Design Like a Pro: 4 Essential Ingredients for High-End Design

Design Like a Pro: 4 Essential Ingredients for High-End Design

Crafted by Berber artisans. Curated by decor enthusiasts

This article was written by Ashley Hastings from Ash Modern as part of our Interior Design Newsletter series.

Like a great novel, good design delights, provokes and endures. But what makes good design? And why are the pros so good at it?  Designing a home requires planning for many different aspects at the same time. You have to decide on a mood and color scheme, make sure the furniture is arranged in a functional way, and select pieces that harmonize with everything else in the room. While all of this is absolutely necessary for good design, there are other elements that are often overlooked by the DIYer, leaving them bewildered when their finished space still feels like something is missing.  Here are 4 essential ingredients that professional interior designers use for high-end design: 

A good lighting plan 

A good lighting plan is key to setting the mood in your home. Start by planning for task lighting first, and if the room still needs additional ambient lighting, add it. Then move on to mood lighting by illuminating decorative objects such as paintings, sculptures, and any excessively dark areas. Then you’ll want to test your lighting plan for variety. 

The greatest failing in the lighting schemes of many is that they don’t offer enough variety and then their lighting becomes monotonous. You can avoid monotony by adding variety into all aspects of the way you light a room: 

  • Use different types of lighting fixtures for different tasks. 
  • Have illumination flow in different directions—some lamps should project light upward, some downward, and some should project light in all directions. 
  • Position lighting fixtures at different heights. 
  • Plan for different intensity of illumination in different parts of the room. Some areas should be bright, and others should be dimmer.

Color undertones 

You probably remember learning about the color wheel when you were a kid and how mixing two colors together can create a new one. Pretty neat, huh? And if you’ve ever visited a paint store, you already know you have an almost unlimited selection of colors to choose from. 

When choosing colors for your home, it’s really important to remember that mixed colors have a mass tone and an undertone. The mass tone is the color you see right away when you look at it, such as red. The undertone is the secondary hue that will influence the final color output. The closer an undertone is to the mass tone, the truer the color will be. So if an undertone is close to red, the color will be true red. If the undertone is blue, the color will be magenta. 

This is particularly important because colors are either warm (red, orange, yellow) or cool (blue, green, purple) and the temperature of a color can impact the mood you’re going for. If you’re looking to create a space that is neutral yet warm and you choose neutral colors with cool undertones, the vibe might feel off. 

In order to make sure you don’t miss the undertones, don’t look at colors in isolation. If you’re looking at a particular color, comparing it to others that are similar will help you see whether it has a warm or cool undertone. You will also want to consider the lighting of the room. Natural vs. artificial light can have different impacts on what you see. 


Textiles, the fabrics and materials you use in your home, are very important in creating the perfect mood for your space. With the variety of materials to choose from, from silk and velvet to jute and cotton, you can easily see how choosing the right textiles helps to reinforce the overall feeling of your home. They work to unify the room and bring the space together. 

Textiles can help with design inspiration as well. Not sure where to start? Choose a beautiful rug or accent chair that you love and use those colors, fabrics and patterns as your inspiration for your overall design. 

Try to mix and match different textures throughout your room or try layering them together to create contrast. The great thing about this is you can mix as much as you’d like, as long as they fall within the color palette you establish and harmonize well together. 

Existing architecture 

One of the first things that interior designers are trained to do is consider the existing architecture of a home before planning a design. This is significant because your home by itself reflects a certain style and era. Taking this into consideration might be the most overlooked thing that people do. 

Thanks to social media, many of us are influenced by the latest trends in design. And while that cool design you want might work in your own home, it’s important to make sure whatever design elements you bring in are in harmony with the overall architectural design. For example, an ultramodern floating staircase will feel out of place in a farmhouse style home. And a Louis XIV chair definitely would not feel at home in a Malibu beach house. 

Now, that’s not to say that you can’t mix traditional and modern elements in a home. You may just want to be strategic about it. The existing architecture of your home, in addition to the environment you live in, can actually help influence your design choices. If you allow this to inspire you, you’ll find that your home and everything in it, will feel effortlessly balanced.

Taking the time to plan your design and following these suggestions will help you create that perfect feeling and will elevate the look of your home.


About Ash Modern

Ash Modern is a residential interior design studio that offers complete flexibility for our clients. Located in beautiful St. Augustine, Florida, we offer services ranging from concept only to full custom design and project management. We believe that flexibility is key and when it comes to one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your lifetime, our goal is to make it simple and easy for you. Our owner, Ashley, has a passion for designing spaces that are beautiful, sustainable and functional. She believes that in order to create the most sustainable home, we need to take into consideration every aspect of life: purpose, health and lifestyle. As a graduate of Interior Design from the New York Institute of Art + Design and after having spent many years in New York and Los Angeles before moving to St. Augustine,  Ashley loves helping her clients create beautiful homes that are on trend and bring the best of traditional design with a touch of modern elements. She likes to describe her designs as warm, casual and elegant. Ash Modern will help you create a space that is reflective of you, your lifestyle, and simplifies the beauty of your home. We help people create those spaces in their homes by collaborating with them every step of the way. Together, we can work to create a space that is perfect for you.

For inspiration and inquiries, you can find Ash Modern here:


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