If you have ever attended an industry event, chances are you have met Bonnie Kramer, the newly retired owner of Bonnie Kramer Interiors. With more than 30 years specializing in window treatments and interior design, Bonnie has been a fixture at many trade shows, teaching seminars, helping friends with their own seminars and learning and exploring the ever-expanding world of interiors.
It was the mid-1970s when Kramer stepped into her career, first
in a commercial capacity, designing hotel rooms for Holiday Inn,
Howard Johnson and Ramada. “It got boring in the end,”
she recalls of her commercial work. “You choose two designs
for the king and queen size [bed]rooms, and then you do 100 of them.”
So, with that experience to guide her, she next moved to J.C. Penney
Co. where she began honing her craft in residential work, as well
as opening design studios for the company. “It was too corporate,”
she recalls, explaining her reasons for departure, although also
mentioning in the same breath that the experience was extremely
Clearly, her own business was the ticket to success—and would
be for the next 23 years. Throughout that time, a variety of projects
surfaced as favorites, including . . . yes, some commercial projects
such as the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, which included soundproof
fabric walls and an art exhibit, and the Minquadale Firehall, in
Minquadale, DE, with its 40- by 60-foot ballroom, bar, lobby and
But the project at hand, her swan song so to speak, was the renovation
of the Park Plaza ninth-floor condominium belonging to Leonard Simon,
the owner of Wright & Simon, a high-end men’s clothier.
OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW
Kramer faced a number of challenges put forth by her client, some
sad (in that the condo was originally owned by her client’s
parents, now passed), and some difficult—a huge architectural
“I pulled out walls, changed electrical wiring, doorways and
flooring in this condo,” Kramer enthuses. “My mission
was to make the living room/dining room into a media/entertainment
area for a bachelor.” First, she removed a wall enclosing
the kitchen and put in an L-shaped bar. All new appliances and cabinets
went in, too. She designed a fireplace and, interestingly, had the
carpenter move the fireplace out from the back wall the same distance
as the overhead soffet. Bumping out the fireplace several inches
from the back wall created a storage space where all of the media
and surround-sound electronic equipment is placed, with access through
a narrow door on the left side. Moving the system’s speakers
away from that back wall also created a buffer between the neighbor’s
wall and Leonard’s, thus cutting down on potential noise.
Then, in order to make the fireplace not stand out too much, as
well as to take care of all the light seepage in this room, “I
had the carpenter make the pillars and cornices below the bulkheads
in the same design as the fireplace,” she noted. There was
almost 30 feet of glass to cover and the owner did not want it to
look like a hotel room. “I divided it up with pillars and
ADOvert with side panels. The room-darkening shades behind the sofa
are on a remote, as it is not easy to get behind it.”
The guest room, another phase of the project, was done in a masculine
stripe. “We took out a wall between two walk-in closets to
make this room,” Kramer says. “I also used a two-inch
wood pole and large rings in the color of my client’s furniture.
And yes, that is a Duette shade in the window to soften the vertical
The master bedroom posed a big problem, both emotional and architectural.
This had been the client’s parents’ room. The owner,
indeed, had said he wanted to use the guest room as his primary
sleeping area due to the memories this room held, but Bonnie insisted
that when she was done with the master room decor, it wouldn’t
look anything like his parents’ space.
First, she moved the bed from the obvious wall in the room and floated
it on an opposite window wall. Then, she had a freestanding headboard
made with shelves/storage space behind it. The finishing touches—there
is nothing floral or anything that suggests men’s tie patterns
in the place—created a space uniquely for her client. He was
ecstatic. “She was tremendous,” Simon enthused. “We
got along great!”
“We worked on this project for seven months,” says Kramer.
“It was a wonderful way to end my career in this business.
I have heard of so many who have given up the business on a sour
note. I was determined that I should go out with happy memories.”
Yet, the condominium project, she insists, isn’t her last.
“My final hurrah,” she explains with great enthusiasm,
“is the farmhouse my husband and I just bought in western
Pennsylvania.” Located about 20 minutes from Frank Lloyd Wright’s
Fallingwater, she will have packed up and moved—just about
the time this magazine lands in your mailbox.
With a guesthouse as well as the main farmhouse to completely gut
and renovate, Kramer won’t be resting on her laurels anytime
soon. As for the clients who keep calling, “I’m passing
all of my calls to Maryann Morrison of Maryann’s Interiors,
[Newark, DE],” she says.
“It has been a wonderful career,” Bonnie sighs, but
it’s clear that she’s looking forward to the next phase
of her life with just as much enthusiasm.
Designer: Bonnie Kramer Interiors; BMMMK@aol.com
Client: Leonard Simon; email@example.com
Carpenter: Mark Ventresca; (302) 239-3925
Workroom: Crossley Custom Interiors; (302) 731-1593;
Photographer: Jan Stern
Master bedroom bedspread: Fabricut
Headboard and bench: Kasmir
Guest Bedroom: Norbar
Living Room Side Panels: Kasmir
Living room window treatments: ADOvert, ADO
Guest room window treatments: Duette® shades, Hunter Douglas
New Furniture and all accessories: Thomasville