If you’ve spent time in the Texas Hill Country, you might be familiar with the style of home we tend to see here. To put it simply: large and limestone are the two descriptors that come to mind. As a reflection of the surrounding Hill Country terrain, the look is beautiful. But for a home decorator, it can be a challenge. If not handled correctly, all that stone can be made to feel heavy, and oversized spaces in general tend to be tricky.
For that reason, this space stood out instantly. Rarely do we see a home so large feel this cozy, but then again, we’d expect nothing less from the home’s owner, interior stylist and thrifter extraordinaire, Leah Ashley. The tastemaker has a lot going on these days, from a show on The Design Network to a curated vintage shop of her own, Leah is carving out her niche as an expert in using vintage style in a way that feels modern. Craving some wild western design? Get inspired by Leah’s signature old-meets-new aesthetic, as seen first hand in her Dripping Springs home.
Tell us about your house. We’d love to know how you came to call it home.
We moved back to Texas almost four years ago after living in Los Angeles for 15 years & working in the entertainment industry. My husband and I are both from Texas originally, but we never imagined we would end up living in a small town like Dripping Springs. We looked at so many homes in the Austin area and had pretty much given up on our search. We decided to rent until we could figure out where we wanted to be. We were on our way to sign a lease on a little cottage in south Austin when our realtor sent us this listing in Dripping Springs. Instead of going to sign the lease, we went to see this house and made an offer later that day!
We knew nothing about the town of Dripping Springs, but we loved the house, so we took a leap of faith and moved in! It turns out small town living is the life for us!
Describe your home in 5 words or less:
Hill Country Farmhouse
Yes! This feels so quintessentially Hill Country to us. What was the design inspiration for decorating this house?
Traditional & Collected. I have an intense love for old things and as a result I try to stay away from things that are too trendy. I wanted our home to feel pulled together and collected over time but also casual enough for boys to jump on the sofas. About 80 percent of items in our home are things I’ve bought second hand at either a thrift store, a flea market or an estate sale. I LIVE for a good treasure hunt and I love the stories that come with pre-loved pieces.
What’s your favorite way to spend time at home?
We LOVE to entertain friends. This house is the perfect home for entertaining with it’s open concept kitchen, living & dining room. We also have a wonderful outdoor kitchen perfect for grilling street corn or steaks. My husband is a wonderful cook and I put him to work!
Did you run into any big design challenges when working on the space?
The tall ceilings. I was totally thrown for a loop trying to decorate a space with 28 foot ceilings. All of my furniture from Los Angeles was too short and looked funny in these oversized rooms. Everything really is bigger in Texas.
You clearly take a lot of inspiration from your surroundings. How does Texas inspire your interior design choices?
I’m wildly inspired by Texas. I was born here and find so much beauty in my southern roots. The colors, the culture, the flora & fauna. For that reason, I love collecting vintage bluebonnet prints of the hill country and Marshall pottery. Those collections wouldn’t have made much sense in our home in California, but they fit right in at our Hill Country farmhouse.
Speaking of collections… I believe anything that is worth having is worth collecting! Collections make such a bigger impact on the eye than when you just have one of something.
Decorating in groups or clusters adds interest to any space. For example, it’s way more fun to serve dinner on a collection of mismatched blue & white dishes than it is to serve them on simple white plates.
We’re dying to know: what are your favorite places to shop for furniture and decor?
My favorite places to shop for my home is the thrift store. I have a few favorites.. the Village Store in Wimberley is a diamond in the rough out here in the Hill Country. I also love the Salvation Army off of 183 & Research Blvd. They have a great furniture selection. I have also found some great pieces at the Austin Antique Mall, Uncommon Objects and Room Service Vintage. And of course Facebook Market Place!
There are many reasons why I love vintage. It’s better for the earth and usually the pieces are of better quality than what’s being mass produced today. Not to mention, the prices! One of my favorite pieces is a little chartreuse stool that I found at a garage sale for $5.00. It goes to show that you don’t have to spend a ton to love the pieces that fill your home.
What’s your favorite spot in the house?
My bed. I’m a mom of 2 small boys. I’m exhausted. Always.
Right there with ya, mama! Tell us, what’s the key to incorporating vintage into your home successfully?
I say start small. Have the larger pieces of furniture like your bed, sofa or dining table be something modern and add in vintage touches around those modern pieces. For example, place a vintage bench at the foot of your bed, incorporate a vintage coffee table with your modern sofa, use vintage dining chairs at your table. By taking this approach your home will look more curated and less cluttered. Also, buy what you love.
If a piece speaks to you, buy it. You’ll find a place for it and every time you pass by it you will smile.
What’s your number one interior design tip?
Curtains are to a room what eyebrows are to your face. You need them. And please… for the love of god, make sure they hit the floor. Nothing irks me more than curtains that are too short. *end rant*
Ha! We’re writing that one down. Do you have any favorite design resources?
Pinterest. Hands down. It’s such a great resource for helping to visualize what something looks like in a space. Wondering what pink paint looks like on the ceiling? Do soapstone countertops look good against natural wood cabinets? You’ll find the answer on Pinterest.
Fill in the blank: A well-designed home should _______.
…be well loved. Loving where you live is what it’s all about. Who cares if your home is on trend, professionally designed or just thrown together from garage sale finds. If your space brings you joy, rejuvenates you after a long day, and puts a smile on your face when times are tough that’s all that matters.
We love your playroom because it features so many vintage pieces without compromising function. Tell us about this amazing storage piece.
For the playroom I wanted something that had both functionality but also had a vintage feel. I love using vintage pieces when it comes to living with kids because the more banged up a piece gets, the more it adds to the patina and charm of a piece. I originally wanted an old chicken nesting box to house the toys in but I couldn’t find one large enough. I ended up going with this piece from Furniture Land South. It’s not technically vintage but the company has since stopped making it, so maybe it is considered vintage now! haha
Who are your dream house guests?
I adore having overnight guests! I’m the kind of person who wants the entire family to move in. But my very favorite houseguests are my sister and her boyfriend. They work on yachts in Florida and the Bahamas so we don’t get to see them often. When they are here, I know we are going to have a blast even if we are just sitting around in a messy playroom laughing over a glass of wine.