A Rogue Element in Every Room Pulls This Michigan Cottage’s Many Patterns Together
Plaid carpeting plays off wall-to-wall florals in the den.
Published May 6, 2023 1:04 AM
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Pattern play isn’t for the faint of heart. For most of us, it’s a series of trial and error and asking ourselves: Can stripes really play well with florals? But interior designer Cameron Ruppert seems to have cracked the code on mix-and-match maximalism. The first part of the equation? A fearless homeowner who believes nothing is too over the top. It helps that the two have worked together since Ruppert’s first design job, which also happened to be this client’s first home. Because they are frequent collaborators, they’d established a bit of a routine. “We always find one crazy fabric [for each room] first, and then everything else is based on that,” Ruppert says.
For this Harbor Springs, Michigan, new build, the homeowner, a private tutor and entrepreneur whose primary residence is in Washington, D.C., wanted to blend colorful cottagecore with coastal vibes via her signature more-is-more style. When designing a room mixed with texture and prints, most people think: How can we tie it all together? But Ruppert’s formula takes a different approach. “I love having something that acts as the rogue element,” she says. In this entryway that welcomes visitors with wavy shades, ivy-pattern walls, and floral benches, it’s a graphic Scandinavian-style flat-weave that does the trick. “That rug kind of ties together the wallpaper and the window treatment, but it really relates to none of it. That’s what keeps it from feeling too predictable.”
The five-bedroom house is full of plenty more moments no one would expect. In the dining room, where Delft tiles create a ceiling-height backsplash for the wet bar, the pattern was completely selected at random. “We got all sorts of neutral blue and white tiles, and maybe 14 had flowers on them,” Ruppert says. “There was no intentional method to where we put them.” In other words, sometimes magic can happen when you don’t play by any rules.
Although many of the rooms have wallpaper, white shiplap was the backdrop of choice for the main living areas. Already familiar with the homeowner’s taste, Ruppert knew what had to be done with the furniture. “With all that white, anything that wasn’t the wall needed to be punchy,” she says. “We wanted a hodgepodge. Almost as if you had acquired your aunt’s furniture over the years.” Ruppert was the sounding board that kept the home from skewing too grandmillienial: A pair of new mismatched sofas, vintage lamps, and a wicker table borrowed from the client’s mom kept the look fresh.
The kitchen is one of the few other spaces where white walls were allowed—but that’s not to say the room is lacking in pattern. A tulip print covers the large picture window over the sink and shows up again in the form of cushions and café curtains in the breakfast nook. The latter are a smart way to let light in but keep neighbors’ eyes out.
Instead of mixing prints in the den, they went all in on one they hadn’t yet found a place for in other properties. Now it’s on the windows, the walls, the throw pillows, and the panels in the media center. They pulled the oxblood shade for the velvet sofa and built-in bookshelves overhead from the wallpaper petals. And again, the rug in this room goes rogue. Since this is where the homeowner comes to curl up and read, watch TV, or grade papers, Ruppert created more of a bedroomlike ambience with wall-to-wall plaid.
In the actual bedrooms, there’s a completely different energy for each. The primary is heavy on dusty pinks and purples, and unsurprisingly, lots of florals—the homeowner likes to lean into softer styles for her own room. The guest room is also flora-forward but in a different way. Ruppert says it actually breaks a lot of her own pattern-mixing rules, but if it was going to work for any space, it would be in a home of this client.
If Ruppert had to pick a favorite space, the kids’ room is the one. Though the homeowner doesn’t have little ones of her own, there’s a rotation of seven godchildren, nieces, and nephews who visit. (A good reason for a home to have two laundry rooms, one of which is pictured, below.) In lieu of flowery motifs, mythical creatures and celestial themes show up as star-shaped sconces and custom bedding. The comforters were all made to match the drapes and corresponding bed frames. Ruppert’s team surprised both her and the client with a sweet finishing touch. The pillows were designed so that the color of the whimsical characters in the center correlates with the headboards—a part of the equation that she never knew was missing—but like the rest of the home, sometimes when you go rogue, it just works.