We recently caught up with Jude Brown, founder of Vital Home, a unique New York City-based design design service that specializes in helping men make the transition to a new house or apartment during or after a divorce or separation. Jude’s team provides decorating styling, and organization…and all the other little touches that turn a new house or apartment into a new home. Jude was kind enough to answer some of our questions about this fascinating service, and offers tips anyone can use as they move on to a new living situation.
Q: Tell us about Vital Home in a nutshell. Why do you think men are in special need of design services?
JB: The Vital Home is a post-divorce interior design and organization service. We help people with the transition from a family home that they have most likely nested in for years to a new home where they are getting a fresh start. Divorce can be such a tumultuous time in a person’s life and when the living separation occurs one party, most often the gentleman, has to move out into a new house or apartment. This is one of the reasons that although we work with both men and women, we specialize in “design for men.” Not to make sweeping generalizations, but I’ve found that most women have a good sense of what they want design-wise in their homes and enjoy making those purchases and putting it all together themselves. Many men know they want a comfortable and stylish place to come home to, but they may not have the time or inclination to tackle the project themselves. That’s where we step in.
Q: Why is it important for men to pay attention to the design of their first new space after divorce or separation? Why does this matter?
JB: Design can be overwhelming; there are so many choices out there sometimes it helps to have a guide. I think it’s really important to have your home (be it transitional or permanent) be someplace you really want to spend time. It can actually be a form of therapy. As a person going through divorce you are entering a new chapter in your life, and as scary as that may be, it can also be very exciting, a period of growth and change. This is where good design can benefit. No one wants to come home to a sad dark place that has a hand me down sofa and a mattress on the floor. It’s depressing for you and if you have kids, it’s even more depressing for them (not to mention when you bring a date home!). But when you walk into a place that is “all you” it feels great, you feel in control again.
Q: What’s unique about working with people as they go through a divorce?
JB: A lot of what I do is listening, which is actually really beneficial to me as a designer. The more you hear about the challenges someone is facing in their personal life the more you can craft a space that helps to fill that hole, even just a tiny bit. I think it helps the kids too. Whenever possible I love to meet with my client’s children and talk to them about how they want their room to look. Even if it’s just a place they visit every other weekend it has to feel welcoming to them. I think in a weird way the decorating process gives them a chance to open up and get some feelings off their chests. They have a tiny bit of control in a situation that’s almost always out of their control. This is an incredibly rewarding part of what I do.
Q: Why did you start Vital Home?
JB: I started Vital Home as an off shoot of my design consultancy, Brown & Jackson Projects, which handles commercial design projects. I began working with agents at Bond New York Real Estate to help stage some of their condos in the NYC area. We had some sales where the client wanted to buy the property including all the furnishings. This led me to meet a couple of different gentlemen that were going through a divorce and they were just overwhelmed. They knew they wanted a nice looking apartment, they wanted it now, but had no idea where to start. I saw an under-served niche market and decided to start Vital Home. With my work in the commercial design field and before that as a prop stylist and set decorator for photo shoots and commercials I have amassed a wide network of designers, builders and talented craftspeople. This has allowed me to expand our capabilities exponentially. We can help not only with interior decorating, but also with organization, painting, repairs, custom furniture and more. I’ve even brought in wardrobe and grooming stylists to help re-vamp a client’s look.
Q: What geographic area do you currently serve? Can you do virtual consultations and designs for out-of-state clients?
JB: We are located in Brooklyn NY, and serve the tristate area, including New Jersey. Most of our work is done within a 2 hour radius of NYC. Of course we will travel anywhere a client wants us to if the budget allows. My preference is to meet with clients in person to get to know who they are and their likes and dislikes. I also always prefer to bring my team in after all the purchases are made to install and style the space. But that being said, with our new virtual program we can work with anyone, anywhere.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us about Vital Home, Jude! We applaud people who work with families going through separation and divorce and who help make that transition a little easier for the entire family!
Photo Credit: Vital Home