Ashley Smith’s Living Room
Benson & Babb Interiors, Hendersonville
In 1925, when Ashley Smith’s Leicester-area cottage was first built, the living room would have been used just as its name suggests. But combine a high-energy modern family with a lively social scene — including two nine-year-old boys, two Lab puppies, and frequent guests — “and entertaining happens all over the house, from the kitchen to the family room to the breakfast room to the pool deck,” says Smith.
The living room, then, “is where I retire at night,” he reveals. There, Smith reads and organizes Cub Scout duties (he’s a den leader). Green is the busy designer’s signature color, appearing here in Sherwin Williams’ dark, handsome “Eminent Bronze” shade. His other passion, which he shares with wife Tracy, is collecting original art, especially pottery. A red-and-turquoise series from ceramics enclave Seagrove, North Carolina, has a place of honor on top of the 18th-century French secrétaire à abattant.
But that priceless flip-top writing cabinet isn’t the room’s only “wow” piece. Others, both literally and conceptually, come from all over: a ceramic horse from the Portland Japanese Garden, a hand-wrought chandelier made to look like a spread of roots, and a painting by one of the artists at Open Hearts (a local group that serves adults with developmental disabilities).
Draperies and sitting pieces, all from Benson & Babb, are sumptuously textured but mostly neutral (the exception is a chair upholstered in a subtle red-leopard print). “My house is surprisingly devoid of pattern,” says Smith.
Actually it’s not so surprising: other designers say the same. “I love patterns,” he muses, “but I get my fill at work.” At home, where peace must, eventually, reign, “I almost always choose a solid.”