Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nate Berkus Comments On Adding Antiques To Your Home Decor

In 2002, Nate Berkus 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 continued to garner national press in publications such as ELLE décor, US Weekly, People, O Magazine, Lucky and Domino, to name a few. In the fall of 2005, Nate celebrated the release of his first book, “Home Rules: Transform the Place You Live into a Place You’ll Love,” (Hyperion), which went on to become a New York Times Best Seller.

A year later, in 2006, Nate debuted his radio show, The Nate Berkus Show on XM’s, “Oprah Radio” channel, where he talked each week to celebrities, callers, and in-studio guests. In 2008, Nate hit prime time as the host of the movement-making hit show, “Oprah’s Big Give.” On September 13th, 2010, The Nate Berkus Show launched in households across America, and Nate couldn’t be more excited about his new daily series dedicated to living beautifully.

My friend, Beth Anderson over at Chic Galleria was lucky enough to get a chance to interview Nate.  During the hour long phone conference, Nate answered numerous questions from all of the participants.  She said he was so gracious and friendly. Here is part of that interview.

BA: Hi, Nate. How are you?

NB: Hi, Beth.

CG: I have to tell you that I love how you give such positive suggestions and advice to people. I think your warm personality is contagious.

NB: Oh, thank you.

BA: Some of my readers sent in questions and I’d like to ask you just a couple of them.  Nadia from New Jersey said, “Home is where the heart is. What is your number one tip for personalizing your living space?”

NB: Books and framed photos and I’ve never seen a well-designed room without either.

Pink Pig Bird Photo Frame
BA: Great.  Joanne from Oklahoma said, “My home is full of furniture passed down from previous generations. I don’t feel that it all fits my style, do you suggest I try to update these pieces or just get rid of them?”

NB: Definitely update. One of the first things that I do when I’m hired to design a space for somebody is taking inventory of what they already have and repurposing and reusing. And, you know, adding a coat of paint and new hardware on a chest of drawers or painting the frame of a vintage looking chair a bright color and recovering something or making a slip cover for it, to me those are the things that add layers to a room.
It’s very hard to have a beautiful space when everything is new. In fact, I would say it’s almost impossible. And I’ve never been a fan of very modern interiors that – even though I think there’s great modern design out there, I always mix it in with pieces that have patina and have some history and have some age and have some meaning, because otherwise I think that it’s a real miss design-wise, and also the room just never feels right.

BA: Sometimes it’s nice to have grandma’s pieces tucked in with new things

NB: I think it’s imperative, to tell you the truth. If you aren’t lucky enough to have things from grandma, then that’s when it’s time to hit the flea markets and the yard sales and the estate sales to start building a collection of things that come from different periods and different times.

BA: Right. And then, things you can then pass down to the next generation.

NB: Yep. I mean, I’ve had my sofa in Chicago for 15 years. I’ve recovered it once. And, you know, it’s – for me it’s a – just, you know, buy classic, timeless pieces and the personality comes from what you add to it, and those pieces that are hand-me-downs, you don’t have to use all of them.  I mean, if it’s a dining room set and you really – you’re not into the whole look, then, you know, store the chairs or give them to a family member and buy yourself a set of new upholstered chairs that are more contemporary to use at the table, but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Pink Pig Brass Accent Table
BA: Well, that kind of leads into my next question from Shelly in Texas. She basically wanted to know if one was going to make an investment, what’s a timeless purchase for your starter home?

NB: I think there’s a few, actually. And I think the most timeless is a beautifully well-made simply upholstered sofa. Don’t go for a trend. Don’t go for pattern. Don’t go for color. Do it in linen or in leather or in cotton duck, something that’s just durable and is going to stand the test of time, and the style that works with whatever you evolve to be, as far as your sort of design personality as the years go on.

Second to that, a vintage or antique chest of drawers will last forever. You can use it in the bedroom, in the dining room as a side board, in the entry, and also a beautiful mirror is something that is really hard to get tired of.

BA: I have one of those sitting in a closet, actually. It was passed down from my grandmother. I’m trying to figure out what to do with it.

NB: Oh, great.

Pink Pig Antique Country Dresser
BA: One last quick question. Lisa from Michigan said that she’s on a very, very tight budget, but that she feels like her home décor is just outdated. What is the single most important thing that she should go look for to try to update her home décor? She’s thinking a sofa is such a big investment, but like lamps or pillows or pictures? Is there one thing on a budget that you would suggest that she go for first?

NB: You know, the thing is, if you really want to have a beautiful room on a budget you have to do some leg work, and I’ll give her a few ideas. One is, go to Goodwill and thrift stores and things like that buy dresses or old cashmere sweaters or beautiful printed shirts, and turn them into pillows.

Another would be to update your lampshades. You can go to Target and get a new lampshade that will completely change the look of your existing lamp. And another tips is to paint the inside of the lampshades a soft color, pale blue, pale pink; pale gray, which changes the whole feeling once the light is one.

Then, you know, adding pottery, a collection of pottery in an accent color. All the same or like a rainbow of greens — for instance — on your mantle that you can find for under $5, $10 a piece if you go to a few different thrift stores and yard sales and the sort of inexpensive antiques malls and things like is another great way of adding huge impact for not a lot of money.

But, it takes effort to have a – to live beautifully and not spend a lot of money on it.

Pink Pig Ironstone Pitcher
BA: Well, thank you, Nate, so much. I really appreciate you answering all these questions for me.

NB: You’re very welcome.  My pleasure.

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