Ashley Yeates Lathrop has a home in Pebble Beach that looks pulled from the pages of Architectural Digest. Graceful gardens surround the remodeled 1927 Spanish Colonial home, while carefully arranged items—art, pottery, books, antiques, flower arrangements—form vignettes in every corner. Custom-made details include distressed tile floors in varying patterns, specially designed staircase railings, iron cuffs to hide seams on wood beams, and bathroom vanities fashioned after Spanish Portuguese writing desks.
“I want charming, quaint, something that feels happy,” Lathrop says. The home is magazine-perfect, yet Lathrop does actually live in her home, along with husband Will and children Astin and Hamilton, and three dogs.
“It’s challenging, but there’s something wonderful about having an elegant home, and still having plenty of room to play,” she says. “You create the spaces where the kid feels that this is their home, but you’re still proud to bring your friends over.”
A soccer lawn is softened with curving lines and rose bushes. Newly added rooms are antiqued to blend in seamlessly with the original parts of the house. The children have furniture that hides toys, and closets in their bedrooms with reading nooks and play areas. Lathrop is adding a home office with wood panels that flip to reveal client projects, and with a Murphy bed for guests.
A Texas native, Lathrop is a licensed attorney in her home state, and a seasoned traveler, spending time in locations such as New York, Los Angeles, Miami and London. Her design side comes naturally: although not formally trained, she is an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers.
“I realized that I did not enjoy practicing law, and that design was a passion I had,” she says. “I worked with a well-known designer to do my house in Texas and he said, ‘You should be doing this.'” Her firm, AYI & Associates, collaborates with the best contractors, electricians, painters, plasterers, landscape designers and architects to provide clients with top service and efficiency.
“When I do a house, I like to be part of it from the very beginning,” Lathrop says. “I feel two heads are better than one. Your best idea may come from the person who has the talent. The painter may come up with a finish you wouldn’t know.”
Lathrop places no limits on her designs, believing “where there’s a will, there’s a way,” and follows no rules when mixing elements in a home.
“My style is so eclectic,” she says. “I’ll fall in love with a Renaissance piece, and then I’ll put something Gothic next to it. Then I’ll want contemporary modern art. Or I’ll take a garden element and put it on my table.”
Lathrop can work “super speed” as she puts it, as in the initial 5-week remodel phase of her home, although she does prefer to take her time to let designs evolve with the client’s desires. “You have to be organized, you have to have a lot of resources, and you have to have a lot of help and install quickly,” she says. Her projects include luxury properties from Dallas to Carmel Highlands, and one of the most challenging designs was the recent construction of a high-tech recording studio in downtown Carmel.
“It evolved with the client and I just going and doing things and…everyone on the project working together,” she says.
Lathrop worked with Carmel Development Company to transform a former office into a state-of-the-art recording studio that manages to resemble a comfortable library space. Soundproofing was always kept in mind as design elements were added. “We wanted it to look old and rustic in the midst of all the technology,” Lathrop explains, “so we had a lot of fun with the plaster and using rich deep colors to hide a lot of the sound panels and black speakers and equipment.”
The floors look like beautiful aged wood, but are made of rubber so that equipment can be rolled across without damaging them. Carved beams from Conway of Asia were handpicked by Lathrop and the client, and incorporated into the design, while window seats with thick cushions provide even more soundproofing.
“The client didn’t want it to be cold and feel empty,” she says. Books on custom shelves created by Tartan House Construction help cozy up the space while absorbing sound, and a special recording room filled with silks and Moroccan light fixtures has glowing light features designed by plasterer John Reynolds to look like rusted-out ship parts. Special dimmers were designed by CMA Electric to be completely silent, as were the custom colored lights that can flash or change hues.
For all its wow factor, including ceilings aged with paint and custom iron work, the foremost feature of the studio is its functionality.
“This project was not about décor,” Lathrop says. “It was about having a studio that was also a unique kind of a masterpiece of art, rare books, teapots, guitars and wine mixed in on the shelves.”
For more information, go to www.ayistyle.com.