Five of Ashley’s Best Interior Design Ideas

07.07.2023 — Ashley Tisdale-French

Interior design is one of my favorite things. I just love looking at a space, imagining its possibilities, then transforming it into a place that makes people feel good. Because isn’t that the point of decorating your home? I really, truly believe that when you’re inspired by your surroundings, your mood and mental health benefit. Especially with how much time we’ve been spending at home, I think it’s worth investing time and energy into making a space feel uniquely yours.

I like to joke that interior design is part of my DNA. My dad is a contractor, so I grew up seeing how houses come together from start to finish. And if there’s an open house in the neighborhood, I always want to take a peek to see how it’s decorated. Even as a kid, I liked to shift the placement of my bed to create a “new” room. I’ve just always enjoyed creating spaces that feel right, and I feel lucky that I’m now doing this for other people.

Lately, I’ve been getting some more DMs about interiors, so I thought I’d share some of my (updated!) advice on creating a home that you love.

Take your time

There are times when you really have to get a space in order fast—like if you’re pregnant, the baby’s due date is in five weeks, and you’ve just moved into a new apartment. But if you don’t have any outside time pressures, there’s no need to rush. Give yourself a while to see what you really need and want to live with. I used to go to home stores and basically buy the same items on display, and then I’d wonder why my house looked like a catalog. When I started taking my time with the process, my home developed more of a personality.

Another reason to go slow is that big-ticket items like beds and sofas are usually not returnable. You don’t want to rush into a purchase that doesn’t quite work for your space. (Been there.) Although I’m decisive in general, I’ve learned to not be super impulsive with furnishings. Unless the item in question is a now-or-never vintage piece, I pause to think about whether I need it, where it will “live” in the home, and how it enhances the way a room feels. This helps me stay true to my style. 

Train your eye

Even if you’re not a professional interior designer, you can start to think like one by training your eye and figuring out what your personal style is. I find a lot of visual inspiration on Pinterest or Instagram, but also from traveling and film. (I love a spacious Nancy Meyers kitchen and am not ashamed to admit it.) When you see something that speaks to you, save a photo of it. Over time, you can review the visuals you’ve collected, and that will help you find a common thread—certain colors, textures, or silhouettes that keep coming up for you. 

Let the space lead you

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by endless options and changing trends, but I’ve never gone wrong by “listening” to the home. I try to honor the spirit and style of a house, using a feature I love as a starting point of inspiration. Maybe your home has beautiful oak floors or colorful vintage tile in the bathroom. Building a mood around those features will help you make choices that look effortless. That doesn’t mean you have to strictly adhere to the look of a certain era, but your home will give you some clues as to what will feel right.  

For instance, I used to live in a 1930s Spanish Colonial house. I wanted it to look fresh and updated in a way that would honor its character. Fortunately, I met Jake Arnold and loved his vision. He brought in a rich color palette with deep emerald green and ivory accents, touches of well-worn leather, soft linen textiles… and with the addition of modern artwork, the house wound up feeling timeless but in no way retro. 

So, look for what makes your space feel special or unique. Whatever it is, work with the character of the house and combine it with your own style. 

Identify a key piece

For every room, I like to start with a key piece. In the bedroom, it’s the bed frame; in the dining room, I pay special attention to the chairs. Whatever that piece is, choose something you absolutely love and then design the space around it. I like to add vintage pieces (estate sales and Facebook Marketplace are great for finding hidden treasures) and I shop CB2, Anthropologie, and Urban Outfitters for affordable decor. If you decorate with that one key piece in mind, the mix will come together in a really magical way.

Be open-minded 

I’ve learned that when it comes to interiors, you don’t have to get things right the first time—and sometimes, a room comes together in ways you hadn’t expected. For instance, a while ago, I fell head over heels for a chair, and I just had to have it. I envisioned exactly where I’d put it: in our second floor landing space. So I confidently bought it despite the store’s no-returns policy, excitedly brought it home, and… it just didn’t look right. 

Since I couldn’t take it back to the store, I decided to experiment. I carried it to different rooms and arranged different pieces around it. I turned it this way and that. Finally, when I styled it with a side table in a bedroom, it looked perfect and I loved the chair more than ever. There are lots of ways to make a room come together, and if you’re open-minded, you’ll find that you have more options than you might initially imagine.

Thoughts? I’d love to hear what works (and doesn’t) for you when it comes to interiors. DM me at @frenshe and let us know what’s on your mind.

Ashley Tisdale-French
Ashley Tisdale is a mom, the founder of Frenshe, and an entertainer.