Podcast, Ep. 252 A Modern Take on Traditional Design with Katie Rosenfield

Designer Katie Rosenfield

Designer Katie Rosenfield

On today’s show, we welcome Massachusetts-based designer Katie Rosenfeld.  Katie’s design style can be summed up as happy, family-friendly, and approachable. Katie’s ability to approach traditional design in an unexpected way makes her stand out. She blurs the lines between classic and modern with bits of quirky added for good measure. Her work has been featured in Architectural Digest, New England Home, HGTV Magazine, and House Beautiful. Katie will also be launching a new line of bathroom vanities called Vanity & Co later this year. We discuss with Katie what her tips are to modernize a traditional look, which designs are on trend and which are classics, where she uses chintz, why she doesn’t like the term Grandmillenial, and so much more! 

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • What does traditional with a twist mean to Katie and what are tips to modernize?
  • Is floral trendy or timeless?
  • How to avoid falling into trendy furnishing traps.
  • Where does Katie’s love of traditional design come from?
  • How geography can influence what “traditional” means.
  • What is chintz and what are the different ways Katie is using it?
  • How does Katie get those ruffled flange pillows to look modern?
  • Needlepoint is on trend and this is why we love it.
  • Does Katie begin patterns first and then add artwork or vice versa?
  • Why does Katie want to get “dirty” right now?
  • Are hunter green and burgundy back?!
  • Katie enjoys imperfections and mismatching as a key to style like in this plate wall.
  • How does Katie pull off using an allover print or camouflage effect?
  • Katie is still a fan of cohesion between rooms without being too matchy-matchy.

Decorating Dilemma:

Hey Ballard Babes—I love your podcast! I am a decorating enthusiast and find your show very informative and entertaining at the same time!

Please rescue me from my “master bedroom sea of blue and beige.” It is a large room with vaulted ceilings but very little natural light. I plan to keep the upholstered bed, white armoire, TV, nightstands, table lamps, and art above the bed. I’m leaning towards a masculine, mid-mod organic style for this room although most of my home is an updated traditional nostalgic.

I have started a refresh, but I am stuck on some key elements:

  • I’m leaning towards dark and moody walls. Thoughts?
  • If I go dark, what should I do about the ceiling?
  • What colors and textures should I incorporate in my bedding?
  • What window treatments do you suggest?
  • What should I do in the corner where I currently have the armoire?
  • Any suggestions for a light fixture that would work in the room?

Thank you so much!!


Hi Sarah,

Thank you for writing in.  Love the idea of dark and moody.  However, this room has a lot going on in terms of pitch, so I would actually argue possibly painting the ceilings, walls, and trim all of the same neutral, creamy colors to detract from the pitch issues.  Then I might do the dark and moody on the floor or in other textiles like furnishings or textiles.  This is a great room for art!  I love the contemporary piece over the bed and I might load the wall over the windowsill with all sorts of different art.  I see a lot of solids, so I would definitely call for some patterns.  Noting that you have wall-to-wall carpet if you can replace it with a patterned broadloom like stripes or checks that would be my first place.  I almost see the big sea of the beige floor as your biggest problem.  So if you don’t want to replace it, you can easily get area rugs and layer them over it.  It all depends on your budget and what you want to do!  For window treatments, I definitely think bold drapery is the way to go.  Since you don’t have a lot of natural light, dark and moody draperies can help warm things up.  You could even reupholster your bed in the same fabric or something complementary.  You have great ceiling height so be careful with proportion and scale when it comes to light fixtures, but you have a lot of license to do a lot of interesting things with your light fixtures.  It can even be multi-tiered to fill up the space.  In the corner where you have the armoire, I would have several questions before I could fully answer it.  For instance, is it being used for storage and function?  To me it seems big and crammed for that space so if there is another place in the room I would relocate it; maybe even the wall perpendicular.  That will give full access and potential to your drapery.  You could even put a chaise lounge in that corner if it’s in the budget.  In terms of bedding, I love white bedding as the base; but NOT cream!  I think a classic monogrammed white bedding would look great here with some patterned sheets and even some additional white sheets.

I think we got everything, Sarah!  Good luck and please send us after photos!

Mentioned in This Episode:

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Happy Decorating!

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Abbey Nolte

Abbey is a homegrown Georgia peach who loves a fresh take on Southern design. When she’s not working behind the scenes of the How to Decorate blog and podcast, you can find her cheering on the Appalachian State Mountaineers and spending time with her wheaten terrier, Charlie.