This month we had the pleasure of talking with the lovely Ashley Wells and touring her beautiful home. She owns a gem of a house in East Knoxville where she lives with her adorable pup Junnie and 3 good friends. The home itself is full of history and character. The previous owners even put together a file of pictures of the family who built the house back in 1927 along with the history of the home and the original blueprints.
One of the reasons we wanted to interview Ashley is because her home has been an outlet for her and a respite for many. She remarked that her home has given her the space to host a myriad of events and people and has allowed her to grow and become more open as a person. I was so intrigued by the way she spoke about her home being an agent of change for the way she views hospitality and community. Ashley's home has been the site of all kinds of events. From house concerts to baby showers, Ashley has hosted it all.
Let me set the scene for you. On an unsuspecting road in East Knoxville, up a hill and behind a grove of tree's, sits a beautiful, historic home with elegance dripping from the rooftop. Ashley has done an incredible job of making a gorgeous and glamorous home feel inviting and unassuming (which can be hard to do!) Ashley has a great eye and her taste is well exhibited in her house. After living in a loft in the old city for 6 years, Ashley bought her home which sits on a 5+ acre plot with a hillside, fruit tree grove, and the most beautiful (and massive) magnolia I have ever seen. Talk about a change of scenery! Living in the city is very different from occupying a property where your closest neighbor is down the road, but Ashley wouldn't trade her Mt. LeConte view.
Of all the things Ashley has learned through the process of owning a home, she said learning the value of hard work and the sense of ownership that comes along with pouring your time into caring for a home and acreage, has been a life lesson. Her favorite thing about the house is the openness of the main floor. "I can invite as many people over as I want, all at the same time!" Ashley's home feels like a huge family reunion (in the best way) wrapped up in walls and a roof. Her hope is that people feel a sense of welcome, that they could walk in without knocking, or drop by unannounced and feel right at home.
Ashley's home has such an intentionally beautiful feel to it and I asked her how she maintains balance in creating beauty but not letting it dictate her life. She responded with some great advice, "The second it becomes un-fun, is the second you need to take a step back. You've got to learn to love the imperfections!"
Often times, people (women especially) work hard on their homes to impress other people, or to meet an unrealistic expectation but Ashley seems to do a great job of working on her home in a life giving way. She's found the balance of enjoying the projects but not letting them get in the way of living life. One of the biggest lessons she has learned in home ownership is that you can't be afraid to ask for help. Whether it's calling friends to come hang out for a weed pulling party, or opening her home to room mates who help share the work load, she has found that doing house/yard work is way more fun and less overwhelming when you are not doing it alone. Amen to that!
I asked Ashley a lot about her decorating style because I was basically drooling the whole time. One thing that was particularly interesting was the fact that she noted how much her home has changed depending on who is living there. She's had several different room mates over the years and said that the feel of the home shifts depending on the people that occupy it and the things they bring into it. I love that concept--that the people make up the home rather than a home defining the people.
Most importantly, home ownership has been an empowering experience for Ashley. "It's been hard but rewarding. I've learned to give myself grace, that life is more enjoyable when I'm not aiming for perfection. I've come to recognize that a house; that decor, is such a small thing when you look at life in terms of the big picture. I'd rather spend my time and energy enjoying the people around me. As long as my home fosters community and creates space for people to know and enjoy each other, that's what really matters to me."
Thanks so much Ashley for inviting us into your home!