Home Makeovers for Re-singled Parents

It is my mission through Plot, a design firm l started in 2010, to support families navigating divorce by helping newly-re singled parents create a cozy and familiar spaces for their children during this very big transition

How did this come about? While l was staging properties for sale in NYC, l realized the majority of my clients were relocation, trading up, or divorcing. The couples splitting up were dealing with the stress of the real estate market and navigating everything that goes into transitioning their kids into new - and separate - households. It was also around this time that l was divorcing after 20 years of marriage, so l was especially empathetic with these families.

There are multiple challenges l help face:

1. One parent moving out of the family home. 

When a parent moves into a new space where the kids will be staying part time, they want to create a new welcoming space that their children will want to return to week after week. At the same time, they frequently have a limited budget, and need to make the transition very quickly

2.  One parent staying in the family home

When one parent remains in the family home, they often want to change things up in a way that evokes a fresh start, and expresses their hopes for their next chapter, but still feels familiar and safe for the children.

3. Both parents moving out of the family home.

A fresh start for both parents, along with all the practical challenges that come up - i.e. one set of sports equipment or two, where to store things needed to be remembered in a weekly transitions from one home to the other.. How to create sleep spaces in a small one bedroom, or studio. 

One of my most gratifying clients, Oscar, a newly re-singled Dad, relocated into a 600 sq. ft. pre-war apartment with no more than a bed, sofa, coffee table, wooden chest, and a bike. It had been a grueling divorce financially and emotionally, but he was focused on creating a comfortable home for his 8-year old son whom he would spend every weekend. 

With little time to shop and no prior design experience on Oscar’s part, we created a plan that would make Oscar’s son feel it was a fun place to return to, and be grown-up enough for Oscar and his new dating life.

Now their Friday nights consist of munching on popcorn while watching movies with a projector l installed. An accent wall painted charcoal grey added more personality, dotted with framed baby toys, vacation pictures, and momentos his son had made over the years. Fun and familiar at the same time!

What also made this project so satisfying was knowing how hard it can be for men to reach out for help. Oscar contacted me, and his first words were how he “desperately wanted his son to feel comfortable in his new space and not conflicted.”

Of course l have both Mum and Dad clients, but women seem to be more inclined to enlist help, gathering as many resources as possible through this unknown period.  l hope hearing more stories like this will make it easier for Dads.

Nothing makes me more happier than combining my design skills with the lessons l have learned through my own experiences. And nothing feels more important than helping children (and their parents) cope with divorce by helping to create spaces that make them happy.

Beth GibsonComment