Spring cleaning and home refreshes are top of mind this time of year. Whether you’re looking for simple tips to spruce things up or are envisioning an overhaul of your current indoor spaces, Ashley Gilbreath can help. Based in Montgomery and Rosemary Beach, Florida, Gilbreath’s company Ashley Gilbreath Interior Design is all about bringing joy to her clients by transforming spaces far beyond what they imagined possible. A graduate of Auburn University and the New York School of Interior Design, Gilbreath has been in the business for 15 years, but says every day brings something new. We sat down with her to learn more about her passion for interior design, what spring design trends she’s loving, and her easiest, anyone-can-do-it tips to refresh a space.
Can you tell us about how you got into interior design and where that passion stems from?
I think it’s the only talent God gave me. I’ve always loved to draw, and I’ve always loved just being creative. Even as a little girl, I had so much fun drawing house plans before I even knew that house plans were a thing. I would draw out how my imaginary family would live in a space. I think it’s something that I’ve always gravitated toward. I started out in architecture [in college], and thought that was where my future was. But I was always wondering why we weren’t talking about the inside of the houses yet, so it went from that to interior design.
What do you love about what you do, and what keeps you interested in it after all these years?
It’s like working a puzzle. Every client is different. Every project is different. There’s nothing repetitive about it. It keeps your mind ticking. It’s a lot like working a puzzle, and to be honest in this industry, you have to love people and you have to love finding their joy. It’s such a fun process to be on my side of things when you get to help someone realize things that they didn’t even know were possible in their space. As cheesy as it sounds, you get to bring a lot of joy into settings that they didn’t know were capable of it. It’s a pretty cool honor that we get to be part of that.
How would you describe your personal design style?
I think it kind of grows up with you. I think I would have answered the question a teensy bit differently if you would have asked me 10 years ago. Personally, I think I’m a bit traditional at the root of it. I grew up that way, and it’s where my happy spot is. I like to think I’m not your grandmother’s traditional, but there’s a sense of history and legacy. There’s a sentiment of family tied into what I do. I want my babies to understand that the feeling of home needs to exist. I think home comes from being surrounded by things that you love and things that have meaning to you.
Do you have any easy tips for refreshing a space for spring?
The more that you can bring the outside in, the fresher and airier a space feels. There’s not a single week that I’m not clipping something from the yard. Whether it’s a magnolia branch, or a big palmetto if we’re at the beach, you just need something that can bring that life inside. Any time you can have something fresh—it doesn’t have to be this beautiful arrangement from a florist—it’s literally just a branch or two that has that hint of springtime, it’s always helpful. That’s probably my number one go-to. It’s pretty easy, and anyone can pull that off.
What interior design trends are you noticing in the industry right now?
I feel like we as an industry, and probably even as a culture, are going a bit back to the basics. With the immense amount of hold on product through this industry, and really the whole entire world, we’re reusing and repurposing older pieces because you can’t get the new stuff. I have a friend who just turned 40 and is pregnant and she goes, ‘I can grow a baby faster than you can get a sofa.’ All that to say, I think we’re finding value in what we have and finding ways to repurpose it. We as a culture are so quick to have that ‘toss that, get something new’ kind of mentality. When you can’t get something new, you learn the value of what you have. I think it’s a bit of repurposing and finding some value in older pieces. I think antiques are very much coming back.
In addition to your interior design business, you also own two home décor retail stores called Parish in Montgomery and Rosemary Beach. Can you talk about how those came to be?
Parish came to be for multiple reasons. First was that being in Montgomery, Alabama, we needed accessories for projects, and there weren’t a million places to shop for those. In an effort to be able to service our clients and to finish our designs in a reasonable amount of time, we started purchasing the small accessories that you need to finish a job. We also had a bit of a personal tragedy in 2009, so I needed a mental distraction. I needed something to take my mind off of myself and to put my energy somewhere else. There was a need, then there became a big gap in my day-to-day, and that started Parish. It has been a wonderful source—whether we’re shopping at a local antique store, or in Europe, or we’re headed to Scott’s Antique show, or just ordering from a local vendor—it’s been very helpful to have things to place in installs. Or even for the customer who maybe doesn’t want a whole refresh but wants to do this on their own, they can come grab something as well.
Is there anything else new on the horizon for you?
We have a book coming out in the next nine months or so! That’s a whole different territory that I’ve never stepped into. It’s a cocktail table book of our work and just some fun things about what we do and how we do it. In the meantime, I’m trying to make sofas show up faster, take care of three children, pay attention to husband every now and then, and keep on working!