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Fellows Focus: Katie Ridder & Peter Pennoyer

CEO Khai Intela
For most couples, building a home from scratch would be a feat on its own—add the pressure of documenting the entire process in a book and your feat might seem impossible. That’s exactly what interior...

For most couples, building a home from scratch would be a feat on its own—add the pressure of documenting the entire process in a book and your feat might seem impossible. That’s exactly what interior designer Katie Ridder and architect Peter Pennoyer accomplished when they purchased an overgrown six-and-a-half acre parcel in Millbrook, New York, in 2009. With their keen eyes for design, Katie and Peter transformed the fallowed land into woodland and flower gardens surrounding a one-of-a-kind Greek Revival inspired house.

A House in the Country: A Journey of Design and Transformation

Katie and Peter open the door—to their home and its story—in their newly released book, A House in the Country. “While the house was a challenge, we felt that telling the story would be easy,” says Peter. In their book, they took a deeply introspective look at their roles as architect husband and designer wife, while also considering how to capture the design and sense of place through photographs. A House in the Country is divided into three main sections—Exterior, Interior, and Garden—offering readers an intimate view into their process from conception to decoration.

A House in the Country Caption: The cover of A House in the Country showcasing the stunning exterior design.

Gardens of Delight: A Harmonious Blend of Structure and Spontaneity

If you're lucky, you've had the chance to see the images from these pages come to life. Katie and Peter recently hosted a Digging Deeper program during a Dutchess County Open Day in September for Garden Conservancy guests. Visitors had the opportunity to explore the gardens that Katie designed. Drawing from her self-taught gardening skills and lessons from interior design, Katie transformed the property into a natural oasis. “Structure versus spontaneity, color relationships, pattern making—all these and more played some part in my way of looking at garden design,” Katie explains.

Working with landscape architect Edmund Hollander, Katie and Peter paid homage to the natural landscape by taking inspiration from its orthogonal lines. From the hedgerows to the neighbor's crops and the tree lines, the design elements all followed a north-south or east-west direction. This geometric approach is evident throughout the gardens, including the flower garden where hornbeam hedges mirror the old hedgerow and the lines of the house. Visitors can traverse the garden along bluestone pathways, discovering a plethora of flowers, shrubs, and more than 200 perennials, annuals, bulbs, and rare plants. As Katie puts it, "I am a proud proponent of more is more and less is a bore."

Garden Design Caption: The meticulously designed garden showcases Katie's love for abundant flowers and shrubs.

The Power of Creative Partnership

Katie and Peter's success lies in their dynamic partnership. Peter acknowledges in the book that "the contrast between my rather studied interior architecture and Katie’s looser, more intuitive decorating style resulted in some of our favorite projects." Their complementary energy is what makes their work so compelling. Not only is it evident in their design endeavors but also in the creation of their home—a space that supports their family while honoring the history and natural beauty of the surrounding environment.

If you're eager to delve into their inspiring journey, grab a copy of A House in the Country and be prepared to be captivated by the creativity, vision, and passion of Katie Ridder and Peter Pennoyer.

Read more about Katie and Peter’s book, A House in the Country, online.

Read other recent profiles of members of our Society of Fellows.