Katie Rosenfeld Updates a Tudor Home
August 23, 2022
It was love at first sight in Wellesley for Katie Rosenfeld, and she’s in it for the long haul.
Text by Erika Ayn Finch Photography by Read McKendree Produced by Karin Lidbeck Brent
What color is a paper bag? Katie Rosenfeld doesn’t care—she just knows she’s obsessed with it, along with black and brown hues living side by side and Winterfell-esque Tudors. And she traces it all back to April 2020, when she and her husband, Doug, went house hunting at a time when most of us were hunkered down. They were allowed twenty minutes inside a 1926-built Tudor in Wellesley, Massachusetts. “I didn’t even want to see it—I hated Tudors,” confesses the interior designer. “But the moment we saw it, it made a huge emotional impact. We walked in and said, ‘We’ll take it.’ ”
Months earlier, the couple had sold the 100-year-old cape-style house where they had raised their two children and decamped to the city. But as soon as the doors of their rented Fenway duplex closed behind them, Rosenfeld missed suburban living. “I just wanted to go outside and throw a steak on the grill,” she muses. The claustrophobia really set in when pandemic restrictions hit, and the couple’s children returned to the nest.
Fast-forward to the Tudor purchase. When the ink was dry, Rosenfeld reached out to Kevin Cradock to begin the renovation process. The design team managed to secure building materials before the supply chain broke. “If we had waited six months, we never would have been able to do this—financially or logistically,” says Rosenfeld.
The couple decided not to expand the 4,600-square-foot home, and they didn’t alter the floor plan much, either. They opened up a kitchen wall, and reconfigured the cavernous primary bedroom to accommodate his-and-her closets and a larger bathroom, but otherwise the structure remained the same.
The design team did, however, paint the interior’s existing dark-wood millwork Farrow & Ball Shaded White. Reclaimed terra-cotta flooring replaced the original stamped terra-cotta, and the walls were treated to a rough plaster finish—no smooth skim coat. Rosenfeld says the Tudor style—and an HBO series—drove most design decisions.
“I was obsessed with Game of Thrones at the time,” she says, laughing, “and that informed the palette. We wanted everything dark, wintery, cozy, and British.”
You can see evidence of that in the unevenly overlapped terra-cotta tile roof (Rosenfeld’s favorite part of the house), the small-but-mighty kitchen with its custom larder, the Gothic-style chandeliers, and the unfitted bathrooms. Even the front door, which Cradock built by hand, reusing the original door’s strap hinges and knocker, recalls an English fortress. “I love making entry doors,” says Cradock. “It’s a preview of what’s inside—the first thing people touch on the house.”
Design lovers witnessed the rebirth of the space through Rosenfeld’s twenty-two-episode YouTube series. Among them was a New Jersey Instagram follower who thought the Tudor looked oddly familiar. Lo and behold, it turned out the home had belonged to her husband’s grandmother. The follower shared letters, documents, and photographs with the Rosenfelds, much to their delight.
It was a feel-good moment that capped a feel-good process. “I have lived in seven houses, and I’ve never been emotionally attached to any of them the way I am to this one,” Rosenfeld says. “I will never get rid of this house. My grandchildren will sleep in these rooms.”
Interior design: Katie Rosenfeld, Katie Rosenfeld & Co.
Interior architectural design: Katie Rosenfeld, Jessica Chabot, Katie Rosenfeld & Co.
Builder: Kevin Cradock, Justin Oates, Kevin Cradock Builders
Landscape design: Joanna McCoy, a Blade of Grass