Designer Ashley Clark of the interior design firm Shop sKout may have given her clients their dreams homes, but it turns out that when it comes to designing her own, the reality of it is trickier. “I was definitely my very worst client!” she recalls. “Really! There were some things that I knew I wanted—but lots of little decisions that I just could not commit to.”
Looking at the finished home—a sprawling 3,200-square-foot manse in Newport Beach, California, which she shares with her four children and husband—you would never guess there were any issues with its conception. Originally 1,500 square feet, the designer expanded it to suit her family’s needs and facilitate that sought-after indoor/outdoor living vibe endemic to the area.
“I wanted it to be very family-friendly and super open and light. I had to keep reminding myself to go back to what I know, what I love, and then I could make decisions more clearly. Obviously, I see a lot of amazing and beautiful things, so I kept getting sidetracked,” explains Clark of navigating an interiors project as her own client. “I’d always go back to my original Pinterest board that I had been pinning on for years to help me get back on track.”
Enticed by the location of the home, the couple set to work transforming it. Clark’s love for older charm (“I think every home needs some vintage—it adds such character and warmth”) balances out with the undeniably California-inspired aesthetic of the space. Small touches, like an antique-style sink in the kids’ bathroom or a collection of beautifully intricate dyed rugs, contrast nicely with the more modern elements.
The entire outdoor space is envy-inducing, from the immaculately landscaped greenery carefully seasoned in around the patio to the lounging area where Clark and her family gather to watch football games and movies by the pool.
Inside, the white brick master bathroom is a clear standout. “I’m obsessed with white brick; my contractor thought I was nuts and begged me to just select a tile that looked like brick, but I really wanted to try it,” says Clark. “I love that it pulls the outside in. I wanted to keep things simple, that way I could change out art, pillows, and rugs.” The matte black paint on the cabinets and bathtub provide nice juxtaposition against the more rustic wall material choice.
However, for Clark, the kids’ rooms may have just been her favorite part.
“I was pretty excited about the play room because I really wanted my kids to have friends over and spend a lot of time in there. The loft up top and the vintage scoreboard really made that space, and I love how it turned out; my kids do hang out in there with friends all the time!” she says of the project she was most excited to tackle.
The scoreboard, from her friend Jeni Maus at Found Vintage Rentals, even has a little hidden message. They had it rewired so the score reads 4-2—a playful nod to the family’s composition of four kids and two adults (“Yup, we are getting our butts kicked most days,” adds Clark).
Her kids’ spaces (Clark has three boys and one girl) are each uniquely designed for their inhabitants.
“My boys are super rough and tumble and not the most gentle on their things. I wanted to create spaces for them that, if they wanted to put up their trophies or their baseball card collection, they wouldn’t stand out,” explains the designer. “Their bedrooms are masculine and simple, and allow for them to put out the things that are important to them.”
By contrast, her daughter’s room is a calming, elegant retreat that leans a bit boho—though Clark admits, she may or may not have designed it with ulterior motives. “My daughter is away at college, so I wanted to create a room that she would love to come home and visit… and hopefully move back in when she finished school.”
Well, an exquisitely designed bedroom certainly makes a good case for itself.
Between the newer California-inspired elements of the home and the charming decorative finishes, there’s a lot to take note of. For Clark, the biggest lesson may be that of the importance of personalized touches.
One of her favorite items in the home is a slightly unlikely one, as it’s not particularly design-oriented: “I love the old marlin hanging in the outdoor room—I found it on Craigslist and it’s signed on the back “To Jeff” (my husband is [named] Jeff!) and dated 1972. It feels like it was meant for us, right?” shares the designer. “Lots of little treasures, collected over the years.”
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