Do you remember your first kiss? If you try hard enough—or were a late bloomer—maybe an image can be conjured. What about the first time you tasted chocolate or garlic naan? No way. Humans are suckers for nostalgia, but as the years pass, recall rusts; we forget those moments, those madeleines. Though, there is an exception as Perifio’s Matt Bidgoli and his partner Raphael Portet will soon discover: Interior designers never, ever forget their first project—especially when it’s their own home.
If it were not for the COVID-19 pandemic, Perifio—whose name is a riff on peripheral vision—might never have been. Bidgoli and Portet made their living as stylists (fashion and hair, respectively), industries that were severely affected after the lockdown began in March 2020. With no photoshoots to produce or ’dos to do, they, like many other Americans, decided to try something different. (According to the Census Bureau, 2020 saw the creation of 4.4 million new businesses.) “With my background working with fabrics, colors, and mood boards, it made sense to channel that creativity into another realm,” Bidgoli says.
The idea came while they were renovating a house they bought near Hudson, which turned into their Shangri-La away from the tension of life in New York City, where they lived. For Bidgoli, whose decorating muses include Robert Stilin, Ashe Leandro, and Studio Shamshiri, the house would be a proof of concept. “It’s our showcase project to present our style as designers,” he says.
The 1,500-square-foot home was a total mess, to wit: completely unlivable. “We loved the bones, but it was in need of an upgrade,” Bidgoli says diplomatically. That upgrade entailed taking the building down “to the studs.” The duo added new siding, windows, a pool, and a deck. It’s almost as if they built it from scratch. And because they’d given up their home in Manhattan for a little bucolic seclusion, the construction was done around them, literally. “We slept on a mattress on the floor,” Bidgoli says.
Then came the crucial moment to start adding flesh to the skeleton. What would a Perifio interior look like? Color and pattern were top of mind for Bidgoli and Portet, but they didn’t want to overdo it on the first try. The main bedroom, with its dark blue walls shows a moodier side to their aesthetic, while a guest room cocooned in wild graphic wallpaper is an exercise in manic jubilation.
There’s a finer thread running through the communal areas, which are all part of an open plan inspired by the natural environs of the property. The designers installed picture windows throughout, making it impossible to avoid sweeping views of the verdant landscape. White walls contrast with shades of green and brown in the living, dining, and kitchen areas, allowing the bevy of artworks and classic furniture designs by the likes of Charlotte Perriand, Poul Jensen, and Jean Prouvé to sing.
When all was said and done, Bidgoli and Portet’s first project under the Perifio name was everything they wanted it to be: Their happy place and strong first project for the portfolio. Years from now, they’ll look back on this experience like it was yesterday. How it all came together for the first time thanks to some creative synergy and a little naïveté. “Just put everything into one house and see what happens,” Bigdoli says.
Charles Curkin is ELLE Decor's Articles Editor, covering everything related to the architecture, interior design, real estate, and travel industries, and has previously written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Paris Review.