A Chat with Decorating Wiz Nate Berkus
Quick fixes for your whole home
-Francine Segan, food+home editor
Nate Berkus has done home makeovers for such celebs as Billy Joel, Eva Longoria, Jerry O’Connell and Kirstie Alley. In 2001, Nate was invited to make over a small space for The Oprah Winfrey Show. From there, Nate became a featured design expert for the show and continues to be a regular contributor to O at Home magazine and on the Oprah show. In the fall of ’08, Nate launched a new line of products for the home on HSN.
He took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions from Betty’s food+home editor, Francine Segan.
Francine Segan: What is your favorite quick fix for right before guests come over?
Nate Berkus: Add something natural like flowers or something green. It just brightens the space. Or, lower the lights and put out candles. Everything and everyone looks better by candlelight. It hides all the flaws.
FS: What are some ideas for how to dress up my old outdoor picnic table?
NB: The first thing that comes to mind is to paint it. Outdoor furniture takes so much wear and tear. A few coats of paint can make it look new again.
FS: Help. I have allergies and can’t use cut flowers in the house. What else can I do to bring a little summer color indoors?
NB: I love adding new toss pillows to the room. For my line sold on HSN, I’m always adding pillows in bright colors so that you can add a pop here or there in your own home.
FS: Company’s coming. What are some fun and creative ways to set the table?
NB: I’m a fan of using what you have. Grab that beautiful bowl in your cabinet and fill it with citrus and place loads of votives around it. Or, head outside and grab some branches to use as a centerpiece, putting candles and votives around the branch for a more organic look.
FS: I hate my bedroom, but can’t afford a makeover. Any cheap tips?
NB: First, edit the space. Get rid of the clutter. Add new lamps to the bedside tables to brighten the space. Switch out your linens. Each summer, I pull off my heavier duvet and replace it with a crisp white one to make the room feel lighter.
FS: I’m going to repaint a few rooms. Any advice on good paint colors? Any colors I should avoid?
NB: I’m all about color right now. In my NY home I painted my woodwork a deep black, blue color in a super high gloss. It just looks chic. Think about your favorite colors to wear and see if they might be a great color for a room. If you love kelly green, you might be able to use it in your powder room downstairs. Don’t be afraid to try. But, for the main rooms, think in tones that are warming and inviting like pale grey or soft cocoa.
FS: My kitchen is too small and dreary looking. Any advice on how to make it seem bigger?
NB: Clear off those countertops. That coffee maker, toaster, can opener and microwave fill the space and make it feel even more cluttered. Consider painting your cabinets to make them feel new again. I’ve even taken the doors off the cabinets and painted the interior back wall to add a bit of depth to the room.
FS: Is there anything to feng shui? What’s YOUR advice on how to place furniture and mirrors?
NB: I don’t know that much about feng shui. But, I do know that people tend to just place their furniture up against the wall and all focused on the TV. I’m all for having a TV but that doesn’t mean that you can’t put two slipper chairs opposite the couch to create a space that invites conversation when guests are over. In general, open yourself up and think about what else can go in the space beyond just a couch and a coffee table. When we do installs for clients, my staff is always amazed at how much furniture I put in a space without it feeling crowded or too full. I like to create different areas and defined spaces in the room.
Nate’s photo credit: Carter Berg