This Phoenix Rental Reignited a Passion for Interior Design

This Phoenix Rental Reignited a Passion for Interior Design

(Image credit: Ashley Pennington)

Name: Ashley Pennington
Location: Roosevelt Historic Neighborhood — Phoenix, Arizona
Size: 1,100 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, renting

I moved into this rental to reignite my passion for interior design. This duplex is in the Historic Roosevelt District of Downtown Phoenix. I was so excited to come in and show myself what I was capable of designing. The home was built in the 1920s, has original floors, windows, cabinets and bathroom fixtures. There's a sunroom in the back of the home and the most beautiful porch and landscaping! I immediately fell in love. I asked the landlord, "Where do I sign?" at the showing! I signed my lease, and started working for a well-known interior merchandising company all in the same month. It was as if the stars were all aligned. Every single room in this home was designed with love.

I am originally from Detroit, Michigan and lived in several cities before I finally landed in Phoenix. I found a lack of culture when I originally settled here, so I decided to create a sense of culture in my own home that I could feel connected to everyday. I wanted art that looked like me, photos of hair and women that looked like me, photos of my family and friends everywhere, photos of my city. I wanted to be surrounded by all things that represented who I am and where I come from since I didn't see that imagery when I walked outside.

(Image credit: Ashley Pennington)

Through that journey, I realized I wanted to learn more about interior design, so I enrolled in school to pursue a degree. That led me to understand that the path I was following required sacrifice. I decided to downsize in order to dedicate time to cultivating the life I wanted in the future. I had meticulously and lovingly designed this home and to think that I had to part with it?! That's what designers ultimately do though, right? Design the hell out of a space and pass it on to their clients. So this was my first lesson in letting go and learning.

(Image credit: Ashley Pennington)

These are photos of the home I had to leave almost one month ago. They were taken days before I packed up to move to a 700-square-foot apartment that is now my next project. This submission is to highlight how, yes, design is beautiful, a perfectly curated home is what every design addict wants, but life happens, and those obstacles can be just as beautiful. The process is what people really connect with. This was the start of my journey and I simply wanted to share.

What is your favorite room and why? I'm not sure how most people answer this question... I love every room! I love the front sitting room for the memories made in front of that wood burning fireplace (you have to take advantage of those cold nights in Phoenix, they don't happen often) and the light from all the windows in the mornings. I loved the kitchen because it's where I spent most of my time; I LOVE cooking and talk through the process as if I am filming a cooking show. I loved the back den because I was surrounded by photos of my travels, family, and friends. The back sunroom was used as my bedroom, so waking up to a wall of windows and flowers was breathtaking everyday. I loved the bathroom for the original tub and all the plants I added.

(Image credit: Ashley Pennington)

What's the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? I was so picky about my desk, since I was going back to school. I wanted an office space that made me feel inspired every time I entered. I wanted something that didn't take up too much visual space, therefore glass without any hard lines were key. I then found the desk of my dreams. It wouldn't fit through any door in the house while in the packaging, and was delivered on a pallet. It took several friends to lift that heavy sucker, but it was soooo worth it.

(Image credit: Ashley Pennington)

Which fictional character would be most at home in your place? I am obsessed with the show Claws right now. I love Niecy Nash's character, Desna. She is unapologetically herself, bold, opinionated, and is motivated by the love of her friends and family. She wears leopard prints, body suits, bright colors, and then will switch it up on you and look a little more reserved and sexy. Wait, I got lost, I'm not sure if I'm describing her or my house anymore, so its safe to say that she's the character that would be most comfortable in my place!

(Image credit: Ashley Pennington)

Any advice for creating a home you love? Avoid following trends. Every single piece of furniture I purchased (especially the more expensive pieces) I LOVE. If you want trendy items, then make sure they are affordable, so when or if you grow tired of them, you won't feel a deep sense of regret. There is nothing worse than buying an expensive piece and a year later asking yourself, WHY DID I BUY THIS?! Another tip: In the past, I was extremely inclined to sell items I was tired of quickly. Then months later I would be on the hunt for a specific piece and think back to how I had gotten rid of something similar. Now I keep everything for a while and find ways to re-purpose the items. Spray paint them a different color and BAM it has new life.

(Image credit: Ashley Pennington)

Thanks for sharing your journey, Ashley! We hope you'll show us your new place, too!

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