The Family That Designs Together: Nate Berkus & Jeremiah Brent Talk Family, Design & Their New HGTV Show
It’s going to come as no surprise to most of you to hear that famed interior designers Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent are starring in a new design-reality show for TLC. Nate has spent a large part of his illustrious career as Oprah’s go-to designer for memorable transformations and then hosted his own daytime talk series, while Jeremiah made a name for himself as the super-chic design stylist on Bravo’s “The Rachel Zoe Project”.
So, it certainly wasn’t a stretch for the duo to turn to the small screen again. But, this time, they’re doing it together — transforming the lives of deserving and often misguided and under-prepared homeowners through the lens of their family dynamic. Now, from successful designers to husbands to fathers, why not add TV co-hosts to their running list of titles?
Here, the guys share more of their life, discussing their personal style evolutions, the impact they’ve had on each other’s designer persona and the different spectrums of design editing.
AT: First of all, big congratulations to you guys on such an exciting new endeavor. Tell me about the new show. What drew you to these projects?
Nate: I think that a renovation is such a vulnerable thing. If you’re arguably spending more money than you’ve ever spent in your whole life and you’re just hoping against all hope that it’s going to turn out like you want it to — and let’s face it, sometimes it doesn’t — so, we wanted to do this show that walked people through the process and showed them how to organize their renovation; what to spend money on and what not to. Show them how to have fun and keep the project light-hearted. But, most importantly how to create a home that reflects their best self. It’s not really about what we think a home should look like; obviously, we filter everything through our lens, but in the end the home has to reflect the people who live there.
Jeremiah: People find themselves in the midst of these projects that they don’t know how to dig themselves out of and for us we just wanted to figure out a way that we could help them. And walking them through the whole process while being able to do so through the lens of our family was a really special thing.
AT: What was it like putting your family on display?
Jeremiah: I mean here’s the truth, if you’re going to do a reality show with your husband and family, tackling high-stake renovations every day, you have to really like each other and the good news is… we really like each other. This is also something we really love; we wake up in the morning talking about design and we go to bed at night talking about design and we both fundamentally believe in living our lives openly and honestly. It’s a fun thing for me in the show watching all these different walks of life communicating and getting excited about the same things.
Nate: We’ve been married for three years, we have a 2-year-old and because we got to do this show together we didn’t have to worry about when the other was going to be home. We got to be together 24/7.
AT: Let’s dig into your style. Would you say you two have influenced the other over all these years?
Nate: Jeremiah has made me much more casual. I have been in design for almost 21 years, and I started out a bit more tied to rules and traditional layouts and floor plans and millwork and things like that. And so, he’s opened up my eyes. I’ve always believed there’s more than one right way to do a room and the most interesting rooms are those that are assembled over time and feel deeply personal. But it’s been really interesting to take what I’ve learned, throw it on the table and hear what Jer has to say about it.
Jeremiah: I didn’t go to school for design, but with Nate’s background in the industry (and his past work at auction houses), he’s taught me so much historically about furniture, designers and styles. Compounded with what I’ve learned through our travels, it’s been such an awakening for me.
Nate: I’m much more casual and I would say that Jer has become a touch more traditional.
Nate: A little bit! We’ve really influenced each other in important ways and I see it even when we’re not working on a project together. I think to myself “How would Jer put this rug down?” or “What would he think about this?”
Jeremiah: We’re constantly pushing each other to be better and do better.
AT: What’s the importance of editing in a space?
Nate: Apparently, I’m not able to do it so I’ll let Jer take this one.
Jeremiah: When I first met Nate, he loved his “things” while I preferred things to be more simple, like one lamp with a bowl that’s dimly lit on a table, for instance. So, we’re on different sides of the spectrum here.
Nate: And I would be like “look all these things I brought back from the flea market in Mexico!”
Jeremiah: Great! Just what we need! A herd of fake cows on the table. I believe that if it’s not absolutely beautiful or functional then you don’t need it in your home. If you can stick with that idea, it really offers you the space to bring new things into the house from your travels. So many people just buy, buy, buy, and fill, fill, fill, and then they don’t connect to their home.
AT: Do you have any advice for someone who wants to inject their personality into their home, but doesn’t want it to be over-the-top?
Nate: Historically, I think the best interiors are those where people took risks and didn’t look over their shoulders at who might judge them for doing what they’re doing. They tapped into a personal style that really made their eyes light up for them. And, as a result those are the images that go viral. Home should be an experiment because design is constantly evolving. Of course, people want to be cautious about investing their money in things that stand the test of time, but that shouldn’t negate taking risks or doing something that you maybe haven’t seen before. It’s a big opportunity—every space in the home is such an opportunity to do something deeply personal and stylish. The more design that’s out there in the world, the more products we can buy, the more images we see, the more websites selling vintage, the more people making things—it’s all there to make our home more interesting.
AT: How do you guys nurture your own styles?
Jeremiah: I think through communication and the idea that we always try to have something from the past, something from the present and then there’s plenty of room to bring in things from the future. By doing that you really allow your home to evolve with you, which we believe in fundamentally.
Nate: We also don’t have any ego attached to having conversations about whether we like things in our own home. It really is an exercise and all about experimentation. Right now, we’re moving into our new place and I can totally turn to Jeremiah and say “I really don’t like that lamp on that table.” And he responds with “Really? Okay, what should we put there?” So, nothing needs to be set in stone. And, one of the biggest tips for people exploring creating a perfect home for themselves is to use the things that you have in different ways—try the nightstands as side tables, try the dresser as a server in the dining room or an entry piece. A room is done when you say it’s done, up until then everything is up for grabs.
AT: Where do you guys see your style heading? What does your aesthetic look like 10 years from now?
Jeremiah: I hope its somewhere tropical!
Nate: I think it will probably be more refined. I don’t think that you’re ever going to walk into our home and see walls blanketed in floral porcelain chintz and stripes. It’s never going to be 180-degree shift from where we are now. Our job is to stay out there in the world knowing what’s going on and seeing beautiful things being made from different cultures, bringing them home and trying them out in our homes. Creating different products and textiles and all these fun things that we get to do, so I think our style will probably be more of the same, but always a little bit more refined. Maybe a little bit next-level.
Jeremiah: And if we have more children it will be a house filled with primary colors.