By Kevin Meyer
Over the last decade or so, perhaps as lean took root and oozed from my professional to my personal life, I've changed from wanting a larger house to wanting smaller and smaller houses. A necessary corollary is the requirement for less stuff – which I wrote about a couple years ago while wondering if less storage space in a home was actually better.
This morning there was a great article in the lifestyle section of The Wall Street Journal on an architect after my own heart.
By Manhattan standards, the Upper East Side apartment inhabited by
architect/designer Deborah Berke and her family suffers no shortage of
space: The three-bedroom duplex measures about 2,700 square feet.
is, however, a shortage of stuff: The tabletops sit mostly empty, walls
and shelves are mostly unencumbered by magazines and knickknacks. "I
think it is a misperception that the neat or minimal is an impediment to
comfort and warmth," said Ms. Berke, age 56, who has designed homes for
artist William Wegman and gallery owner Marianne Boesky as well as
commercial projects like the James Hotel in Chicago. "The lack of visual
clutter allows you to relax."
Exactly what I've found – even from one of my very first blog posts over five years ago (egads!) on the dangers of horizontal surfaces.
Ms. Berke's philosophy rubs off on people.
Several years ago, Suzanne Shaker enlisted Ms. Berke to design a
1,300-square-foot contemporary on Shelter Island, north of New York's
Hamptons, with a wall of sliding glass doors. Ms. Shaker says she took
Ms. Berke's advice and created a full basement to help keep the place
uncluttered. "When we moved in I really edited and said I just want what
we love and need and I don't want to just fill the space," she says.
Hold onto just what you love (and what you truly love, not what you "might unexpectedly love at some unknown time in the future") and need, and nothing more. Think about that as you go about your chores this weekend.
Minimize to achieve the elegance and peacefulness of simplicity.