Home Decorating Secrets of a Great Room with Sam Cram

Secrets of a Great Room with Sam Cram

The interior designer breaks down the formula for a posh yet practical bedroom.
What makes a room more than just pretty, what are the elements that make it memorable? In our Secrets of a Great Room series, we ask designers to tell us how they created a signature room. From decorating advice to the practical nitty gritty of furnishings, we get their insider advice on crafting rooms to remember, like this bedroom by Nashville designer Sam Cram.
“Nashville’s cool and so is my style,” says interior designer Sam Cram. “I love my hometown and I want everyone to know that we’re ahead of the trends in terms of interiors. A lot of what we do is based on texture, yummy fabrics, and layering different elements together. My style is definitely representative of that, and I try to bring those elements into every project I do.”
Her modern aesthetic is on full display in Cram’s own condo—especially in her ultra cozy guest room. The space manages to be minimalist (it relies on a simple black and white palette) and maximalist at once—such lush bedding, so many gilt moments! “Black and white is my go-to for everything,” she says. “I love adding in fun artwork and patterns and mixing stripes with florals or dots and utilizing a mix of fabrics,” she says. Notably, Cram opted for Annie Selke’s 8×10 Doti Jute rug to bring a bit of subtle drama to the space,  while choosing ivory Brussels collection bedding to echo the purposefully simple color scheme.
All in, her thoughtful choices make for a wonderfully inviting space. “Who doesn’t want to stay in a room that makes you feel like a queen?” she says. In her view, the biggest transformations came from changing out lighting in the space (the chandelier always earns raves), layering fabrics and textures, and making the bed feel welcoming. “We just want our guests to feel like they want to be there forever,” she says, before second guessing herself. “Actually, I’m afraid it might work out too well—and they won’t ever want to leave.”
Read on for Sam’s design secrets.

Polka dots give jute pizzaz

“I chose the dotted hand-knotted Annie Selke rug for the space and I love it!” says Cram, who was drawn to the alluring pattern and decadent feel. “When you sit or stand on it, it’s so soft that you almost sink into it. But it’s also really great in terms of durability and wear and tear. I have three different jute rugs in my home and I just keep buying them over and over because I love the texture.” Pattern-wise, it’s also more exciting than a solid neutral. “The fact that it’s dotted makes for an interesting base, and we love how it grounds the room.”

Mirrors are sorta magical

“I love mirrors. I have a whole stack of them that I’m not using—yet—in my garage,” says Cram. “They’re like neutral art because they don’t interfere with your color palette.” This room is compact and doesn’t get a ton of sunshine, but feels light and bright due to her smart design decisions. “I always like to have something above the bed, and a mirror is a great choice if you’re trying to make a room feel larger. I like symmetry and wanted to bring in elements to help reflect light, so I used a pair of mirrors above the nightstands, as well.” The designer grabbed the main antique mirror off Marketplace for $50. “The round mirror contrasts with the squareness of the bed and the nightstands and changes the way that you look at the space. I really wanted it to be a focal point of the room,” she says, “and what better way than to put it above the bed?”

Blush is a pink men can live with

“I made sure the window treatments were super wide for a fuller look,” notes Cram, who positioned the rod as high as possible to elevate the ceiling height. But first, she had to get her husband on board. “I’m a girl and I love pink! My husband said, ‘Okay, we can do blush, we can do pink, but let’s not do it all over the room.’ So it was a compromise that worked out.” 

To the left of the curtains, she hung a beloved piece of artwork, a painting of a period woman with a blush flash across her eyes, from Josh Young Design House. “Next to the dark black and moodiness, the blush is extra striking,” she says.

Your bed should feel like a cloud

“I am a big fan of ‘more is more’ on the bed, and you can’t go wrong with layers of different white textures and quilts and throws – it’s like jumping into a big cloud.” says Cram, who paired our Montauk duvet cover with our Brussels Ivory Quilt and shams. “We love, love, love Annie Selke bedding. It is the most buttery, soft, and yummy – and that quilt’s so silky, I don’t want to leave it!”

Style & Stack your pillows

“A lot of people think that sleeping pillows need to be upright,  but I like them to be flat and just stacked two on top of each other. That way, they show less creases and you’re not interfering with the impact of your decorative pillows.”

Black & White is a no-fail formula

“As long as you’re working with black and white, you can’t really mess up a mix—go for it!,” says the decorator. “I painted the mantle black to tie in some of those dark elements in the lamps, chandelier, and pillows,” says Cram. “Don’t be afraid to bring in some of that drama.”

Be a little thrifty

The great, graphic artworks are Sam Cram originals“I wanted to fill the wall behind the nightstands, but I didn’t want it to interfere with the lamps. So I thought, what better way than just to grab an old book, rip out some pages, and just paint some shapes on the paper, and put it in frames?” And the cost? “Since I had the frames, it probably cost five dollars to do.”

Go Big or Go Home

“If you’re going to have a chandelier, make the chandelier the centerpiece to the space. Go bigger in your lighting than you think you should! A lot of people who aren’t professional designers are afraid to have a light that’s too big or that overwhelms the space. But I would always pick the bigger light over the smaller—especially if it’s going to be in the center of the room. Make it something that’s wow, something that just catches your eye, and that just ties in the rest of the elements in the space.”

For more inspiration, see:

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