Interior Designer Katie Raffetto Brings Sophisticated Style to a Gracious Hillsborough Estate



The ivy-draped Tudor features garden spaces by landscape architect Katsy Swan.It was the lush, expansive landscape that first drew the current owners to the ivy-covered English Tudor in Hillsborough: From the formal entrance garden to the grand lawn, the romantic setting captured their imagination. The interiors of the 1930s home were equally gracious, with grand architectural gestures like a 20-foot-high great room with beamed ceiling; dining room with original mahogany paneling; and gothic arched doorways. And while they wanted to respect the history of the house, the owners also needed a contemporary, practical environment to support their young family. San Francisco designer Katie Raffetto delivered that and more: She created highly customized interiors that are stylish and livable, as well as sublimely connected to the landscape.

The project began with a comprehensive remodel that included the addition of two light-filled bedrooms and en-suite bathrooms, plus a spectacular chef’s kitchen. “The client inspired us to be the best we could be—it was wonderful to work with someone open to customizing everything,” says Raffetto. For the vestibule that leads to the formal dining room, for example, she originally considered Venetian plaster, but decided instead on a double-barrel vault arch. “Nothing was symmetrical, so we embraced that,” she explains. “We also added herringbone floors and the gothic arch leading into the dining room.”

The dining room is now a stunning entertaining space. Raffetto returned the stately room to its glory by refinishing the original mahogany walls, creating a backdrop for elegant evenings. Guests gather around a custom walnut and bronze Blackman Cruz dining table under a Murano chandelier; French doors swing open onto the wraparound terrace for cocktails alfresco; and a shapely, peacock-blue mohair sofa encourages friends to linger long after the meal is over.

Raffetto designed the custom, pewter-topped island. Marble backsplash tile is Ann Sacks; polished nickel fixtures are from Waterworks.The nexus of family life, however, is the breathtaking conservatory kitchen, where three generations often gather to cook. With its soaring spaces and bespoke features, “The kitchen respects the architecture and vocabulary of the home,” says Raffetto, but has been completely tailored to the owner. The 44-foot-long space has three gathering areas: cooking, dining and a serene sitting spot, all suffused in the natural light that pours in from two new copper conservatory-top skylights. Raffetto and the client commissioned cabinetry, incorporating leaded glass details so it wouldn’t look overly “new,” and casework to echo the architecture. All of the countertop appliances and culinary tools are ingeniously organized in and easily accessed via custom pull-out marble slabs and abundant drawers. While practical accessories are hidden away, the glass-front cabinetry showcases a collection of the owners’ favorite porcelain and milk-glass pieces. A custom La Cornue stove—engraved with the family name—and elements like bevel-edged marble tiles, a pewter-topped island and dining/chef’s table topped with marble complete the divine cooking space.

To integrate the kitchen with the outdoors, a cutting garden and flower-arranging niche were added so that fresh ingredients would be in close proximity to the chef. The cutting garden ascends up the hillside and opens in one direction to the formal entrance garden and in the other to the lawn and dining terrace. “The homeowner was struck by the series of well-thought-out garden spaces that had been conceived by the previous owners and landscape architect Katsy Swan,” says Raffetto. “She expanded on the mix of textures and heights throughout the formal gardens.” Further on in the landscape, a stone staircase bordered by pink roses winds into a more natural setting, past a coop that houses 15 egg-laying hens, and down to the pool and cabana. “Unlike more sprawling, unified gardens, this one tells a story as you move through it,” says Raffetto, “much in the same way the rooms of the house do.”

A version of this article appeared in the April/May 2017 issue of SFC&G (San Francisco Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Lush Living.

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Architect Spotlight

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Property of Note Listing

15 Kings Dock Road, Garrison, NY
Enjoy the best that the Hudson Valley has to offer at this 9-acre estate offering awe-inspiring vistas, stunning passive architecture and a unique private deep-water dock on the Hudson River. Sited to take full advantage of the amazing scenery, the three-bedroom residence is a triumph of modernist design featuring airy open-plan living spaces and vast window walls that dramatically frame the blissful water and mountain views. The setting, boasting ¼ mile of frontage along the river, also hosts a two-bedroom guest house, a striking Greek temple/playhouse overlooking the river and a detached garage.



View more details about 15 Kings Dock Road
Nautilus Architects
Christopher Arelt’s practice, Nautilus Architects, involves collaboration and interpretation, with each design evolving in its own way in response to the site, context and client. Chris’ work is seen as a continuation of but also a response to Modernism; or, more specifically, a return to regionalism and artistry, where clients’ projects are developed with the “head, hearts and hands” of all those involved. All of our buildings explore the use of natural light, reveal the inherent beauty of the materials being used, and bring the outdoors in.


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Architect Spotlight

Laura Kaehler Architects
Laura Kaehler Architects is an Award Winning Architectural Firm. Along with Laura Kaehler, AIA, we have a talented staff of 5 architects and designers who create new homes, renovations and additions and apartment renovations. Designing a smaller footprint while obtaining a "big look" with an open floor plan design, better craftsmanship and detailing and richer materials is what we call "Responsible Luxury" and is a key element of our design philosophy.

Laura Kaehler

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Designer Spotlight

Fiona Leonard Interiors
Fiona Leonard Interiors, LLC is a full service design firm that specializes in making a client’s home unique and custom tailored to the owners taste and lifestyle. Projects are personally supervised from initial consultation to installation. Strong relationships with carefully selected creative artisans, highly skilled craftsmen and subcontractors ensures that your project will be in good hands. With over 20 years experience working alongside well established design professionals in Connecticut and Manhattan, Fiona Leonard Interiors, LLC was established.Fiona designs interiors with a casual elegance and timeless approach. Inherent in all her work is Fiona’s passion to combine clean lines and an artistic use of color that is comfortable for the client and reflects their personal lifestyle.

Fiona Leonard Interiors

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Architect Spotlight

Daniel Conlon Architects
Wind and weather, the ebb and flow of the tide, changing color and light define the rhythm of coastal living. This recent home embraces the idea with light-filled spaces , expansive views , cozy niches, and outdoor living environments. Landscape terraces and stonework ground the building to the site, while respecting all current building codes. Daniel Conlon Architects, based in Wilton CT, has designed numerous waterfront homes throughout the Northeast.

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