Head Honcho: the burl wood Milo Baughman Gentleman’s Chest in the living room. I love burl, I love Milo (have or have had several of his pieces), and I have a great story about it.
What are your favorite shops to source from?
Truly, FB Marketplace and Craigslist have been the most successful sources I’ve found since moving to the Raleigh area. Otherwise, I have some pieces from @findsraleigh, and often see more I’d like.
Same for @unioncampcollective, and going to her shop is an experience in and of itself. I worked at the Lead Home Stylist for West Elm in OKC for a while, too, so for lighting, pillows, and planters, I almost always start there.
What was your biggest challenge in this space? It is undoubtedly a First World Problem to say this, but there are so many instances in new construction that prove where a builder phoned it in — lacking in character, cheap solutions, poor lighting, flimsy this or that. Houses, like basically everything else, aren’t made like they used to be! My challenges are in the injection of charm, upgrades that don’t throw the baby out with the bath, and working with spaces that perform multiple functions.
What is the process when selecting your pieces?
Do I love it?! OHGOODLORD, yes. Is it a million dollars? Dang, also yes. Okay, how I can recreate this look with vintage, or make my own? <Hits Facebook marketplace, antique malls, and the like. Ends up with something vaguely inspired by that that’s ultimately my own thing.>
As the “Facebook Marketplace Queen” herself, do you have any advice for those who want to source secondhand finds?
A) Look often, and expect the unexpected. If you’re hoping to be surprised, and know how to get flexible with your plans, you’ll land some total gems. B) Be prepared to act quickly once you find something you love, because the good stuff sells quickly. C) Walk away from the deal if the quality is poor, the piece smells, or you get weird vibes from the seller. While I will likely be the victim of vintage in some way or another, I don’t recommend it.
Why is shopping secondhand important to you?
NEW STUFF OFTEN REALLY SUCKS AND COSTS A GAZILLION HOURS OF LIFE TO PAY AWAY. Also, sustainability. And interest. And the thrill of the hunt. And the stories I get from my favorite finds. And it’s not too precious to actually live around.
If your house was a drink, what would it be?
Oh, that’s a hard one. I’m a total lightweight so don’t know much about liquor at all. You think that’s an exaggeration, or an excuse, but it is not. It’s pathetic. Leaving the alcoholic realm, my husband and daughter at sweet tea fiends, and I love herbal tea with honey. How’s that for for describing a good time?!
Describe your go-to Friday night in Wake Forest.
If we go out on a Friday night, it’s often to our favorite local Thai restaurant just around the corner. During the warm months, there are monthly festivals and movie nights sponsored by the town, or we are at the athletic club’s pool. Mostly, we’re outside talking to neighbors, watching the kids play, and I’m admitting that I should have started dinner two hours ago so we will probably order pizza and watch a movie instead.
Any advice for anyone wanting to create a home they love?
Don’t think you have to spend all the dollars, buy the whole set from the furniture store, or believe that you can only do what you’re seeing on HGTV right now. Do spend some real time learning YOUR style, how you actually spend time in your home, and even the things that you absolutely detest. If you’re wanting to elevate the space, invest in key pieces: phenomenal art, updated lighting, and the seats you use most. Start on one room at a time, complete it, and build momentum. Allow spaces to evolve over time, and cherish the progress, because appreciating how far you have come is half the fun. Please, please take risks, and make it personalized! I want to know you better when I visit.
Thank you for coming along with us on our Curated Home Tour! We hope that you have enjoyed this read and are inspired. Like what you see? Follow us at @curatedhometour and keep up with Ashley and her bungalow on instagram @ashleyswhiteside. If you would like to see other Curated Home Tour Features click here. Subscribe below to receive updates on the May Issue, news about the shop, giveaways and upcoming events. If you think that your home would make a great addition to our "Curated Home Tours" please contact us!
Thank you for your never ending support!
Until the next home,