NBC Sportscaster Kathryn Tappen Built Her Dream Home in NJ

"Sports has embodied my life...but my hobby has always been home design and decorating."

Kathryn Tappen on the porch of her home

Kathryn Tappen’s Jersey residence was designed with a Maine-farmhouse feel. Photo: Tory Williams

Television personality Kathryn Tappen, known for her NBC Sports coverage of football, hockey, golf and the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, has always designed her own playbook.

A native of Morristown, Tappen grew up playing youth baseball and basketball on boys’ teams because girls’ teams didn’t exist at the time. At Villa Walsh Academy, she was laser focused on track, earning academic and athletic scholarships to attend Rutgers University. Tappen majored in journalism, ran with the cross-country and track teams, and was an Academic All-American and Big East All Star. But during all those years of sports, she had another passion: interior design. In fact, as a child, she kept a journal of thoughtful pencil sketches and floor plans for her one-day dream home.

“Sports has embodied my life, personally and professionally, but my hobby has always been home design and decorating,” she says.

So, when Tappen pulled up stakes from her Manhattan apartment in 2022, she envisioned exactly the home she wanted. The busy sportscaster’s television career requires continual travel, so she craved solitude during her personal time. “I missed nature, so I began scouting land in Morris County, where I grew up,” she says. Tappen found a bucolic lot a stone’s throw from her parents’ residence. “Building my home from the ground up appealed to me,” she adds.

Under the guidance of architect Timothy Bryant of Manhattan, with the assistance of Jeff Rawding and Karl Nichol at F.J. Rawding AIA in Morristown, the renderings were put into a CAD system. Then the project was handed off to builder Jay Grant of Grant Homes in Mendham.

The New England-inspired staircase in Kathryn Tappen's home

The New England-inspired staircase was built by Grant Homes of Mendham. Photo: Tory Williams

One of Tappen’s favorite vacation destinations is Maine. So, with the help of designer Sarah Steinberg, she incorporated a New England aesthetic in her kitchen and bathrooms.

“My home is my respite, and it’s especially relaxing to sit in the kitchen with my cat, Tuxy, as we enjoy the long view out the window to the field in the backyard,” she says.

During her free time, Tappen stays fit at the Mendham Golf and Tennis Club, where she often golfs with her mother, a three-time club champ.

The main living area of Kathryn Tappen's home

Throughout the main living area, organic and vintage accessories play nicely with plush furnishings and a pretty palette of creamy whites and pale blues. Photo: Tory Williams

Designer Jenny Madden of Westfield collaborated on the living, dining and bedroom areas by adding creamy-white and pale-blue coastal colors and suggesting reclaimed beams, union-made Chicago-brick veneers, and patina-rich vintage accessories. “It’s important to add character and history to make a home livable,” says Madden. “It was especially meaningful to Kathryn to integrate heirloom pieces into her design.”

Those family objects include a 60-inch, round, pine dining table, handmade for Tappen’s grandparents in 1965, restored by Atlantic Restoration in Dover. “My dining table has special sentimental value, but it’s also a work of art. There’s not one nail in it,” Tappen says.

Kathryn Tappen at her heirloom dining table

Tappen entertains at her heirloom dining table. Photo: Tory Williams

The main living area is decorated with a light and airy blend of dreamy sofas and occasional chairs, natural textures and white oak floors. The welcoming kitchen, awash in white, is party ready, with a 48-inch, duel-fuel Wolf range, a generous island with quartz countertop, and a Sub-Zero fridge to hold mega quantities of Super Bowl food and beverages.

As for the hospitality wing, Madden says, “a unique element of the project was the guest suite with bedroom, bath and sitting areas. Kathryn was willing to venture outside her comfort zone, and the result is a boutique-hotel-style haven with a darker, moodier palette and a woodsy, rustic vibe.”

[RELATED: Step Inside George Oliphant’s Historic Family Home in Montclair]

The exterior of the farmhouse-style home is classic clapboard with a cedar roof. Although the structure is new, it exudes all the charm of historic architecture.

The reclaimed-brick herringbone floor and a dramatic fireplace in Kathryn Tappen's home

Character-rich details include a reclaimed-brick herringbone floor and a dramatic fireplace. Photos: Tory Williams

“I built this home with hopes to grow into it. Coming back to this part of New Jersey feels like I never left. It’s a beautiful blend of quiet country farmland and the bustle of nearby Morristown,” says Tappen.

The 42-year-old adeptly pivots between her television career and her love of interior design. Will her two worlds ever overlap? “Let’s just say I’m considering some interesting possibilities,” says Tappen. “Stay tuned.”

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