As the Editor of Curbed National, Sarah Firshein’s expertise extends beyond traditional real estate listings. Her posts weave interior design news, homeowner gossip, and major marketplace happenings. Enjoy our interview with Firshein and shop Curbed’s curated selection.
Curbed features an eclectic mix of architecture from log cabins to sky-high condos. What are key elements you look for when choosing spaces to feature?
Well, when we’re looking at the site as a whole the most important thing, in my mind, is featuring a good mix of properties that appeal to a wide variety of tastes. In terms of individual projects, though, what we really look for is a standout element, whether that be a home’s interesting backstory, former resident, cutting-edge architecture, notable or daring interior design, or absolute perfection in what it purports to do. There are a million 1950s Colonials out there, but what about the one that does it just right?
We admit it, we’ve read “Inside Justin Bieber’s Rumored New Hacienda.” Can you explain our cultural fascination with famous homes?
Ha, no shame there! I think the cultural fascination with famous homes perfectly mirrors the one we seem to have with famous people in general: at its core, it’s both an escape from everyday life and often something beautiful to look at it. And in the cases where celebrity homes aren’t so beautiful – because, let’s face it, we see plenty of those as well – it’s just mind-blowing to see how people with more money than they know what to do with actually hunker down and spend it.
Curbed posts often walk a fine line between real estate news and gossip, especially when featuring celebrity deals. How do you maintain a high level of editorial credibility?
Well, we aim to own the conversation about real estate news, and part of the conversation is gossip. If word hits that an A-list celebrity was checking out a certain home, it’s still part of the general industry chatter even if he or she doesn’t end up buying it. Gossip is not something to shy away from, and when we do report on or break rumors, we’re very up front about it – part of our responsibility to our readers is to be as transparent as possible.
Looking at all of the properties for sale on Curbed, how important is “staging” when shooting spaces for an article or listing?
Supremely important! Only a few of us – and by that I mean seasoned interior designers and architects – can look at a space and see beyond what’s actually there. A room with beautiful parquet flooring and crown moldings may look tiny without furniture in it; when staged, however, it may suddenly appear grand, if not regal. I think this is why people love those makeover shows on HGTV, or even showhouses: it gives them an opportunity to see what could be of a space when dressed, so to speak, appropriately. And don’t even get me started on bad staging…
Does furniture reflect the home, or does the home reflect the furniture?
I’m not entirely sure what you mean, but I will say: I’ve got plenty of friends who live in architecturally boring, horribly boxy New York City apartments that look gorgeous, thanks to the terrific, well-curated furniture and decor collections within. A little chevron upholstery and the right seating positioning go a long way.