Interior designer Heather Ashton's playful spirit shows at home

Heather Ashton has created sophisticated, tongue-in-cheek interiors for West Hollywood's Palihouse Holloway (a taxidermy mallard duck hung from the ceiling) and Caulfield's Bar and Dining Room (devil-horns-and-pitchfork graffiti) in Beverly Hills. That same playful spirit can be seen in the interior designer's Culver City apartment, which reflects her interest in travel and fashion — and her sense of whimsy.

"My whole life is about creating temporary spaces," says Ashton, who recently updated the Sixty Beverly Hills. "Hotels are the best fun ever — it's a fantasy — but residential design is so personal. People have to love it. This space is perfect for me."


For the last three years, Ashton has been furnishing her two-bedroom apartment in a "hand-curated, world traveler" manner, as she calls it, mixing antiques with statement furnishings and quirky accessories.

Though her second-floor apartment looks ordinary from the street, its interiors are surprisingly glamorous. She has transformed the small, nondescript apartment into a stylish live-work space infused with entertaining vignettes.

In the living room, bold drama comes from a large starburst chandelier and dark blue walls — a nice reminder that a few key details can take an ordinary room to the next level. Her furnishings from Cisco Home, EBay and Wertz Brothers are neutral, however, and that enables her idiosyncratic collectibles to shine. "A monochromatic palette gives you the freedom to have fun with accessories," she says.

Ashton was creative director of furnishings retailer HD Buttercup from 2009 to 2012, and it was a given that objects acquired during her travels to furniture fairs in France, North Carolina, New York and Milan would find their way into her home. And they have: A piece of folk art from the High Point Market and a pair of steel lamps from Maison & Objet are seen in the living room, and a Chanel-inspired lamp from a Paris flea market illuminates her home office.

The strategically placed treasures offer a glimpse of Ashton's unique sense of style, and humor, as every room becomes a journey of discovery. On one living room wall, she has installed an "English boarding school" narrative with antique mirrors, framed butterflies and, in a nod to her dog Martha, a droll painting of a whippet in a dress.

On a wall unit she assembled with Home Depot shelves, Ashton mixes disparate objects to create a captivating tableau: equestrian photographs, a wooden mallard, fresh-cut flowers and butterflies encased in plastic. Books are another love of Ashton's and are arranged by genre — art, fashion, design — color and shape. And keeping with her love of the eccentric, a taxidermy jackalope from Paxton Gate is mounted not far from a riding crop and saddle.

"I like looking at things that trigger recollections," she says. Trying to explain her infatuation with a mysterious-looking wooden angel, Ashton shrugs. "It's just weird. That's why I like it."

Fashion trends — another inspiration for Ashton, who worked as a publicist under the late Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy at Calvin Klein — cross over to her interiors. "Design trends move quickly, just like fashion," she says. A recent Stella McCartney collection featuring blush pink tones prompted her to purchase accessories in the same hue, including a pair of photographs in her bedroom. "Mixed metals is another thing I stole from fashion," she says.

But ultimately, it is Ashton's playful sense of humor that resonates throughout the space and keeps her engaged. Motioning to a photograph of a goat she purchased at the Rose Bowl Flea Market, Ashton appears to have a firm sense of what she likes. "There is something about that goat that makes me happy," she says, smiling.