Barry and Chris Adler Streamline Cluttered Home Decor and Victorian Antiques
Victorian lite: When a lifetime’s accumulation of antiques starts to feel like “clutter,” it’s time to do some pruning
For the first 20-something years of their married life, Barry and Chris Adler amassed an impressive collection of 18th- and 19th-century antiques, paintings, bronze statuary, clocks, books, and some serious Victoriana, including a cache of majolica jardinières. About a decade ago, they moved from their modern home into a big brick Victorian house in Goshen, where the lofty rooms, carved mantelpieces, and decorative architectural details were much better suited to their possessions. Their friend, the designer Daniel De Siena, helped arrange it all and the sumptuous result was featured in this magazine in 2008.
Lately, though, the couple felt the urge to pare down. “Reality has set in,” Barry Adler says with a chuckle. “We’re getting older. It’s time to lighten the load.” Lightening such a load takes almost as much effort as collecting it. “You can’t have a garage sale,” says Barry, noting that a couple of pieces sold at auction for significant figures, even though the demand for Victorian antiques isn’t strong these days.
Financial matters aside, how did the couple feel about parting with so many of their treasures? “The process was somewhat difficult, but once the trigger was pulled and the rooms started to clear out, it became cathartic,” Barry replies. “There’s something about walking into a room that breathes.”
The most dramatic changes took place in the living room, where the lavish look has given way to something more airy. The Adlers bought a new sofa, but otherwise the furnishings were “somewhere amidst the clutter,” as Barry puts it. A sunny bonus: A floor-to-ceiling window that was once behind the long Eastlake bookcase now opens onto a newly enclosed solarium. “That living room had impact,” Barry says. “But it does now, too. I love it unencumbered. There was too much crap in there.”
“I went crazy with paint,” adds Chris, who likes to do the work herself and has now repainted most of the rooms in shades of white. “She’s got the bug,” Barry says. “If you stood around here long enough, you’d be whitewashed.”
Click on the gallery of images below to view before and after photos of the Adlers’ redecoration.
How to declutter a Victorian home, courtesy of Barry and Chris Adler