Designer Ashley Gilbreath Creates a Stylish Orange Beach Oasis

Montgomery-based interior designer Ashley Gilbreath infuses an Orange Beach condo with color, pattern and personality that welcomes the sea view indoors.

Bold Statements The teak wall sculpture is large on personality but feels right at home along sandy shores. “When you go with a crazy wallcovering, you need art that works with it,” Gilbreath says. An accent chair in an ombre stripe offers a departure from the room’s otherwise solid upholstery. Pillows made from vintage African mud cloths introduce texture and a splash of seashell pink. Photos by Laurey Glenn

“I love bold color!”

There may not be a more hypnotizing siren song for an interior designer to hear. Those were the exact words the owners of this Orange Beach condo said when they approached Montgomery-based Ashley Gilbreath. “We usually don’t get that opportunity,” says the nationally acclaimed interior designer. “The owners are drawn to texture, pattern and color. But since we were working with a very small space, we had to keep in mind that too much of a good thing can be too much.” To avoid going overboard, Gilbreath stuck to a tight palette inspired by the view. “You are there for the beach and the water, so we played off those colors,” she says. 

Ashley Gilbreath portrait
Designer Ashley Gilbreath

Because of the nature of a high-rise condo, with its inability to expand in any direction, adding square footage to the vacation home wasn’t an option. Completely reconfiguring the floorplan wasn’t a good use of budget or time, either. Instead, Gilbreath creatively reimagined the ways an overabundance of storage space was allocated (who needs a giant walk-in closet at a vacation home?) and squared up some of the walls that were at strange angles for no apparent reason — a la 1980s architecture. Her resourcefulness made room for a bank of cabinets and wetbar near the kitchen that gained an enlarged island, as well as built-in bunks in the guest bedroom. “We were very intentional with planning every single inch,” she says. “The original builder-box condo has come a really long way!”

A native of Louisiana, Gilbreath attended Auburn University’s School of Architecture before switching to interior design. She fell in love with and married a boy from Montgomery, and after stints working for designers in New York and Atlanta, the pair settled in his hometown. The Alabama and Florida beaches close to the capital city have been a constant source of inspiration for the designer who now owns retail shops in both Montgomery and Rosemary Beach. With three children of her own, Gilbreath brings a unique perspective to “livability,” both at home and while on vacation. Her unpretentious style beckons family gatherings where sandy memories can be shared summer after summer.

Interior Designer Ashley Gilbreath set the mood with a bold, graphic wallpaper (Jim Thompson) that carries from the entry through to the living area and kitchen. A vibrant, maritime painting welcomes guests and lets them know that they have arrived — even before they see the Gulf. 

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In the powder room, a wallcovering featuring ovals on repeat (Scion) sets the space apart, and a beaded mirror from Gilbreath’s retail store, Parish Shoppe in Montgomery, is a perfect partner to the pedestal sink.

Individual expression is key to creating a home that reflects its owners. Gilbreath loves to incorporate as much of a homeowner’s furniture as possible to better reflect their personality, lifestyle and family history. This client brought fun Mackenzie-Childs dining chairs to the kitchen (above) and a showstopping Abe Lincoln painting by New Orleans artist Ashley Longshore (below). “They each have so much personality and are perfect here,” Gilbreath says.

Wet bar with blue cabinets

Blues, in varying shades and intensities, pop about from room to room, connecting spaces through paint colors, fabrics, wallcoverings and accessories. A bold blue (Commodore, SW-6524, by Sherwin-Williams) anchors the kitchen island and bar area.

White bedroom with turquoise accents

There’s nothing better than settling into a comfy bedroom after a day at the beach. The main bedroom’s custom headboard is “covered in good, inexpensive linen,” Gilbreath says. “It’s an everyday material in an impactful color, but the application is what makes it extra fun.”

The guest room (above) includes both a double bed and bunks, which took over a former closet space. “We carved out every square inch and picked up enough room for twin mattresses,” the designer says. Curtains on the bunks offer privacy in this shared space.

Is there any color happier than sunshine yellow? Gilbreath piled on the cheerful hue in bedrooms and baths. Yellow is used in the sleeping areas as an accent through pillows, draperies and upholstery. The suite’s bathroom vanity (Yellow Bird, SW-9022 by Sherwin-Williams) “seals the deal,” she says.

The balcony and its panoramic, postcard vistas are shared by the living area and master bedroom. Alfresco lounging and dining spaces with Summer Classics furnishings, Sunbrella upholstery and Perennials accent fabrics reflect the watery views to one side and echo the interior palette to the other.

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