Nate Berkus is an American interior designer, author, TV host and television personality. He runs the Chicago interior design firm Nate Berkus Associates and has been a regularly featured guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, offering design advice to viewers, as well as coordinating surprise make-overs for people’s homes. He has released numerous lines of products, and authored several books.
Nathan Jay “Nate” Berkus was born September 17, 1971 in Orange County, California and grew up mainly in suburban Minneapolis. He is Jewish, and openly gay. He attended Cushing Academy, a boarding school in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. He started working in design immediately after leaving high school and interned at Dominique Aurientis in Paris and Sotheby’s in Chicago. Berkus graduated from Lake Forest College near Chicago in 1994 with degrees in French and Sociology. Berkus founded the company, Nate Berkus Associates, in Chicago in 1995.
In November 2005 Hyperion Books published Berkus’s book Home Rules: Transform the Place You Live into a Place You’ll Love, a step-by-step guide to home design and decoration. In 2005 Berkus began selling his merchandise at Linens ‘n Things stores throughout North America.
Berkus was the host of the short-lived reality show Oprah’s Big Give, which premiered March 2, 2008, but the series ended on April 20 that same year. On May 13, 2008, it was announced by ABC that it would not be renewed for a second season.
On September 13, 2010, he debuted as the host of his own syndicated daily show, The Nate Berkus Show, which was co-produced by Harpo Productions and Sony Pictures Television. It was recorded at the CBS Broadcast Center in New York, but aired in the nation’s largest markets on the ten NBC-owned-and-operated stations. In December 2011, Sony Pictures decided not to renew The Nate Berkus Show for a third season. It featured make-overs, culture, design, and personal advice. Its was cancelled after its second season ended on May 24, 2012.
Nate Berkus is also an executive producer of the 2011 film The Help. He appeared as himself on the October 12, 2011 and October 13, 2011 episodes of Days of Our Lives, a United States daytime television soap opera, designing the offices of MadWorld Cosmetics for Madison James.
Berkus’ book The Things That Matter was published October 16, 2012, by Spiegel & Grau. It became a New York Times Best Seller and also named “One of the Best Books of the Year” by Seattle Times.
Also in October 2012, Berkus collaborated with Target stores to launch his Target Home collection, a 150-piece line that includes bedding, bath, accessories, lighting, rugs, and window treatments. He is still collaborating with Target 3 years later and has released many different collections for season changes as well as holidays. He recently released a line of stationary and office essentials alongside his 2015 Cali-inspired spring collection. In January 2013, Berkus introduced his own fabric collection at Calico Corners.
Nate was host, judge and executive producer of NBC’s “American Dream Builders” which aired in spring 2014. He is currently Artistic Advisor for the LG Studio line of appliances.
Berkus’ design firm, Nate Berkus Associates, which he founded in 1995, continues to design interiors across the country and around the world.
Decorating Tips from Nate Berkus
Whether it concerns television stardom or his cult home collections, Nate Berkus has been on a mission to make high design accessible to the masses, and it’s one idea we can get behind. His mantra, “Live beautifully,” emphasizes the little things people can do to feel better in their homes — most of which cost next to nothing to achieve. See below a couple of simple decorating tips from one of the best interior designers in California.
Make the Most of Grocery Store Bouquets
Nate likes to take inexpensive grocery store bouquets and split them into smaller arrangements, so he can enjoy them around the house. “Regardless of how much money we have or don’t have or where we live, everybody wants to live better. These kind of little moments make that easier,” said Nate.
Add Drama With Paint
Nate admitted he isn’t the biggest fan of accent walls — especially in new construction rooms without a lot of architectural details — but thought there are ways to work around that. “Painting a wall or a room black can be really effective: the walls start to recede, and it feels really sexy and very elegant,” he said. He recommends experimenting with niches, e.g. using shelves.
Turn an Eyesore Into an Opportunity
Nate believes you can tell a lot by the kind of container someone keeps their toothbrush in. “I use an old, beautiful cut-glass tumbler that I bought for like $5 at a flea market. I like the idea of using something beautiful in the everyday, kind of mundane way,” said Nate. His other go-to tip? Ditch the egg carton, and place eggs in a beautiful bowl in the fridge.
Drape Fabric Over Your Headboard
You should never splurge on a headboard, Nate insisted. “They’re online — you can find them everywhere. I tend to personalize headboards by draping a textile over the back of it. That way, it’s very easy to change out,” he said.
Avoid Small Space Clichés
Nate reasoned that it’s more important to have comfortable, quality pieces that you really love. One of the biggest small-space culprits? The studio-size sofa. “If you don’t put four chairs in the room or two huge chairs, you can get a proper 84-inch-size sofa in the space, and you’re going to have more comfortable seating than if you had lots of small pieces that were ‘designed’ to fit in the apartment or small space. I would rather have graciousness than quantity,” said Nate. His advice? Take measurements.
Nate believes that people are happiest with their space when they take risks and are honest with themselves about what they really love. He said he likes when people decide, “I’m going to use this room in this way. Even though it’s a formal dining room, I’m going to put two sofas facing each other in it, and I want to hang out in here in a different way than the home builder intended or how my neighbor next door has it set up.”
Invest in Handmade and Vintage Pieces
“If something is made by hand or vintage or unique, chances are, it’s going to feel like your home has been assembled over time,” Nate said. His Kryptonite? Nineteenth-century gold-framed mirrors, baskets, and Peruvian textiles.
Adopt a Daily Cleaning Routine
Nate attributes his neatness to being a Virgo, but thinks adopting daily tidying rituals like making the bed every morning help to cultivate a sense of pride at home. “It literally always looks like somebody could come in with their lighting and take photographs of my home that afternoon. I don’t understand how to live any other way. That may change because there’s a baby on the way — then I’ll probably be stepping on Legos and saying, ‘Remember when I made my bed every day?’ But we’ll see,” he said.
Layer Your Home With Clean Scents
As a strong believer in the psychology of scent, Nate loves to layer his home with fragrances that put him at ease. “I gravitate toward lavenders, vanillas, anything that indicates that the home just got out of a bath. I like everything to feel sort of beachy and light and very fresh,” said Nate.
Nate Berkus has released numerous lines of products available in stores all over America. His branded products include fabrics and a wide range home accessories. It is also possible to purchase curated furniture from his own collection.
Nate Berkus™ Snail Placecard Holder Set
Nate Berkus™ Matte 16-Piece Black Dinnerware Set
Nate Berkus Home Decor Print Fabric
The Most Iconic Project
Nate’s house in Los Angeles
The first time interior designer Nate Berkus and his fiancé, Jeremiah Brent, walked through the black lacquered double doors of their Hollywood Hills home, Brent burst into tears. “When we first heard about the house, we were obsessed with the idea of it because of the architect,” says Brent, an interior designer known for his role on The Rachel Zoe Project.
The Hollywood Regency-style two-bedroom was designed in 1939 by John Elgin Woolf (who counted Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn among his marquee clients), and Berkus says he enjoyed the challenge of quirky original details like a green-and-black kitchen with a 1950s stove, marble-inlaid parquet floors, and a pool that seems to lap up against the living room’s curved glass wall. “I would never pick those things, but I love living with them.”
With its color scheme of black, white, saddle, and bourbon, the home is equal parts Mad Men and ultramodern—you can’t help but imagine sipping a gimlet on the patio. The laid-back living room, with its panoramic views of the garden and mélange of affordable and iconic furniture, has a basket overflowing with flip-flops to encourage lounging, be it poolside or on the indoor hammock.
A cozy den makes for the ultimate movie-night room, where a rotating roster of guests hangs out on the deep sofa. “It’s very surfy feeling,” says Berkus. Even the black-painted master bedroom is the embodiment of serenity. “You wake up and feel like you’re in a tree house.”
Decorating and renovating a home would undoubtedly test the strength of any relationship, but the first home shared by two interiors-obsessed people? It had the makings of a design show from hell. Amazingly, the two saw eye to eye. “I think our styles are now becoming one, which is really exciting to see,” Berkus says. “We fight about pizza, not about picking out lamps.”
There are enviable collector’s items—a Pace Collection chair reupholstered in shearling, a set of Knoll Bertoia wire chairs with alligator cushions—sprinkled throughout the rooms, yet much of the house is a mix of already-had-that pieces, rugs from Berkus’s collection for Target, dining chairs from Ikea, and West Elm lamps. (Some furnishings straddle old and new, like the 1950s Italian bench that Berkus took a staple gun to and upholstered with a rug he designed.) “You don’t need to spend a lot of money on stuff when you have amazing architecture,” he notes.
For the couple, both California natives, it’s a bit like coming home—while still being in a vacation mind-set. Except that after a two-year hiatus from TV, Berkus is working on a new series, American Dream Builders, which is set to launch on NBC next spring. (In fact, they can see the NBC Building from their street.)
Meanwhile, Brent is busy with design clients and developing his own show. And there’s a wedding to plan: The couple recently got engaged atop Peru’s Machu Picchu. Luckily, there is solace to be found in their West Coast slice of paradise. “Having coffee in the morning in that house makes every early call time, crazy travel schedule, and meeting worth it,” says Berkus. “It’s the greatest feeling.”
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