Ashleigh Amoroso built her dream studio in Austin for $12,000


AFTER: Ashleigh perched in her Austin studio.

Katie Jameson

After a decade of renting film locations, Ashleigh Amoroso wanted to start her own studio. The food photographer, whose clients include Magnolia, Target and Patrón Tequila, searched all over Austin for a commercial kitchen with natural light, historic charm and a reasonable price. The best option she could find was a loft 45 minutes from downtown.

On the same day that Ashleigh was about to buy the poorly located property, her friend, antiques dealer Claire Brody, published an article about finding partners to invest in and sign a lease in an 1870 building in the heart of the downtown Austin. Ashleigh and fellow photographer Jenna McElroy signed on immediately, and the three women couldn’t believe their luck.

With original bog pine floors and tall arched windows, Ashleigh’s appointed rooms had the beautiful historic bones she was looking for. The layout was also ideal for her, with a prep kitchen adjacent to the main studio. The only downside was a series of mirrors stuck to one wall, which Ashleigh and her husband managed to conceal with a false wall and a coat of whitewash.

BEFORE: “I like to think to myself that it used to be a dance studio because it had this huge wall of mirrors,” Ashleigh says. “It was pretty awesome.”

Ashleigh aimed to design an attractive work space for herself and a rentable space for other creatives in the kitchen. She therefore favored adaptability with a neutral color palette and modular elements. Her husband custom-designed a mobile island and easy-to-style open shelving, while she chose small, portable appliances that could be displayed on any surface.

The laid-back elegance of Old World Europe inspired Ashleigh’s visual choices, but the pandemic forced her to compromise. “Supply chain issues definitely drove us into our aesthetic decision-making process, which at the time felt really difficult and limiting,” she says. “But once it’s all said and done, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

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