Do you have one of those mom friends that just always makes you laugh and puts a smile on your face? That is how I feel about the lovely and talented Ashley Hawthorne. She has a quick wit and great sense of humor; but more importantly, she is an incredible and inspiring woman and mom. I’m so happy for you to get to know her and tour a bit of her beautiful, new home out in woodsy Central. Although Ashley is an Interior Designer, her home does not have the untouched magazine look you might expect. Instead, she breathes life into every corner and makes it a livable and beautiful space for her son and soon-to-arrive daughter. I know you will love taking a peek inside her home, hearing about her work/life balance, and learning her top 3 design rules. Enjoy!
Q: Tell us a little about you and your family.
A: I am wife to Kyle and mother to Sullivan (will be 3 in December) and Betsy (she will be born in late January) . I have been an interior designer at a bustling commercial architecture firm for about 11 years, and work with clients on their homes as well through a company I affectionately named ASH Interiors. I did not choose Kyle to marry because his name would allow my initials to be ASH, but it was a big plus. Ha! The balance of work and motherhood can be so rewarding for me, when done right. There are seasons it is really out of balance, but I try to work toward a healthy balance every day. I am almost an equal split of introvert and extrovert, so I try to have a little time each week to “recharge my introvert batteries” because my two jobs and family life keep me very busy. My passions are being outdoors, cooking and entertaining, watching terrible TV, and the constant process of getting rid of things and trying to simplify my life and home.
Q: What do you love about living in the Baton Rouge area?
A: Baton Rouge is a really wonderful place to live and raise a family. I moved here for college where LSU got its claws in me and have now been here for 17 years. I find that in this town, we have so many cool niches of community life that are not always easy to find in cities, but it also has a small town feel of running into people you know almost every time you are out and about. We recently moved to Central, which is in East Baton Rouge Parish, but out of the city limits. This has been really fun for us! I am excited about my children having a small town upbringing like I had – big yard, high school football games, 4 wheelers, gardening, bonfires, and a tight knit community. Everyone here rallies around the schools and the community, and we are excited to get into the mix and be a part of that.
Q: Describe a typical day for your family.
A: This makes my head spin just thinking about it! We are up and out of the house by 8, partially dressed, and ready to begin our days. Sullivan goes to a daycare near our offices, so we alternate who brings him based on Monday morning schedules at our jobs. Usually, he eats a Clif bar in the car while he jams to country music tunes. I am already fielding calls and texts and emails by this point, and trying to finish my makeup. I try and run errands on my lunch break and pick up the ingredients for a dinner. I usually pick Sullivan up in the afternoons; this is my favorite part of the day. He is still in that stage of getting REALLY excited to see me, and sometimes mows down half of his class trying to get to me. I love it. We get home around 5:45 shortly followed by Kyle. I cook dinner about every other night and we have leftovers in between. We live on the Amite River and many evenings we walk down for an hour or so of fishing and hanging out while we unwind from the day. Then comes bath time and bedtime for Sullivan, and shortly after, I crash.
Q: What do you love most about your work?
A: I get to work on cool projects all over the country through my job – mostly college campuses. I love that age and stage of life, and daily look back at how transformational that time was for me. It is cool to get to play a role in the college experience of millions of students. These buildings will live on long after I walk away from them, and something about that is so fulfilling. As far as residential goes, there is nothing better than knowing a family fits well with their home. I really enjoy helping them find what style fits them and enhances their lives rather than making them feel stuffy or restrained.
Q: How has being a mom affected your career/work?
A: Being a mom just helps put things in perspective. I have lots of days when the world spins out of control at the office, but coming home to my family is very grounding for me. Now, as an expecting mom, Betsy is always with me as a constant reminder of what really is the most important.
Q: How intentional are you in the design of your home?
A: I am very intentional with our home. I’m a messy person by nature, so lots of time is spent trying to figure out good organizational systems that can keep it livable and not chaotic. It is so nice coming home to an organized, well put together home. I also do not like the idea of debt or stretching financial limits, so part of my intentionality is being thrifty and resourceful rather than picking a new room from a catalog. There is a lot of power in a can of paint, so you will often find me making drastic changes with paint. I will never forget the time Kyle came home to a bright turquoise door! That morning when he went to work, it was barn red 🙂
Q: How has your style changed since having kids?
A: I think the biggest change is how much junk kids have! Moms, do you hear me?? I’m sure you all look around and think “Where did all of this come from?” Before you know it, your home can start to feel like a daycare. We recently found a cool storage bin system at a garage sale and keep it in Sullivan’s closet. It organizes all the little things such as blocks, toy cars, and those things that can nearly kill you when you step on them in the dark. His rule is that he can take out one bin at a time and play with those things. When he finishes, he is learning to put them back in that same bin and put them in the closet. His wife will thank me one day 🙂 We are just not neat pristine people and are pretty messy at times; so most of our big items were already super durable (no white couches at our house) and stain resistant. I just like a lived-in space that is totally adaptable when an extra 5 people show up for dinner. As my children grow older, I can just imagine Sullivan showing up with half the Central baseball team asking “Mom, what’s for dinner?” I hope that it will always be a comfortable place for the kids and their friends to feel at home.
A: We have a really big, open family room. Most of the house has low ceilings and walking into this room is like a breath of fresh air – literally these days because I constantly keep the doors and windows open. We have so many fun times in this room, but it is also the places where lots of the day to day things happen. We eat 75% of our meals at the little wooden table in the corner rather than at the dining table. I also fold clothes on the red sofa almost every day. It is a great room that I absolutely love.
Q: What are your 3 tips/rules for moms wanting to make design changes in their home?
A: 1.) Do what you like rather than what the latest trend happens to be. 2.) Investment pieces can and should be bought over time. 3.) Do not be afraid of taking risks. If you love it, do it!
Q: What is the greatest lesson you have learned since becoming a mom?
A: To expect the unexpected and just go with it. We can plan until the cows come home, but things rarely go perfectly. I live by my planner and have had to learn that sometimes all of the things on the to-do list have to be halted because of a random fever virus or even sometimes for a meltdown that is secretly a cry for some one-on-one time.
I love what Ashley says about family being very grounding for her. Isn’t it amazing how our sweet children can just bring the chaos to a halt and let us focus on one moment at a time? Ashley, thank you for sharing your beautiful home and a bit of you. You have reminded us all that despite how busy our days are, it is so important to come home, wind down, and just enjoy life.
Moms, what inspired you most? And what do you think of her 3 design rules? Do you follow them in your own home?
If you’d like to share your own home with us as part of the Heart & Home series, send me a note!