A Westport Home Proves the Power of a Neutral Palette

January 14, 2023

Neutrals feel warm and welcoming in a Westport home designed for faraway friends

Text by Tovah Martin    Photography by Read McKendree

Grace Rosenstein did not approach the Cape Cod-style Westport house with a particularly critical eye. She and her husband only had one requirement for their first home: every room needed to be functional for visiting family and friends. At 2,600 square feet, the house checked that box. As for the interior, the founder and principal of Roan by Grace Rosenstein felt confident she could turn it into the ideal home for
her family.

Life leading up to move-in day prepped Rosenstein for homeownership. After earning her master’s degree in design and relocating from Chicago to New York City in 2015, Rosenstein opened her own interior design studio, while her husband reverse commuted to New Canaan. But apartment living rapidly lost its luster, and Rosenstein’s nesting instincts were on high alert. She scoped out Connecticut and zeroed in on Westport, summing up the attraction as “great community, great restaurants, and close to the water.”

Finding the house was a snap, given that she came into the project fully anticipating a total revamp. That said, she didn’t make the mistake of jumping right into the remake. “We lived in the house for a year prior to renovation,” she explains. “It was all uncharted territory, and I wanted to see which rooms we gravitated toward, where we entertained, and how we wanted to live.” When Rosenstein gave birth to her first child in 2019, the baby’s nursery was completely ready; the rest of the renovation quickly fell into place.

With a new addition in the family and with most of the couple’s relatives living out of state, the house became a hub for visitors, just as they anticipated. Rosenstein decided that, above all, she wanted the space to be welcoming. “The vibe that I strove for was inspired by an English B and B,” Rosenstein explains. “It all feels cozy, and nothing is too precious. Everything must be natural with quality materials, but I want this house to look lived in.”

The transformation required far more skill than just fiddling with the window treatments and selecting the right lighting. Although Rosenstein dug deep into her arsenal of knowledge and tools as a professional designer, she never broke a sweat. She raised rooflines, added dormers, installed a porch, updated the millwork, ripped out a wall to expand a former galley kitchen, and added a sunroom.

“I want to tell the story of how we like to live,” says Rosenstein. “Everything is purposeful and meaningful, but I’m not a rule breaker.” Quiet continuity gives the space a feeling of comfort, and Rosenstein’s decor serves up a steady diet of soft earth tones. “I like when you can’t put your finger on exactly what color a room is painted. That adds richness and style,” Rosenstein says of her creamy walls. Cohesive is a word she uses continually.

The designer sought apropos antiques. She played with textures and harnessed rattan to serve as a leitmotif. Meanwhile, she discovered that suburbanites tend to invite friends over often, providing ample opportunity to share space. Gradually, the Westport house became a harmonious haven for friends and family both near and far.

Project Team
Architecture: J.P. Franzen Associates Architects
Interior design: Roan by Grace Rosenstein
Builder: High-Quality Builders
Landscape design: Outdoor Design & Living

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