Nate Berkus lives by the maxim that your home should tell your story, with what you love most collected and assembled in one place. Revolutionizing countless homes throughout the world, he knows how to create the most stylish interiors imaginable.
Nate spoke to Upscale Living magazine about his love for his work, and husband Jeremiah Brent and their daughter Poppy.
Did you have an influence in your youth that shaped your career path?
My mother was an interior designer growing up, and that had a big influence on me.
When and why did you decide to become an interior designer?
My first job out of college was at an auction house in Chicago. I learned so much about antiques, vintage, etc. From there it was a natural segue into designing interiors.
You started your design firm at the age of 24 and more than two decades later, you are still going strong. What and who inspires you?
I have been so lucky to have been doing this for as long as I have. Travel inspires me, as does architecture, art, fashion, and jewelry. My husband Jeremiah Brent is a big inspiration.
What are/have been the biggest challenges in your career?
I have been very lucky to have been doing this for as long I have. There have been mistakes along the way for sure. The trick is to learn from them and do better next time.
Important lessons along the way?
When someone tells you who they are, believe them. That’s a great Maya Angelou quote.
The favorite part of your job?
Helping people live beautifully in their homes.
What is the best thing about being an interior designer?
And the worst?
Tell us about your own decorating style and the favorite room(s) in your home?
I have always believed your home should tell your story, and the way you do that is through your things. Reach for things that feel timeless, and that has meaning. If you don’t absolutely love it, it shouldn’t be in your home.
What key pieces in your home can you not live without?
I am a decorator and everything in my home is meaningful, but at the end of the day I’ve always believed people first, then pets, then things.
How do you solve/negotiate differences in taste between yourself and your husband, Jeremiah Brent?
See the below question.
Talk to us through a timeless interior design style.
If it’s been around since the 1930’s chances are it’s not going anywhere, whether materials, finishes or vintage pieces. I don’t believe in trends – they are designed to make people feel bad about what they didn’t buy.
How important is it to accessorize?
Very. That last layer is what brings a room together – whether rugs, art, woven pieces, wall hangings, throws, framed photos, etc.
Is there a right and wrong when it comes to decorating? Please explain.
There are for sure rules of scale and how things work together in a room. But, if you love something you can find a way to live with it.
How does one keep things modern without having to break the bank?
There are so many great affordable options these days, from Target to Chairish, Etsy, etc.
Do you believe in repurposing dated pieces or should one just shop for new ones?
My firm and I incorporate vintage into every single interior we design. The more chipped and marked, the better. That patina and history are ultimately what makes a room feel interesting.
Poppy, your daughter was born in 2015. She is simply gorgeous! How has life changed for you since becoming a father?
Well, I now live with a lot of plastic, colorful things which I never thought would happen. Becoming a parent changes everything. She is teaching us every single day.
Any anecdotal stories of Poppy you would like to share?
During the festive season last year, it was all about Santa and Christmas. We could get her to do anything by telling her if she doesn’t, Santa won’t be visiting. I wish we could have that kind of leverage all year-long.
You and Jeremiah had another ‘baby’ in 2017 – a television show ‘Nate and Jeremiah by Design’. What is it like working with your spouse?
Jeremiah and I will argue about who gets the last piece of pizza, but when it comes to design we are very much in lockstep. We challenge each other in the right way. Jeremiah has an incredible eye …I love that we get to do this together.
I believe a second season is on the cards?
Yes, we are currently in production. The new season will air in spring 2018.
Describe yourself in three words.
Double Virgo! That’s all you need to know.
You travel for business and hopefully pleasure too. Which have been your favorite places to travel to that have left a lasting impression?
Mexico is one of my favorite places to visit, and my husband and I got engaged in Peru.
What do you do for fun?
Design and antiquing are what I do on the weekend, as well – that’s how you know you’re in the right profession.
If you hadn’t become an interior designer, what would you have become?
A jewelry designer.
Tell us what you are working on right now?
We are in the middle of production for Season 2 of “Nate and Jeremiah By Design”, a show I am doing with my husband, Jeremiah [on TLC]. I recently partnered with Framebridge as Creative Advisor, which is a really fun collaboration. I’m currently working on new collections for Target and The Shade Store for 2018. Not to mention, my design firm and the interior projects we are working on. It was a very busy end to 2017.
Your plans for 2018 – personal and professional?
There’s a lot in the works, it’s going to be a big year.