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Redesigning Your Life with Jamie Blumenthal • Rebroadcast

We’re on a short break as we celebrate the holidays with our families and gear up for season five coming in 2022. While we’re away, we thought it might be nice to take another trip down memory lane and share some of our favorite episodes from our early seasons of the Toaster. This week, we’re talking about your space.

You’re newly divorced. You’ve moved into a new place. Let’s say, to really put a cap on this exercise of imagination, you’re sitting on the floor one night eating sesame chicken straight out of the take out container by the light of a single lamp and you’re wondering — perhaps aloud — what am I going to do next?

You’re going to start but rediscovering your own individual sense of style.

This week on the show, Jamie Blumenthal of Blumenthal Designs joins us to talk about the power of interior design in finding your own identity after your divorce. She teaches us how you can rediscover the power of your own voice as you create a space of comfort and personality. And, she adds, when you’re ready to get back out there, you’ll have a welcoming space that communicates who you are, “and doesn’t look like a dorm room!”

Bottom line: Taking care of your space means taking care of yourself both physically and emotionally. This holiday season, self-care starts at home.

Links & Notes

Episode Transcript

Pete Wright: Welcome to How to Split a Toaster, divorce podcast about saving your relationships from TruStory FM. Are you ready to nest? Because today we’re talking all about the power of interior design and the new post-divorce you.

Seth Nelson: Welcome to the show everybody. I’m Seth Nelson, I’m here with my good friend, Pete Wright, and our guest today is Jamie Blumenthal of Blumenthal Designs. An interior designer, she’s a mother of daughters, a dog mom of Cody, the black lab, who you must check out on TikTok because he went viral.

Pete Wright: The Dog is on TikTok? Jamie.

Jamie Blumenthal: Yes, my daughter did a video, "how I taught my dog to smile," and she put it on TikTok and she got over a million views, so he’s super famous.

Pete Wright: That’s fantastic. I feel like this is just six degrees now. Six degrees of Cody, the smiling dog. It’s amazing. What Seth doesn’t know Jamie is that you and I have been secretly planning this podcast conversation in order to just give you an opportunity to look at Seth on Zoom and just start tearing apart his office. Just, give us all the things he needs to do better. Right?

Jamie Blumenthal: Wait. I did that office. I did that office.

Pete Wright: That’s amazing. Then it’ll be a very short list.

Jamie Blumenthal: I helped with the layout of the place. So I… Yes and I do, actually, I love the poster that he has on the back wall, so. Keep calm and carry on.

Pete Wright: Keep calm and carry on. I wish I have it. I usually have a response. I have a mask that is read like that. It just says, "There is no calm on it." It’s a COVID mask. So I like to wear that while we podcast together. We’re talking about interior design and the power of creating the new post-divorce you. And I feel like… Could we start just talking a little bit about what it means to have to rediscover your identity when you move into a different place? Like, what are you going through when you… What are the kinds of questions that people ask you as you embark on this new journey alone?

Jamie Blumenthal: So, speaking from someone that is recently divorced, I will just let you know and put that out there to begin with that I’m speaking from shoes of experience. And I do have a lot of clients who are divorced as well. And I will say at first it is overwhelming because, there were a lot of things you purchased together that made your home. And then when you start to split the toaster, split the sheets, all of those things, it becomes a little mish mushy. So what I try to do is meet with the client and evaluate the pieces that they’re keeping or that they’re going to take with them or that they’ve already taken. And we evaluate what pieces are important to them and what pieces are temporary.

Jamie Blumenthal: And then I talk to them about what their styles are. Sometimes I’ll have them go on Pinterest and pull some ideas of looks that they like so we can kind of hone in on what their personal style is. Because you’ve been married 15, 20 years, your style has either taken on your exes or maybe you never really got a vote as to what the direction was going, and now you have half this furniture that may or may not be your style. So that’s the first step in kind of recognizing what the ultimate goal is for each client.

Seth Nelson: And Pete, I will tell you that when I went through this process, I worked with Jamie on this exact thing and she said, "Go on, Pinterest, let me just see." And I’d never been on Pinterest before, why should I go in and on-

Pete Wright: Yeah. What are you doing on Pinterest? Nothing.

Seth Nelson: Yeah. I have no idea. But I’m clicking away and I’m all excited. I’m clicking all this stuff and I call Jamie and I’m like, "Did you check out my Pinterest?" She’s like, "Yeah." I’m like, "What do you think of my style?" And of course, I’m just looking for props there, right? And she just calmly says, "Expensive."

Pete Wright: Oh. No, there was a whole list of things that she could have said in my head and expensive was like last on the list.

Jamie Blumenthal: Yes. He does have expensive taste. I will say that clean, modern lines.

Pete Wright: That checks [crosstalk 00:04:40].

Seth Nelson: But, we’ll talk about this later in the show. Jamie made that happen for me without breaking the bank. So there’s ways to do it. Because I’m sure people are thinking first off, what does interior design have to do with the divorce? But like Jamie’s saying, it’s about, you’re separating your belongings, but what’s going to make you feel good and at peace as most as you can, when you’re getting into your own space?

Pete Wright: That gets back to what Jamie was saying. I feel like, if I’m trying to put myself in those shoes and Seth, I’m really curious, like in all seriousness, there is a state of just like confusion and like I’m just out of alignment with the world when you ask me things like, what do you like? Like, I don’t know what I’d like, I forgot. I forgot what I like. I don’t really have strong opinions about things. But it turns out, I’ll bet I do. If I figure out how to get the right questions asked toward me.

Jamie Blumenthal: And that’s exactly what the first consultation meeting is about. Is kind of saying, well, what do you like about this picture? What speaks to you from this of the pieces that you decided that you wanted from the divorce? Why did you pick this piece? Is it something that means something to you? And what does it mean? There’re lot of people that might have antiques that they took with them that were from their grandparents or aunts and uncles, and how are we going to incorporate that into what might not be the style of the antiques and how do we work that in?

Jamie Blumenthal: So it’s a lot of, I ask a lot of questions and it’s a lot of listening and trying to understand what’s important and also how to use the space. Prior to COVID it wasn’t as much of a thing, but since COVID, there’s a lot of conversation of, do you need your kitchen table to also be your home office? Like you need a room for your children. Are they part-time? Where are you going to work from? What happens if they get quarantined? Where are they working from? How are you making this smaller? Because generally it’s a smaller space. How are we going to make the smaller space work for you so that you still get the quality time with your children? So, because it’s so different from going from a 4,000 square foot house to an 1800 square foot condo or a townhouse. It’s a big chain.

Pete Wright: Well, I was going to ask about children and you took us in the COVID direction. I imagined some complexity in all of these choices, because now like you’re having to adapt to not just you figuring out, like, what do I like? Like, can we put my Velvet Elvis up somewhere? Like, how do I figure it out-

Seth Nelson: The answer is yes. The answer is yes.

Jamie Blumenthal: There’s always a space to put the Velvet Elvis. There’s always a wall.

Pete Wright: Always a wall.

Seth Nelson: And if not, there’s a ceiling.

Jamie Blumenthal: [inaudible 00:07:24].

Pete Wright: Is how do you integrate your kids into this process, right? If you’re separating families and that gets even more complicated, I have to imagine when they’re not spending a hundred percent of their time with you most likely, right?

Jamie Blumenthal: Yes, absolutely. In fact from experience. So when we separated, one of the things that was most important to my ex-husband was to make sure that our daughters felt at home. Our daughters needed to feel at home. Our daughters had to have a space that they felt comfortable, that they would want to be there. And that was important for him and it was important for me to make sure that the girls had that. Because when we agree on 50/50, it needs to feel like 50/50, all the clothes couldn’t be at my house, clothes needed to go over there. I even bought doubles of toiletries and things you don’t think of like all of the organizers, makeup mirrors for my girls that, if they like to sit and do their makeup, I want to make sure that in their father’s place, that they have a spot to sit and do their makeup. Something as simple as that.

Seth Nelson: And [inaudible 00:08:30] that terminology and this is the thing that gets lost. When we talk about kids and going back and forth, it is in our nomenclature, mom’s house, Dad’s house. Never is it the kid’s house. So just think about that, right? From a kid’s perspective. Oh, I’m at mom’s or I’m at dad’s. But what we’re saying and what Jamie’s saying is, that needs to feel like they’re home. Right? So I’ll say to my son, "Oh, are you coming home?" And he’ll say, "Yeah." And then I’ll say, "Which one?" Because it might be mom’s home, clash his [inaudible 00:09:09]. Right? So, but we all say it, mom’s house dad’s house. So just think about that a little bit, but in making it their own, like you’re saying, it really helps go ahead Jamie.

Jamie Blumenthal: Right. Well, we don’t want them to live out of a suitcase. Right? We don’t, and they do, they schleppers’ suitcase back and forth from place to place. There’s no way around that because they have their basics. But the more stuff that you can duplicate at both spaces, the less schlepping back and forth, and they’re feeling more and more at home, wherever they are, whether it’s moms or dads, they both feel like home. So I think that’s one of the things that I would say is one of the most important things, as well as when you were asking about how to figure out your space, I think it’s very important to finish your space, to not feel temporary.

Jamie Blumenthal: So I think when you first get into your new space, it feels so temporary that it’s very important for your psyche and for your mental state to set this place up. Because you’re going to be there, whether it’s two, three or four years there’s been such an upheaval in your life that you need some sense of normalcy and some place that you feel somewhat good about because you kind of feel like everything’s been shifted so drastically that nothing feels like home.

Seth Nelson: That’s very true Jamie. Some people will, when they split up, if they’re not getting the house, they’ll move into a rental and they’ll say, "Well, I just have to, divorce is still going on, I’m not going to keep the house. I’ll move out." And so now they’re in a rental, well, how long are they going to be in the rental? Is it a year? Is it going to be two years? But you still are saying, make that feel complete. Because if you’re living on a beanbag chair and you’ve got the futon, because you’re not really sure how all the money is going to shake out and this is what we’ll talk about in the kind of the second section of the show is how to do this on a budget so it can feel complete. But that will help you immensely even if you know, I might only be here a year, two years, whatever the case may be.

Jamie Blumenthal: Right. It’s a mental.

Pete Wright: How do you determine what complete looks like? Right? I imagine that’s like, what are the basics? When you’re setting something up, at what point have you reached the bar that says, we’re finished?

Jamie Blumenthal: I don’t know that there’s ever a bar that says we’re finished, I think because your home is constantly evolving. But I don’t want it to look like a college dorm. So if your place looks like a college dorm-

Pete Wright: I sort of aspire to college dorm. I don’t know if you do.

Jamie Blumenthal: That’s sort of the man cave, the man cave [inaudible 00:11:48] college dorm, not the main living space. There’s a space for that. Right. So it’s important to have a nice sofa or, and when I say nice and again, we’ll get into budgets. I mean, not a futon, real pieces of furniture so that while you’re starting your next chapter, you feel good about yourself, right? Because what you don’t want to do is come home and sit in the dark in a half finished place with a little poster on the wall that was in the basement that you got to put up on the wall. Like you need things that are to scale to actually fill up the space. That’s what I would say. When you have things that are to scale, that’s when your place is somewhat finished.

Seth Nelson: So this is one of these questions that Jamie asked me when I was going through this process with her. And she asked me all these things like, "Well, what do you like? What about…" And I really had no idea, Pete, back to your point. I don’t even know. I just knew that at the time I had a kid that was this old and I want it to be nice for him. And I knew I needed a play area and this and that, so I had some segments of what I wanted. But then when Jamie came in and I’m like, oh my God, look at this big, massive leather couch that just looks so comfortable and manly. Right? And she’s like, that’s not going to fit.

Seth Nelson: So let’s just think about it because, you don’t want to walk in and have it be like all overwhelming. It’s got to be kind of pleasing to the eye, which I can not tell when we’re setting things up, but Jamie will take something and move it six inches over and it just looks better. Right? And it takes her 30 seconds. I would never have done that, but it does make the house feel complete. And also like the kitchen, just having a proper set of dishes and silverware, and you’re not using a spork.

Jamie Blumenthal: Absolutely. You got to have a strainer to strain the pasta. Like-

Pete Wright: You should have more than one pan.

Jamie Blumenthal: Exactly. And to get those things set up so that you can function like an adult, because you really almost feel like how you felt just after college, is really how you feel. Or at least one of you tends to feel that way, if not both, but generally the one who moves out feels that way.

Seth Nelson: But let’s look at the reverse side. The one that stays in the house. Half the furniture’s gone.

Pete Wright: Yeah. They’re now on the shell.

Jamie Blumenthal: Yes, absolutely. For me, there was shifting stuff around and reorganizing. One of the things that, depending on how you can do things, because my daughter had some Ikea furniture, some white classic Ikea furniture. The mom collection for anyone who’s out there, that is an Ikea person you know the mom collection.

Pete Wright: Oh. Hardcore mom. Oh yes.

Jamie Blumenthal: Right. [crosstalk 00:14:36].

Pete Wright: NALM. Right. [crosstalk 00:14:36].

Jamie Blumenthal: MALM. Yes [crosstalk 00:14:39] mom. Right? So you have classic mom collection. So what I told her father to do, I was like, listen, go get more of the mom collection. So I’ll give you one nightstand, we’ll each buy one more nightstand. So that way she has something to start with. And if we financially can’t buy two more nightstands, at least we know she has one there, one here and when you’re ready to put the other piece together, you can, and thank goodness for a place like Ikea, you can complete a set. So there was some of that, there was some reorganizing of spaces purchasing different chairs and things like that to kind of fill in some of the gaps. And I do that with clients too. Like if they get the big Brown leather sectional, it’s what other pieces do we need to go with that to complete it? I would never walk into somebody’s home and say, well, that’s got to go. You know what I mean? So it’s a matter of saying like, and like we said, we’ll talk about budget, but it’s a matter of-

Seth Nelson: Jamie says that, but when I was living with my girlfriend, who’s, Jamie’s very good friend, where she walked in and she, looked at me and said that’s go to go. When she says never, there’s always the exception. Right?

Jamie Blumenthal: What we do is, we just make all the other things look so good that you’re like, do you really want [crosstalk 00:15:52]. Not now.

Pete Wright: I do have a question though, because a couple of times we keep talking about feel and sort of how things feel. And I think so much of the… My sense is that this question of figuring out scaling and figuring out Seth said moving things six inches, it suddenly feels better. Like, I may not know anything about the look or the pedigree of a particular piece or the room, but I do know when I go sit down in that chair in the corner, if it feels right, like I can in to it, this feels better than when it was over there. And so, my sense is that so much of your work is, and this is really a catch me when I start lying is, so much of your work is about helping your clients feel like they’re a part of a space in a way that isn’t the empty college dorm.

Jamie Blumenthal: Absolutely. As far as the type of designer, my goal when I leave is that the home is a reflection of my client. That it’s not like, oh, a designer came in here and did this, this is beautiful. It’s, oh, I actually like to eat dinner in front of the TV. I have this cool coffee table that actually pops up into table height so I can sit there and eat my dinner in front of the TV if that’s how I live, but it’s can still be cool and modern. So that is my ultimate goal is where do you like to sit… I mean, and this has happened more than one time where I’ve had a client, the TV is centered on the wall, but the chaise to the sectional is off to the left and the husband will say, no, the chaise has to be centered in front of the TV because that’s where I like to sit. And so it’s, it’s understanding where do you like to sit to watch TV? Where do you like to sit to eat? Where do you work on your computer? Where do you charge your phone? Like Seth knows, like, I’m all about charging stations, like [crosstalk 00:17:46] right? The drop zone.

Jamie Blumenthal: Where’s the drop zone? The kids are now coming in with their backpacks. Where is their stuff going? Because you’re in a smaller space. Is there a bench for all the shoes to go and the backpacks to land? So it’s a matter of setting up the home, how you live and make it look good for how you live, not make you adapt to this beautiful space.

Pete Wright: Right.

Seth Nelson: On that point. Literally, I’ve just done some work in my condo, but Jamie has had me move where I keep my toaster. And I know it’s how to split a toaster. And we literally, we moved where the toaster was and let me tell you what happened.

Pete Wright: You now just leave a lot of bread in the bathroom?

Seth Nelson: Not exactly. We moved the toaster to a different section. Now, that is become kind of our breakfast area, and my son and I eat breakfast more at our dining room table now, because that’s kind of where it’s set up. I live in a condo, it’s kind of an open area and less at the bar in the kitchen. So where we eat has now changed all because Jamie said, "Your toaster needs to live over here."

Jamie Blumenthal: And now you have more space. Now it’s a whole nother space. The kitchen’s less crowded and it, functions. So it’s a matter of putting… Now the bread sits over by the toaster and there’s a little refrigerator and that’s where the butter and the cream cheese sits. So you don’t have to do this whole back and forth and really use the space properly. So that’s why all the conversations are so important.

Seth Nelson: So I’m kind of listening to this and I know I’ve been through it, but Pete, I don’t know if you’re struggling with this question. Like, how do you do this? Like, I hear what Jamie’s saying, but if you were like me, coming to be a single guy, and I’m like, really, this is not high on my priority list. Even if I have a kid, does this really make an impact? Are you feeling any of that, Pete?

Pete Wright: Yeah, I am. And I think so much of that comes in. Because my initial stress is something you both have alluded to, which is all around budget. And every time he says, "Now we’re going to talk about budget." And I think it’s time we talk about the actual mechanics of doing the work. But first Seth, shall we define a term?

Seth Nelson: Let’s do it. Defining a term today from our favorite Black’s Law Dictionary, equitable distribution. The division of marital property by a court in a divorce proceeding, under statutory guidelines that provide for a fair, but not necessarily equal allocation of the property between the spouses. What does that mean in English? Who gets and how does the court decide? Keep it simple.

Pete Wright: Okay. So we said, we’re going to talk about the mechanics of this whole thing, but I have to tell you, Seth, you just defined a term. And there is a brief phrase that carries a lot of weight and that is fair, but not necessarily equal allocation between parties. What’s going on there?

Seth Nelson: So equitable is fair, but doesn’t mean that it’s equal. And going back to another podcast that we had discussing about splitting the orange, when two kids are fighting about it, maybe it’s fair because one kid wants the juice, but the other one wanted the peel. Well maybe it’s not equal the peels bigger, the juice was less.

Pete Wright: If we’re measuring your stuff by gross weight.

Seth Nelson: Exactly. So that is just a small example of it might not be equal, but it was fair. And they both thought it was fair because they got what they wanted out of their interests. One got the peel to make the cake, the other got the juice to drink. And that concept can go through family law. It does get very complicated in when you’re talking equity, maybe the law’s not on your side like we’ve talked before. This is where I always say, talk with your lawyer and your local jurisdiction about how that works. I don’t deal in fairness that much because even if you’re going to court and it comes out fair at the end, it wasn’t necessarily fair because you had to go through that horrible litigation process that we’ve talked about, like with Dr. Gates before on collaborative law.

Seth Nelson: So there is a major issue though, if you’re moving out and you just don’t have the money to buy this stuff-

Pete Wright: Yeah. Right. That’s a huge stress. That’s been in the back of my head, this whole conversation. How do you afford it? Where does the money come from?

Seth Nelson: First off you have the stuff in the house, so you can divide that. But then we’re trying to fill in, like Jamie’s saying, you got the big leather couch, what will go nice with that? Right? So one is, do you have any savings or where can that money come from? And Jamie knows much more about buying furniture than I do. So I’m going to let her talk about ways that you can buy furniture that are relatively inexpensive.

Jamie Blumenthal: Yes, absolutely. So I said earlier, Ikea is one of those great places to go where yes, you have to put the stuff together, but they’re simple, they’re white, they’re black and it’s modular furniture. So especially if you end up in a townhouse or a condo that is smaller, you can gain a lot of storage with stuff from Ikea and not spend a lot of money. I have also taken many clients, we’ll go to Rooms To Go, or another place like Ashley Furniture or someplace. There are a lot of places that have free financing terms like that, or Macy’s has furniture. A lot of people have Macy’s credit cards and they’ll have good sales and I’ll tell my clients sometimes just put it in your cart and wait for the sale to come around. And-

Seth Nelson: Oh, like when you’re shopping online, you mean?

Pete Wright: Oh, sure, sure, sure. Yeah.

Jamie Blumenthal: Yes. When you’re shopping online, they’ll come back and be like, "Hey, we’ll give you an extra 20% off, come back and shop with us." But I would definitely say the Rooms To Go and the free financing for two years, that you can get your daughter or son’s room set up with a bed, two nightstands, the mattress, a dresser to hold all their clothing and stuff. And you can pay it over a few years. Now, and what I will say about that furniture, as well is don’t forget, these kids are growing up and going off to college, we are not looking to furnish their room as like the end all be all room. It needs to feel like home and needs to be nice enough. And, and the stuff from Rooms To Go, a lot of it is like technologically savvy.

Jamie Blumenthal: Like they’ll have the USB plugs and stuff, like you’ll be able to plug in your nightstand and then there’ll be like a USB port in the top of the nightstand. So there are some great options out there that you don’t have to break the bank and you don’t have to do designer furniture for the kids’ rooms. You can even purchase used furniture and paint it or have it painted. I’ve had friends whose kids are going off to college, that they want to turn those rooms into a study. So again, through the internet, there are different like swap shops or online places where you can purchase furniture that’s gently used that will get them through. Because some of these kids, they may only be home for another three years. So why do you need to buy a brand new high-end bedroom set when they’re going to be there for three years and you might transition that room anyway.

Seth Nelson: And I’ll let there is an app called Thumbtack that you can go on and say, you have a project that you need done and people will quote it. I mean, anything from you need your house painted, there’re painters on there. I had it for my son’s bar mitzvah, I found someone that did stitching in these little blankets that we got. She stitched in the date of his bar mitzvah. And I found this woman on Thumbtack.

Jamie Blumenthal: Right. And like Handyman too. Like a lot of women now, the ex-husband’s out of the house. So they need someone to help with some… You make your list and you go on Thumbtack and you find a handyman and then when they come over, you give them the list of all the things you need done that maybe your ex-husband took care of in the house or just… So you’re not like, "Well, I’m alone, I have to do this myself. No, there are so many resources out there-

Seth Nelson: That are not expensive.

Jamie Blumenthal: Correct. They’re not expensive, but they’re game changers for how you live. Right? Because it’s all about how you’re going to live in your space. So I think it’s really important to take the initiative.

Seth Nelson: So Jamie, if you’re a guy like me, who is going to be a single guy who doesn’t know anything about design. And you’re listening to this podcast, like I don’t even know where to find a designer, how much do they cost? How does it work? I thought that’s what really fancy people did, because I see these shows that these designer comes in and they make it, but it all seems very, just boring to me.

Pete Wright: I don’t think those people are paying for anything. That’s it. So this is all magical and I’m sure that’s the answer is don’t worry. It’s all magical.

Jamie Blumenthal: It’s all magical and it’ll be done in two days. So don’t [crosstalk 00:27:01] go to lunch and come back and it’ll be done.

Pete Wright: And also would you have a truck in front so that I can stand and then you move the truck? Because I’m going to need a reveal if we’re doing this.

Jamie Blumenthal: Yes absolutely. So the worst thing for me is those shows because as we all know, it does not take two days to redo a house and transform it. It could take six to eight weeks, but it could take six to eight months to really set up a space. So when I started doing this, just to give you a little quick background of how I’m structured and the interior design industry has evolved, has evolved like every other industry because of the internet and the accessibility to products. So when Wayfair came around, designers we couldn’t only do custom furniture, we have to adapt because in three clicks it will be here on Thursday, right? Depending on what you purchase. So a lot of designers, and me included, the way I structure my business is I start with an hourly rate.

Jamie Blumenthal: So generally, I’ll start with a five-hour minimum. The going rate is basically a hundred dollars an hour to $200 an hour, somewhere in that range for that price. So let’s call it 500, $600, I would come over, we would talk about the things that you want to accomplish and within those next five hours, I can help select furniture that you could purchase on your own. I could go shopping with you to Rooms To Go and help you pick the things out. I can put together room concepts on basically like a PDF or like a picture concept of the things we want to do and attach links to them for West Elm or Crate and Barrel or any of the local stores. And then you would just click on that link, put it in your shopping cart.

Seth Nelson: Wait for a little few days, try and get a 20% discount and then purchase it-

Jamie Blumenthal: Leave it in the cart for[inaudible 00:28:51]. That’s right, that’s right.

Pete Wright: We can be taught.

Jamie Blumenthal: Yes. Absolutely. So in a nutshell, that is the process that I like to work with for my clients. What’s really interesting, I have gotten referrals from like, I’ve had people say, "Oh, I was in this lighting store and I got so overwhelmed and the sales person at the lighting store told me to call you." So if you don’t know where to find an interior designer, it’s actually really good to go to either like a local lighting store or like Ferguson’s like the plumbing store. They have a lot of relationships through different designers and I’ve had like the sales people call me and say, "Hey, listen, a client came in, they were really overwhelmed. And you know what, just from talking to them, I think you would be a really good fit for them."

Jamie Blumenthal: And that has worked out very well for me. When they’ve taken the time to get to understand the customer and they’ll say, "Oh, you’re a good fit." Or they have probably anywhere from two to five designers that they generally work with in their lighting showroom or their plumbing showroom or the tile shop, I’ve gotten recommendations, things like that. Now, there’s also services at like restoration hardware has designed services as well. So there are other routes to go if you don’t feel comfortable bringing a designer in, you can go to some of these retail shops and they have an in-house designer, which is… I used to work for Norwalk furniture.

Seth Nelson: Here’s the funny thing about all this, I’m sitting here thinking about this. Remember, we’re talking about divorce, right? So I’m thinking I’m here, a guy setting up my own place. I’m basically going to hire Jamie who happens to be a woman in this scenario to come in and just tell me how to do it. Now, I’m sure in my marriage, I’m like quit telling me what to do. Stop telling me what to do, I want the big flat screen TV. And now I’m on my own and all I’m looking for is Jamie to come in and tell me what to do.

Jamie Blumenthal: Oh, I’m a marriage counselor. In my profession, I am actually a marriage counselor. I do interior design, but I’m constantly the referee in marriages. As well as-

Seth Nelson: Right. Jamie’s like telling the woman, I’m guessing, this is a guess. Do you basically, and I know this is kind of the sexist comment and I apologize, but you tell the guy, let her pick out the pillows and you tell her, look, we’re spending all this on this great, gorgeous kitchen that you want, let them get the big flat screen TV.

Jamie Blumenthal: Yeah, that is… Yes. Yeah. Let him get the flat screen TV. Yes, that is always-

Pete Wright: It’s all that’s splitting the orange.

Jamie Blumenthal: Exactly. It’s compromises, right? And then if I want seven pillows on the bed, he’s like, "Fine, as long as I’ve got the big screen TV we’re good."

Seth Nelson: So let me circle back to the conversation, Pete, that we had alone because, Jamie has all these great ideas about going to Pinterest and pinning all this stuff. And of course we talked about, hey, don’t post on social media and this is why people hate lawyers, because now I’m going to tell you, look, if you’re working with someone and you want to go to Pinterest and post all of this stuff, that’s fine. That’s not going to come back and haunt you in court because if I’m a lawyer and I get that and I’m like, "Well, you were on Pinterest, weren’t you?" "Yes." "And you posted all these expensive things." "Yes." "But what were you doing?" "I was trying to figure out how to set up the room for the children to make them most comfortable." "And did you do that?" "Yes." "Well, what did you, you hired a designer?" "Yes."

Seth Nelson: "Oh, did you think that was excessive?" "Well, no." "Why?" "Because I paid her a hundred dollars an hour for five hours and she looked at what I posted and she got those same things at Ikea, which was a lot less. And I spent a total of $750 and now my kids really feel comfortable in their room."

Pete Wright: At no point does that sound like you’re showboating.

Seth Nelson: Exactly. Exactly. But that really is when you go through this process and you can pick out all this stuff that you like, but for five or 10 hours of time to make that new house comfortable for your children and for you. Right? It’s not just about the kids, you’re in your own space, maybe for the first time in a long time and you just might be lost. Like you’re saying, Pete, I wouldn’t even know what to pick.

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Seth Nelson: When you kind of say, these are the things that kind of strike my eye, and then you have someone at a fixed rate or amount of time and says, "I can do all this," and then you order it. Right? And then if you need help setting it up, Ikea has people that will set it up for you and put it together. There’s that Thumbtack app, I’m sure there’s Handyman around. Because you might just not have the time.

Pete Wright: Right, right. Well, and that the bottom line is, I think considering the state, the post divorce state, having somebody like Jamie, having somebody that you can count on to carry the weight of decision-making of tastemaking of just helping you figure out who you are. That is an enormous, I think, stress reliever, right? To just be able to outsource that part of your brain that is going to be in a state of anxiety, trying to figure all of those pieces out. Knowing myself, I know that’s where I would be.

Seth Nelson: Not only is it outsourcing, so you have one less thing to deal with when you’re going through this extremely difficult time, at some levels, some people might think it’s fun. They’re meeting with somebody new, they’re helping them. And they’re getting to pick out new stuff for themselves while still orchestrating to mix it in with what they have.

Jamie Blumenthal: I think it’s that also feeling confident. Because don’t forget, you also are going to be going back out into the dating world. And when you get to the point where you would invite someone over to your place, you don’t want it to look like a college dorm and you want to feel confident and proud. [crosstalk 00:34:36].

Seth Nelson: Well, that depends like how old the woman you might be dating.

Pete Wright: Oh, Seth.

Seth Nelson: Right? Right? I’m just jarring the pot for future clients on that one. I’m sorry, you can edit that out.

Jamie Blumenthal: Of course. But listen, I have a side note that I want to make sure I… I don’t know if it’ll make sense to everybody, but I want to make sure I make this point. When a man or a woman is decorating their new home, this kind of goes back to the [functional 00:35:03] ways then kind of world that we’ve all heard about. I try to make sure that a man doesn’t make his home too masculine and I try to make sure that a woman doesn’t make her home too feminine. Because when you get back into the dating world if you have an entire pink and white house, a man may not feel very comfortable in your space and feel like they don’t belong. So there needs to be this element of balance between feminine and masculine. Because a lot of the men they’ll be like, "Okay, I want the big TV. I want the big leather couch. I want all dark furniture. I want this." And then I’m like-

Seth Nelson: Well, Pete said that he wanted a jacuzzi with all these speakers that were going to be sick, I remember.

Pete Wright: Yeah, no, it’s going to be crazy. But also post divorce, I’m sure that I’m also going to have a waiting pool full of Parana in my former spouse’s name. Like as we get close to wrapping up, all I can think about is like, have you ever hit… What were the craziest requests that you’ve gotten? Have you ever gotten any crazy requests from post divorce?

Jamie Blumenthal: Well, that is a great question. Not really crazy or I’ve said, "Well, let’s just think about that for now. That’s how I handle my, let’s just table that, let’s just table that. Or-

Pete Wright: You’ve now said it out loud. We’re going to let that ring in the air and we’re going to come back to it. We’re going to put a pin in it.

Jamie Blumenthal: Right. Or I would say, no woman ever is going to come over here. If you have that in your [crosstalk 00:36:32].

Pete Wright: Right. Right.

Jamie Blumenthal: You will never date again, my friend, you will never date again.

Seth Nelson: Right. But do you have clients that basically go to that extreme where I could never have what I wanted at my… I’m going to set this up a hundred percent for me. Because I would see that happening. Like Jamie, I don’t care if a woman comes over and doesn’t like my place because it’s my place.

Jamie Blumenthal: Yes. And that does happen. But what I do, I try to take the edge off of it a little and like, listen, I’m not expecting a guy to have floral pillows. Don’t get me wrong. But at this-

Seth Nelson: I got to return those.

Jamie Blumenthal: Right, [inaudible 00:37:07]. But I do feel like… I’m trying to think if I’ve had anybody that has really just gone a hundred percent, that way, I would say I’ve had a couple of people just go a hundred percent restoration hardware. I’m like, I mean, it looks great, It looks like the showroom, it looks great. So you got to put some personal touches on it.

Seth Nelson: It is a little awkward. When people come walking through your house trying to buy stuff though.

Pete Wright: Jamie, you need to know, I light things on fire a lot, right? Like…

Jamie Blumenthal: [inaudible 00:37:33].

Pete Wright: We’re going to need to design around my living room welding set.

Jamie Blumenthal: Yes. Absolutely not my wheelhouse of clients. So thank goodness.

Pete Wright: Hey, this has been great. Jamie, you’re wonderful. Where would you like people to go learn more about?

Jamie Blumenthal: Oh, I have a website, I believe.

Pete Wright: It’s .org. It’s a confirmed. It is .org.

Jamie Blumenthal: Okay. Thank you. You know what? The good news is I’ve been busy with clients, so I have an Instagram account, which you can find me on the Blumenthal designs in my Instagram. That’s probably the best because, Instagram keeps rolling with pictures more frequently than the website.

Seth Nelson: You can go there and check out ideas. You don’t just have to go to Pinterest. You can check out ideas that Jamie’s done on other houses and stuff. It’s really cool.

Jamie Blumenthal: All right. Make sure we’re a good fit. Thank you so much for having me on the show.

Pete Wright: Oh, it’s a delight. Thank you so much for your time today. We sure appreciate it. And Seth Nelson, I can’t wait to see you’re doing some renovations now on your very own place. Are you going to be Pinteresting?

Seth Nelson: I don’t really know how to do that very well, but I’m sure it will be on Jamie’s Instagram, since she’s been the brainchild behind it. But in all seriousness, it has changed the way I live in my own space that I’ve been in for three years now.

Pete Wright: That’s great.

Seth Nelson: So it’s been very what I would say, healthy and calming and more functional and it just feels good. So thank you, Jamie, for coming on the show, we really appreciate you giving some titbits and advice on helping people set up their new place when they’re going through these difficult times.

Jamie Blumenthal: Thank you. Thank you guys so much. This was really fun. Thank you.

Pete Wright: Thank you everybody for downloading and listening to this show on behalf of Jamie Blumenthal and Seth Nelson. I’m Pete, right? We’ll catch you next week right here on How to Split a Toaster, a divorce podcast about saving your relations.

Speaker 4: Seth Nelson is an attorney with Nelson Koster Family Law and Mediation. With offices in Tampa, Florida. While we may be discussing family law topics, How to Split a Toaster is not intended to, nor is it providing legal advice. Every situation is different. If you have specific questions regarding your situation, please seek your own legal counsel with an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction. Pete Wright is not an attorney or employee of Nelson Koster. Seth Nelson is licensed to practice law in Florida.

Seth Nelson is a Tampa based family lawyer known for devising creative solutions to difficult problems. In How to Split a Toaster, Nelson and co-host Pete Wright take on the challenge of divorce with a central objective — saving your most important relationships with your family, your former spouse, and yourself.
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