Google “interior design tips,” and you’ll find endless articles on which color palettes work for which room and what style of decorating is in.
It’s easy to get caught up in glossy photos of marble countertops, white sofas, and hutches of French transferware. But rarely does replicating these ideals create a living, working space for your life. It’s not a choice of one or the other. It’s a fusion of aesthetics and utility, brought together in a way that supports your life and makes you feel full.
This notion is the root of Ashley Masella’s approach to interior design. With a background in the art world (having worked at MoMA), Ashley begins by uncovering what people really want and how they live their lives.
“My time as a curator and working with artists made me really think about space in a lot of different ways. How space can change. How you can change space. How people interact with space. How you create your space to support the way you live. Curating objects and things in your life to make your life a beautiful, peaceful place. I really get to know somebody when working on their home. I get to know what they like, what they don’t like, how they use things, how they cook, how often they grocery shop, what their hobbies are. It’s like a detective game.”
Before beginning any design plans, she digs deep, getting very specific.
“When I walk through a home for a consultation, I’ll look. What metals are you drawn to? Do you have a lot of books on a certain subject? Are you drawn to painting? Getting people to talk about how they feel. “I don’t like that” Well, why don’t you like that? It is a big part of creating a successful space. Something that I think is beautiful could look like trash to you. It’s so subjective.”
Living in the woods, Ashley’s home is partially shadowed by a mountain. In this dark spot, her Gardyn not only brings light, it brings back forgotten spaces. “It makes it look like a really intentional space,” she says.
“Part of my design needs to be happy are that I need living things. I need bright things. I need green things. It adds so much life to the house. It just feels good. It feels like it’s spring in my kitchen all the time. I looked at a lot of Hydroponic Gardyns, so I went above and beyond to find something that aesthetically made me feel good and looked beautiful. It was a really utilitarian device that I needed and wanted because I didn’t want to create so much waste, so to find one that was actually aesthetically beautiful took a long time. And Gardyn filled that need.”
Below, Ashley speaks about how to design a space, what to focus on, and how to create a home that represents you.
Q: What is your favorite way to combine design and utility?
A: The first example that comes to mind here is Gardyn. I was looking for a way to incorporate more living plants into my home and reduce the amount of waste in my kitchen. I had seen other hydroponic systems, but this was the first that I felt was beautifully designed in a way that would fit into my home.
Q: What are your favorite elements in your own home?
A: The lofted wood ceilings and double-sided fireplace are my favorite features for sure.
Q: I love your analogy of layering up to go skiing to explain the way you layer a room to clients. What do you say to them before you begin working together?
A: The process I like to engage my clients in has three phases. We start basic and layer color, texture, pattern, etc., as we move through each phase. I think of it like the way you dress for skiing. First, we figure out our base layer – the most important part of a ski outfit because it keeps you warm. To figure out the core of a room, I first present clients with a couple of different very minimal mood boards to help determine a room’s overall direction. To the base layer, we add our pants, sweater, and coat. To our mood boards, we add accessories, more furniture, window treatments, and the necessary details. Finally, once we’ve settled on our outfit, we grab our helmet, goggles, and skis, and we’re ready to hit the slopes (a.k.a, tie up the details and install the space)!
As we talked about curating objects and things in your life to create a beautiful, peaceful place, Ashley repeatedly spoke about life. Your home is your life when you really think about it. When you surround yourself with beautiful, meaningful objects, you feel good, like yourself. When your space feels careless, it can drag you down. In this time when we are spending so much time at home, it’s more important than ever to have the walls you surround yourself with mirror who you are and spark a little joy too.
Follow Ashley on Instagram for more design inspiration.