Saturday, November 27, 2010

Advice from the house cleaner of every major decorator in NYC.







 My Mom told me about this fantastic article in the NY Times about  the home-cleaning queen Barbara Roche Fierman who runs New York’s Little Elves, a cleaning service used by some of New York’s fanciest designers. 
Her company often does show houses and cleans up after multimillion-dollar renovations; her clients include interior designers like Victoria Hagan and Jeffrey Bilhuber and Clodagh and Thom Filicia.
“We are not housekeepers,” Ms. Fierman says. “It’s a whole different world. The housekeeper cleans the bathtub and sink; she doesn’t have time to empty the medicine cabinet, clean the cabinet, clean the medicine bottle that you haven’t used in six to eight months and gets a little gritty. We do a post-renovation for Jamie Drake, we take apart all the new cabinetry in the kitchen and bathroom, we remove the drawers, we clean the runners.”

When she got into an acident she had a decorating ephiphany  -


“When I came home from the hospital they gave me my X-rays,” she says. “They didn’t waste time in the emergency room — they left the jewelry on. I had this X-ray with 18 pieces of jewelry on this human being: I had several chains, I had a belly chain, I had an ankle bracelet, I had rings.”From that day, I realized how” — a few earthy adjectives deleted here — “stupid that was. What did I need 18 pieces of jewelry for? Now I wear a Timex. ”
Her furnishings have been reduced to the few things she feels she needs. She throws out books when she is done reading them; the walls are bare because she likes them that way.
“What I think I learned from the crash, and from some of my clients who are owned by their things, is that it is a ridiculous way of life,” Ms. Fierman says. “We did a job once because a contractor in an adjacent apartment had caused dust in a woman’s Park Avenue apartment. When she opened the door, she greeted us with the sentence, ‘Everything in this apartment is photographed, right down to the Coca-Cola bottles.’ She was basically telling my workers, ‘Don’t dare steal anything.’ She was owned by her things; she was so afraid that she cut the cleaning day short.”
Check out how she really lives.... this is not staged...


  


She only has 4 sets of  dishes because if she has more than that she goes out for dinner.






“It has taken me years to really realize items are not worth worrying about,” Ms. Fierman says.

Could you live with nothing?


ra Fierman's all-white East Village apartment, designed by Oskar TorreCould you s. Ms. Fierman's company, New York's Little Elves, is a high-end cleaning service for interior decorators and architects. Much of her work is done in mansions but her own living room is 10 feet wide at most.

17 comments:

  1. Couldn't do it. I love my stuff and this is just too stark for me!

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  2. YES! i hate clutter with a burning passion. plus if i have stuff lying around, my cat eats it no matter what it is.

    But i could not live without lots of pillows and blankets, I live in Canada after all (we were the second coldest place in the world last week)

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  3. What a great article. I had not read this and I am so glad you shared.

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  4. Very interesting, and thank you for sharing. I have issues with clutter - so every month I do a trash bag that goes to goodwill (its surprising how much accumulates in a month... towels get yuck, old sheets get replaced, picture frames you dont use etc...) and then when I get new clothes ( i work in fashion - i get a ton of free stuff!) I try to purge somethings that I dont wear each month and take it over to Wasteland. I like having space in my shelves for the new things to come, open space is good. BUT - i could never live the way this woman lives. There are so many tokens of life that becomes your posessions. I smile looking at the strange elephant that is sitting in my etagere. And I love my stacked books on several different pieces of furniture. It looks like she doesnt enjoy life living this way. Actually as I write this super long comment, I am actually disturbed by the article. LOL.

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  5. On one hand I admire and appreciate what her experience taught her. On the other hand, objects that I own that have great sentimental value enrich my life and simply make me happy each time that I see them. Perhaps a little editing would be a good thing, but I'm not ready to live quite as sparsely as she.

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  6. Wow this is fascinating! I could not live like this. The bones are nice of course but I feel objects collected over time, that I love, are what make a place special. Yes I'd be crushed if something was lost but I would move on eventually. I would not treat people like the lady in the story, that's just going too far. As someone who has had their apartment vandalized before, it sucks, but you get over it just like you do everything else.

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  7. wow I believe in living simply, but this takes it to a whole new level. invigorating.

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  8. I get the sentiment, but this seems a little ridiculous... I bet she still "cares" if something spills on all her white furniture!

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  9. Oh how I love decorating with white!! It's so clean and versatile and what doesn't look good with white?? Love it!

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  10. After living in Ireland for almost 4 years in a furnished apartment, this is how I've had to live there with only my clothes and a few dishes - it's like living in a hotel room full time. I'm always so glad to escape back to our place in Canada where I have all of my things, family photos, books and accessories - it makes me feel comfy. :)

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  11. Thank you for linking to my blog, I have linked to yours too. Love this article!

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  12. Not with three adorable (but messy) boys and two loving (but big) dogs, I couldn't. But I do dream of a next life in (or perhaps retiring to) a beautiful, modern home by the sea, pared down a la Calvin Klein! Thank you for sharing the article!

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  13. This is an interesting post!! My mother hates owning things and only wants very few things in her life and house. God forbid you ever buy her anything for her house, she doesn't want it. She hates being owned by things. I think perhaps they've got it figured out. Too many things weigh you down!!

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  14. WOW - This is the most reaction ever - I love it and Glam Lamb I love that you went on and on. I could read these all day. xo Suze

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  15. Thank you Suze Y. Schwatrz for sharing my project with your readers.
    Oskar Torres

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  16. Rachel (Melbourne, Australia)December 3, 2010 at 2:58 AM

    It kinda reminds me of Cy's apartment in the movie One Hour Photo...too clinical.

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  17. Very intesting. I'm pretty close to her personal aesthetic (when you include the books and flowers her stylist dropped on the coffee table.)

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