When it comes to style, Ashley Burch is full of it. From her pixie cut to minimalist approach to personal style, a cool job as an art director for Austin Monthly Magazine and a house full of unique finds, she is a living pinterest board full of inspiration. Join us as Ashley takes us around her newly-renovated home and talks remodeling with her husband, her approach to design and her weekend routine. Photographed by Jessica Pages


Every house has a story. Tell us yours. 

I know everyone that has renovated or even just painted a wall says “you should have seen the place before!”, but honestly, you should have seen the place before. The house was built in the 50’s and I don’t think it had been touched since other than a bad attempt to “update” the kitchen with plastic blue countertops, cheap cabinetry, and what they probably considered a splurge on IKEA track lighting. But regardless of the unsightly mess that was our new home, it was ours. We spent half a year without a kitchen, 4 months sharing what I refer to as the “coffin” bathroom, and have inhaled more asbestos and concrete dust than I care to think about. But this little house has brought us together more than I thought possible. I remember telling my mom that if we could make it dating through a 2 year renovation, then marriage would be a piece of cake.

What is your approach when designing your home? Are you drawn to color, texture, functionality, etc.

I usually have one specific piece that sets the tone for how I want a room to look or feel. For one of the guest bedrooms, I had an old photo of a (slightly creepy-looking) soldier, so naturally I wanted to paint the room black and keep all the other accessories old and rusty looking, including the antique bed frame that Sam and I dug up out of his mom’s garden.


Is this similar or different to your approach to personal style?

Surprisingly, it is very different. My personal style is very uniform, minimal and neutral. Most people don’t completely believe me on the neutral thing until they see my closet—it is virtually pattern and color free. But my home is pretty different. Most of the things we own are antiques and honestly, to me, the stranger the better. We even have an antique police siren hooked up as our doorbell. So needless to say, I’m a little more adventurous when it comes to my house than I am with my wardrobe.

Where do you draw design inspiration?

The usual suspects: pinterest, magazines, instagram. But I always try to take the approach of if I like something, I put it in my house. Sometimes it is easy to get carried away with how you think your house should look, or how someone else did this so you should do it too, but at the end of the day, it is about you and what makes you happy.


You and your husband did a lot of the renovations. Was this an effort to save money or something you both enjoy doing? Would you do it again?

I would say quite a bit of both. When we bought the house we agreed to light renovations, cut to a month later the kitchen ended up gutted and we had to invest in a nail gun and better health insurance (I kid… sort of). I guess that is what I get for marrying an architect—nothing is ever going to be done halfway and the house will never be “finished”. We still plan to add a library where the garage is currently, so I guess we will be doing it again whether I want to do it or not!


What is your favorite room and why?

The guest bathroom. It is the one room in the house that Sam let me design all on my own. I still have the sketches I did for him and remember the day he committed the ultimate act of love by simply saying, “OK”.

You got married in your backyard. Was creating a space for this special moment a factor when remodeling?

Definitely. The wedding day was our renovation deadline which also included redoing all of the landscaping for the back and front yard…ourselves. But to get married at our home, the place where so many dear friends and beloved family left their mark by helping with so many projects, meant the world to us.


You are the art director for Austin Monthly Magazine. Can you tell us a little about a day in the life of an art director? 

Every day is truly different, but most days consist of emails, a photoshoot, designing layouts for the magazine, doing an illustration or two, a meeting or two and usually a random art project like burning the intro for a story into wood planks or creating typography made of cake icing. If I had a dollar for every time I had a weird project, I would have a lot of dollars.

Did you go to school for this? 

I did! I went to the University of North Texas and have a degree in communication design. Though I firmly believe that nothing you learn in school can prepare you for the oddities and demands of working at a magazine. Mostly I follow the rule of “fake it till you make it”.


What issue are you most proud of?

We recently released our August issue that features our cover story on UT campus carry going into effect. It was truly exciting to work on a cover that showcases such a controversial but important topic. It has already been receiving some national press and I can’t wait to see what else comes of it.

Where do you relax and reset?

I play volleyball every Sunday with a group of friends at Zilker Park. It is a ritual that allows me to exercise, have fun and reset my mind and body for the next week. I always have a million things swirling around in my head and volleyball gives me a few hours of peace. And if that doesn’t cure it, the late night jump in the springs afterward definitely erases anything I have on my mind (other than being completely freezing).


What does a perfect weekend look like to you?

It is hard to say since I like to change things up every weekend. Sometimes its doing house projects and grilling out in the backyard and another it is heading out to have dinner or hit up a show with friends. By nature I am a homebody, but when I am out with friends I remember every time why I love this city. Just the other weekend I went to Barton Springs and after went to Sway (still wet and in a bathing suit) for lunch and Rose. That is not something you can do just anywhere.