Ashley Barrios grew up in Bay St. Louis. Her husband, Byron Barrios grew up in New Orleans. When the couple, who met and married while working in New York (he on Wall Street, she for designer Diane Furstenberg) decided to return to their southern roots to raise their daughters (Isla and Annie), they chose Covington as the place to build their new beginning.
“We saw four acres of waterfront property,” said Ashley, noting that the couple had considered buying a home in Old Metairie or the Bay St. Louis area. “It was the perfect way to marry it all.”
The couple intended to build on the land and though they still lived in New York, they instantly had an expert team for the project. Ashley’s mother, Marcia Artigues, designed the house and her father, Ronnie Artigues, owner of Artigues Construction in Bay St. Louis, built it.
“My mother sketched the front of the house on the back of one of her sketch books,” said Ashley. “It means so much she designed it and that my father built it.”
Because the house is next to the river, building code required that it be raised. But Ashley did not want a house that looked like a vacation rental. Rather, she wanted it “to look like a house that you come home to at Christmas.”
“I didn’t want it to feel like a beach house,” she said.
With that in mind, the Barrioses opted for traditional architectural elements that impart a sense of age – such as a deep porch, (something that Byron wanted in addition to a boat slip,) antique pine floors, brick instead of tile in the kitchen, 19th century solid wooden doors recycled from an aunt’s former Arabi house, and old pieces of furniture used as vanities in the bathrooms.
“I tried to do what felt new and exciting, but also that felt like Louisiana, that felt old,” said Ashley.
Over time, Ashley’s decorating style, shaped by going on jobs with her mother, has evolved to balance new and old as well. While her taste once skewed toward modern design and the vintage bohemian look of Anthropologie, she now embraces a broader range of things and loves incorporating pieces with special meaning: a Pierre Deux pillow, a set of painted English chairs, a Welsh dresser – all culled from her parents’ home; a colorful abstract painting that she acquired from a friends antique store when she was a little girl; and a grandfather clock from an old Bay St. Louis theatre. The curtains in the guest bath are especially cherished.
Her grandmother bought them at Beauvoir, Jefferson Davis’s Biloxi, Mississippi home, but for 35 years, they had gone missing.
When the movers delivered boxes from the Artigue family’s storage to the Barrioses’ new house, the curtains showed up on cue.
“I wanted my house to feel warm,” said Ashley, who also envisioned a home that would be conducive to the family’s active lifestyle, which includes fishing, swimming and boating on the river.
“We wanted the girls to grow up in this kind of environment,” she said. “At the end of the day, family, simplicity, nature matters.”