Who Is Ashley Ross? Get to Know the North Carolina Designer

ashley ross

Will Crooks

Certain colors and shapes, less clutter—we all know how those aspects of design can make us feel happier and healthier. North Carolina-based designer Ashley Ross is digging deeper: She’s exploring how filling our homes with culture—which she defines as “the beliefs, traditions, and practices passed down through generations, including manners, language, religion, rituals, and art”—can support our well-being. Through her design firm, Muse Noire Interiors, she aims to show her clients how they benefit when they’re surrounded by objects that are rich in meaning.

This potential for design to impact how we live occurred to Ross when she brought her daughter home from the hospital. She had been killing it as the executive director of a nonprofit. “Coming out of graduate school, I wanted nothing more than to become the biggest and baddest fundraiser in the industry,” she says. But when she gave birth, she knew she needed to shift gears and find something more flexible. “That’s when it clicked,” she says. “There was an element of wellness deeply embedded within design that no one was talking about, and I wanted to explore it.”

There was an element of wellness deeply embedded within design that no one was talking about, and I wanted to explore it.

To curate what she calls her Contemporary Global aesthetic, Ross travels abroad as often as possible, frequently with her husband and now-six-year-old daughter in tow. (Current count: four continents, 17 countries.) She finds inspiration “at the intersection of travel and tradition,” she says. It’s also how she finds the vintage art she loves to place in her projects.

The importance of creating a home that feels authentic is personal to Ross, who, with her husband, is a first-generation homeowner. Eighty-eight percent of her clients are first-timers as well. That makes the beginning of a new project especially meaningful for her. “It’s a pivotal moment,” she says. “It’s my favorite place because of how tangible the transformation becomes and how unaware our clients are of the prospect of our design services advancing their lives from a wellness perspective.” When working with a new client, she pushes to find the reason behind the things they like visually and gravitate toward. When they feel whole in their spaces, she knows she’s succeeded.

a bedroom with a large bed


Homes can be “sanctuaries of restoration”

House Beautiful: What’s your favorite…(and why)?

Item to collect: “Vintage busts and original art from abroad. Most of the time it’s a depiction of someone no longer with us, cemented in that moment of time. They get to live on, and I imagine what their story may have been.”

Design era/style: “Contemporary Global, because I coined it specifically for Muse Noire to embrace a tailored and tactile yet contemporary collected aesthetic that speaks to culture around the world.”

Paint color:Slumber Sloth by Sherwin-Williams, for its day-to-night transition in warmth.”

Artist or piece of art:Department Store by Gordon Parks has always received a visceral reaction from me for its no-nonsense posturing of our grace and fortitude. I’m very excited to have this piece in my living room as the first piece people see coming through the door. I am currently saving up for a piece from a young, up-and-coming artist, Blue Check N*ggas by Rajuma Bey. Its depiction of this moment in time I just know will be a piece we look back on and remember where virtual reality started and how we were warned about the effects of social media. It’s ahead of its time.”

Local shopping destination:Golden Oldies, the treasure trove of all treasure troves! But, most importantly, I think this is the go-to shopping experience for design rebels.”

Online store:Lulu and Georgia. I believe the buyers and makers for this brand share a great eye for what’s next in a way that feels grounded.”

Travel destination: “Paris, as the perfect place to fly to other destinations for under $100.”

Decor item you buy on repeat: “1889 candles, for the best collaboration of the senses for all of our client reveals!”

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Courtesy of photographers

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