When the owners of a late-1980s house in Pound Ridge, New York, called on Abelow Sherman Architects to complete a renovation, they wanted a warm and friendly family retreat that conveyed formality but lacked preciousness—a place where they could get away from the rigors and distractions of New York City, just 50 miles to the south.
The architects unified the existing structure’s rooflines and materiality, added new dormers and a tie-rod truss to dramatize a double-height living room, and conceived a new glass-and-steel sunroom. New windows were placed strategically to bring in daylight and create scenic views. In addition, Abelow Sherman called on Katch Interiors, with whom they had previously collaborated, to complete the interior palette and decor.
Sisters Pamela and Steph Katch “had to intuit what the story of this house would become,” Pamela says. “We hit the ground running.” Their approach involved a series of contradictions: Insert delicate proportions among Abelow Sherman’s bold architectural moves; mix moments of flatness with luminosity; pair ornate patterns, such as antique French silks, with modern and midcentury spareness. And blast in fun, friendly color for clients who are allergic to visual noise. As Pamela puts it: “Understated and serene with adjacent joy.”
Their biggest challenge was the living room, organized around two full-height fumed reclaimed oak built-in bookcases, which frame the door to the butler’s pantry on the ground floor and a glazed view into a dressing room on the second. The bookcases hold the clients’ extensive library, and the elevation was one of the first that the architects designed. “The idea was exciting, and then it was a big question mark about how that would contribute to the room,” Steph says. “The scale became grander and cozier all in the same breath.”
To complement the shelving system and delicate tie-rod truss, the Katches brought the rest of the space, which serves as a dining room and versatile living room, down to human scale. Three resin and bronze dining-height tables from Wud Furniture can be grouped together for a large dinner, or separated for more intimate meals and reading or working. Opposite the bookcases is an anchoring blackened-steel fireplace with hand-carved bronze trim and a Basaltina mantel. A custom walnut and linoleum coffee table is surrounded by Danish teak and rattan chairs from 1stDibs upholstered in a Maharam fabric. A bespoke, hand-knotted Sacco carpet with ruby and teal highlights (among 26 other colors) picks up the rich tones in floral throw pillows from Tassinari and Chatel.
Moments of flatness and luminosity continue in the subdued and tranquil entryway. A traditional curved stair was preserved (as were the charming and slightly underscaled doorknobs throughout the house). The Katches sheathed the walls in a rustic woven wallcovering that reveals a layer of silver leaf underneath, depending on the light and movement in the room. A custom daybed in handwoven fabric by Lauren Hwang and Dualoy suede invites repose.
The pitched-roof dressing room—glimpsed above the living room bookcases—is another “genius” move by Abelow Sherman, says Steph, for its scale and vantage point. Cerused teak millwork and buff-colored onyx are balanced with a lacy, shimmering wallpaper from Juliet Travers, called Nutcracker, that depicts red squirrels hiding among oak branches. A Paavo Tynell chandelier is wrapped with mesh, brass leaves, and looping flowers that terminate in the finial. “It’s very feminine and whimsical, and it stands in contrast to the rectilinearity of the architecture,” says Steph.
By the time the Katches reached the guest bedroom, they were ready to have some fun. Blue floral wallpaper from Sandberg immerses visitors in saturated color, along with a graphic checkerboard lambswool throw from Wallace Sewell and a custom selvage Japanese denim bedspread designed by Katch Interiors. Jens Risom nightstands, velvet throw pillows, and a neutral carpet from Merida add restraint while threading all of the elements together.
The Katch sisters’ talent for scouting the perfect vintage piece for each contemporary project inspired a new project of its own. This month, the sisters are launching the Katch Vintage collection on 1stDibs, focusing on European and midcentury pieces. The collection was born out of overzealousness: They were shopping at auction for their own apartments and “went a little bananas,” winding up with more items than they could use. “We thought, Why not add another tier to our business that enables us to have fun doing more of what we love?” Pamela says. “Finding the needles in the haystacks and sharing our sensibility with others.”