A Texas TouchInterior Designer Ashley Darryl Takes Vintage to New Levels
As a kid, Ashley Darryl was inspired by “the hunt” for unique design pieces. Accompanying her interior designer mother, she knew early on the value of a diamond in the rough. Today, Darryl scatters her vintage finds generously through her projects along with classic and contemporary pieces, which all work to create her signature eclectic look.
After studying art in her home state of Texas, she moved to New York in 2005 to get her graduate degree through the American art course at Sotheby’s. There she learned about the fine and decorative arts from ceramics and silver to paintings. “It was such a treat,” she says. “We were able to see the real deal up close! They showed us every detail and how to decipher what was real and what was fake.” Think: Chippendale.
Part of the course was a weeklong internship. She chose to intern with an interior designer and was assigned to Richard Keith Langham. It was there she discovered her calling. “When I walked into his office everyone was in a tizzy working. Everywhere I looked I saw something special: colorful fabrics, fancy trim and drawings of furniture. It was amazing to see all the elements that make a home a home.”
But her entire life had been leading up to that realization. First there were those “hunting” expeditions to flea markets and antique stores with her mother. “She’d let me purchase a little trinket: a majolica plate or a Victorian calling card. I still have it all,” she laughs. “I would move them all around in my room.”
Even in her teens she was unknowingly paving a way to her future career. When her grandmother gave her a sewing machine at age 15 she began making pillows, duvets and throw blankets – “all soft goods.” She even reupholstered a chair with a staple gun.
Her aesthetic is very much informed by her Texas upbringing. While her mother’s home was “filled with Eames, Le Corbusier and Knoll,” the homes of her friends were more typical of the area: traditional right down to the tassels and other telltale details.
“I try to infuse traditional into my modern spaces because I don’t like a modern space that feels cold,” she says. “I want it to feel lived in.” What are some ways in which she achieves this? “Maybe the sofa arm has a rolled arm versus square or I might add tape trim to a curtain edge.”
Her first job was at Jeff Lincoln Interiors where she worked for six years before realizing that she had made enough friends who were looking for design help. “At age 25 they were renting their first larger apartments where they wanted a full decoration.”
For a recent New York client, she followed the directive to make the home classic yet modern to “feel inviting to her four grown children.” The client has a love of antiques as does Darryl, “so we layered these among the custom pieces we had made for the spaces,” she says. “We have Deco chairs in the living room and library and Murano chandeliers in the master suite and dining room.”
The spaces are layered with art “that is both new and old,” the new having been purchased at Kathryn Markel gallery in Bridgehampton. “We customized furniture into pieces that had a dual function. The handmade cabinet in the living room doubles as media storage with a TV that floats up through a hidden door. The leather coffee table in the study doubles as a desk. The top flips up and out so that you can sit on the sofa and use your laptop at a natural height.”
“The rooms in the home had nice proportions but the layout felt choppy when moving from room to room. So, we worked out a color palette that could flow between the rooms with consistency. We wanted each space to have character, so we ran white and cream throughout all rooms and mixed in other cool colors. This palette consisted of taupe, mint, slate blue, navy and lavender. It felt very light and fresh.”
One of Darryl’s early projects was a small summer house in Southampton Village, owned by a family with young kids. Her clients are mostly in the city, but she has clients sprinkled throughout the east coast and Texas.
The goal was to “keep with the tradition of the older house but make it modern and playful.”
The clients loved wallpaper, so it was installed in just about every room. “At that point wallpaper was a big deal,” she says. “As my younger clients were starting to own their first homes, they were willing to put money into the décor. My clients who were renting were not as enthusiastic about installing anything you couldn’t take with you!”
Wallpaper helped to make “each room special.” She assigned grass cloth to a bedroom and bath, a tree limb pattern in another bathroom and bold geometrics in other rooms.
In a mandate to give each room a different color palate, a guest room was drenched in coral. “We wanted guests to feel like they’d never been in a room like that before.”
But, as in all her projects, what really sets this apart are all the vintage items she is so adept at sourcing. There are the vintage rattan chests with brass accents used as nightstands in the guest bedroom along with a 1950s white porcelain floor lamp; rattan foot stools and a 1930s French Lucite table lamp in the master bedroom.
For the outdoor space she distributed an assortment of teal Sunbrella-covered pillows to add pops of color to the gray sofas and black chaises lounges. The outdoor dining area features a custom zinc tabletop (to weather well with time) and concrete base. White curtains hang from the pergola to close it off for more intimate space.
Since the Southampton house “the overall look of my design has become more refined,” she says. She also is in hot demand. “I’m a small company so they get my full attention. It’s important that they can reach me.” She currently has a waiting list of clients who appreciate that attention. And that list might get longer. Darryl was just named a 2017 Rising Star by the International Furnishings and Design Association.