The Design Firm That Helps Divorced Dads Transition Back Into Single Life

Moving out is often the hardest part of the entire process. Why not outsource it?

March 4, 2021 8:33 am
The Design Firm That Helps Divorced Dads Transition Back Into Single Life
Gabe Serrano for InsideHook/Getty

According to a 2008 study published by the University of Exeter, carnivores who are bred in captivity and later released into the wilderness have a 33% chance of survival.

“Animals in captivity do not usually have the natural behaviors needed for success in the wild,” wrote Kristen Jule, the study’s lead author.

The same, perhaps, could be said for divorced dads.

As a human subspecies, these men have traditionally been defined by armchair anthropologists as having a hopeless sense of interior decor and subsisting almost singularly on microwavable dinners. There’s a reason this trope has gotten lightyears of mileage in movies like Kramer vs. Kramer, Mrs. Doubtfire and Crazy, Stupid, Love: its cultural prominence is a sign of its cultural resonance. 

Eric, a father of three who works in finance in New York, recalls feeling lost and overwhelmed as he started his post-divorce life.  

“There’s this cliché that guys don’t know anything. Like, for example, we don’t know how to stock a fridge,” Eric says. “And it’s kind of true. For the first six months, I just had vodka and nuts in my kitchen.”

After his divorce, Eric moved into a temporary apartment. It was sparsely furnished and lacked character. He knew it wasn’t the kind of environment he wanted to provide for his kids, but he didn’t know where to start. 

“I had no clue what I was doing,” he says. “I didn’t have any of the things I needed to set up a kid-friendly home. I didn’t have the time, and I didn’t have the experience.” 

Eric’s friend Adam, in Eric’s apartment
Stripe Street Studio

That’s when his friend Adam referred him to Stacy Herman, whose company helped Adam move forward after his own divorce.

Stripe Street Studio, which Herman launched in December 2019, is a design firm that caters to divorced dads. They specialize in interior design, home setup and organization. Their mission is to help clients make seamless transitions into new spaces while maintaining the continuity of family routines and traditions. 

“It’s such a crazy time for people when they’re getting divorced,” Herman tells InsideHook. “They’re dealing with emotions, they’re dealing with a legal advisor, with a financial advisor, and they don’t necessarily know where to go to get towels and furniture or how to make a good investment in that stuff. So I come in as a kind of home advisor.”

Herman’s background includes more than 20 years running events and creative marketing programs for Hearst and Condé Nast publications. “That was like business school for me,” she says. She learned the art of logistics while developing an eye for spatially functional and aesthetically tasteful design. In 2015, she took her skills and her passion and started her own interior decorating business. Before long, she noticed a trend that prompted her to refocus her scope.

“I happened to have a lot of divorced dads as clients. And I just figured, there’s got to be a formula for this. That’s how Stripe Street started,” she says. “I’ve always had such empathy for the families because I’ve never really seen an easy divorce. If everybody has a nice place to come home to at the end of each day, that brings the anxiety level for the family down an awful lot.” 

Eric’s new digs
Stripe Street Studio

Herman, who holds the title of Chief Transition Officer, works with clients from all over the country, though Stripe Street is based in New York. Meetings and consultations take place remotely, but Herman or a team member is always on site to complete the project. Her clients have a variety of budgets and a variety of needs. She charges an hourly rate plus a slight markup on purchases. Some clients begin working with her before they even have a new home lined up; others are moving in six weeks and need to have everything finished by then.

“Because of my logistics and event background, I know where to go, what to pick out and how to get it all set up in a timely manner,” she says. This alleviates a lot of stress for clients who are already facing stressful circumstances. 

In Eric’s case, he contacted Herman once he decided to move out of his temporary apartment. She helped him analyze his new space, sharing sketches of potential layouts and getting a sense of his lifestyle, and then she worked within his budget to generate a list of everything he would need. Once he signed off, she took the reins and charged forward.

“She came in and made it all extraordinarily easy and at a very reasonable price,” Eric says. “She put it all together, soup to nuts. Furniture, carpeting, beds for the kids, kitchenware, everything.”

She even made the physical act of moving painless. 

“When I moved into my new apartment, she coordinated everything,” he says. “She even coordinated all the service providers coming in to set stuff up. That was huge. And then packages would just start arriving and suddenly we had a home with all the little things that made the place feel special.” 

A space suitable for both Eric and his kids
Stripe Street Studio

Despite the new digs and furnishings, the apartment felt familiar. It felt right. It didn’t feel like he was moving into a stranger’s home. 

“She gets to know your tastes and she works with you to understand your personality,” he says. “So for me, she knows I’m a huge music fan. She suggested this incredible piece to put over the couch, an early Beatles poster, which I love.”

“Our designs are stylish,” Herman says, “because that’s what guys want. And we spend a lot of time creating ambiance and comfort because those details let the kids come in and have an easy transition too.”

Eric couldn’t be more grateful for how Herman helped his children adjust. 

“They didn’t have to walk into an empty home,” he says. “That was huge. They know where their clothes are. They know where snacks are –– because she created a snack drawer! –– and they know where their toys are. That consistency is so important for kids.”

Herman’s creative floor plan maximized space while her thoughtful touches, like getting a Vitamix and showing Eric how to make smoothies, brought the family closer together. Her structural recommendations included removing the door from a cavernous closet to create a designated homework area. She also encouraged Eric to install Murphy beds in the living room rather than clutter the apartment with bunk beds. 

“My kids go nuts over the Murphy beds,” he laughs. “They love them. Every time they come over, they rush to claim their own spot.” 

The benefits enjoyed by Herman’s clients extend far beyond their identity as parents. “It’s not just about the kids,” Eric says. “It’s about the dad too. She helps you have a real home and a real life when the kids aren’t there.”

There’s a healing, therapeutic element to the process. The quality of his life, Eric says, improved dramatically after working with Stripe Street. 

“I was the typical divorced dad who didn’t have any sense of how to put a home together for his kids or a home together for himself. She transitioned me into the new part of my life. Act two. I could go out and date again. I could bring a guest back here and it’s not like a college bachelor pad. It’s a real home.” He pauses before adding, with the pride of a rejuvenated man, “That makes a huge difference.”

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