This was the least-Florida place you could imagine,” designer Cameron Ruppert remembers about the first time she stepped inside her parents’ new condo. She would know: Since she was a newborn, her family had been flocking from Washington, D.C., to her grandparents’ house in the Sunshine State. When her grandmother sold the residence, Ruppert’s parents purchased a three-bedroom unit down the street so future generations would have their own warm-weather getaway. But the waterfront home’s sunny setting gave no indication of the dark interiors within. “All the wood trim, floors and kitchen cabinetry were mahogany,” the designer recalls.
Working with general contractor Sam Hjalmeby to renovate the Vero Beach home, Ruppert began swapping out the finishes. “Most of the upgrades were cosmetic,” Hjalmeby says. “We replaced the floors with whitewashed oak and painted the original kitchen cabinets.” A few areas, however, required deeper intervention: The primary bathroom was gutted and reconfigured, and the dining room’s decorative columns were replaced by a new walled opening, allowing the living and dining spaces to function as individual yet connected areas.
That separate but unified approach extends to the interior palette, too. A buoyant blend of blues, creams and browns provides a design throughline for much of the project, with subtle variations from room to room. “All of my parents’ houses are very beige,” Ruppert says. “This is a coastal residence, so we wanted to lean into those lighter blues.”
While the designer effortlessly conjures a sense of place through the palette and the occasional touch of rattan, there’s nary a rope-wrapped lamp or sea-glass accent in sight. Instead, she envisioned a family-friendly retreat with elevated finishes. Take the living room, where a sand-toned grass-cloth wallcovering provides a textural backdrop for dollops of vibrant French blue, Indian-inspired paisley pillows and a graphic rug that grounds the room with deeper shades of cocoa. As a nod to the surroundings, she placed a faux palm tree in the corner and used vintage shell-backed chairs as additional seating at the new breakfast nook. Because grandchildren are frequent visitors, the banquette’s fabric is laminated to guard against spills and splashes. “It’s totally wipeable—which is nice, because it makes me feel better about my kids eating and getting ketchup all over the place,” Ruppert says with a laugh.
Just beyond the breakfast nook, the designer coated the dining room walls in blue lacquer—an idea initially met with slight trepidation from her parents, who thought the glossy treatment might be better suited to a cosmopolitan New York City apartment than a casual beachfront condo. “With the case openings, they were worried about it getting darker and feeling like it’s not connected to the main living space,” she explains. “I told them we should embrace the fact it’s an interior room with no windows. That contrast helps to make the other spaces feel even happier.”
Off the living room, a moodier version of the color story takes root in the den, thanks to a brown-and-cream floral wallpaper. There, Ruppert incorporated a few of her grandmother’s British Colonial-leaning pieces, including end tables, an ottoman and two cane chairs, which she re-covered, leaving a glimpse of the original fabric under the seat cushion to honor their history.
While the designer kept the finishes mostly neutral in the primary bedroom and fully embraced old-school Palm Beach chic in the guest quarters, she let her whimsical side take flight in the bunk room. The space—which sleeps eight grandchildren, owing to twin beds with trundles underneath—stays within the color palette while playing with patterns: floral on the walls, stripes on the window shade, polka dots on pillows. Artwork her father has had since the 1980s adds an heirloom touch to the already sentimental surroundings: “Part of why I loved working on this room so much was because I knew my children were going to be using it,” Ruppert says. “I have countless memories of going to my grandmother’s house when I was growing up; this new condo represents that for my kids, so it felt personal. That connection is what made this project so special.”