Tour A J.Crew Designer’s Upstate New York Country Home
Living and working in New York for 20 years, J.Crew menswear designer Frank Muytjens needed a place where he could unwind and recharge after a busy week in the city. “The moment my dog, Dutch, jumps in the car to come up here to Hillsdale, it feels like we’re going on a mini vacation. I immediately relax. That’s the best feeling,” he says.
Frank found the place by chance about 16 years ago when he was in Upstate New York helping a friend renovate her home. He noticed a dilapidated and uninhabited little house on the same road that was later renovated by its new owners. “I loved the energy of the house — its rustic but elegant architecture appealed to me, and the gambrel roof and cedar shingles give it a timeless look.” Invite yourself into the 1,200-square-foot space that’s filled with treasure and above all, style.
Frank Muytjens and his beloved vizsla, Dutch, make the 2 1⁄2-hour drive from Brooklyn to this Hillsdale, New York, house every weekend year-round.
Red cedar shingles, weathered wooden steps and rambling plants give the home a relaxed charm.
Dutch has claimed this perch in the light-filled living room. An indigo throw found in Tokyo and pillows Frank made out of scraps of vintage indigo fabrics he’s collected are a bright counterpoint to the room’s neutral color scheme. Natural elements like potted plants add an organic note. “I wanted to bring the indoors out and the outdoors in,” he says.
“There’s a military influence in my work and in my home, like my sofa that’s covered in vintage tents. That’s what attracted me to it. It has had a life; it tells a story,” says Frank.
A vintage filing cabinet tucked under the eaves by the staircase in the living room provides a spot for one of Frank’s whimsical displays.
In the dining room, mid-century modern Bertoia chairs, a drafting stool and a metal side table on wheels take the country look in an industrial direction. Frank chose the light fixture because it reminded him of chandeliers in Dutch Golden Age paintings.
“So many people just consider a kitchen utilitarian; I wanted it to be an extension of the living room,” says Frank. Dishes and provisions are stored in an adjacent pantry.
Instead of hiding his wardrobe behind closed doors, Frank left the closet in his bedroom exposed to create an open, loft-like feeling. “A small space feels bigger when you can see the walls,” he says. Metal baskets stash socks and towels. Two vintage chairs from different eras and made of different materials, but with a similar shape, create a tension Frank loves.
Inspired by the colors of the downstairs kitchen in the film Gosford Park, Frank had the bathroom’s walls and wainscotting painted soft shades of parchment and eggshell. Vintage-looking toiletries displayed like art and an antique mirror adorned with dried flowers from the garden add charm.
A pair of windows bring symmetry and a sense of calm to the guest bedroom. Left bare, they focus attention on the view. Layered blankets and rugs soften the simple setup with texture and pattern.
Frank added bookshelves to the guest bedroom to cope with his growing collection of cooking, design and fashion books.