Turns out, being unceremoniously fired can be a ticket to glory. So it was for Buffalo, New York–born and –bred Ramey Caulkins, who got the axe at an internship in public relations—her first gig after college. “I was fired from a job I wasn’t even getting paid for!” she laughs. Caulkins quickly re-routed after finding her passion for interior design and rose to the top brass at Ann Sacks in Chicago and Kohler in Denver before opening her own firm, Griffin Design Source, in 2004.
Now, Caulkins boomerangs between projects in glitterati meccas (Nantucket! Aspen! Palm Springs!) and her style-forward HQ, which is housed in an 1890s cottage next to her own home in North Washington Park.
Caulkins cozied up the 1,350-square-foot “home office” in maximalist style. There is a wall upholstered in Sister Parish’s Cecil Stripe pattern; a sitting area composed of a rotating collection of re-covered chairs and sofas from the resale site Chairish; and built-in bookshelves brimming with sisal baskets for corralling fabric samples. “I love the way the Los Angeles showrooms have their fabrics laid out with samples super accessible,” Caulkins says of the inspiration for the Instagrammable display—which is, by the way, as organized as it looks. “I really do work at it. I re-fold fabrics; the act of putting them away is cathartic for me!”
Pale-pink walls—the pretty hue is Oriental Lily from Sydney Harbour—provide an effervescent and unexpected backdrop for a space that doubles as a design laboratory and meeting place. “It’s so nice to invite people to my office to have coffee and catch up—or to have a commiserating session in an industry that can be very isolating,” Caulkins says. Clients stop by to brainstorm or admire samples: The designer is the sole Denver rep for textile company Sister Parish Design (see sidebar) and Creative Metal and Wood Furniture, a line of grasscloth-covered tables finished in a 12-step process. (“If you spill something, it doesn’t come close to getting on the grasscloth!” Caulkins promises.)
An on-site storage space holds a cache of treasures Caulkins has collected during her travels, including 18th-century linens she buys in Maine and chunky Peruvian blankets and pillows. The stash often yields the perfect finishing touches for her residential designs, but we’re guessing it also offers this designer a lovely reminder of the adventure her true calling has turned out to be.
Sister Parish Design
Who (or what) is Sister Parish?
She was a socialite and decorator for dignitaries and is perhaps best known for revamping the interior design of the Kennedy White House. Parish died in 1994, but the patterns she designed for her clients live on in a namesake fabric and wallpaper company, Sister Parish Design.
What’s the Denver connection?
Designer Ramey Caulkins—who vacations with her husband, Max, and their family on the same Maine island where Sister Parish’s clan has summered for generations—is now Sister Parish Design’s regional rep and brand ambassador. “I love the brand and the history,” she says. “They were such pioneers!”
Ramey’s Sister Parish Fabric Picks
1. Tuckerman in Ocean
“While ethereal in color, the pattern reads a bit masculine, in a good way,” says Caulkins, who recommends this fabric for dining room seats. The subtle motif “will hide any mishaps quite well!”
2. Ogden in Espresso
“To me, Ogden is a timeless animal print that could be used for upholstery, curtains, and pillows all at the same time,” Caulkins says. Bonus: It’s ideal in both modern and traditional spaces.
3. Sunswick in Blue With Dots
“If you’re on the hunt for a fabric that will play well outdoors, look no further than this classic English print,” Caulkins says. It’s “lovely in scale,” and “the dots read as a neutral ground that is far from boring.”