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Making the Fifth Wall Pop

An Interview with Sam Cram of Sam Cram Design

The Nashville Native Talks White, Black, and Unpredictable Inspiration

February 27, 2020
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An Interview with Sam Cram of Sam Cram Design

The Nashville Native Talks White, Black, and Unpredictable Inspiration

February 27, 2020

Sam Cram loves to find a room's potential for glam and coax it out with light neutral backgrounds, touches of dark drama, and golden/brassy accents. In the Nashville-based interior designer's own space (pictured throughout) she took classic, elegant glam to the next level by using a black, white, and gold color palette.

Below, Cram dishes on her approach to emphasizing a space's personality, mixing glam and vintage, and her secret to keeping a space feeling fresh.


Design: Sam Cram Design | Louis Ghost Chair FTW

How would you describe your design style?

A European-inspired mix of old and new with touches of classic elements and textures. Neutrals and black and white are my love language—you can’t mess up. 


Designer: Sam Cram Design

How do you select design elements that are fresh but also remain timeless?

I always like to make sure that the overall feel of the space is both classic and timeless but also has a bit of personality and quirk. I never want to have something too trendy. I also want to be able to fall back on a classic look that will truly never go out of style. My favorite way of making a space constantly feel fresh is by switching out pillows, rearranging the coffee table with different books and accessories, and adding new flowers every week or so. I have design OCD sometimes, constantly moving things around in my house. I make sure to purchase and hunt for pieces that are multifunctional in different areas of my home. Maybe that’s a side table that I can move around to different areas of my living space, or a collection of antique boxes I like to swap out. 


Designer: Sam Cram Design

When it comes to lighting, how do you know what fixtures will work best for a specific space?

I like to mix it up. I don’t love to have two all-shade fixtures or two round fixtures in the same space at any given time. Mix it up! Pair a cascading fixture with a linear one, a cone pendant in the kitchen with a rounded chandelier in the living room, etc. I also love taking the opportunity to give the lighting a chance to express a little personality in the space. Think about how gorgeous an all-white bedroom would be with a stunning, eye-catching, all-glass cascading chandelier. It is the centerpiece to the space! Sometimes the perfect light can inspire the entire look and feel you want to portray! Don’t be afraid to mix the metals of the chandelier; just make sure to keep it cohesive all around. Add sprinkles of other metals throughout so it feels intentional and on purpose. 


Design: Sam Cram Design


Design: Sam Cram Design

When selecting a color scheme for a room, where do you start?

Typically, a color scheme is chosen based off one of 3 things for me: rug, art, or lighting. All of these things can inspire a certain look in my head that I want to make reality. Especially a great rug! 


Design: Sam Cram Design

You seem to love painting rooms white. How do you select elements that keep each space unique?

White is the best blank canvas you can give your space. It allows so much with the design to evolve, all while keeping it fresh and bright. Don’t get me wrong, I love a moody black space—but 99% of the time I will pick a white. You can’t mess up white! It allows you to bring in any color—minimal or bold—to layer into the design and I love that. No limits! I think mixing vintage finds with new pieces will always get you unique, inspired design. That is what is so great about vintage—you are the only one that has it! I always want to layer in new pieces that make a client feel like they have something that no one else has! 


Design: Sam Cram Design | The piece of furniture her TV is on here is a vintage find, captured here while it was getting polished up.


Sam and her husband James also run a prints business where they do these beautiful handwritten calligraphy-like renditions of meaningful texts such as song lyrics and bible verses.

What’s the most unpredictable place you’ve drawn inspiration from?

I would have to say, a perfume bottle. When I was in design school, we were given an assignment to create a commercial space based off an item that recently inspired you. At the time, I had saved a really pretty, vintage, emerald-green glass bottle of perfume that dated back to the ‘20s! It was embellished with crystals and intricate carvings on the glass and had a velvet spray bulb. It sparked a whole evolving design of the spa that I was working on, complete with crushed green-velvet furniture, black-and-white marble tile, and a water feature you can’t forget! It’s still one of my favorite projects from school! 


Design: Sam Cram Design

Cram loves to keep spaces bright, light, and airy. In her own post on the space, Sam Cram discusses how even if you're renting, changing the lighting is a great investment, because it will have a high impact on the aesthetic level of the space, and you can take them with you when you go. 


Design: Sam Cram Design