The House Her Instagram Followers Built

Kate Rumson’s followers weighed in when she revamped her Central Jersey townhouse. Now, they’re doing the same for her ground-up build in Monmouth County.

Kate rumson

Kate Rumson

Kate Rumson wasn’t out to become an Instagram star. The former investment advisor, now brand influencer and interior designer, initially used Instagram to create a personal archive of home inspiration. With each post her following seemed to grow exponentially. Savvy enough to seize the moment, Rumson—a native of East Brunswick—began using her followers as design consultants to cast votes on everything from paint colors to plumbing fixtures as she revamped her Central Jersey townhouse. Now Rumson’s 2.4 million followers are weighing in on her latest project, a 4,400-square-foot house she is having built in Monmouth County.

When did the current project start, and when is it slated for completion?

Construction began in August 2019. I expect the process to take longer than usual because of my schedule, but I’m hoping to finish in early 2021.

Do you ever overrule your Instagram followers? If so, when and why?

Yes, just last month! Whenever I ask my followers for feedback, I present two carefully analyzed options—I love both but rely on them to make the final decision. I posted a spontaneous poll while at a decorative-plumbing showroom looking for the perfect bathtub for my new home. The tub comes in high gloss and matte. I liked both and thought either would work, so I let my followers make the decision. After thinking about it, I realized the matte finish is the best option, while 60 percent of my followers thought I should go with the high gloss. Lesson learned: I won’t be doing any more spontaneous A or B posts before carefully analyzing the options myself.

Have you had any formal design or construction training?

I never studied either formally. When I was younger, I read every book and article I could find about design, construction and home building, Later, I learned everything I know now from experience on job sites.

Kate rumson

Rumson renovated her Central Jersey townhouse, including the kitchen, with input from her Instagram followers.

What can followers learn from your Instagram posts?

I try to make my platforms as educational as possible by sharing not only finished projects but also construction progress and, most importantly, my thought process. I walk my community through each decision, explaining the whys behind every little detail.

How often do you post? Is there a strategy in the pictures you choose?

I post once a day on @the_real_houses_of_ig and try to post one to two times per week on my personal page, @katerumson. For The Real Houses, I look for show-stopping but livable spaces—photos homeowners can use as inspiration for their own projects. On my personal page, I try to go deeper into how beautiful homes come together, as well as sharing a little about myself and my lifestyle.

Kate rumson

A rendering of Rumson’s ground-up house build in Monmouth County, scheduled for completion in 2021.

Is design still fun to you now that it is your full-time business? How has it changed?

I live for design, construction and luxury real estate—I’m just very lucky to get to do what I love for a living. I stopped taking on new client projects more than three years ago. Designing for clients meant I couldn’t share everything about my work with my Instagram community. (If a client is paying me to find the perfect wallpaper for their powder room and I share that wallpaper letting everyone know where to get it, it’s not fair to my client who paid thousands of dollars for me to find it specifically for their powder room.) And I can’t imagine sharing my work but not being able to answer any questions about it. Everyone is different, but I derive fulfillment from being able to help thousands of people as opposed to a handful of private clients, so I switched entirely to working for brands—helping with product development, design, brand strategy, business development, product launches and a million other things. And to fulfill my constant need to create, design and build, I work on my new home and my townhouse—projects I can share freely.

What conclusions have you drawn about what aesthetics are currently the most popular?

Most people like their homes to feel homey and warm but still elevated. Light kitchens, wood floors, comfortable furniture and plenty of natural light are some of the most popular things homeowners want to see in their homes.

[RELATED: How a Chatham Couple Updated One of NJ’s Oldest Homes]

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