Katie Newsom’s boldly colored Kate Spade outfit was the first clue. “One look at her and I knew where we needed to go,” laughs Boston interior designer Katie Rosenfeld. “She arrived decked out in Kate Spade, everything pink. She told me she wanted pink in every single room of her house.” Preferably, hot pink. Rosenfeld, herself a fan of bold colors, was tickled (OK, we won’t say how tickled) to take on the assignment, and affectionately dubbed Katie “the pink lady” on her design blog.
Katie and her husband, Sedgie, were ready to renovate a 1925 Mediterranean Revival house in Atlanta in 2011 when she found a feature about Rosenfeld on a design blog called Chinoiserie Chic. “I clicked through to her site and loved every room,” Katie says. A phone call confirmed her instincts. Even though Rosenfeld lived miles away, she totally grasped Katie’s vibrant vision.
Not only did the two Katies share a love of color, the women discovered they attended Boston College at the same time and, although they didn’t know each other, had many common friends. They’re both Southerners (Rosenfeld is from Florida) and share a passion for chinoiserie and Florida-inspired design.
“I joke that she is my decorating soul mate. She understood how much color I wanted, how bright, and how far I was willing to go with that. And she had a way of doing it that feels sophisticated and in keeping with the house—not cute,” Katie says. “I pretty much loved everything she showed me.”
As Rosenfeld and Katie gushed over stacks of exuberantly patterned and colored fabrics, Sedgie was less enthusiastic. After all, how many men want a home swathed in pink? So the golf-loving dentist struck a deal with his attorney wife. “My sweet husband said OK to all the pink in exchange for unlimited golfing privileges,” Katie says, with a laugh. “That was fine with me.” Sedgie did have one caveat: The design couldn’t be “sissy-ish.”
Rosenfeld ensured that was not the case by mixing a variety of red, hot pink, peach, and orange shades with other colors and patterns that pushed the design to upscale Florida rather than ultra-feminine. Patterns are large scale and graphic instead of dainty and sweet.
Even in the dining room—probably the pinkest room in the house with its bubble-gum pink wallcovering—hints of orange-red, acid-green, and graphic white accents, along with a room-grounding oak floor, suppress any sissy tendencies.
As the design came together, Katie and Rosenfeld talked and texted daily. The designer created digital mood boards, pulling images of fabrics and furnishings that Katie could view electronically. “We spent a lot of time on Skype going through things. Working long distance was easy,” Rosenfeld says. She also shipped packets of fabric swatches, bundled by room and labeled by use, so Katie could touch and feel the textiles.
The designer made a couple of site visits to Atlanta and the two women also met up in Atlanta and Boston in 2011 and ’12 for shopping trips for fabrics, furniture, lighting, plumbing fixtures, andappliances. Rosenfeld confidently nabbed a few items on her own, too, including a pair of oversized vintage Blanc de Chine lamp bases she spotted in Florida. “I shipped them to Katie, and she flipped. I knew they would be perfect on that credenza in the dining room. The fruit bases look like the pattern of the wallpaper.”
While Katie made the color calls, Sedgie ruled in the kitchen design. “Sedgie is a huge cook, and he knew how he wanted the kitchen to function,” says Rosenfeld. “The open plan to the family room was important to him so he could cook and watch the Ole Miss games.”
Dishwashers and pullout garbage bins are installed on either side of the island sink, allowing for multiple cooks and caterers when the Newsoms entertain. The island serves as a buffet serving surface for large dinner parties, as well as a sunny place for Katie to hang out and work on her computer.
A new, larger kitchen and family room were the main reasons for the renovation. Previously, the 2,500-square-foot home had a tiny kitchen in the back and an unattractive center stairway (a 1970s redo) that blocked traffic flow and made the main level feel choppy. Atlanta architectural designer Frank Neely suggested tearing out the ’70s staircase and building a new, more period-appropriate one in the back of the house near the living room.
“Moving the stairs was a game changer,” Katie says. “It opened up the main level and helped us reconfigure the upstairs as well.” A 1,000-square-foot single-level addition at the back gave the Newsoms a combination kitchen-family room with arched steel French doors, which Neely designed, that open to a terrace. Bright green backsplash tiles pop against white cabinetry, and the vivid color is repeated in the adjoining butler’s pantry.
Initially, Rosenfeld wasn’t on board with using greens with Katie’s beloved pink, fearing it would be too cutesy. “I fought her on using pink and green together, but when I found the Osborne & Little ‘Maharani’ fabric for the kitchen windows, that made it OK for me. The green was such an acid yellow-green that it took all the pink-and-green cuteness out,” says Rosenfeld.
“That green is not for everyone,” she adds, “but it’s Katie. The whole house looks just like her. And that’s the goal—for a house to look like the client and not the designer.”
Although the house is completed, Katie and Rosenfeld still stay in touch, calling and texting nearly every day. “I’m trying to get her more business in Atlanta so she’ll keep coming back,” Katie says. Rosenfeld adds, “I think we’ll be friends for life.”
Architect: Frank Neely, Frank Neely Design Assoc., 1447 Peachtree St. N.E., Suite 844, Atlanta, GA 30309; 404/817-0807, neelydesign.com.
Interior design: Katie Rosenfeld, Katie Rosenfeld Design, 23 Bogle St., Weston , MA 02493; 339/222-9964, katierosenfelddesign.com.
Produced by Lisa Mowry
Photography: Emily Jenkins Followill