We love partnering with small shops and businesses around the country. Old New House is one of our favorites not only because of their unique assortment of vintage rugs and artisan products (including General Knot and Knickers & Whiskey!) but because it is literally located right down the road from our home and studio.
We thought you might enjoy getting to know owners Melissa and Dave Dilmaghani and the below post is a recent chat we had with this creative Katonah, NY couple.
Tell us a little bit about how you came up with the name Old New House.
We started ONH as a hobby in 2011 and in such a simple way, just wanted to signify that we have both old and new items for the home as well as that at our core we believe in bringing old items with character into new homes. Some people flip it and call us New Old House because they have new old homes and also have a passion for vintage and antique goods!
We love your shop's aesthetic and your great mix of home goods and accessories. That said, the stand out is definitely your evolving collection of antique rugs. What lead to your interest in rugs?
Thank you! Dave has always had interest in rugs because at a young age he was jumping around on the piles of them in his family's rug store. He has always been fascinated with history, especially the history of his family, and because the rug trade goes back five generations, he has always been enamored by them. I didn't know there was such a thing as rug trade when I met Dave, but had always been an art and interior design enthusiast and hobbyist, so learning about rugs became a very easy and enjoyable process for me once I got started. Sometimes I meet with rug suppliers and they are shocked that I have the knowledge that I do -- Dave is an expert in Persian rugs and I am, I guess, a fast learner with appreciation for all carpets.
You are a husband and wife business with a growing family. Any secrets to your success with that? What do you find most challenging about the combination of work/personal life.
Balancing work and family is the trickiest but the single most important aspect. We work every day and week on trying to master that balance and definitely try to hone in on not letting the mom and dad guilt get to us as well. We bring our kids on our business trips and let them contribute to the creative aspects of what we do (little things like what color options for new inventory we purchase and what rugs we feature on our home page), and then when we "sign off" from work which is very difficult to do as a small growing internet company (people need responses to their questions 24/7), we focus our attention 100% on the kids + put the phones away so we are fully engaged with their worlds. We really try to create separation for them and us as much as possible.
How did you land on Katonah as your home base for the shop?
Katonah was where we had moved and decided to raise our family in 2013, and as we acclimated to the town, we found that in order to be the most present in our kids' lives while growing a business was to have the business hub be right here with us. We also value and love the community where we live so to be a bigger part of it by contributing to its commerce felt and still feels very important to us.
What has surprised you the most about owning/running a brick and mortar business?
The brick and mortar business came after the online business so it was a bit backwards from what normally occurs, and they both are such different entities. At the core of what we love about brick and mortar is being able to meet, learn about, and engage with people in the community. It has also served as a destination for internet customers from 5+ year ago, the ones that have been with us since the beginning, and that is very cool, especially getting to meet them in person for the first time and seeing how they and their families / homes have grown and evolved. What has surprised us the most is how many needs the brick and mortar has -- it requires a lot of upkeep and monthly newness -- this is both exciting and of course a lot of work!
Explain your philosophy on how you choose certain products or brands for your shop.
We are all about the story of the brand or product, and then it is all about quality and aesthetic as well. Since the very beginning of ONH in 2011, our philosophy has also been: if we would want it for ourselves and our own lives, then it is of interest to us. We are very selective for all of these reasons.
Tell us about your customers. Are there specific things that they gravitate to in the shop? Are they shopping for themselves or buying gifts?
In the Katonah shop, we have a mixture of customers -- some are coming back a lot for our selection of air plants (which apparently hold up very well!), some for one of a kind gifts to themselves or others, and of course being able to see our selection of rugs in person that they have discovered online first.
When you are not in the shop or curating your rug collection what do you like to do? Any special places that you would recommend in the Katonah/Bedford area?
We love visiting the local farms and places where our kids can learn about local history and also explore nature -- Muscoot Farm, John Jay Homestead, Caramoor, and Stone Barns. We also love being so close to Jacob Burns Film Center because we love movies and especially cozy theaters with great snack options. On a couple Sunday mornings in the summer we love to take the kids to the New Milford CT Elephant's Trunk flea market and will leisurely look for unique display pieces for the shop. We can't help that we love the thrill of the hunt for something really out there and food trucks of course!