Ashton’s Casual Bohemian Bungalow

By Camille Styles
vault ceilings and pink door

Like many Austinites, Ashton Arthur fell in love with the city’s active outdoorsy vibe and vibrant food and music scenes when she moved here to attend University of Texas in the 90’s… and she never left. Ten years later, Ashton was ready to purchase a home of her own, and when she stepped through the doors of this 900-square-foot bungalow that boasted a 300-year-old Heritage Live Oak in the front yard, she knew she was home. As much as this account manager loved her charming space, after 7 years, she decided it was time to add a master bedroom, bath, and separate studio.

So, Ashton called upon her friend (and our former DIY contributor!) interior designer Claire Zinnecker to help her with the addition, confident that Claire’s expertise would ensure that material choices and colors would make the addition feel like a cohesive part of the house, as well as challenge her to add bold pattern and vibrant color in ways that would accent the simplicity of the rest of the home. We’re pretty obsessed with the results, and whether you’re thinking about a home add-on or simply want to spruce up your space with some new accents, I’m betting that many of you will find loads of inspiration from the project too. Click through for all the details shot by Jessica Pages.

Ashton, describe your home in 5 words or less: 

Colorful, eclectic, quintessential south Austin. 

The design inspiration for your home:

I’ve always loved design and have been tearing pages out of home decor magazines and filing them away for many many years. The launch of Pinterest and design sites like Houzz and Apartment Therapy made it super easy to become aware (and easily obsessed) with all the options available, so over time, it just developed a life of it’s own. I love cement tiles, wallpaper, and velvet!  

sources: rugcoffee tablecouch

Your dream house guests:

Bill Murray and Elton John.

Favorite spot in the house:

Screened-in porch! I love having people over for wine with the back gate open and people watch. It’s also nice to position a chair just so to feel the sun setting and listen to music. 

Now a few questions for designer Claire

What was the design inspiration for this project?

Ashton has a similar aesthetic to mine. Simple architecture and materials, not overdressed, that speak for themselves make the house a canvas. We can then have fun with richer textiles (she loves velvet), bright tiles, colorful rugs, etc. I guess you could say design inspiration was a dressed up Marfa! Ashton (and I) love the Hotel Saint Cecilia with all its quirks, so I tried to make that meet a more casual home.

Ashton went back and forth about painting the wood floors and ceiling either black or white. I told her to wait until we saw them installed natural and then we can decide. Once they were in, we both were in love with the way the subtle warmth of the wood worked with the black steel and white walls, and decided to keep them natural (yay!). 

sources: ChairsDoor Paint Color

We wanted to keep things simple and inexpensive in the studio since it’s frequently rented out. I love mixing vintage finds (Ashton has some great ones she’s picked up along the way!) with, for example, a lamp from Urban Outfitters, to give a basic design tons of character. It’s a great way to design on a budget while maintaining a high-end aesthetic.

I love the juxtaposition of the new with something old. With Ashton’s eclectic style, the vintage and modern make sense together. 

source: Dining Table

Claire’s number one design tip:

Make sure you are fully in love with a design idea before you commit to it. If you love something you see in a picture, whether it’s a piece of furniture, a paint color (or in Ashton’s case, a wallpaper), keep it around for a little while to make sure it is really something you want to live with, especially if it’s a bold idea. Ashton loved the wave wallpaper for a long time and kept the sample of it around until we decided it made sense with the rest of the concept throughout the house. Then we picked the perfect wall for it to live on!

sources: Wave WallpaperFern Wallpaper

Cowhides are always great in high traffic areas – they are durable, chic and easy-to-clean.

sources: CouchLampCredenza


The biggest challenge when designing the space:

Making the new addition, which feels modern, make sense with the existing bungalow both in the interior and on the outside. We kept the exterior colors consistent so the transition wasn’t too drastic, then continued the colorful, eclectic feel through the new interior.

What’s the one underlying principal you adhere to when it comes to designing a space?

EDIT! A pared down home speaks more to me than one overflowing with ideas. I always start by laying out all of my favorite design ideas, then I look for the theme throughout all of those inspiration images. I take that idea and keep it consistent throughout the house. From there you can always add more to give each room its own character – I love that “pop” of personality in a room.

source: Tile

Claire: I’m so happy with how this room turned out! Choosing the perfect blue velvet for the bed took time but the one we settled on suits Ashton’s space perfectly. Ashton is willing to make bold moves and not always play it safe — she wasn’t convinced about the pink door right away, but now loves it… I secretly want to steal it and bring it to my house! 

source: Door Paint Color


A well-designed home should_______?

Tell the story of the ones who live in it!

sources: BedBedding/PillowsPrada Marfa Print

Claire’s favorite design resources:

I love looking at Scandinavian stylists – their use of color is incredible. I always peruse the latest issue of Elle Decor for new furniture and textile resources. I also think you can find inspiration anywhere; I have gotten my favorite color story from a crumbling wall on an old building!  

sources: BeddingLamps

Big thanks to Ashton and Claire Zinnecker Designs for letting us peek inside this inspiring project!