A Modern Bohemian Oasis You Have to See to Believe
Inside designer Lily Ashwell's Venice home.
Updated Jun 17, 2019 5:28 PM
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Designer Lily Ashwell’s first home—a studied balance of vintage and modern in Venice Beach—reflects the beauty of her effortless, pared-down style. Without a laptop or smartphone in sight, Lily Ashwell (daughter of painter David Ashwell and designer Rachel Ashwell) has shaped an enviable, modern bohemian oasis out of a 1920s Craftsman-style cottage, which feels worlds away from her former residences in London and New York.
“These lovely cottages are what’s most charming about Venice,” says the shop owner and fashion designer, explaining the instant attraction she had to her place nearly four years ago. “I didn’t want anything overly renovated; this one still had the original moldings and charm.”
The reclaimed 1920s Moroccan tiles that decorate the kitchen floor add color to the room’s soothing palette. While Dutch doors and kitchen cabinetry have stayed intact, Ashwell set about adding idiosyncratic accents that pay tribute to her wanderlust. Her mother’s pretty trademarks at Shabby Chic are dotted throughout (a pale-blue linen sofa, and muted garden roses contained in earthy, ceramic vases, for instance), but modern touches, from window frames painted Caribbean turquoise to architectural desert plants framing the cottage’s entrance, point to a more contemporary sensibility.
Many pieces act like old photographs, telling stories of family trips to flea markets, like the faded blue table in Ashwell’s painting studio (a former greenhouse), which was swiped from Round Top in Texas. Or suspended above Ashwell’s bed is a beaded antique Moroccan lantern.
Ashwell’s enviable wardrobe is the backbone of her self-titled, vintage-inspired clothing line, which she sells at her neighborhood store.
The backyard’s sectional is Ashwell’s favorite spot to catch up with friends. Here, ceramist Helen Nishimura and friend Madelyn Joyce kick back in the late afternoon.
The studio, a former greenhouse, is just steps away from her cottage and acts as her painting and design space.
The house, with its oversized sectional sofa in the backyard and sparse but well-considered interior treasures, certainly makes for an inspiring backdrop.
As Ashwell puts it, “I only bring beautiful pieces into my home that I want to have forever. I don’t want to contribute to the waste in the world. Emotionally and morally, it feels better to be lighter.”
The design process for Ashwell’s collections can start with an inspiration image or a single, moody hue.
Lily Ashwell’s Venice
Gjusta I walk from my shop for a cortado and the most perfect breakfast sandwich here. I’m proud to say that I made the Japanese workwear-inspired jackets for the servers.
Venice Beach Wines This is my local wine bar on Rose Avenue. I usually head over after work with my boyfriend for a glass of rosé on the cozy, candlelit patio.
Merchant Modern A beautifully curated antique shop specializing in midcentury furniture, home goods, and Moroccan rugs. It’s such an inspiring space, and it’s co-owned by my lovely friend Denise Portsman. Moon Juice I get my daily green juice from here. It’s another Rose Avenue favorite and serves juices, snacks, and potions made from the freshest local ingredients.
Mystic Journey Bookstore This shop feeds my ever-growing New Age interests in crystals, astrology, tarot, and healers. I sometimes spend hours alone in this shop exploring.
Scopa Italian Roots This is the best dinner spot for great food and pure ambience. I go with my girlfriends for oysters and champagne, and sometimes for their incredible Italian hero.
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This story was originally published in the Spring 2016 issue, and online in March 2016, and has since been updated with new information.