By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub
City & Shore PRIME
Katie and Maura Ellis (Tina Fey and Amy Poehler) were horrified when they learned their parents had sold their family home in Orlando and moved into a senior living condo in the movie Sisters.
“It feels good to purge,” their mom, Deana (Dianne Wiest), told her daughters when they questioned why so many of their household goods and dad’s clock collection was slated to be sold or given away.
Sound familiar? People of all ages may feel the need to purge – and the urge seems to get stronger the older we get. We spend our lives collecting everything from watches to teapots and suddenly the clutter is overwhelming. Some of the items may go to the children but others wind up on eBay or at Goodwill.
Organizers call this de-cluttering; designers call it minimalism.
Lorenzo Mollicone of the William Bernard Design Group in Miami says the trend toward minimalism has been growing in the past decade, especially with older clients. Instead of a coffee table filled with books and objects, clients prefer a single beautiful object. Collections are no longer on display.
“I think it has to do with the feeling they want when they come home,” he says. “Their everyday life has become more complicated and overwhelming so they want to come home to something more relaxing.”
For many of us, getting to minimal means parting with emotional baggage connected to our possessions. The first step may be getting help from a professional organizer or an organizing store that offers advice.
“We see this a lot with our customers,” says Kathy Levy, who sells and consults with customers at The Container Store in the Village at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach. “They feel their life is being managed by their things. It is like the things own them. They are very attached to them and it is emotional to let them go. We give them tips to break down the clutter so it is not so overwhelming.”
The sales staff will talk to the customers to determine where to start and they talk them through the process. If the clutter is too overwhelming, the next step is the Contained Home, a new program that matches customers with a local organizer who will come to their home. The organizer can help with everything from setting up a baby’s room to downsizing.
Mollicone says when people move to Florida they want to de-clutter. If the client has too many things, he and his partner, Tony Ferchak, either refer them to a professional organizer or, if the client wants to keep a large collection, they create a storage space that looks like a wall.
“We have a client with a lot of antique pieces from her mom,” Mollicone says. “They took away from the design if they were all put out. We had her rotate her accessories. We built huge storage areas to store her candles, bowls and sculptures.”
One of their minimal designs was a three-bedroom condo at Marine Towers in Fort Lauderdale. Accessories are minimal and they built a lot of closed storage. The artwork consists of a single piece on a wall rather than a gallery or a grouping. In order to give the condo a more open feeling, they removed walls. Two sets of folding doors in the living room replaced a wall. When the client has guests, they close for privacy; otherwise they remain open.
“It is all about the magnificent view and letting the most light in as possible,” he says. “We wanted to make the 1,900-square-foot condo look bigger.”
Patty Kukes of Kukes + Simons Interiors in Boca Raton says the minimal look has been fueled by the trend back to contemporary design.
“People want less objects,” she says. “It is more about the art rather than a lot of things sitting around collecting dust. A lot of them come from traditional settings up north and want to lead a simpler life physically as well as emotionally. They are divesting themselves and giving their things to their children and grandchildren.”
Kukes says her firm accomplishes a powerful and interesting look with color and light-hearted artwork. That is what they did in a project at Canyon Ranch in Miami Beach. The wall covering in the living room is a brilliant turquoise Venetian plaster with art that the clients and designers found at Art Basel in Miami Beach.
If a client has too much stuff, Bruce Bierman of Bruce Bierman Design in New York takes everything out of the room and edits what stays and what goes.
“I ask my clients to think about the way they use their home on a daily basis,” says the designer, who was inducted into the Interior Design Hall of Fame in 2000. “Everyone designs for an action-driven event such as a dinner party. Many of these never happen.” For example, one of his clients in Miami called him seven years after they spent a lot of time designing her dining room. She wanted him to know he was right; she just used it for the first time.
One of the most difficult items his clients hang onto is clothing. His suggestion: Put clothing you haven’t worn or a while in a box and date it. Then go back six months later and see if anything was missed.
He also suggests they buy only things that bring them joy – and put a smile on their faces.
Bruce Bierman: Bruce Bierman Design, 29 W. 15th St, 9th floor, New York, NY, 212-243-1935, biermandesign.com.
Patty Kukes: Kukes + Simons, 131 NW 13th St., # 37, Boca Raton, 561-391-7980, kukessimons.com.
Kathy Levy: The Container Store, 500 Seabiscuit Trail, Suite 1000, Village at Gulfstream Park, Hallandale Beach, 954-455-1210, containerstore.com.
Lorenzo Mollicone: 5582 NE Fourth Ct., Suite 6-B, Miami, 786-518-3352, williambernard.net.