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A Debrief on Decluttering with Joan Michaels

A Debrief on Decluttering with Joan Michaels

October 13, 2017


Bamberger Answers

A Real Estate Blog Where Experts Give Answers

A Debrief on Decluttering with Joan Michaels
 

New York is a liberating and expansive city, but these same praises can rarely be applied to the living environments most of us occupy. Creating an organized and open space within the confines of a Manhattan apartment is no small feat. Luckily, there are experts that can guide you through an otherwise daunting process, whether you’re moving into a new space or looking to optimize the one you have.

In this edition of Bamberger Answers, 2Michaels co-founder and industry veteran Joan Michaels offers insider design tips to help you optimize space and create a living environment you can be proud to call home.
 


2Michaels is an interior design firm founded by sisters Jayne and Joan Michaels. Their passion for modern architecture and design started in Palm Springs, California and continued to evolve at Parson's School of Design and F.I.T where they earned degrees in Interior Design.2Michaels Interiors are fresh, effortless and timeless. With their expertise in 20th century Art and Design, they translate the needs and desires of each client into beautiful, timeless and livable spaces.

Established in 2001, 2Michaels has both artistic and business-minded clients, ranging from downtown playwrights to midtown law firms. In 2010, 2Michaels was recognized as a design visionary for "Generation Next" by Departures Magazine. In 2011, it was selected as one of the "Top 20 Designers to Watch” in Traditional Home magazine, and was included in the "Top 50 Designers" issue in New York Spaces magazine.

 

[The Bamberger Group] What should homeowners consider before starting the process of renovation or home design?

 

[Joan Michaels] First, you have to look at the bones of the space. Ensure that the structure is sound and the floors are solid. There are many floors being done now that are either fake or engineered, so try and find a space that has them beautifully and safely installed. Identifying where the light is coming from is also extremely important – sun exposure is key. High ceilings are also great, but those are not always easy to come by in New York City.

 

[TBG] Is there a particular trend that New York clients tend to favor?

 

[JM] We have noticed that many younger people and families are moving to New York, and I think what they look for in our work is something clean, uncluttered, and timeless. They want furniture that doesn’t look too fussy or formal, instead preferring pieces that are family-friendly and sturdy enough to withstand children or pets. The issue of space is also becoming prevalent among New Yorkers and people moving to the city, because people want room for their children to play, or increased room for storage.

 

[TBG] In your many years of experience, have you encountered any challenges that could have been avoided, and how did you resolve them?

 

[JM] Construction is expensive in this city, and sometimes clients will try and mitigate that by hiring cheaper contractors. What we’ve learned from this, and what we now tell our clients, is to never go with the cheapest contractor. Not only does the quality of their work tend to be subpar, but they also take longer because they are usually spread very thin. In cases like this, we try and advise clients to hire contractors who will meet their expectations, and we are very realistic regarding the amount they should spend in order to achieve the transformation they truly want. We try to eliminate the notion that the least expensive choice is always the best, because it rarely is – you get what you pay for.

 

A master bedroom in the West Village, designed to feel like a true urban sanctuary. Photographed by Eric Laignel.

 

[TBG] What advice can you offer to homeowners desiring to optimize and declutter the minimal space they have?

 

[JM] You have to really purge and get rid of items that aren’t necessary, and that can be very difficult for some people. We encounter clients from out-of-state that are moving into smaller New York apartments and seek our help with this very issue. What we recommend is taking a moment to decide what you actually need and use regularly. Discard clothes that don’t get worn often and furniture that doesn’t have much usability. That’s really the only way to do it. We actually set up Pinterest boards for our clients and post which furniture or art pieces they should keep or discard, so that there is an organized process for how they get rid of items.

 

[TBG] That’s very interesting that you mention that - how do you define what clients should or shouldn’t keep? For example, vintage furniture is highly sought after and might make sense to keep for the future.

 

[JM] Many people are moving from places that allowed them to keep large furniture, but New York apartments generally lack the capacity for wide tables and big, comfy chairs. You have to consider the scale involved when you are moving into a smaller living environment, and adjust accordingly. In terms of what you should keep for the future, there are many pieces that have a timeless quality, but those can also be frumpy. Many families own furniture or art that belonged to their grandparents, and while they don’t necessarily like or use them, they still keep them when they move because they are heirlooms. In my opinion, if you don’t like something, put it on eBay. While keeping family heirlooms is lovely for sentimental reasons, if you don’t love their design or find practical uses for them, I don’t think it’s worth it.

 

[TBG] What should aspiring renovators look for in their interior designer?

 

[JM] Honesty, transparency, and integrity are the most important qualities. As a designer, you need to be frank and straightforward, and you must absolutely avoid going behind the client’s back. Our clients have mentioned instances where their designers have attempted to spend more without them knowing, and of course that is a bad business practice, least of all because the clients always find out. We tell our clients to get references, and to trust word of mouth. We strive to be straightforward – after all, honesty is the best policy.

 

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