NY House Tour: Pearl's Mecca of Kitsch and Memory

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Name: Pearl
Location: East Gramercy
Apartment Size: 650 sq.ft.
Favorite: When Pearl first saw this apartment for rent, 12 years ago, she was "drawn to the orange walls and hasn't painted them since.'

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Pearl is not burdened by what some would see as her clutter. Veering once again from my typical Inside Out column, this week's tour reveals a rebel in the Apartment Therapy community. Not everyone feels compelled to achieve minimalism. Pearl, for example, finds comfort from that which surrounds her.

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Every surface is covered and everything that covers it has a story. The items are nostalgic and/or significant with historical reference. Pearl thrives on the stories she can tell about each memento and about every salvaged piece of furniture. She refers to her apartment as "a Native American talking stick." Just being in it opens the floodgates to sharing stories about family, religion, life, the past, the present, and the unanticipated therein.

In fact, the couch in the living room is such a poignant and evolved story that it begat her first feature length documentary film, Divan.

According to Pearl, her apartment wasn't always like this. She moved in 12 years ago originally subscribing to the IKEA furnishing approach--the norm amongst a significant portion of this country's population. Suddenly, her grandma passed away and no one wanted her furniture/heirlooms/kitch. Pearl's conscience and strong admiration for her grandma wouldn't allow her to send them to the landfill and so she adopted many pieces. In doing so, she willingly accepted a theme of kitch and dedicated herself to embellishing on the theme.

Pearl refers to herself as "an immigrant from Brooklyn." She was raised in an Hasidic family and spoke only Yiddish as a child. She has since left that community and emigrated to Manhattan. Her apartment is a vestige of her upbringing, infused with memories while fueling her complicated identity. With such a tall order, it is no wonder that she has so much stuff.