Kate Rumson

New York - Founder and Creative Director of The Real Houses

What first sparked your interest in interiors or design? When I was in high school my parents were shopping for a new house and took me with them to look at a brand new subdivision in central New Jersey. After our tour of the decorated model home and a drive around the community looking at houses during various stages of construction, I knew I wanted to build and design homes when I grow up.

How would you describe your aesthetic? Fresh American—I’m drawn to clean lines, simple forms and layers of luxurious textures.

What is a design trend you are loving at the moment? Blue and green kitchens. I love white kitchens but it’s so inspiring seeing more and more homeowners taking risk and going for darker, bolder and more sophisticated looks in their kitchens.

What is a design trend that you hate and are so over? I don’t really hate any trends, but I’d be ok if I started seeing less of patterned cement tiles on bathroom floors.

How do you weave your sense of style into everything you do (fashion, etc.)? I always look for clean and simple pieces whether I’m shopping for decor or clothing. With me, it’s all about creating interest by layering simplicity.

Who are some of your favorite “secret” sources for projects? I like to begin designing a space from flooring, and I love DuChateau pre-finished engineered floors. I had DuChateau installed in my current townhouse, and not only are they beautiful, they’re also very durable and still look brand new (even in the kitchen). I love DreamLine shower doors—their selection is second to none, and everything is gorgeous and comes in a variety of sizes and finishes. Monogram is my go to for appliances—I love their minimalistic and sophisticated design, all of the latest smart features and unparalleled attention to details. No one does hardware better than Emtek—they offer solution for every configuration, as well as endless options of styles, sizes and finishes. Zephyr makes the best range hoods and hood liners—they’ve perfected kitchen ventilation. And I love Hinkley lighting—timeless designs, great selection and quality.

Wallpaper or paint? I LOVE wallpaper!

Antique or reproduction? I’m just starting to warm up to antiques. 

What is your favorite color palette to use in projects currently? White is my favorite color, but lately I find myself working with darker color palettes. I can’t get enough of dark greys, blacks and charcoals. 

What is a timeless design moment that you think will never go out of style? White walls covered in classic moldings. The overall look can be easily manipulated with lighting, art, furnishings and accessories to conform to many different styles, but that beautiful and timeless foundation will never look or feel dated.

What is the best bang for the buck when it comes to making a big impact on a project? Lighting. With so many lighting options available today in different price points, it could be the most impactful element in a room without breaking the bank.

What do you wish more of your clients understood? That luxury homes starts with what’s inside the walls. When planning to build a new home or start a major renovation, it’s as important to pay attention to framing, insulation and HVAC products, as it is to wallpaper, countertops and appliances. Comfort and good air quality are essential to luxury living—and it all starts at framing.


Photography by: By Vicky Hopkins/Courtesy of Kate Rumson