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.