Ashley Ausland loves to plan a seamless and functional space with good bones. She believes these first important steps will make any house feel like a home. When the planning is done, she crowns her designs with color palettes inspired by California sunsets, rare vintage finds, and perfectly imperfect finishes. Lauren Pressey beautifully captured this tranquil home for you to enjoy—scroll to see it all.
Tell us about the journey that led to Ausland Interiors. How did you know it was time to launch your own company?
After working as a design assistant for six years, I realized I had become too opinionated to be a good assistant! There was always an urge in the back of my mind telling me that I knew I didn’t want to work for anyone else, that I wanted to be my own boss, create my own work schedule, and follow my own design instincts. After the birth of my second child, I decided to quit the firm I worked for and I really wanted to be a stay-at-home mom (that was truly what I thought I was going to be, a businesswoman was NEVER on my radar). After a year at home with two little babies, I realized I was missing the creative outlet. One of my dear friends Rita Chan (of Rita Chan Interiors) asked me if I was interested in taking on a project, and I jumped at the chance. I felt totally over my head and nervous to jump back in the game, especially as a solo act, but I did it and it never slowed down after that! Six years later and I am busier than I could have ever imagined!
You can almost feel the Southern California sun radiating from these images. How does your breezy locale influence your designs?
I am very fortunate to live and work in such an incredible corner of the earth! Our amazing weather definitely dictates the way we enjoy our time spent in our homes- very much an indoor/ outdoor living vibe. I always focus on ways to maximize the natural light in a space, because in my opinion, it is one of the greatest design components! The ever-changing sunsets are also always a source of inspiration- so many beautiful color palettes have been born out of my beach walks at dusk. Keeping the interiors bright and fresh is easy when the natural sunlight is your supporting actor!
This space is light and bright, yet still feels grounded. How did you accomplish that?
I love to balance the brightness of my interiors with other earthly elements such as wood. In this particular project, I knew that wood stain windows were going to make a tremendous impact in the space. We were unable to raise the ceiling height, so I knew we needed to keep the walls white in order to maximize what we had. The kitchen and dining room are long in shape, and I didn’t want to create a bowling alley effect. The huge stained wood island also served as the anchor of the room. It provided the backdrop for a beautiful entry view since the front door opens right into this space!
If you could take one piece/feature from this design and bring it to your own home, what would it be?
There are several features I wish I could use at my own house, but one of my favorite elements is the huge refrigerator, freezer, pantry wall that is all seamlessly hidden behind matching T&G paneled doors. I love how clean and tidy it makes the space feel, and simultaneously provides architectural interest. It also helped the kitchen from feeling like an obvious kitchen because we streamlined many of the typical kitchen features. Again, this was intentional as the space is the main room upon entry to the home- I wanted it to feel cozy and inviting without smacking a refrigerator in your face!
Ausland Interiors is a full-service design firm, so you get to do it all! What part of a new project makes you jump out of bed in the morning?
This is an easy one—my absolute, most favorite part of ANY project is definitely the space planning. I LOVE when I get my hands on a set of plans, and I get the opportunity to rearrange them. I think the space plan is one of the most important parts of the design process, and sadly I feel it gets overlooked by many homeowners. They are very eager to get to what they love to call “the fun stuff” (tile, paint, fabrics etc), and I’m still over there working on perfecting the plans! “The fun stuff” is all applications that can really be changed at any time, but the bones are forever! You can make so many amazing features when you spend a good bit of time marinating on the plans. You have the opportunity to explore new ideas without costing much. It’s the foundation and the bones of the home that do it for me, every single time! And I particularly love to draw inspiration from historical homes- they don’t design or build them like they used to, so I make a conscious effort to try and incorporate cool historical elements that help keep a new home from feeling like it was obviously built in 2020.
You offer some exquisite pieces in your own online shop so that others can get the Ausland Interiors look in their own homes! What other local home decor shops do you find yourself supporting in Southern California?
I am always frequenting estate sales, flea markets, and thrift stores. A lot of these are small businesses like myself, and I have built a pretty nice networking group within this community. I typically do not buy a lot of retail items, but mostly second-hand, and I purchase items through trade vendors. I do however love Gumtree located in Hermosa and Manhattan!
If you were to describe your design aesthetic in three words, what would they be?
3 words is nearly impossible, but I would say Simple, Timeless, Curated.
Many of us have spent more time at home this past year honing our lifestyle skills (hello, bread making!). Did you pick up any new hobbies this year, or improve upon any old ones?
I have realized this last year that I miss creating things and seeing an immediate, tangible result. Many of my projects are designed and then a year plus later I finally start to see the fruits of my design. It’s not a very immediate process. So I bought my daughter a sewing machine and we have started making a few simple things. For her 8th birthday, I took her and her friends to the fabric store, they all picked out a fabric, and I made each of them pillowcases… but don’t get too excited because my sewing skills are still definitely at a frankenstein level! This year I also set a goal to grow my biz, and we set out to find a new studio space outside of my home, and we did! We found an awesome place right in the middle of Hermosa, front row view the busy PCH, and I couldn’t be more excited (and slightly terrified) of this new chapter for our little design firm in our new big studio!
Speaking of staying home, we’ve all become a little more intimate with our own dwellings this year. What does a well-lived home mean to you?
A well-lived home to me, means not worrying about all the little imperfections that a LOT of my clients tend to focus on…. I love a real marble countertop with all of the imperfections that come with it. I love an old leather sofa that gets better looking with age. I love a reclaimed dining table that has a head start on wear and tear (we know it’s going to get there anyway) I love natural jute rugs that aren’t too expensive, therefore easy and more guilt free to replace when they get thrashed by the kids. I love to design a home that is comfortable, and practical and as durable as possible, and one that you can feel comfortable living in! I don’t like to design spaces that no one is allowed to use. It’s all about a balance with materials, and creating a space that enhances the way my clients get to enjoy their life in!
If you could share a piece of advice with your younger self, what would it be?
Do not be afraid to ALWAYS be true to yourself!