Ben and Ashley run the business Fairhaven Home. The name is an intentional combination of two words – ‘Fair,’ free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism, and ‘Haven,’ a place where you are protected from danger or trouble. These concepts provide the guiding principle of their business and the spaces they hope to help others achieve. After years of redecorating apartments throughout California, Ashley decided she wanted to share the process of decorating her new home with Ben as they settled in Seattle. While she initially thought their Fairhaven Home Instagram would be a décor account, she quickly decided to incorporate bigger projects and more DIY posts.
As far as design style, Ashley’s Danish roots have taught her the power of recharging in an inspiring space with the right ambiance. For her, a room should perfectly balance style with cozy comfort. Therefore, she uses lots of pillows and blankets in her décor – they are practical and help achieve that cozy feel. The other part of the “ambiance” she goes for is lighting. Candles are a staple in their home (especially in Seattle winters), as are dimmers for all house lights. Being able to occupy a beautifully designed space at night, lit only by candles, a fire, and dim overhead lighting completes the Fairhaven Home feel.
Ashley and Ben find design inspiration everywhere. Their neighborhood is somewhat eclectic as there is no consistent size or style to the homes. They often walk and note what inspires them, most often from craftsman homes and bungalows. Ashley has a polaroid camera and sometimes takes photos of designs she likes to incorporate in a future mood board. She notes, “The polaroid look and feel can be inspirational itself!” She also believes in finding inspiration from incredible designers in the industry, including Heidi Caillier and Alison Giese. They are fantastic at playing with colors and patterns in their work.
When organizing and planning a project, Ashley always starts with the budget to help stay on track financially. This helps avoid exploring solutions that are too expensive. From there, it depends on the space. For the main space, like a living room, Ashley anchors on one or several design elements that are the focal point. For example, the focal points in their living room project were the built-in cabinets, fireplace, and front door. Smaller spaces or less intensive design projects have the most important items ranked in an ordered list. This helps decide what is worth splurging on.
The Fairhaven Home style is rooted in transitional design. They find inspiration from the past and bring it to the present, and their home represents that. It was built in 1916; they wanted to pay homage to its construction period yet feel current.
Ashley and Ben ended up doing an unintentional remodel of their entire home. One night, they had lifted up their vinyl flooring to discover the original oak hardwood underneath. This was one of Ashley’s infamous ‘impulsive’ decisions – these often turn out to be her best decisions. She says, “I believe that leaning into your intuition (while being budget-conscious) is essential as a designer.”
After ripping up the floors two days before the new year, they decided to do as much as possible while their home was in disarray. However, designing on the fly made it hard to keep to their budget, and getting the right look was crucial to prevent repeat work on other projects. Focusing on the anchor elements of the space came in handy, and Ashley’s impulsive decisions worked to their benefit.
The entire project, including the floors, built-ins, fireplace, office, kitchen, and finally hanging the front door, took nine months to complete. This timeline was relatively quick, considering everything they accomplished. They spent most of their free time working on the house, which helped move it along, but they were ready to be done by the time fall rolled around!
When selecting hardware for their home, Ashley and Ben believe the weight of a piece of hardware is crucial. Quality products help something stand the test of time and fit in with current design styles. They knew Regal Brands produces solid brass hardware, which was a significant draw to the brand. As they did their research and learned more about the company’s backstory, the inspiration behind the brand, plus the beauty of the pieces, they were sold. They chose to use the Carre One-Piece Handleset in Vintage Brass on the front door to keep the charming traditional look the house originally had.
They plan to use this hardware again throughout their home. Stitching together a home design that ties 1916 to 2021 can be tricky. There is hardware out there that might work aesthetically but functionally may feel out of place. The weight of the products, combined with the design and quality, is why they will continue to use products from Regal Brands.
Ashley and Ben are big-time DIY’ers, but also note, “An important part of DIY is knowing your limits.” They had never installed a front door, or its hardware, so they hired a professional to hang the door and install the entry set. Because their home is older, the frame to the door was crooked, and they wanted the hardware installed correctly considering the investment and practical matter of home security.
The built-in cabinets were a DIY project, and while it is an old saying, their biggest tip would be to measure twice and drill once. There is nothing worse than looking at cabinets after installing the hardware and realizing the knobs aren’t level. They were meticulous in their measuring, checking, re-checking, and drilling to ensure the finished product did justice to the beauty of the cabinet hardware from Nostalgic Warehouse.
Some recommendations for readers who want to do an extensive remodel project include thinking about the domino effect of changes, particularly if you are DIY-ing it. For example, they painted their kitchen a taupe color shortly after moving in. However, once they brought back the hardwood floors with a light stain color, the taupe kitchen cabinets fell flat and were repainted a shade of green. To help minimize any rework, Ashley suggests mapping out what you want to do. However, don’t be too hard on yourself if the rework is required. There is a big difference between envisioning a space and standing in a space, and once you do the latter, your design eye may want to go a different route.
A tip for readers who want to make a transformation to their entryway is to never underestimate the impact of fresh paint and hardware. These two elements can really add character and change the feel.
Through Fairhaven Home, Ashley and Ben have been fortunate enough to partner with several brands. They have built out their brand and are now looking forward to launching their client business to bring the Fairhaven Home look and feel to others. Plans are also in the works to support people wherever they may reside. Having a beautifully designed home is more achievable than many people realize, and they’re excited to help others build their haven.
To stay true to their name, as they launch the client business, they are simultaneously engaging more at the local level to support causes to help end the homelessness crisis in Seattle. They feel so fortunate to have the means to design a beautiful home. Yet so many people in their own city do not have a place to call home. It is vital that Fairhaven Home is an ally to those experiencing homelessness.