Podcast, Ep. 149: Cullman & Kravis designers Ellie Cullman & Sarah Ramsey

Cullman & Kravis designers Ellie Cullman and Sarah Ramsey join the podcast to talk about their favorite projects and their most recent book

This week, we welcome Ellie Cullman and Sarah Ramsey of Cullman & Kravis Associates, one of the top design firms in the country known for providing the highest quality of design and personal service. They discuss how the firm was founded and rose to be one of the leaders in design, along with the inspiration behind their book, From Classic To Contemporary. We talk with them about ways to infuse traditional interiors with a modern and liveable perspective, what to do when you don’t want to be formal in a larger space, and how to create an art collection that best showcases your emotions and unique style.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode:

  • Ellie shares her great story of getting into design through a screenplay that didn’t go to well in a pitch meeting.
  • The four ways to make a huge impact when creating a space that feels refreshed and flows seamlessly.
  • All your art does not have to come from one specific time period or collection. You can have art reflect your individual taste and lead with emotions rather than what you think should be in the rooms.
  • Why attending an art fair (once we can go to them again) is a great idea to find affordable yet meaningful pieces or even just an idea of what’s out there.
  • Just like finding love, don’t commit to a certain design idea until you’ve looked around and “dated” a bunch of other ideas. If you are constantly seeing the same design ideas reflected back through your searches or Instagram algorithm pages, you can break out and try to embrace something new!
  • Ellie and Sarah work with designers of all ages at Cullman & Kravis, and they find this to be a source of inspiration and fresh ideas.
  • Ways we can create “lamp harmony” by adding uplighting, chandeliers, or even just changing an outdated light bulb or shade. 
  • The Hudson River home that exemplified how to arrange furniture in a large room that doesn’t need to be so formal. 
  • More about the Palm Beach project that portrayed beautiful accent walls and big colorful gestures.

Small living room with multipurpose spaces designed by Cullman & KravisDecorating Dilemma:

Hi Ladies,

I enjoy listening to your podcast, especially now that I’m home so much! I’m probably not your typical listener, as I am a retired nurse working part time at a fun retail shop. As you can imagine, I have experienced many trials and triumphs, both in life and decor.

My husband and I have moved many times, but I think this is our last home. We built a small ranch on Cape Cod last year. It’s a work in process as I love change. I’m having difficulty focusing on my style because I love so many different styles.

My dilemma is the dining area. I don’t like the color of the table or the finish. I love the Ballard Designs Andrews Round pedestal table. I would want to keep my chairs, possibly painting them black so the green cushions would pop more with a white table. Size may be the problem. It’s open concept and 48” seems to small but 60” may be too big!  My paint color is Benjamin Moore’s Ballet White (creamy with yellow undertone), and the light fixture must stay.

I also would like panels for the sliding door and a rug. I don’t have any kids but I do have animals, including a destructive cat. I’d like the space to be easy to clean. I have used Ballard Designs indoor/outdoor rug elsewhere, maybe that’s an option? I’ve also thought of replacing my cane chair with the Dayna chair in black. I love the Lottie floral fabric.

As you can see, my taste runs all over the place. I need you to help me focus so it can look put together. That’s what a love about the Ballard inspiration rooms.

Thank for any suggestions,


First, as a pet owner, we understand the comfort of wanting to have an indoor and outdoor rug. The technology is amazing these days, and you can get ones that look nice, like the Ballard Anders Indoor/Outdoor rug, that hopefully, your cat won’t destroy. You could paint the top of the table and get a pop of color that way, which allows you to get a 48” table and save some space. Your house is light and open, we love it! Good choice of neutral yet beautiful paint colors as well.

Show Notes:

Please send in your questions so we can answer them on our next episode! And of course, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes so you never miss an episode. You can always check back here to see new episodes, but if you subscribe, it’ll automatically download to your phone.

Happy Decorating!

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Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.