Fresh décor can help a fresh start.
The last time Wendy Berghorst appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, in 2006, she was sharing a candlelit bath with her husband, for a feature on “Love Nests.”
That was then. Now Berghorst is moving into a nest of her own.
“Yes, the romance is gone,”she said. She originally planned to stay in their Excelsior, Minn., home, which she’d bought before their marriage. But they’d remodeled it extensively together, and in the end, she gave up the house.
“It’s a fresh start. My next chapter,” she said.
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Berghorst found a rental home, a former carriage house built in the early 1900s, only a block away from the house she shared with her ex-husband. “I didn’t want to leave the neighborhood. I’ve been here 16 years,” she said. “This house has been used by several women in transition. It has good karma.”
Recently, Berghorst invited a bunch of her “fun women friends”over for a painting party. She baked a coffee cake, made sandwiches and served mimosas to toast her new life.
Her friends, in turn, helped her transform the house with a palette of fresh colors, selected by a friend who’s an interior designer.
Berghorst is planning to turn a spare bedroom into a “man cave”where her 21-year-old son can entertain his friends.
And she’s ready for a different lifestyle — a quieter one. “He (her ex) had TVs everywhere,” she said. “I’m looking forward to more reading, more solitude.”
Gordon Baxter thought about selling his house in Hopkins, Minn., after his divorce last year. But a counselor told him that kids weather the upheaval of a parental split better if they don’t also have to move. “Kids want to feel secure,”he said.
So Baxter made some changes to accommodate his new life as a single dad. First, the self-employed consultant moved his office into his house. “In the absence of having a live-in nanny and cook, I have to be around more,” he said.
He reorganized the kitchen to accommodate “the way I like to cook,” using as many timesaving gadgets and appliances as possible.
He also repainted some of the rooms. “It was therapeutic to change the colors,” he said. “I darkened things up a bit. It’s a little more masculine.”
Baxter picked out new artwork, and framed some of his son’s paintings, which now have a place of honor on the walls. And Baxter also brought many of his mementos out of storage and put them on display, including his mother’s antique sewing table, old family photos, his childhood piggy bank and a huge mounted trout, caught by his father.
“He was a big fisherman,” Baxter said. He cleaned it up, added preservative to give it a shiny, wet look and hung it over the fireplace. “That was never going to see the light of day (during his marriage),” he said.
Having familiar, meaningful objects around him adds to the comfort of his home, he said. “For me, it’s nice to have that reconnection with my life prior.”
‘It’s not the end … it’s the beginning.”That’s the tagline for Divorcing Divas, the company Christine Clifford founded to produce education and support seminars for the newly divorced.
It also sums up her own post-divorce story.
After Clifford’s marriage ended, she had to sell the house she loved in Minneapolis. “I grieved,” she said. But she couldn’t grieve for long. The house sold in six days, and Clifford had to quickly find a new home.
“It was therapeutic to move,” she said. “I stayed in the house eight months, and there’s no escaping the memories, both good and bad. There was an enormous amount of maintenance, and way more space than I needed.”
Her new rented home, the second floor of a house in Minneapolis, suits her busy, social lifestyle. Her ex-husband didn’t like to do much entertaining, Clifford said, but she thrives on it. “I want to surround myself with friends and colleagues,” she said. Although her new home is smaller overall, it’s ideal for hosting groups, thanks to its “huge dining room”and “wonderful balcony.”
Clifford converted a storage room into an office, where she runs her four businesses and writes. (The latest of her seven nonfiction books is a humorous look at divorce called “The Clue Phone’s Ringing … It’s for You.”)
Her ex-husband got most of their furniture, in part because “I didn’t want to look at it anymore,”Clifford said. But that gave her the opportunity to buy new furniture that better reflected her taste. “We had a lot of Stickley, but I’m more into eclectic antiques,”she said. “We had bright colors; now I have calming earth tones.”
“I had to start from scratch,” she said. “But it feels like mine.”
(Contact Kim Palmer at email@example.com.)