In the third season of Breaking Bad, Walter White uses a mountain of crystal meth money to buy a furnished model condo. Despite the horror and soul erosion that led to that real estate sale, the well-designed apartment, with its big square chairs and smartly appointed decorations, is a scenario recently divorced dads might view with envy. Divorced men aren’t largely known for their interior design skills.
A divorce can feel like a death by a thousand cuts. Your finances and worth as a father and husband are put under a microscope. You face an unfamiliar future. And as you look at those difficult big picture life questions, you need to attend to nagging, thumbnail sketch concerns as well. You have to buy silverware, furniture, pots and pans, pizza slicers, water glasses, shower mats and everything else that makes a space livable. Coming home to a futon and bare walls weighs heavily on the soul soon after a marriage. You don’t want a forever home, necessarily. But you and the kids need a place to sleep.
With her newly launched firm Stripe Street Studio, Tulsa Oklahoma-based entrepreneur and interior designer Stacey Herman aims to ease men into their post-marriage lives. Herman’s first-of-its-kind design studio handles interior design, home set-up, and organization specifically for divorced dads. As men undergo the stress of divorce, Stripe Street creates a calm, ordered space where they can make sense of their lives and rebuild.
“It really just helps divorced dads transition from one chapter of their lives to the next in a more seamless and compassionate way than they might not necessarily do on their own,” Herman says. “They’re in the midst of dealing with divorce attorneys and financial advisors and new roles they’re going to be playing when their kids are with them. There are so many things happening at once.”
Herman has brought her gift for balancing style with functionality to homes and workspaces across the North East since launching her New York-based firm Fluid Design + Relocation in 2015. As a designer and as a mother of two, she’s seen that the old cliché “home is where the heart is” holds deeper truth than we might suspect. “Everyone should love their space,” she says. “It makes us have clearer minds and open hearts. And be kind to one and other. And it all starts at home.”
Our living spaces influence our behavior in the outside world. Punish yourself with a home like a prison cell, you’ll pay that domestic discomfort forward in the rest of your life. “How you’re going to treat others outside of home is going to be based on how everyone treats each other inside the home,” Herman says.
Herman began Stripe Street after working with a number of divorced male clients. She realized that while formerly married men often have the taste and resources, the stress of divorce often leaves them with too little bandwidth to create living spaces in which they can flourish.
“They know what they like,” Herman says. “They definitely know what they want. It’s just that the process is overwhelming or boring to them. They know what they want but they don’t know how to get there so we’re like their road from one life stage to the next.”
Time is often at a premium when men divorce, too. “It takes a lot to shop and know where to go and do comparative shopping,” Herman says. “Then dealing with the logistics of it all and following up with everything. Not only that, they don’t know where to get towels that are absorbent and what are good deals to spend money on.”
Through a four-step process, Stripe Street creates spaces where men can launch their post-marriage lives. After analyzing the space, Herman identifies necessary items (ie: where to sit, eat and sleep). Then, she personalizes the space for the client’s family and creates ambiance and comfort.
Stripe Street makes divorced dads new nests more livable through major home purchases like furniture and rugs to small details like cookware, cutlery and vegetable peelers.
“You want creature comforts but also you want something that feels like home,” Herman says. “You want to walk in and have your life feel not so interrupted as it could be. There are so many things that come to a screeching halt and walking in somewhere and it provides so much more comfort.”
Pricing for the service varies. Working with a variety of budgets for building for post-divorce homes, Herman has learned how to prioritize to suit her clients’ different needs.
“I’ve worked with clients who’ve bought Cassina sofas,” she says. “And I’ve worked with clients where we buy all of their accessories at Target.”
Herman says her divorced male clients prioritize creating a sense of continuity for their children. “They care about setting up structure, setting up good routines for when the kids are going to be with them,” Herman says. “And they also really want a nice environment to live in. They don’t want to just have a sofa and a pot and maybe some miscellaneous forks and spoons. They really want a nice place to lay their head down at night.”
Herman believes those simple domestic furnishings and tools can foster connection between divorced dad and kids at a time when connecting can be difficult. For a client with younger children, she stocked the kitchen with all the essentials, then added a Vitamix and a smoothie recipe book. “He told me his middle son wakes up every morning and he’s like ‘what smoothie are we making today?” Herman says.
While divorce is rarely pleasant, Herman believes that paying attention to setting up your new home makes the math of ending a marriage much easier. “Working with clients,” says Herman, “I always say that division can be a simple equation.”