I visited Gina and Will last night for the first time. After nearly three years of living in their apartment they were frustrated and unhappy. Gina said that Will didn’t even like to come home, it was so bad. On the face of it, they had a terrific one bedroom apartment with lots of windows, right in the center of Soho. The problem was that they had never fixed the apartment up when they moved in, and the aging renovation of the previous tenant – which must have been 20 years old – included missing tiles in the bathroom, rough wood floors and sheet rocking, and walls in need of a new coat of paint. What had been fine and funky for awhile was growing old fast. But there was also a deeper problem. The previous tenant had been an artist and had designed the apartment to suit her life at the time. It was bohemian with some brightly colored walls and an odd flow to it that allowed her to see out of the bathroom and through the living room window to Prince Street, while she took a shower. It also had a very small kitchen with little storage, because she obviously didn’t cook very often. None of this had changed in the past three years. Gina and Will were still living in an apartment that was not theirs.
During my visit Gina and Will joked about ghosts in the apartment. Only after I had left and slept on our visit, did I see that it was true. Whereas many apartments are neutral and common in their design, this one had been tailor-made for someone else in a different time, and they were still living in the skin of the previous tenant. Unlike a job in which decorating and furnishing is called for, this apartment needed a root canal. When Will described his trouble with the apartment, it always had to do with not being able to come home and focus on a project. He had personal work he cared for, but he couldn’t concentrate at home. The reason for this was that the apartment didn’t support concentration and focus, it supported expansiveness and creativity.
With it’s doorless rooms, lack of storage, large wrap around couch and crazy bathroom, Gina and Will’s apartment was designed to support a single creative artist’s life, not the focused ambitions of a young married couple’s life. They needed to change the apartment so that it would support their aims and their life.
The best homes are designed for their owners. They suit the lifestyle of the owner and his or her goals in life. They allow nothing in that cuts against this purpose. My favorite examples are homes like the White House, Hugh Hefner’s Playboy mansion, and Ma and Pa Ingalls’ little house on the prairie. In each case, what the owners care about and strive for is supported in each and every room of the house, from the White House’s majestic command station, to Hefner’s over the top pleasure pad, to the Ingall’s modest working home. While styles and goals differ, your home should be no different in their clarity than these. It is important that no matter what your real estate situation is, it supports who you are and what you want to do. Otherwise, like Will, you are fighting an uphill battle every time you come home. MGR