Interiorssneak peeks

behind the scenes: ashley english

by Amy Azzarito

Ashley English just released her new book, A Year of Pies. There’s hardly a homesteading topic this lady hasn’t covered — everything from Home Dairy and Keeping Chickens to our own Small Measures column where she’s written about Homemade Sunburn Soothers and Edible Wildflowers. So we thought we’d end the week by paying her a little visit in Candler, North Carolina (about 10 miles west of Asheville) where Ashley lives on 11 forested acres a mile down a dirt road with her husband, Glenn, their 21-month-old son, Huxley Wild, two dogs (Fly and Dexter), two cats (Jonah and Kali), two beehives, nine hens and one rooster. Ashley says that her favorite thing about her house is that people slow down and lose track of time when they’re here. Something about living remotely in a secluded setting causes visitors to relax, settle in and tune into the natural world. Thanks, Ashley! And thanks to Rene Treece Roberts of Luxe House Photographic for the lovely photos. — Amy Azzarito

Image above: Here’s our chicken coop. We jokingly refer to it as “Chicken Fort Knox,” as it has primary (fencing/mesh netting/barbed wire), secondary (a wire enclosure), and tertiary (a secured hen house built off the ground and fully enclosed at night) levels of protection from predators (we learned this the hard way, over time, after several losses to the host of predators that call this cove home alongside us). Glenn painted the “egg mandala” on the entry gate. The colored ropes hanging above the coop serve as a deterrent to aerial predators.

Image above: We built these raised-bed lettuce planters for two reasons. First, to keep Huxley out of reach, and second, to take them out of the direct accessibility of slugs. They work like a dream. They were made from repurposed soil-mixing bins left by the previous owners and mounted onto wooden risers. You can see two of a number of native pollinator habitats that Glenn built on the fence posts in the background. They surround the garden. (I wrote a Small Measures post on this very topic a few years back!)

Image above: Glenn built this pergola and deck (located in the garden) in a mere week. He blows my mind sometimes, since he’s not trained in wood-working! I love it. It’s the perfect place to chill out in the morning with a hot cup of coffee while Huxley plays in his sandbox (located directly to the right of the pergola) or sip a cold beer in the evening and watch the chickens do their thing.

See more of Ashley’s North Carolina home after the jump . . .

Image above: This is the view on the way from the house to the out-building (Glenn’s shop), the beehives (located directly behind the out-building), the garden, and the chicken coop. Glenn built the birdbath visible in the lower left of the photo by securing an orange ceramic platter to a post he painted in ombre stripes.

Image above: I like a kitchen that is incredibly functional, thus our rack of hanging pots, open drinking glass shelving, and readily accessible mixer and food processor. The kitchen walls are painted with “Aztec Brick” by Benjamin Moore.

Image above: We have a small but growing collection of Bulgarian ceramics. The two plates, along with a larger one, are on display in the kitchen. All of them were found at antique stores. Since most of my writing involves food, I’m often in the kitchen. We found Huxley a couple wooden kitchens and kitchen toys so that he can “cook” in there with us. Glenn built the shelves over the windows for my ever-growing collection of houseplants (of which there are many!).

Image above: On the mantel in the living room is a collection of vases we’ve gathered over the years. The fire screen in front of the fireplace was an antique store find, as was the pumpkin storage bin and the mid-century orange chair. Glenn made the painting behind the television. The antique framed Japanese textile over the mantel we found at Anthropologie.

Image above: This is the view from the top of the stairs. Glenn built this wooden “stair screen,” as he calls it, to replace the former stair rail in place when he bought the house. We kept the stairs open for years, but once a moving, active baby came on the scene, we knew a guard rail was in order. We found the fish-eye sunburst mirror years ago at Pier 1.

Image above: This is a peek into Huxley’s room. The paint on the walls is “Globe Artichoke” from Olympic (it’s a zero VOC paint). My grandmother bought Huxley the tribal rug at an antique store on her birthday last August. The branch and feather mobile is from Amanda Hofmann, and the banner is from Vintage & Nostalgia. Glenn found the yellow vintage hair salon chair on the left side of the photo at an antique store. The image of the Earth from space above Huxley’s crib (which is from Ikea) is flanked on the other side (out of the photo) by a geological survey map of where we live, called “Hominy Valley,” from the 1960s.

Image above: Huxley is always on the move! The masks in the background are part of an international collection we have all over the house. The paint in the dining room and going up the stairs is “Cottage Red” by Benjamin Moore.

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  • Wow. You and your hubs are both so creative and talented. I adore that stair screen. It looks to me like Glenn didn’t need to be schooled in wood working. He was born with it!

  • The pergola is wonderful! Love the diagonal details on the vertical supports. Are there plans that Glenn followed that you could share?

  • hi grindylo! glenn used his training as an artist to build the pergola intuitively, based on what he had read about pergola design, so there are no plans. one of his closest friends is the president of the buckminster fuller institute, so fuller’s famous geodesic designs were an inspiration for the angled supports running up the corners. fuller’s first geodesic dome was built right near here, at black mountain college, and his work and ideas have had a strong presence here ever since.

    glenn had read that angled lines were good for training food vines, which also played into the decision. we both felt that by giving the structure full corners using the geodesic angles, it helped to define it as an outdoor room in the garden, along with making it functional and attractive, which is what we were after.

    • Beautiful home!

      Tried making your blueberry refrigerator recipe that I got out of the newspaper. Great taste but it never set. Was runny upon cutting slices. Any advice? I did puree the mixture for several minutes instead of one minute. Could that be the reason it didn’t set? The pie was refrigerated overnight.

  • The kitchen looks cozy…I like the ‘vintage’ TV…I’m sure it works but can you get decent television station coverage? Just incredibly curious, but otherwise loving the house. So charming.

  • Thanks for sharing those valuable henhouse design strategies. So clever and practical for where you live. I also greatly appreciate the nod to pollinator housing, having been a fan of mason bee houses for ages. I made many of my own using hollow perennial stalks cut down in fall, enclosed in a band of chicken wire. I do have my own patch of bamboo and will try that next, short lengths contained in something recycled. I am sure bamboo will stand up to the weather better than other hollow stalks. Right at this moment, my voluptuous gardens are blanketed with a pleasant BUZZ from innumerable species of pollinators, tiny to gigantic.It’s always affirming to hear from other like-minded individuals.

    The geometric tones of your enclosed stairs with the see-through rectangles are especially attractive. I can relate well to your preference for a utilitarian kitchen set up as I mull over the possibilities of removing my 17 cabinet doors and installing a hanging pot rack. So much time can be saved with kitchen chores when the environment is set up correctly.

    Congratulations on your most attractive anti-slug strategy. Here in zone 6 eastern PA, we are inundated with slugs. I have been relying on 6″ wide woven copper netting looped tightly around the tops of large pots holding my succession of lettuce crops.

    This post is the most inspiring one I have seen here in a long time! Thank you!

  • Oh, how you took me back to my very simple childhood! I was already reminiscing about my life in rural Eastern Europe,on my grandparents’ farm and vineyard, long before I emigrated to the United States. Imagine my pleasure/shock/laughter when I saw the the picture of the Bulgarin plates, seeing how I’m Bulgarian and all. That pottery was the bane of my existenece as a kid–I hated seeing EVERYWHERE: plates, vases, cooking dishes–big and small–and many other intircately painted clay things. I actually tried importing it twenty years ago into the US but there was no interest then. Fast forward, and now I can’t bring enough of it back for all my friends here.Thank you for making me smile. Oh, and the pergola of my childhood was covered in grapevines… I so wish I had one now. Thank you, once again.

  • What a gorgeous property! No wonder your guests relax & settle in…….I’m chilled out just looking at the pics. Thanks for sharing.

  • @Lucianna, thanks, we really love the warm glow of the kitchen color! it seems to be especially conducive to creativity and a good appetite, which is great because we spend a lot of time in there working on recipe development for my books. glenn is a professional color consultant, and he’s used that color for other kitchen spaces too, with great results. one of the spaces he used it was in a kitchen/great room on the beach in Florida with 20 ft high stained wooden ceilings. it looks amazing in that setting.

  • Hi Ashley, I love the re-purposed raised beds. As a gardening novice, could you point me in a direction to look for the mixing beds? I googled “bins” and didnt find anything that looked like the ones in the photo. Thank you! Your home is lovely. I appreciate your sharing.