Romancing the Home

Using their resourcefulness, two young attorneys are turning their first house into a lovable home // Photographs by CJ Benninger
Ashley and Collin Dickey, and son, Grayson, enjoy the welcoming front porch of their Birmingham home. The couple has been updating the 1950s bungalow little by little, including painting the exterior. // Photographs by CJ Benninger

They met at Cooley Law School in Auburn Hills, fell madly in love, and not long after they married in 2015, Ashley and Collin Dickey found a sweet, move-in-ready 1951 bungalow on a quiet street in Birmingham.

The couple found the living room hutch at Pottery Barn.

With three bedrooms, three full baths, beautiful wood floors, a front bay window, plaster walls with coved ceilings, a big private backyard, and a spot for a man cave in the basement, the couple thought it was the perfect place to start a family. All it needed was some new paint, inside and out, which would be Collin’s job, and some interior design updates, which fell to Ashley.

“Honestly, it was pretty turnkey,” Ashley says. “We walked in here, it was open, we loved the flow — it’s a good flow for a small house. We absolutely loved the master bedroom upstairs, with a full bath, and when we saw the partially finished basement, we thought, ‘We could start a family here’ — we could do it all.”

A few years later, with the addition of baby Grayson, along with their boxer, Hampden, and Maine coon cat, Louie, the bungalow is a soothing picture of harmonic bliss — a romantic, light-filled house done in soft hues of cream, gray, and taupe. The couple, although very social, say they’d often rather stay in than go out, and like to light some candles, cook up a beautiful meal, and enjoy each other’s company.

The cheerful playroom will be able to accommodate Grayson as he gets older.

Ashley, whose penchant for organization and interior design started at an early age, had already helped friends stage their homes for selling, and also designed Collin’s law office. She saw their new home as her own little castle, and was ready to appoint it with exquisite treasures from antiques shops and furnishings donated by relatives, all of which she has artfully arranged, placed, or hung — touches like vintage shelves, paintings, antique fern prints from Ireland, and pretty rugs with simple patterns that echo the walls’ ethereal color scheme.

It’s modern farmhouse style with elegant touches, including fresh flowers and lit candles, and it’s never messy. “Clutter is not in our vocabulary,” Ashley says.

“Our main pieces of furniture, like the dining room table and trunk in the living room, are family antiques that I refurbished,” says homeowner Ashley Dickey. “The living room couch and armchairs are from a store that’s no longer in business, unfortunately, because the quality is outstanding and so durable, especially with a baby and a dog.”

“We didn’t have much, and so relatives said, ‘Here’s Grandma’s table and here’s an old trunk.’ Almost every piece in here has a story, and I love mixing old with new,” says Ashley, who has always been fascinated by anything old. “If we’re traveling anywhere on the road and we pass an antiques store, I have to go in.”

She points to a shutter over the fireplace. “It’s an antique that I refinished. You just put a little rustic spin on things and paint them, and kind of give them new life.”

Newer pieces like the rugs, light fixtures, and accessories came from Pottery Barn and West Elm, among other stores.

Left: A galley-style kitchen, which previously had yellow walls, gets plenty of light. The couple added stainless steel appliances and will paint the cabinets this spring. Right: The antique prints in the dining room are from Ireland.

“I love dimmer switches,” she says, motioning to her dining-room candelabra chandelier with Edison bulbs that lend a particularly romantic vibe. Collin installed new light fixtures in each room — something he taught himself, and mastered.

“One of my favorite spaces is our living room,” Collin says. “It’s the heart of our home and, with a natural fireplace and large bay windows, it’s light, bright, and comfortable. This is where we spend most of our time together, and enjoy entertaining family and friends.

Ashley chose Behr’s Charismatic Blue paint for the master bedroom’s accent wall.

“My second favorite room is the master bedroom. It’s a large space that’s uncluttered and bright, which creates a calm and peaceful feeling. On the weekends we enjoy lounging in bed with the whole family, dog and cat included.”

“The biggest thing is that it was all inexpensive,” Ashley adds. “We’re both lawyers, just out of school, just married, and on a strict budget.”

As a result, they stay home a lot (often hosting gatherings) — and that’s just fine with this couple. They can make their favorite pasta dishes in the well-equipped kitchen, relax by the fire in their living room, and sing baby Grayson to sleep in his beautiful nursery.

Baby Grayson’s nursery features tranquil colors that ensure sweet dreams. His tidy nursery is both functional and charming.

They love the location, which boasts a great school system; walkable streets; shopping;  restaurants like Griffin Claw, Big Rock Chophouse, the Whistle Stop  Diner, and Cannelle Patisserie; a park with a playground at the end of the street; and friends with kids of their own nearby.

“Finding this was really a dream come true,” Ashley says. “It’s charming, quaint, and you walk in and it feels welcoming.”

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