Inside a Dutchess County Home Where Midcentury Modernism Meets Japanese-Inspired Architecture
At the beginning of 2020, interior designer Brygida Michon and her husband, Neil Rajpal, had just moved back from Paris to New York, and were looking for a tranquil home away from home outside of the city. Since they were frequently heading up to the Beacon area to rent a cabin for the weekend, they decided to search there. When they laid eyes on The Falls, a 1960s midcentury modern home with Japanese architectural influences, they instantly fell in love.
“As soon as we walked into the house, the light was incredible,” Brygida recalls. “The house has full floor-to-ceiling windows all around, and there are many skylights. We first saw it on a late September afternoon, and the light was just so stunning. It almost felt like it was part of the design of the home.”
The house blends many textures, including stone floors, cedarwood walls, and curved wooden beams. Brygida and Neil were committed to preserving the unique character of the home, particularly its harmonious connection to nature. “We didn’t want to take away from the architectural intention of the house,” Brygida says. “We tried to keep renovations to a minimum and focus on furniture, making sure to respect what was already there, while adding to it in a way that we thought would complement the existing design of the house.”
As an interior designer for over a decade, Brygida has mostly worked in luxury retail spaces, working with clients including Chanel, Kith, MAC Cosmetics, and Dior. But she’s always been drawn to residential interiors, too. “I grew up in Europe, and was surrounded by French modernism,” she says of her design influences. “The work of people like Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe was a [touchstone] throughout my studies and my career.” She also picked up inspiration from her time working with Editions de Parfums by Frederic Malle. “A lot of my current design aesthetic and inspiration came from working with Frederic,” she says.
Brygida loves mixing design elements, and contrasting pieces from different time periods. She relied heavily on vintage, leaning into unique finds from stores throughout upstate New York. “It can be intimidating to dive into vintage. And because I was doing this during [height of] the pandemic, options were also limited in terms of visiting physical places.” 1stDibs was one online resource that Brygida leveraged in the design process, while local vintage stores became her go-tos. “I spent hours and hours at Newburgh Vintage Emporium [in the Hudson Valley], and friends would come visit and help me look!”
Today, the home is also full of original Man Ray artwork, which possesses an interesting backstory: The previous owner’s family owned an art gallery in Brussels, and Man Ray was one of the first artists they signed. Brygida and Neil were able to acquire much of the artwork, and the owner even gifted them a special piece. “In addition to the artwork that we purchased, she gifted us with a bronze template that was used to create a couple of Man Ray’s lithographs. She mounted it on the slate backing, and it’s now hanging near the kitchen,” Brygida explains. “I still keep in touch with her to this day.”
Because of the couple’s focus on doing minimal renovations, Brygida refused to renovate the bathrooms. “I feel like everyone’s first instinct is always, ‘These bathrooms are 50 years old, you have to renovate them.’ And, I said, ‘Absolutely not. They are amazing,’” she says. “They feel so old Hollywood…you have the sort of Hollywood lighting above the mirrors, and there’s a huge pink bathtub in one. I’m not getting rid of it as long as it works!”