Fawn Baby Designer Ashley Usich-Iha's Eagle Rock Cottage Is an Art Deco Goldmine
Welcome to Mama Cribs, an FM Journal series where we shine a light on the gorgeous homes inhabited by inspiring mothers.
Photos: Ryan Eng
Just north of Downtown Los Angeles sits a small creative enclave known as Eagle Rock. Since the 1920s it’s been known for its diversity and ‘counter-culture cool’ and as a respite for artists. It’s here, among the neighborhood’s verdant San Rafael Mountains where Fawn Baby designer and FMLA member Ashley Usich-Iha and her family are proud to call home.
Ashley, along with her husband, musician James Iha and their children Henry, 6, and Hazel, 4, relocated from Brooklyn to LA. Their goal was to find a community that was reminiscent of their life in New York, but also afforded the children space for outdoor play and endless creativity. The couple are fans of vintage and Art Deco decor and collectors of treasured mementos.
Their home, a 1930s English country cottage, was the perfect place to spend an afternoon with Ashley discussing her favorite design haunts and why why having like-minded friends makes parenting that much easier.
What area of LA do you live and what initially attracted you to the area and your home?
I live on the Eastside — it feels really charming and similar to Brooklyn. Being able to walk to farmer’s markets, little shops, and restaurants while also avoiding an overcrowded & loud neighborhood was a goal. We love how our home has a bit of LA's brightness and its own history — an architect named Clarence J. Smale, known for designing a few historical Art Deco homes in the 1920s and '30s, worked on some of the design of our home.
What kinds of items do you love to surround yourself with? How do these items identify with your personality?
Art, books, and nature are common themes in our home, as they are endlessly inspiring and changeable in how you experience or re-experience them. I’m a sentimental person so having mementos around our living space, like tiny vials of sea glass my kids collected a few summers ago or pinecones we decorated with glitter for the holidays — I just don’t have the heart to put them away. Since James is a musician, we often have instruments around the house. I love seeing how comfortable our kids are with just picking up a guitar or sitting down to the piano and making up a song. They don’t overthink it and I appreciate that approach, creatively.
Where are your favorite places for finding home decor?
Most of my favorite finds are vintage or picked up during travels, but Schoolhouse Electric has great lighting fixtures and wall accents, Rock Paper Photo or Sonic Editions for music photo prints, John Derian for special odds and ends (they will ship from their NY shop to you!), Chairish for specific furniture pieces. Broome St. General has great small desk or kitchen items. I definitely count plants as home decor and love Armstrong Garden Center in Glendale. I’m always on the hunt for interesting original pieces of artwork, textiles or something that looks like it’s has a story — so I do spend a good amount of time on Etsy or eBay, if I can’t go out in person. My favorite era is the 1920s [to the] '30s so I am always looking for little snippets of that time to bring into our home.
What is your favorite place in your home?
I love our living room. Later in the day it gets beautiful light streaming through the ivy over our windows and it feels serene. We have large pull-out drawers beneath the window benches to stash Henry & Hazel’s costume collections...they’ll go hide behind the couch and emerge as someone totally different. It’s also a great space to sit and talk while they construct something out of Magna-Tiles or Legos. The living room is where we put our tree and stockings up around the holidays, as well as open gifts for any birthdays or special days — there’s a lot of happiness in this space.
Where do you and your family spend the most time in the home?
We spend a lot of our time in our back outdoor space. Gardening has become a favorite activity for me and the kids. We love growing all sorts of flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables, and seeing what kind of birds, insects & various other critters come around. I grew up in Florida climbing trees, catching lizards and playing in the rain, I really wanted to impart that love of nature onto my kids. We recently had our garden certified as a Natural Wildlife Habitat, both Henry and Hazel are proud that we care about nature and provide essential elements — food, water, shelter, etc. — for our local animal friends.
How have you translated your aesthetic into your children’s room or nursery?
My kids and I actually have quite a few aspects we all enjoy stylistically so it wasn’t very hard to figure out what their room would look like. Hazel loves anything magical and glittery, and Henry gravitates towards natural things like shells and rocks. We all like lots of colors and rainbows, and having little collections set around like their snow globe collection. I’m happy to (mostly) let them figure out what they like instead of dictating it all to them.
What is your favorite thing about your children’s room?
The floor to ceiling built in cubby wall! It helps contain the mess that comes along with having two spirited children. When they’re older I can still imagine it being useful for organizing books and personal items in a kind of artful way.
What is one of your favorite items in the nursery and why?
Henry & Hazel’s bunk bed! We got the bed from The Land of Nod and had it painted Farrow & Ball Yeabridge Green, which incidentally is the same color as our master bedroom. To me it’s an endearing symbol of their growth and unity. In our former house they had separate rooms, but here they share a room and have really become great friends. They chatter and play until they fall asleep and are right back at it when they wake up. Also, putting them to bed has become very simple now that they’re in the same room, I believe they feel more secure.
What are some of your favorite toys and accessories for the kids?
Now that our kids have grown past the baby stage, I put a lot of importance on items that can help them with storage and staying organized, like colorful bins for toys and bedding and a big dresser for all their clothes. They actually do put their clothes away themselves, albeit messily. I love Land of Nod for storage bins and art supply vessels. Meri Meri makes incredibly charming party decorations that we like to hang up year round in their bedroom and playroom. Their favorite “blankies” are Jeanette Farrier vintage sari blankets from John Derian in NYC. And for toys, I love Polka Dot Club bunnies, Jess Brown dolls, and Hansa stuffed animals. They look so realistic!
Magna-Tiles sort of blow my mind how cool and multifaceted they are — we have some that are translucent and some that glow in the dark too! Also I love the Cactus Lamp by Goodnight Light, it makes the dreamiest green glow. Hazel has a pretty great collection of vintage My Little Ponies, some of which used to belong to me and my father very sweetly sent up from Miami, and I added a few extras from eBay.
Do you have any family rituals?
Every night before bed, we all sit in the den and read three to five books together. It’s something we have done as a family since the kids were just babies and is a chance to cuddle while connecting. I grew up reading a lot and it always makes me smile when they pick out books that were my favorites too, like Berenstain Bears or Angelina Ballerina.
What has been one of the biggest home/life adjustments you’ve had to make as your family has grown?
Trying to balance needs versus wants, and rolling with it all more easily. Our children bring such intense joy, and occasionally pain, to our lives that it helps put things into perspective. Sometimes I get less work done than I would like to, so trying to make up that time can be a challenge. Luckily, we have a great preschool and kindergarten our children attend with wonderful like-minded parents, and have the support of an incredible Eastside mom group I’m a part of called MxB.
What's one of the items you treasure most in your home?
A small watercolor portrait in our den. It’s of a porcelain doll painted by one of my favorite current artists/authors (and friend), Leanne Shapton. She sent it for Hazel’s second birthday and it reminds me of something so sweet and simple. Leanne is the artist behind my Fawn Baby logo and she also did album artwork for my husband a few years back, I really adore and admire her work.
Nara Walker is a Fashion Mamas LA member, producer and writer.