Nate Berkus and Classic Design

It's fall and I'm getting inspired to put together a bucket list for our house.  It's in dire need of an update.  While I have a good eye for finding things on a budget, we need some high ticket items, which includes a new sofa and chair.  I've been working with the same one for 13 plus years and I have to say, if it wasn't for a man in the house, it would be in mint condition (sorry Blake). I'm starting to make a list room by room of what I would like to change.  The problem for me is, I would like to change everything, but I can't afford to.  Therefore, I feel like I'm in an episode of Project Runway with Tim Gunn saying, "Make it work!"  I've been combing through old design magazines and catching up with some design shows like Nate Berkus's  new show to try to get some creative ideas on a budget.  I have always loved Nate's work.  Personally, there are very few designers that I would have do my house if I hit lotto.  I love Nate's design work along with Tim Clarke (I love his website), Kathryn Ireland for her wit and color choices, which by the way,  I could never put together,  Peter Dunham  (I was in his house once, it was out of this world) and a few others which I'm too lazy to go find the links. HMMM.  That's a great idea for a blog post. 

After seeing Nate's first project years ago on Oprah, which essentially launched his career, (when he redid a 500 square foot townhouse in Charleston, MA) I knew he was talented.  I formally lived in Boston and  know how small those apartments and condos are and how challenging it can be to eat, entertain, work, sleep, and relax in a single space.  I was so blown away how he maximized the space and made it multi-functional. I've been a fan, since.  What I love about him as a designer in general, is his ability to  incorporate his clients personality and treasures into a home without it feeling tacky.  Let's face it, some people just don't have good taste and working with some of their stuff can be a challenge. I love when Oprah asked Nate how he handled clients where his first thought was, "Are you kidding me?" He simply said, "I say wow a lot or isn't that interesting."  I thought, what a great way of saying it without saying it.  

The other thing that Nate does well, is combining unique accessories and furniture.  He's very good at taking natural elements and materials and mixing them without them feeling over done or staged.  It always feels collected and natural.  I like houses to feel neat and clean but eclectic and timeless, that's how I feel about his designs.  His design sense doesn't require you to redo it every two to three years and his advise is dead on - purchase a sofa in a neutral color and you can dress it up with pillows.  It's like fashion, you don't spend $500.00 on a trendy piece, you splurge on classic staples.  You buy your trendy items at Target or H&M, so next year when it's not fashionable, you didn't break the bank. 

Now that I went off on my Nate Berkus rant, maybe it's the caffeine so early in the morning.  I'm feeling inspired and while many of you have seen these images, I couldn't help but re-posting them.  His rooms have a quiet sophistication without feeling stuffy or staged.  That is why, Nate is my "cutie pie" as Oprah says.  See for your self why I love his designs.  See Below:

He's so great with space planning.  I love how he does various group seating's in this large space.  A room this large can look either over done or too arranged.  This room is well balanced considering the size and height of the ceiling.
I love this room below. I don't have the guts to paint a wall this dark but I love how it looks.  I love how the art work is different.  The furniture makes it look more chic and elegant but it still feels comfortable.  It looks like you could use it as a multi purpose room such as: a library, a dining room, a place to drink your coffee, or a place to chat with friends over a glass of wine.
Again, simple and elegant without feeling stuffy (see below).  I love how he accessorizes.
As everyone knows, I am fond of white bathrooms.  This one had me at hello. I am a symmetrical designer.  Some designers do not like symmetry, but I'm all about it.  I hate things that feel unbalanced. I'm a Capricorn, after all.  The sconces in this bathroom are gorgeous and I like the contrast of windows against the flooring.  Calgon take me away.  Do you like symmetry?

Gray tones are not something I'm a fan of in my own personal space.  I lean more towards white, creams, browns, etc. vs. the gray tones.  He does such a great job at using gray, it makes me want to paint all my rooms.  The tall leather chair has beautiful lines and the color looks like melted milk chocolate, decadent. 

I have always loved this image. I know this is from his old apartment in Chicago.  I remember him telling the story of when he bought this, of course, I can't remember it (I just know he loved how worn it was).  Plus, how can you not like that cashmere blanket over it (without it being staged by draping over the side in the swirly pattern) and having it placed in front of the fireplace.  It just makes me think of snow, winter, hot cocoa, and reading a yummy book.
I'm off to make my list. Thanks to Nate, my cutie pie, he got me all inspired.  What are your thoughts on Nate?  Do you think he's is a good designer?  Who's your favorite designers?  I would love to hear what you think.


Karen said...

Hi Ann,
I really enjoyed reading your account of Nate Berkus---I did see some of his designs in a magazine and thought his work was original and fresh. Like you, I thought he managed to use accessories that made the rooms he designed seem natural and interesting, they had a story. I haven't seen his show due to my work schedule...maybe I best start recording it.
I love symmetry...I like the balance of two!
You got to see Peter Dunham's house? How lucky. I love his designs.
I know you grew up in the east. Do you think growing up there influenced your design leanings?
I look forward to hearing about your upcoming purchase of some of those key design elements.

quintessence said...

You've gotta love Nate - for his designs but also for his diplomatic upbeat personality!! Good luck with your redesign!


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