Tour a West Village Town House Transformation That Says Oui to Vintage Charm

French interior designer Margaux Lafond established her New York–based studio in 2020 after years of working Stateside with top talents, like ASH and Rafael de Cárdenas. As a solo act, her very first job was for friends of friends in Paris. “They reached out for my help renovating a bathroom and a study,” she says of the smallish project, which she happily took on.

Fast forward two years: Friends of those clients called Lafond desperately in need of a designer who could manage the decoration of an entire five-story town house as soon as possible. “That’s why you have to say yes to everything,” she smiles. Coincidentally, Lafond’s new (also French) clients Thérèse M’Boungoubaya and Martin Mignot live with the very same “just say yes” zeal. Or is it joie de vivre?

“I only visited New York once before [we moved here],” admits M’Boungoubaya, founder of Koba Skincare. When the couple received word that Mignot would be heading up the new New York office of his venture capital firm, they began viewing apartments from their home in London. “​​We never saw the house in person,” M’Boungoubaya remembers. “The decision was based on photos and a FaceTime walkthrough.”

M’Boungoubaya and Mignot signed a lease for the West Village town house in the spring, with plans to relocate over the summer and settle before school started for their two young daughters. Due to the constrained timeline, Lafond tackled the project in two phases—first outfitting the home with essentials and rental furniture (“almost like an Airbnb,” she says), and then completing the design and installation once the family had arrived. “Basically, they said, ‘We’re getting our visas on this date and our fight is on that date.’ So, I had six weeks to make it happen,” Lafond recalls. Happily, the two-pronged approach worked: “We ended up designing something that matches how we actually live,” M’Boungoubaya affirms.

“The interior architecture features this very nice, but very early-2000s aesthetic,” Lafond observes. Vintage furniture from the family’s collection helped to create a more timeless feel. The designer purchased additional vintage pieces—a pair of Camaleonda lounge chairs, a Pierre Paulin oyster chair and ottoman, plus others—avoiding lead-time issues and investing in quality items the clients can cherish. “These are going to follow us for the rest of our lives,” M’Boungoubaya says. “They’re part of the family.”

As a nod to her Congolese heritage, M’Boungoubaya asked Lafond to source new decorative items from African and African American artists and artisans. “It’s part of who I am,” she emphasizes. Much of the art and textiles throughout are a result of this effort. “I use my house as a bit of a showroom. When people go into the kitchen, they are astonished by the art,” she says, referencing the striking work by South African artist Lindokuhle Khumalo, commissioned by Mignot. Entertaining on the first floor, where there’s an eat-in-kitchen with a wood-burning pizza oven and generous dining room, gives M’Boungoubaya a chance to hype up-and-coming artists. “It’s also a good ice breaker,” she says. “If I can help [draw attention to an artist], I’m very happy about it.”

One flight down, Lafond transformed the dark ground-floor nook into a cozy den with plush, family-friendly furniture. Upstairs, the girls have their own haven—a combined playroom-bedroom. In the bedrooms, the designer installed a series of floor-to-ceiling curtains on tracks, creating flexible rooms within the rental’s existing floor plan and providing sufficient darkness for sleep. On the top floor, M’Boungoubaya and Mignot’s retreat features an airy reading nook, a cocooned bedroom and bath, plus separate walk-in closets.

The town house, which once felt like a mere collection of rooms in a real estate listing, now tells the story of a family’s journey across continents, a designer’s vision, and a commitment to cultural legacy. From the basement den to the tranquil top floor, every corner is infused with intention and identity, a testament to the power of ‘yes’—and the magic of a space that doesn’t just house a family, but reflects them.

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