I think it's very interesting how little kit you need for a pro setup these days, that's the outcome of technology, but as you say, you do need the chops to do it.
I've been a pro engineer for many years and the results I get out of my little man-cave studio are as good as anything I used to get from pro studios except for the drum sounds, because, like you I don't have the space to record acoustic drums. Decent drum programming is ok for some genres, but a properly recorded skin-smacker still sound the dogs on rock and the like.
I can record, programme, edit and mix to pro standards in a system that is a fraction of the cost of a major console and multi-track set up.
Songwriting becomes easier too, my guitarist writes in Logic, chucks it into the cloud, I arrange his work and add bass and synth parts, throw it back, he sods around with it and back and forth we go till we have something we're happy with, then I'll string some vaguely coherent words together and chuck those on. We'll use the Drummer plug-in in Logic generally, or a loop for drums.
Then we'll get our drummer into a rehearsal room for a few days, and see what his input does to arrangement, groove, tempo etc, often his input will result in rewrites, which is a good point to assess where a song is. Once we have a version of the backing track we're all happy with, I'll extract guitar, bass and keys to stems, and we'll head up to Monkey Puzzle for a few days to lay drum tracks into Protools. I'll bring the resultant tracks back and we'll track guitars, bass and vocals, re-programme the synth parts and run a final edit/re-arrangement of the songs with the live drum parts.
That then gets cleaned up and prepped for mix, which I'll do over the course of many days as it's all essentially in the box and has 100% recall.
This process keeps the input of all 3 musicians, allows for variation in performance and the ability to track to live drums for feel and groove (I have extracted groove templates from live drums to lock loops down many times, which works very well), and results in songs that retain feel and spontaneity whilst allowing for the raft of technique us engineers love so much.
Sure, I've put money into the studio, but no more than many people put into serious hobbies, and a lot less than some, and the results are excellent, but I've 30 years of experience behind me that ensures I get those results.
No DAW or plug-in or synth is going to give you those results without the skills sadly.