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Lisa Gersh

The CEO of Goop on her childhood in Riverdale, the importance of the kitchen, and empty nest syndrome

Courtesy of Lisa Gersh

Where did you grow up? What was your childhood home like?

"My childhood home and my current apartment remind me so much of each other. I grew up in Riverdale, and our first apartment faced the river. I have these very vivid recollections of looking out the window of my bedroom that I shared with my sister, and seeing icebergs floating down the river.

Today my husband and I live on East End Avenue and also face a river, and they’re such similar views. I really enjoy living on the river and looking at the water. I find that so peaceful.

We lived in two places in Riverdale. Until I was seven, we lived in an apartment on the river. My sister and I shared a bedroom, and my brother had a separate small bedroom, which I think in some other time would be considered the maid’s room because it was a tiny, little bedroom. We had a beautiful kitchen that was in the middle of the apartment and the living room. We lived on the first floor, and I guess it would be considered a maisonette, but no one used the term at that time.

The building sat so that the ground floor seemed like it was high over the river. We spent an enormous amount of time running through the lobby of that building because we lived on the ground floor. We must’ve really annoyed all of our neighbors.

Did you live anywhere else as a child?

We moved, when I was seven, into a tiny house not on the river on Arlington Avenue. I remember because there were these five little houses all built next to each other. We knew everyone who lived in those houses.

We had a tiny backyard. I mean if was 9-by-6 feet, it was big. We made an ice skating rink back there once.

What did the house look like? Did you have a favorite spot?

It was a really tiny house. In the upstairs, there were three bedrooms. In between the bedrooms there was this tiny foyer, but in my mind it was a huge space.

We used to spend all our time in that little foyer. We had Gersh Kids Family Meetings there. We did everything in that foyer including trading candy on Halloween which you always did when you came home. Of course, no one wanted the Bit-o-Honey that you used to get. In the center of that house was a lovely kitchen where I learned to cook with my mom and spent an enormous amount of time.

Courtesy of Lisa Gersh

What makes a place home?

I think there are two things: one is who lives in it, two is the kitchen. I have a brother who’s two years older and a twin sister, and home was always about the three of us (and obviously our parents). Growing up, home is so much about how you shared it with your siblings, and today I find home is so much about sharing it with your children.

Now that my husband and I, for the very first time, do not have children living at home, it's harder to make our New York City apartment feel like home. You're not there as much because your kids aren't there. You don't have a reason to be someplace every night. You don't have to go there at night at the end of the day even though you do. You can go meet friends. You can go do things. Your apartment or your home becomes less of your home because your family’s not there all the time.

What is your favorite room in your home?

When we are home in our apartment, it is so much about the kitchen. We've always set up our lives around having a kitchen that works where everyone can be in the kitchen. It’s where everyone always ends up being. The kitchen was always the place where we gathered because my mother was a great cook, and I love to cook. The kitchen is so much a part of my life and the family’s life. Even without the kids, the kitchen is still a big part of our life.

When my husband and I were moving, the thing we looked at first and foremost always was the kitchen and how it fit into the rest of the apartment. In this apartment, where we live today, it's a beautiful kitchen with a beautiful table. In fact, when I was just starting at Goop and we didn't have a New York office, my kitchen table was where we worked. That's where people tend to gather.

Other than the kitchen, my favorite place in my home the small office I share with my husband. We have a partners’ desk that we sit on opposite sides of. I love having a partners’ desk because you're both working, but you're together and it's really wonderful.

Every morning when we get up we have coffee and we sit at that desk. It has a beautiful view of the river. You don’t have to turn the light on because it's so bright even on the gloomiest days. We put the news on, look at our email, and read the paper. It's very cozy, and we always start our day together like that.

You mentioned that your children are no longer living at home. Has that changed what you think of as home?

I used to spend more time not doing that in the morning getting the kids ready, but now because we are officially empty nesters, there's no one home to get ready other than the dog and she can wait.

For me, home is really about who I live with as much as where I live. Our kids are now out of the house, but obviously our apartment still feels like home. But you become less attached to being in your home than you were when everyone was around. You start to build a different kind of life.

People always talk about empty nest syndrome, but I think it's an opportunity to make a new nest. You have to do that at various stages in your lives when your kids move out and your family changes. As long as there's that center, I think you always have a home."

For Home Sweet Home, Curbed talked to 30 engaging personalities across a range of industries to learn about where they grew up and what home means to them. Subscribe to GOOP and read more about CEO Lisa Gersh's must-haves here.

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