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When It Comes To Decorating A Home, Interior Designer Said ‘Less is More’

White Salmon native Ashley (Neff) Hinkle sits in the living room of her home located on Fairway Lane in Husum.

Raelynn Ricarte
White Salmon native Ashley (Neff) Hinkle sits in the living room of her home located on Fairway Lane in Husum.

“There does not have to be a picture on every wall,” she said. “Blank space is nice space, it’s peaceful and calming.”

If people remove half the bric-a-brac on their shelves, she said they will probably still have enough decor.

You might have been hanging onto items for years “just in case” but if you have not used them, it is time to pitch them, said Hinkle.

She is a minimalist out of the belief that clutter can disturb the serenity of your mind. It is also easier to keep things in order if there is less stuff that can become messy.

“When my house is disorganized, I feel like my life is disorganized,” said Hinkle. “When my house is put back together and clean, I feel like I can conquer the world.”

She operates Ashley Neff Designs out of her home in Husum. Her specialty areas are new construction, kitchen/bath remodels and additions.

The winter months, said Hinkle, are a good time to brighten up the inside of a residence in these areas:


Go “outside the box” and choose a new color for the walls. Be careful to bring samples home and look at them in the natural light of the room because the shade of the pigment will often look different.

“Your lighting is everything. In every space, the same color can look different,” said Hinkle.

Right now, gray beige is trending because the color is neutral but warm enough not to make a room feel cold. Riviera Pewter is also a popular choice because it can go warm or cool, depending upon the rest of the decor.

“It literally goes with everything,” said Hinkle.

“Colors are 100 percent personal preference, you have to figure out what feels right for you,” she said.


Change up your layout. Don’t just re-arrange the furniture in the living room, look in back rooms to see if pieces could be moved to give an entirely different “feel” to the space.

She recommends buying a sofa and loveseat versus a sectional because separate pieces of furniture are easier to shift around.

Create a good conversation area by grouping furniture around a focal point, such as a fireplace, work of art or a spectacular view. In a long narrow room, she said groupings might be necessary to create good conversation areas.

“Orient your seating around something you enjoy looking at,” said Hinkle.

In the home that she and husband, Kevin, spent 11 months building on Fairway Lane, there is both a fireplace and a view of Mount Adams.

Hinkle has placed a plush sofa and loveseat at an angle that the landscape draws the eye during the day and a crackling fire on the hearth at night.

If you don’t have a view or a fireplace, Hinkle recommends that people invest in a statement piece, such as coffee table, new leather chair, fountain, sculpture, or work of art that will command a presence.

“Pick something that will draw the eye,” she said.

Rugs can also add to the ambience of a room, making it look larger and either brightening or subduing the overall tone.

In her home, Hinkle selected a plush rug with a blue-gray background that complements the stone set into the nearby hearth. “If you buy a good rug, it will last for decades,” she said.

Not able to afford a big purchase right away? Select unique and eye-catching decor that will emphasize an area.

Beat the winter blahs by splashing the bed and windows with brightly colored fabrics.

“Do something 180 degrees different than you’ve already got going on,” said Hinkle.

She describes the design style in her home as “modern industrial farm house.”

“I like very clean lines,” she said. “My goal is to always have our home comfortable, so anyone can come here and feel right at home.”

Every piece of decor or chair has been placed with care in the Hinkle house to maximize its effect.

An antique galvanized metal milk can in a corner of the living room holds branches in varied sizes that match the dark brown knots and medium-brown whorls in the wooden flooring.

A handcrafted burl table in front of the sofa is a family heirloom and most other pieces in the Hinkle house have a story to tell as well.

“We all inherit pieces from the family and we can refinish those pieces to fit in better,” Ashley said. “It’s more about the experience than the stuff.”

Refinished barn doors built a century ago serve as a pantry door in the kitchen and a bathroom door in the master bedroom. Besides being functional, the darkly polished planks are eye-catching as an art form.

“I love blue, so you will find blue in every room in my house,” said Hinkle.

Color is dynamic and can be either soothing or energetic, she said.

According to Hinkle, one of the biggest mistakes that people can make when outfitting a home is to not pick up on the undertones, the subtle attributes of a color that the human eye does not immediately discern.

The more complex and less pure the color is, the more difficult it can become to determine the undertone. And that can make a design scheme not work quite right because undertones can clash instead of work together in a harmonious blend.

“If you are not sure, it’s really cost effective to save yourself a headache and stress and get dialed in the first time, by calling a professional to help.” said Hinkle

A second mistake that she frequently sees is people not measuring space to ensure the furniture they buy will be a good fit. So, they end up without enough floor space to easily get around in the room.

Hinkle does consultations to help clients pick out compatible colors and furnishings.

She has been helping clients create spaces they love for over a decade and holds a degree in the field from Central Washington University in Ellensburg.

“I have always loved design and knew, somehow, that I had to do something creative,” she said. “It is so fun, I can’t get enough of it.”

Born and raised in White Salmon, Hinkle was happy to return to the Gorge and set up shop sharing her passion for helping people make their homes vibrant, stunning, functional and for their lifestyle.

“The most successful designs are eclectic, they are not necessarily a specific style, they blend your past, the places you’ve been, and create a lovely space for the people you care about,” she said.

For more information about Ashley Neff Designs, call 360-909-9503 or visit


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