Apartment Therapy on Therapy

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More people than ever before are fixing up their homes, and there is a good reason for it: most of our homes really need fixing. How is your home? Is it healthy? Does it feel good? Does it work well for you?

Uh-huh.

Most homes are in need of therapy. They could climb up on the doctor’s couch and talk at length about their problems with great ease. One client told me point blank, that if her home could speak, it would say, “Get off your ass, and clean me up!” The average home has become overburdened with furniture and cluttered with excess belongings, while others have become sterile, cold, and neglected. These troubled homes are the orphans of a society short on time. These are our homes: the homes of busy professionals in an era when “home-making” has become synonymous with shopping, and home projects must fit into a single weekend afternoon. At best, some of these homes appear cheery and comfortable, but they fail to support our deeper aspirations and needs. At worst, there isn’t even a surface appearance of comfort, and the homes hamper our everyday lives.

Then there are apartments. With all of these challenges, the urban apartment takes issues one step further as its relatively smaller size and difficulty with access make improvement near impossible. How many stories have I heard about not being able to get the new couch up the stairs (and having to cut it in two) or of doormen hustling a painter out the door without his shoes on at 4pm sharp, because of building rules. One cabinetmaker I know said that when he quotes a job in the city, he always adds 20% to the price. “What for?” I asked. “For the hassle factor.” he said, without a trace of irony.

When reimagining your apartment in a big city, you face challenges that are partially cultural, and partially unique. But, by being so challenging, apartments offer a tremendous lesson and a tremendous victory. As Frank Sinatra said, if you can make it here, you’ll make it anywhere. And it is true. Making your home work in a tough space is the best preparation for doing it even more successfully anywhere else: town or country. MGR

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Healthy Living

Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.

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