'The Monkey In The Chair'

Updated: Jun 4, 2018

November 2017 Issue

Meet The Home Owner:

The first feature on this tour, is my dear friend Ashlyn and her house. We first met a year ago inside a furniture consignment store in Durham, NC and have grown closer together through the appreciation of design and vintage finds. Ashlyn lives here in Durham with her family of two boys, a husband and a loving rescue dog. Her home is very welcoming and full of character and charm, but I'll let you see for yourself...

Her Story

How/Why did you choose this house?

I had walked by this house for four years wanting to see the interior for myself. A friend of mine told me how lovely it was. So, when we were looking to move but stay in the same area of Durham, I approached the owner of the house and... long story short, we got really lucky and were able to purchase it.

Why Durham and this location?

We love this part of Durham because of the proximity to Interstate 40 and the American Tobacco Trail. We also feel really at home and comfortable in Durham. Our older son goes to a great Durham public school and we love the restaurants and outdoor spaces, like Duke Gardens and the ATT.

Photo by Dan Hacker.  Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

Follow His Work on Instagram, @dantastic.    

What do you love most about your house?

The people who live here is what I love the very most, naturally. But beyond that, I love that the first floor is open concept. I also love the fenced backyard and screened porch. We also have a nice size foyer so it's enjoyable to welcome people into our home through that space. Also, its another space to decorate, which is fun!

How did you get started in design and your work?

Growing up, my mom always had an incredible sense of design and style and I love that we are able to share that together now. For me, I have only recently grown into thinking about design because I have the time and resources. I think I have always appreciated beauty and good design but only in the past five years or so have had the freedom to explore it and try my hand at creating a unique space for myself and my family.

What is your design philosophy?

Authenticity is the most important aspect of design for me. A house isn't a home unless it is true to the people who live there. We use every room in our house every day and nothing is off limits. The most important aspect of our house to me is that my family can relax and be comfortable here and that anyone who visits feels welcomed and at ease. I get as excited about design and finding unique treasures as the next person but your house is where you want to be because of the people who reside there. For me that is myself, my husband, two boys and a dog. That is the real reason I take such care of our space.

Who is your biggest design inspiration?

I find Alison Giese and Lauren Liess very inspiring. Lauren Liess incorporates a lot of natural beauty in her design that for me has translated into a lot of plants, neutral fabrics and texture. Alison Giese has a fairly traditional style but her design is also heavily influenced by global textiles and unique objet d'art.

What is your favorite style?

I like traditional but with a global vibe. Most of my furniture is quite traditional but through accessories like baskets, rugs, pillows (textiles in general) and art I am able to put my stamp on a room.

Why is creating a beautiful home important to you?

I think the soul craves beauty and this is my way of fulfilling that craving. I also like to think that my family enjoys the spaces that I have created here and that they feel nurtured and deeply comfortable in a way that only an authentic home can provide.

What was your biggest challenge?

This is our third house and one thing I have learned along the way is to take your time. It is tempting to just fill a space, fill a room, but I have found that decorating slowly over time creates a more interesting space and a more collected feel. Collecting versus acquiring is an important distinction for me. Taking one's time also lends itself to shopping secondhand and buying vintage and antique items. Because it isn't as easy to just order vintage and antique furniture and order a certain look with those items. I have learned to hold out and be patient to find exactly what I am looking for. Sometimes that takes weeks and months for looking but it is worth it.

What do you want people to feel when they walk in your home?

I want them to feel welcomed and accepted no matter how similar or different they are from me and my family. Our front door is painted red, which symbolizes that "all are welcome." We just had the exterior of our house painted and I made sure to keep the door red because the notion that all are welcome is important to me.