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  • at home with
    AT HOME WITH FRANK MUYTJENS
    Head of Menswear Design takes us out of the city and to his upstate home in Hillsdale, NY.
    Sept 16, 2014  |  BY TARIQ DIXON
    Most mornings, Frank Muytjens takes a moment to admire the Manhattan skyline from right outside his Williamsburg apartment. But on the weekends, he tends to lush gardens, strewn along acres of rolling hills, at his second home in Hillsdale, NY.

    Located upstate, 100 miles north of the City, Hillsdale is without the bustling social scene of other, more popular weekend destinations - precisely the reason Frank chose the town as home. “[Hillsdale] is still a work in progress, but that's what I really like about it,” the designer says humbly.

    The contrast between the City's bustle and the simplicity of the small town takes implicit form in Frank's designs for J. Crew. Classic and understated menswear elements, counterbalanced by forward and sometimes risky ideas, Frank favors an unlikely pairing - when things are “imperfect and clash,” he says.

    The same type of contrast is applied throughout Frank's home. A rustic farm table paired with Bertoia wire chairs, and a contemporary sofa covered in pillows made from antique fabrics - Frank celebrates his rural surroundings, but pays subtle homage to the urban culture that inspires him equally.
    Intrigued by glimpses we've peeked on instagram, we traveled upstate to spend a Saturday afternoon with the designer - to explore these unexpected juxtapositions, and observe how he spends those weekends away from the City.

    Graced with perfect weather, Frank gives us a tour of the grounds, while describing his strong affection for gardening. We then make our way inside for coffee, conversation, and to begin uncovering the many layers of his thoughtfully decorated home. Assembled over years of collecting, Frank rarely (if ever) settles for something he isn't thrilled about. The designer would much rather wait than to compromise, a philosophy that's helped him to create a space that truly feels like home.

    As we make our way back to the kitchen to reconvene with the host before parting, he greets us with two glasses of Rose and a couple of franks he grilled as we were busy perusing his property. We toast to the quiet life and a lovely afternoon, before reluctantly heading out, and allowing Frank to return to his calming weekend routine.
  • HAVE YOU ALWAYS WANTED A COUNTRY HOME, OR WAS IT A REACTION TO LIVING IN THE CITY?

    I grew up in a small village in the south of Holland, so it's something I've always wanted. The smells and stonework actually remind me a lot of my town growing up. It's very rural, and still a work in progress, but that's what I really like about it - I wouldn't want it to ever be finished or perfect. I've recently started to see more and more people moving here from the city, but it's still under the radar. Plus, everything's so spread out that you don't ever run into people.

  • HOW DID YOU END UP DISCOVERING THIS PLACE?

    My friends purchased a weekend home here a couple of years ago, so I would visit often and got to the know the area well. I actually became friends with the previous owners of this house, and they knew that if they were ever going to leave, I'd be really interested in buying it. So that's how it happened. The house was never on the market, there was no middle person - it was very quick and easy.

  • HOW DID THE FURNISHINGS OF THE HOME EVOLVE?

    It's a collection. I've purchased things continually over the past seven years. You know, it's about the layers - these things don't just come together in a month. I didn't have a dining table for the longest time because I just couldn't find the right one. After a year and a half, I finally found one in a vintage store around here, and that was it. The process is similar to how I design the line for J Crew. It's emotional and very personal - it's hard to explain how it all happens. I know that I need it when I see it.

  • DOES THIS ENVIRONMENT EVER INSPIRE YOU TO CREATE FOR J. CREW?

    Oh, absolutely. It feels like it's the same process. I love a new pair of unwashed jeans against a battered leather jacket. And I like a modern house, next to an old barn - mixing it all together. That's what makes things interesting, and that's how we put stuff together at J Crew. It's inspiring to have the NYC skyline during the week, and the country on the weekends - it's the best of both worlds.

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  • It's emotional and very personal - It's hard to explain how it all happens. I know that I need it when I see it.

  • HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE ATMOSPHERE OF THE HOME?

    I don't want people to get the feeling that they have to take their shoes off. Everything is a little rough, but elegant - in a country like way. I like when things are imperfect and clash - something like a clean sofa next to a farm table. High and low, that tension you create - I love that. People get in here, and often say “Wow, it has great energy.” And then I also have the outdoors. I've never had grounds like this before, so as soon as I moved here, I bought every gardening book. It almost feels like a painting - so many different colors and textures.

  • ARE THERE SPECIFIC ITEMS THAT REALLY MAKE IT FEEL LIKE HOME?

    No, it's more about how everything works together. I do really like the wood burning stove though. It's a machine, and just eats through wood, but it gives such a cozy feeling in the winter. And I really love books, so these shelves are important - they were actually here when I moved in. When I first got the house, there were so many trips of just moving boxes of books.

  • I don't want people to get the feeling that they have to take their shoes off. Everything is a little rough, but elegant - in a country-like way.

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  • I like when things are imperfect and clash - something like a clean sofa next to a farm table. High and low, that tension you create.

  • I grew up in a small village in the south of Holland, so it's something I've always wanted. The smells and stonework actually remind me a lot of my town growing up.

  • It's inspiring to have the NYC skyline during the week, and the country on the weekends - it's the best of both worlds.

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