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Cameron Ruppert Always Picks the Rug Last—Here's Why

Words by Gabrielle Savoie
a living room filled with furniture and a painting on the wall

Photo by Stacy Goldberg

Constant reinvention is what drives Cameron Ruppert to create.

It’s also been a big business risk—to opt not to have a signature style—but one that has proven to pay off. Within weeks of launching her interiors studio with zero clients or portfolio in 2016, the DC-based designer landed a dream project that would make it in a print issue of Domino. Not a bad start for someone who had recently pivoted from a catering and events business to go back to design school, eventually landing a job as a project manager for a local firm.

“This house will always have a special place in my heart, not only because it was my first, but it was the one that put me on the map,” recalls the designer, who landed a big Architectural Digest feature earlier this year. So what does it look like to design with abandon (and without a roadmap)? For starters, it’s joyful and full of color and surprises—Cameron gives us the lowdown on the rest.

a kitchen with green cabinets and a wooden floor
a living room filled with furniture and a large window

Photo courtesy of Cameron Ruppert

Photo courtesy of Cameron Ruppert

What architectural era is inspiring you right now?

I’m currently inspired most by British homes—both inside and out. I think it’s a 180 response to so many new builds in the US these days with their high ceilings, open floor plans, oversized kitchens, and general lack of architectural variation.

Instead, I’m gravitating towards homes that have more defined rooms, less architectural symmetry, and better spatial scale: the kitchens are smaller, the ceilings are lower, and they maintain the charm and sophistication that seems to be lost on many new houses.

Name an architectural pet peeve that always needs fixing in any project—big or small?

Too much recessed lighting. The first thing I do is to get rid of it all!

If your design style was a fashion icon, who would it be?

Anna Dello Russo. She once said her style was “a way for her to not get bored of herself.” This has always resonated with me. A lot of my work varies, which can be a controversial business model for designers. The easiest thing to do is to present every client with the same “look” and maintain brand consistency: your rooms start to all blend together because you essentially keep producing the same product. This would quickly get old for someone like me.

Part of the appeal of this job is being presented with new challenges with every project. I love the back-end research that comes with new design dilemmas, like when I had to do a deep dive on mid-century modern for an original one-story 1950s home in Palo Alto. I had to mentally start from scratch. It keeps me from getting complacent, which in my mind is the key to success.

a room with a couch and a table with a vase of flowers on it

Photo courtesy of Cameron Ruppert

You’re designing a room—where do you start?

There is always a point of “take off” in a room. Whether it's a paint color for the walls, a fabric for the windows, or a wallpaper—it’s the first element in the room you establish and everything else falls into place from that. Rugs are always last because I find they “match” the room too much otherwise, and I like for them to be a departure from the furnishings. 

What are you dying for a client to request?

I’m dying to do a mountain ski house. It would be a first for me and I have so many ideas.

What color combinations are you loving right now?

Olive green and mustard, mauve and chartreuse, oxblood and teal, gingerbread and charcoal.

a living room with a blue door and a pink wall
a dining room with a table and chairs

Photo courtesy of Cameron Ruppert

Photo courtesy of Cameron Ruppert

Where to save / where to splurge?

Save on rugs and dining tables (kids will trash them and they are easily swapped out). Splurge on window treatments, always. Good window treatments will last you 20+ years.

What should you always buy vintage?

As much as possible. If I had to choose, it would be lighting. It’s a really wonderful way to find balance in your room so that nothing feels “too new”. You can never go wrong using newer fabrics on upholstery with vintage light fixtures and an antique rug.

Formal dining room or eat-in kitchen?

Formal dining room, simply because it can be so much fun to design and it’s nice to have a more formal space for celebrations and festivities.

a room with a desk, chair, and bed in it
a bathroom with two sinks and three mirrors

Photo by Angie Seckinger

Photo courtesy of Cameron Ruppert

Design rule you love to break?

The 60-30-10 rule: 60% of the room should be a dominant color, 30% should be the secondary color or texture, and the last 10% should be an accent. I think this can be ignored entirely. 

What hotel anywhere in the world represents ultimate luxury to you?

Villa Biondi at the Castiglion De Bosco in Tuscany. The villas date back to the 12th century and have an unmatched level of charm and sophistication. I love hotels that don’t have a main building or big grand lobby but rather lots of older little buildings that really make you feel like you’re in a private residence.

What’s next for you?

I would absolutely love to break into smaller commercial spaces. An inn or a boutique hotel would be an absolute dream.

a woman sitting on top of a bed next to a window

Photo courtesy of Cameron Ruppert


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