Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ashley Whittaker

Florida native Ashley Whittaker was featured as one of domino's "Top 10 Designers to Watch" back in 2007. The room featured in domino's article on her was the entryway shown above and -- to be honest -- I was pretty unimpressed. The royal blue zebra wallpaper is just too overwhelming for my taste, too "I'm trying to make a statement".

The last few weeks, however, I've been slowly making my way through domino's website, saving all of the pictures and features that I loved before they shut the site down for good. In the process, I've been Googling some of the interior designers and decorators that domino featured over the years. Unlike some of the designers and decorators I found, Ashley Whittaker's website is very professional and a pleasure to click through. I'm so glad I gave her a second chance (as it were) since a lot of the work featured on her site is really lovely. It leans towards the traditional, but in a very modern and fresh way. Her use of color and pattern is also excellent -- never overwhelming, but enough to keep my interest.

There are definitely some recurring motifs and decorator tricks in Ashley's designs, the most obvious of which is her penchant for pairs. Note the the two Chinese garden stools in the blue sitting room and the two ottomans upholstered in pale blue zebra fabric tucked under the console table. After all, if one of something is good, two of something is even better. Two smaller stools or ottomans is also a much more flexible alternative to one larger bench or coffee table. Smaller pieces can easily be rotated around a room to provide extra seating or an extra place to rest your drink while entertaining. When not in use, placing them under the console table keeps them out of the way.

It took me a few minutes of staring at this photo to pick up on the subtle safari vibe in this room and I really like it. I'm particularly fond of the exotic paisley fabric on the ottoman, which works well with the larger-scale paisley on the roman blind and the safari-inspired artwork over the desk. The subtle safari-theme is carried throughout the space with the zebra-print throw pillows, grass cloth wallpaper and white ceramic elephant sitting in the built-in. Painting the backs of the built-ins such a dark olive brown is really a masterful touch and really makes the contents pop. Finally, the bold hexagonal rug pictured in this study (similar to the one used in the blue sitting room above) and is reminiscent of David Hicks and a really unexpected touch -- the modern pattern really livens up otherwise very traditional decor.

Such a nice, relaxed-yet-refined, beachy vibe to this space. All of the spindly, dark chair legs are a really formal touch to an otherwise laid back room.

This might be one of those "so pretty it hurts" rooms for me. Everything is just so lovely and calm. The tone-on-tone patterns on all the fabrics are varied, but speak softly. The Greek key border on the green slipper chairs is a brilliant stroke and I think could be easily emulated -- just attach a little trim to any standard-issue chair and -- voilĂ ! -- you've got something special. One thing I'm also noticing in Ashley's work is how she manages to make curtains seem clean and unfussy. I tend to avoid a lot of window treatment (other than blinds or roman shades), but she's definitely having me rethink my bias against curtains.

I never get tired of a red room. I love how the black and white photography hung salon-style really pops on the red wall. While muted furnishings allow the red wall to take center stage, the varied patterns really help balance such a strong statement. It takes a lot of confidence to blend ikat, greek key, cheetah and florals, but I think Ashley really pulls off the mix here. What do you think? Note again Ashley's use of a pair of ottomans -- they add extra seating, but their lower profile keeps the smallish room less visually cluttered.

While I love a lot of color, there is just something so relaxing about an all-white bathroom. I love how the tub looks built-in here and the lantern and sconces are just stunning. The combination of open and closed storage here is also really well done. It really helps make the bathroom look spacious -- despite the small footprint.

If you like Ashley's style, here are a key few pieces you'll need to get a bit of her look at home:

1. Savannah Armchair & Ottoman ($399-$799) from Pottery Barn
2. Ceramic elephant ($29) from West Elm
3. Safari Crewel Pillow Cover ($24.99) from Pottery Barn
4. X-bench in Ashanti (as shown, $251) from Ballard Designs
5. Madura Pillow Collection ($85-$150) from John Robshaw
6. Chinese Garden Stools ($129) from Wisteria
7. Jute Diamond Rug ($299 for 9' x 12') from West Elm
8. Weston Round Pendant (from $579) from Restoration Hardware
9. Tala and Scramble fabrics by Annie Selke in Blue Marine ($26.09 per yard) from Calico Corners
10. Capri Teardrop Lamp ($275) from Jonathan Adler


lady macleod said...

A fun tour - I love the "too pretty room", and yes to the red wall, but the cheetah is not for me I fear, and I'm with you on the all white bathroom.

KSJ in Houston said...

WOW I love that bathroom.....I cant wait to see what you do with your new house!!

Patch said...

I actually love the blue zebra print...and her style!!!

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