For a while now I’ve had my eye on Ashley Goforth, a talented interior designer from Houston, Texas. I spied some images from her portfolio online last year and was immediately drawn to her style – so simple and livable, timeless and elegant.
Ashley blends textures, periods, and patinas so successfully – her rooms are carefully edited to showcase the beautiful yet functional spaces. Her furniture and fabric choices are classic, yet so current too. She demonstrates that when you pair beautiful finishes with comfortable furnishings you can create a stylish space with just a few well chosen elements.
Today, I’m delighted to have Ashley Goforth in the spotlight! I asked her to answer a few of my questions, here she is! .
CG: Tell us your background, how you got started as an interior decorator, and a few things you’ve learned about going out on your own.
AG: From a young age, I was surrounded with great design. Some of my friends homes were decorated by famous decorators and I grew up with a mother that loved decorating magazines and changing our fabrics out seasonally. I was not formally trained in design, I graduated with a liberal arts degree in Economics – but after school I worked for a steel company and I immediately knew I wanted a more creative, dynamic career.
I discovered an opportunity to help run a store called Shabby Slips under the renowned designer, Renea Abbott, and from there worked my way up to design assistant. After six years of hands-on experience and exposure to wonderful projects around the country, I took a leap of faith and started my own company, Ashley Goforth Design, in 2005.
These are a few things I have learned along the way:
1. Trust your own instinct – from interviewing potential clients to selecting furniture and fabrics: if something doesn’t feel right, speak up and stand your ground.
2. Don’t underestimate yourself. Designing people’s homes is hard work and it takes a lot of time and effort – make sure you are being compensated for it!
3. This job is not glamorous, it is more business and less creativity than people think. It takes a lot more time ordering, coordinating, billing, and installing than it does brainstorming and creating the projects.
4. Sometimes the biggest mistake can be the biggest blessing. A lot of times things that come in wrong can give a room or project the most interesting dialogue or chemistry. Give things a few days or weeks to see if they grow on you!
CG: I see your spaces as clean, elegant, but also livable too. How would you describe your personal style?
AG: I love classically designed transitional spaces. I tend to use traditional furnishings with modern elements mixed in: a coffee table, artwork, an odd chair. I love to mix different shapes and periods, but keep things edited down to where everything has its place. I think one of my favorite quotes is: "It’s not what you put in a room, but what you don’t put in a room." It is always best to keep things simple!
CG: What are the spaces you prefer to design for clients? Is there one space among your portfolio that you’d call your favorite?
AG: I love to do bedrooms! I think there are endless possibilities with color, bed shapes, side tables, lamps, decorative pillows, rugs, etc. I think you can take lots of risks with pattern and color – but I have one rule: white bedding! It always feels clean and luxurious and is a great grounding point for the bedroom.
I don’t know if there is an absolute favorite space among my portfolio since each image represents a different client and lifestyle – so they are all favorites because they reflect each of their unique personalities.
But, I would have to say this next image represents the beginning of my independence when I started living on my own and the start of my career – so it is pretty special to me!
And I am proud to say that even though this room was created over 10 years ago, it still feels current, like something I would design today. It incorporates all the elements that I think add up to classic design: Comfortable neutral upholstery, something old, a modern table, abstract art, and substantial lighting.
CG: How do you bring your aesthetic to a space and also take into account your client’s tastes and lifestyle?
It takes a lot of hard work: education, communication, collaboration, and patience! I like to start off with an overall color palette and evolve from there. Maybe it’s a rug, piece of art, or a particular fabric that a client likes that we can start with and then build a room around it.
My projects are not created overnight. I like things to evolve and look collected and sometimes that takes time in finding the right piece of furniture, fabric or accessory that is perfect for the space.
CG: What are your favorite sources for furniture and fabric, both to the trade, and the general public?
My favorite furniture lines available to the trade have to be Dessin Fournir (for traditional) and Holly Hunt (for contemporary). Both of these companies offer designs that are classic but original and the quality of their products will stand the test of time and be heirlooms for generations to come. As far as fabrics go, I love Dedar and Schumacher. Dedar has such beautiful colors, textures and upholstery staples and an amazing line of extra wide fabrics for draperies. Schumacher stays on the forefront of the textile industry by collaborating with such a diverse group of talented designers – they always have the latest and greatest.
For the public, I think West Elm has clean lined furniture, lighting, and interesting accessories. They also bring in one of a kind pieces and art when they can. Calico Corners always has a great selection of solid upholstery fabrics but they also have higher end designer lines that offer the latest current trends. I use there Slubby Basket cotton woven fabric for upholstery all the time.
CG: What projects are you working on now, and will we be seeing more of your work in print in 2012?
I have several renovation projects that are underway and one new construction starting. One exciting project is a large scale soft contemporary that will have more of a European flair to the furnishings and decor! We are using a lot of strong color and pattern, think yellow velvet and Missoni! I hope to see some of it in print, if not hopefully on some beautiful blog!”
Hint hint all you shelter magazines and design bloggers out there, Ashley is definitely one to watch this year! I love her story of how she followed her passion, and trained as an apprentice before going out on her own. She has an amazing talent for creating timeless transitional interiors that possess classically beautiful elements.
Love these images? You can see even more of Ashley’s portfolio here.
All images courtesy of Ashley Goforth Designs
Thank you Ashley for answering my questions today and inspiring us all with your lovely work!