In his line of work, interior designer Francesco Bilotto has often found himself helping both clients and friends redesign their apartment after a breakup. He knows exactly what to do to get them — and their stuff — out of your mind and living space.
Starting with what to keep and what to toss — besides your ex — it depends on what it is and how long you’ve had whatever it is.
“If it’s furniture and artwork and it reminds you of them, cash in and sell it on Ebay so it’s not a total loss,” he says. “Just because the relationship was a loss it doesn’t have to be financially.”
What to definitely dump? (Again, besides your ex.)
“Stuffed animals, tchotchkes, I would dump that,” Francesco says. “My whole thing is no matter the situation you don’t have to actually hold onto the stuff, take a picture of it and hold onto that. I had one client, her husband died and she loved her marital bed, but she knew she had to get rid of it…We took a photo of the headboard and framed it. We hung it over her new bed as art. It looks incredible. There’s always creative ways to handle getting rid of stuff.”
As for the actual process of refreshing your pad after a split, Francesco advises you assess the apartment like you’re selling it — even if you rent.
“You look at it like I need to stage this in order to see it — but you’re selling it to yourself again — even if you rent,” he says. “I would take everything out of each room and move it back in. I would do exactly what you want to do exactly what your beat is. Also moving out and in helps you stay clean, organize, and not have a lot of clutter.”
Say you broke up mid-lease and you’re stuck with a place that’s giving you bad memories for another six months?
“Again, take everything out of the living room and put in the bedroom and then move it back in,” he says. “You remove all the triggers and start with a clean slate. Burn some sage, get a rabbi, get a priest, do what you have to do, but go apes*** personalizing the space.”
To help purge your ex, swap pictures of you two out of their frames, get rid of teddy bears and other nonsense in the closet. Buy fresh pillows, fresh bedding, and fresh accessories. Add fresh flowers and celebrate yourself.
“You should always have your place decorated like where you want to be in life,” Francesco says. “If you can’t afford something right now, it’s better to have nothing than the wrong thing. Think, you drop 30 or 40 dollars for a couple of drinks at a bar…your space is important. An environment that isn’t conducive to moving on is bad for you.”
Francesco loves helping people rethink their existing space. It doesn’t mean the end of the world if your ex moves out.
“I’d have a wine and design party, invite some friends over, donate things, toss things, enlist friends to exercise the demons,” he says.
Little things can also erase literal signs of your ex.
“Paint is a great friend, get scuff marks off, erase little triggers, say your ex had a bike and it scuffed the wall, that can easily be gone,” he says. “Your medicine cabinet…get a maid to come to scrub the hell out of it so you’re not going to find one of his nose hairs one day that’ll set you off. Get into the guts of each room and tackle it, it’ll hurt and make you laugh, rip the Band-Aid off.
“It’s pretty easy to have a great home or start new without breaking the bank,” Francesco says. “Decide what your budget is and turn it into a fun project. Have a goal date and a party to show it off. Start a new chapter…accepting it’s over and embracing that it’s over.
“The bottom line is rebrand your mind and your space.”
Got an ex? Yeah, we all do. Bravo’s Personal Space is diving into everything there is to discuss about breakups, from the ones that got away to ghosting to what the hell you should do with an ex on social media with Ex-Files Week. It’s all leading up to our new series A Night With My Ex, which explores what happens when former couples reunite…for one night only. Check back each day for exclusive interviews, personal stories, and don’t forget to catch the premiere on Tuesday, July 18 at 10/9c.
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