Bold New House
A fresh twist on design
Katonah’s Dave and Melissa Dilmaghani run Old New House from a barn in Katonah, where they sell hand-knotted rugs, wall art, handmade furnishings, and 3D-printed furniture.
photo by Rana Faure
Coke famously tried it. So did Tide. And countless action movies. Any fresh twist on an old concept is bound to be noticed. But unlike Batman, Spiderman, Superman, Star Trek, Godzilla, and Mad Max, Katonah’s Dave and Melissa Dilmaghani are quietly going about their business. Nestled behind Suburban Groove across from the Katonah train station, a restored barn serves as both showroom and office for the husband-wife team steering Old New House, curators of small antique rugs and modern design pieces.
The name gives much away. The Dilmaghani family has been dealing in fine Oriental rugs for decades out of its flagship store in Scarsdale. Founded by Dave Dilmaghani’s grandfather in the mid-1950s after emigrating from Iran, and now run by his father, Dave spent his childhood around the family’s warehouse. When it came time to set his own path, he and Melissa, a professional photographer, turned a very traditional business upside down when they were among the first entrepreneurs to start selling rugs on Etsy, an online marketplace for unique goods.
Using Melissa’s artistic pictures, they approached selling on Etsy with the same respect and attention to presentation as they would at a brick-and-mortar store. The pieces sold fast. And the business took shape. Smaller rugs that could be easily moved, repurposed, or layered fit their vision of modular living. Customers from Manhattan, California, and overseas came calling as well as celebrities and one particularly exciting purchase made by the set-design team at “Mad Men.” In 2015, the Dilmaghanis (with their hundreds of rugs) moved Old New House to their adopted hometown of Katonah. Melissa says, “We didn’t have a Westchester presence, and we wanted to infuse more of where we live into our work.”
Dave is now designing eco-friendly furniture pieces that stick with the couple’s commitment to flexibility in the home. As a baby, their two-year-old son Desmond (to be joined by son number two in October) slept in a mid-century-style infant bed that Dave built to address their family needs and modern aesthetic. Today, it serves as a bench in Desmond’s room, and copies are available on their website.
While rugs still serve as the backbone of the Old New House business, Melissa and Dave are on the cusp of bigger and different things. They have developed a line of minimalist modular tables with movable legs and are in the process of bringing them to market. Their fresh approach extends to every aspect of the business with a high-end 3D printer creating the prototypes of the new tables.
Melissa says, “Dave knows about anything you want to build. He’s a carpenter, and he’s into technology. He’s a MacGyver. He’s that guy.”
The small-town feel of Katonah fits this creative couple perfectly. Says Deborah Wilson, originally of Pelham who discovered the company on the Internet, “When Melissa explained they were in a barn, I expected to see a long driveway with land all around, but they are in the center of town.”
Dave adds, “Growing up in Purchase, we didn’t have a town. I love having other businesses to support and being part of the Chamber of Commerce. We are at a precipitous moment in our business. We see where we could be and what we need to do to get there.”