The Glamor of Gatsby

Posted By Nathan-Dallas | May 07, 2013 | 5 Comments | Category: Books, Celebs, Color, Decorating, Design Inspiration, Movie/TV Sets, Trends

When I was a senior in high school, one of the items on the required reading list was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.  After chapter 1, I was hooked.  It’s a beautiful story, and if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it before you see the movie (scheduled to premier May 10th).  The descriptions of the life of the wealthy in the 1920’s is mesmerizing.

Gatsby Bookcover

Original book cover of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

A life full of partying, prosperity, and feeling the need to be free from the constraints of what was deemed socially acceptable at the turn of the 1900th century brought around the Art Deco movement.  A call for new fashion, new architecture, and new furniture and home decor!  Immediately everything went streamline, architecturally as well as decor.  Geometric shapes, and bold colors were all the rage.

Art Deco illustration1


roaring 20's girl

A real 1920’s beauty bedecked all in dazzling Cartier jewelry.

Baz Luhrmann is by far my favorite movie director and producer.  He can take a old classic story and turn it into something new and over the top like no one else.  You can totally see what I mean if you’ve ever watched Moulin Rouge, or Romeo and Juliet.  His adaptation of The Great Gatsby has once again totally hit the mark with his impeccable style and lavish ways of transforming something great, into something even greater.  If you ask me, I think he’s done a remarkable job defining the 1920’s era by putting a modern day spin on it.


The stunning Leonardo Dicaprio as Jay Gatsby.


Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan

Gatsby's House

Gatsby’s Humble Abode

Gatsby grand hall

Now this is the kind of entry hall I’m talkin’ about!  This is where Gatsby hosts all of his lavishly epic parties.  It’s the perfect atmosphere if you as me!



Welcome to the party!  The outside movie set of the famous swimming pool/fountain party scene.  Looks like a blast!

Gatsby's bedroom

Take a look at Gatsby’s bedroom.  The clean lines and no frills make it the perfect bedroom for such a dashingly dapper bachelor.

daisy's sitting room

Daisy’s sitting room exudes femininity with all it’s pinks and blushing hues, accented by soft whites and golds.  I’m loving that patterned rug and long fringed throw over that side chair!

Even Tiffany and Co. has gotten into the spirit of the movie.  They’ve designed an entire collection devoted to Daisy, the leading female role in the movie.  If you visit their flagship store in NYC, you’ll find their famous window displays bedazzled with 1920’s glamour in  honor of the movie.



Daisy's Handpiece

Daisy's Jewlery

Looking for that special outfit to go along with your new diamonds and pearls from Tiffany’s? Just stroll on down to the Brooks Brother’s flagship store on Madison Ave.  They’ve transformed their store with a vintage 20’s ambiance that’s sure to make you want to pop open a bottle of bubbly!




Still can’t get enough of that fabulous Art Deco style?  Take a gander at these gorgeous rooms!


I love the soft golden back drop of this room.  The ebony furniture pieces make a dramatic contrast against it.  The marble floor inlay is breath taking, and look at that console on the back wall!  I’m in love with the Greek Key motif in white that borders its edges!


One of my favorite pieces of furniture in a grand home like this one, is an entry table that sits in the center of a foyer.  It’s so stately!


Let’s face it, deep down, everybody wants a grand sweeping staircase like this to walk down every morning.  I know I sure do!


This Art Deco interior embodies the clean and simple shapes found in many period buildings.  Check out all that silver leafing on the ceiling!


This Parisian apartment designed in in the early 20’s is still fashionable today!  Just look at the shape of the cocktail table, and the gilded screen behind the sofa!

Deco Wall Papers

I’ve always been in love with these simple and sophisticated prints from the 1920’s.  These wallpapers are still a classic, even after 93 years!

So, if you haven’t bought your ticket yet, what are you waiting for?! This is definitely a movie you don’t want to miss on the silver screen!

I’m not a big TV watcher, so it’s rare that I’m ever camped out in front of the TV for hours mesmerized by a certain show.  There is only one night a year when this happens and it is…the Oscars! I just love watching my favorite celebs dress up in the most beautiful (or most heinous :)) gowns and seeing which movies take home the big awards.  The fashion is so much fun to watch…but as an interiors nut, I also wait in anticipation to see the design of the Green Room every year.  This cozy lil room is where the stars wait to present their awards and is located just steps from the stage, and from host Seth MacFarlane’s dressing room.  This year’s Green Room was designed by acclaimed interior designer Madeline Stuart and had a very cozy lounge vibe to it.

Official AD 2013 Oscar Greenroom

 Photograph by Roger Davies

Madeline wanted to give the room the feeling of Old Hollywood while also incorporating design elements of the 21 century. She said “My goal was to design a space where contemporary stars wouldn’t be surprised to bump into Cary Grant or Katharine Hepburn.”

Green Room2

Designed with mostly Baker furnishings, black lacquer finished wood flooring, and Emerald paint (Pantone’s 2013 color of the year), the room was modeled after Academy Award winner, Cedric Gibbs.

I particularly love the chevron chairs if I do say so myself!


The room may have been inspired by Old Hollywood, but there is nothing “Old Hollywood” about it when it comes to the decked out electronics in the room. Inside there are ten, yes ten 55″ Samsung Smart TVs. I’m sure the stars backstage didn’t miss any of the Oscar action!

Well done MS…can’t wait to see which designer is slated for next year’s Green Room!

Storage Wars Texas

In the midst of being so busy these days, I’ve somehow managed to develop yet a new reality TV show obsession… Storage Wars Texas!  It’s a regional spin off show from the famous series Storage Wars.  The show features auctioneer Walt Cade, as well as auction hunters Ricky and Bubba Smith, Morris “Moe” Prigoff, and Victor Rjesnjansky.  The newest additions to the show are Dallas’ own Jenny Grumbles and Mary Padian who go from auction to auction in search for that fab find for their stores.  I just adore these two girls, as well as their amazing shops!  They always manage to crack me up on the show whether it’s Jenny finding and getting appraised a “too real for words” baby doll or Mary (and her partner Moe) experimenting with new “bidding calls”. You just have to watch to see what I mean!

I was so thrilled that they could sit down with us and give us the low down on Storage Wars, their fab lives as store owners and all things furniture!

Hope you enjoy getting to know more about Mary and Jenny as I did and also getting a peek into their amazing Dallas stores!

Storage Wars Texas Cast

The cast of Storage Wars Texas

uptown country

Jenny’s Store, Uptown Country-

3419 Milton Avenue, Dallas


Jenny Grumbles

How did you end up on Storage Wars and how has your life changed since being on it?

My friend Adam went to an auction and bought a locker full of antique furniture.  He sold the entire unit to me.  After fixing it all up, I sold it at my shop and made a huge profit. The producers got word of it and showed up at Uptown Country Home one day.

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What types of pieces do you typically search for in the storage units to go in your shop and who is your typical shop clientele?

My clientele is typically 3-fold; 20-something girls fixing up their apartments, young couples in their first homes, and Dallas moms who like our style.  I am always looking for vintage furniture and accessories that have character, yet need a little pick-me-up.  The key is finding these pieces for a great price so I can sell them for a great price too.  Uptown Country Home is the fun and affordable home decor shop, and I don’t ever want that to change.  I always want to keep our prices as low as possible so customers can buy, buy, buy and be able to fill their homes with pieces they love without spending a fortune.

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Do you ever keep any of the things you “find” for your own home?

Literally half of the furniture in my house is from storage lockers: an amazing tufted french provincial chair (I reupholstered), a mid-century metal etagere I painted gold, a vintage bed I redid with crazy fabric and nailhead trim, a campaign chest, a greek key coffee table, a lucite vanity stool…so I guess the answer is YES,  i keep a lot of the things I find.

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What would be the one thing you are dying to one day find in a storage locker?

Diamonds.  Big, expensive, profitable diamonds.  Then I could buy a truck and more lockers!  Bubba found diamonds and now he drives this amazing truck.  At an auction the other day, his truck literally emailed him and said it needed air in one of the tires.

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Do you typically refinish the pieces yourself and what has been your favorite furniture makeover?

I re-do all of the pieces myself with help from my mom, Fran.  She is the main shop-girl at Uptown Country Home when I can’t be there.  She taught me how to do everything. My favorite furniture makeovers on the show were the kids kitchen and the chevron bed.

Kid's Play Kitchens Before and After!

A pair of old night stands transformed into Children’s play kitchens!

Headboard Before and After

It’s amazing how you can turn something broken into a beautiful chic piece of furniture!

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What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you while you’ve been on the ‘hunt’ for great pieces for your shop?

Something crazy happens to me every day. I get injured every other day re-furbing and moving furniture.  But the craziest thing is that people notice me and know who I am and want my autograph. I’m like seriously? Me? You want meeee to sign that?  Are you sure because I was just diving in someone’s dumpster!

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What’s the most rewarding thing about owning your own shop?

Being my own boss and seeing treasures go to people’s homes to make them happy.  Being able to feed my addiction of junking for a living.

How would you describe your decorating style?

My style is a mix.  There are so many styles I love so I use them all mixed together.  I can’t just pick one.  You are supposed to surround yourself with what you love, right?  I like chippy, shabby, tattered white and I like glossy, modern, colorful, clean.  I like Hollywood Regency and then I like beach cottage.  I like preppy monograms and then I like re-purposed junk-chic.  The trick is making it all work.  And it is very tricky. I need to find those diamonds so I can have 8 houses and decorate one in each style.

Moe, Ricky and Bubba are quite the characters! They seem like they are also great mentors since they’ve been in the business for a while. What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten from Ricky or Bubba while on the show?

The best advice I have ever gotten from Ricky (where I was certain he wasn’t pulling my chain) was bring enough money. Be prepared for the diamonds.  I was at an auction and the unit was full to the ceiling of antique sports memorabilia.  My husband is a sports collector so I knew there was serious money to be made.  The unit was going to go to whoever brought the most cash that day.  It wasn’t me and I have regretted it ever since.

What is your favorite furniture piece of all time?

 Right now, I am obsessed with all of the chairs all over my house and all over the shop (and in my personal storage unit).  I collected 200 chairs (faux bamboo chippendale, windsor, bannister, parlor, etal) for my wedding.  Each guest had their own unique chair. I painted them all pink or white and covered them all with two different pink graphic patterns.  I am starting to sell them all but they are sentimental to me!


Mary's Finds

Mary’s store, Mary’s Finds

1616 Market Center Boulevard, Dallas


Mary Padian

How did you end up on Storage Wars and how has your life changed since being on it?

By chance! One of the producers just came into my store in the Design District, Mary’s Finds. She came in and said, “Do you fix all this stuff up yourself?” I was like, “Yeah.” She was on her break and came in to just shop, but thought they could come back another day and do a how-to with me on their website… And then the rest is history!  I ended up being in two of the last episodes second season, where Moe (down the street from me) brought me some junk from a locker, which I fixed up and then they asked me to be a regular for third season.  So, all of this has especially been so great because it has all happened so naturally —  I wasn’t looking to be on TV – they literally just stumbled upon me and I was at the right place at the right time.  My life hasn’t changed much– the only thing that has is the amount of emails and packages I receive that are sent to me from fans, especially men asking me out!!

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What types of pieces do you typically search for in the storage units to go in your shop and who is your typical shop clientele?

 I am the one on the show who looks for raw materials and stuff that most people would think is trash or wouldn’t look twice at in the storage units.  I refurb quite a number of pieces I find in these units that will be shown throughout the season which I sell in the shop, as well.  It is all based on my shop, what I do and how I can take ordinary things or “trash” and make them into the unexpected or leave things as they are — Great design is everywhere – you just have to have the patience to dig and ability to see possibility.  My typical shop clientele is all over the board. I carry eclectic cool finds and furniture pieces that are refurbished or untouched.  So interior decorators, artists, and middle-aged new home/apt dwellers.

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Do you ever keep any of the things you “find” for your own home?  We’d love to hear about them!

I am obsessed with old books and quirky vintage prints/art.  So, yeah, I’ve come across few books I just had to keep as well as some prints I know I’d regret not keeping later in life. 🙂

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What would be the one thing you are dying to one day find in a storage locker?

Diamonds, gold, cash…..anything that would make me a millionaire.

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Do you typically refinish the pieces yourself and what has been your favorite furniture makeover?

YES, I do everything myself which is why I am in the process now of hiring someone else to help me refinish pieces….here are some before and after’s:

Before & After- Old Chest of Drawers to Wine Rack!

An old chest of drawers transformed into a wine rack!

Before & After- Foot Board Turned into Table

An old foot board made into a beautiful contemporary table!

Table Design

Table design in progress!

Before & After- Nightstands

Campaign nightstands made changed to a totally modern and different style!

What’s the most rewarding thing about owning your own shop?

I am extremely proud of what I have accomplished.  I have a photojournalism degree and opened this business not knowing a thing about business; I figured I’d learn as I go, which I am finding is one of the best ways you can truly see your potential. Before opening, I had never refurbished anything nor did I know how to paint furniture “properly” I just knew I had a good eye (from Paige Rense, my boss at Arch Digest). It has been the most rewarding experience to me knowing that I can do anything I want to in life with hard work and common sense

How would you describe your decorating style?

It’s a mixing of things…. modern and contemporary things with beautiful old things. Clean, uncluttered spaces with a great mix of art and antiques.  I think the one thing I always try to achieve when decorating my own space is comfort.  I like spaces that are warm and inviting.  As far as style goes, I think modern things are really cool, but they don’t feel safe to come home to.  Period rooms give too much of a sense of living in the past.  So I think finding somewhere in the middle is the way to go.  I like mixing old with new things.  I have an eclectic taste yet I like it simple.

Moe, Ricky and Bubba are quite the characters! They seem like they are also great mentors since they’ve been in the business for a while.  Mary: what’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten from Moe?

When the storage locker opens always look for two things right away: Cobwebs and broken locks.  Cobwebs are a good sign that the lockers has been sitting there for a long while and hasn’t been touched. If there are broken locks around the entrance that is a bad sign – means it was tried in previous auction(s) and no one bought it.

What is your favorite furniture piece of all time?

Charles and Ray Eames chair and ottoman.

We had the great opportunity to recently interview HGTV’s Design Star winner, Danielle Colding! I’d been following Design Star season seven ever since it began and was on pins and needles at the end to see who was going to take home the title.  Ultimately, Danielle’s name was called and ever since, her whole life has changed! Read to find out how this former professional modern dancer ended up with her own show and a Design Star title to boot!

Q: How did you get started in Interior Design? Did a specific situation spark your interest?

A: There wasn’t a specific situation that sparked me going down the interior design career path. But, when I look back home design is always something that’s been a part of my life. I grew up doing home repairs and changing rooms around with my mother on a regular basis….  And we loved to shop! When I decided to move on from my career in dance, I kept coming back to design as something I would love to do every single day. When I was contemplating a new career, I focused on choosing something I was passionate about, something that constantly changed (I hate to be bored), and something that forced me to grow and learn new things regularly. The chance to travel and shop all the time didn’t hurt either!


A Place to Lounge


Q:How long have you been a designer and what is your personal design style?

 A:I have been a working designer for eight years… gulp! My personal style is pretty eclectic with a definite bent towards the classic and elegant. In general, I love modern and traditional furnishings with clean lines and elegant detailing, accented by global and contemporary accessories and art. For me, it’s all about layering and mixing it up. I have always resisted defining my style in one catch phrase because I have been exposed to so many different styles that I love and always want my designs to evolve and respond to the project at hand with new eyes.

 Q: How did you go about getting on the show?

A: I was encouraged by friends to try out for the show. They insisted that I could do well but to tell you the truth I wasn’t so sure. I never thought of myself as a public figure and didn’t know how I’d fair in front of the camera. During the audition process my mother was in the hospital at the end stages of her fight with cancer, so in many ways I simply felt I had nothing to lose. I went to the open call and it escalated from there. It just felt like everything lined up perfectly for me to have this experience on Design Star. And I’ve never looked back.


Complete Kitchen Makeover


Q: What were the best and most difficult parts about being on the show?

 A: The best part of being on the show was being in a very creative environment. All we did was design 24/7. The other great part of the experience was being with the other designers. I was shocked by what a supportive environment it was and how we all helped each other out. And, we laughed non-stop which really helped keep us sane. The hardest part was the sheer intensity of being in a competition AND making a TV show at the same time. It was non-stop. We did not have any time off and had to just keep producing and being creative. There were times that we just wanted a day to sleep or veg… but in the TV world that just wasn’t possible.

Q: How did you feel when they called your name as the winner of HGTV’s Design Star?

A: I still pinch myself thinking about that moment. It was truly a dream- confetti fell from the sky, a studio of people smiling at me with expectation, and a rush of emotions from shock and awe to gratitude and sadness. It was absolutely incredible. I had thought through both possible outcomes but really was not prepared for the experience of winning. It’s just not something you can fathom until it happens.

Dark and Moody

Q: How has your life changed after winning HGTV’s Design Star?

A:  The funny part was that initially my life didn’t change very much. After Design Star ended, I couldn’t tell anyone anything about my experience or the outcome. It was a strange let down because I had this amazing secret that I had to keep completely to myself. Once I finally started shooting Shop this Room, the real change came about. My life became different because my career became different. I went from being a full time designer to being a TV personality who happens to shoot a design show. And unlike being a working designer, it’s not all about the design. It’s about shooting a show that is interesting and entertaining and brings something new to the table. From that perspective, it’s a whole new world. And…. I can finally talk about my experience! Woo hoo!

Q: You’ve started filming your new show, Shop This Room- what can we expect from the show in the future?

A:  I am so excited about Shop This Room. It is a reflection of my design approach and who I am as a person and a designer. The show focuses on my life as a New York interior designer and my approach to designing highly personalized spaces. It’s about finding inspirational items- that speak to the home owners in some way- and designing spaces around them. The viewer gets an inside view into where I like to shop, my design process of developing a design plan, and the artists and craftsmen I work with on a regular basis. And we have a blast shooting- I have such a great team. Design should be fun and we try to bring that to the show as much as possible.

Dramatic Vignette

Q:  What is your favorite space you’ve designed so far?

A: Whoa that’s a hard one. There is one on my show I absolutely love but cant talk about that just yet…. You’ll have to be patient and watch all five episodes!

I would have to say my favorite space I’ve designed is a home I have been working on for about one and a half years. It’s a gorgeous colonial house in Westchester and it just feels like the design has evolved over a lifetime. The thing that’s great is that every room is different and tells its own story. My client is one who is amazing to work with. She is thrilled by beautiful things and has a passion for art. We push each other to make the house as incredible as it can be. I simply love it!

Q: In your opinion what element should a room have to give it a designer look?

 A: What I love to do in every space is focus on the decorative accessories. I love creating small vignettes by pairing decorative accessories with practical items. Creating moments in a room where interesting things are paired together with a focus on scale and textural interest achieves a designer look. Bookshelves and console tables are places to go wild!


Modern and Minimal

Q: Our blog is called Material Girls so of course we have to ask you what is your material of choice?

A: That’s a great question. All the materials I’m drawn to in my work are natural elements. Its so hard to pick a favorite since I’m an equal opportunity material lover. But to answer, finally, I will say Belgian linen- I love it! Printed, plain, glazed… I don’t care. It is elegant and relaxed at the same time- the feeling I love to create in my work.

Q:  What trends do you see coming to the forefront of design in the upcoming seasons?

A: The trend that I see and love is the willingness for people to take risks with the spaces they inhabit. Design has become such a part of our lives I think people realize that an overly designed, matchy matchy space is not desired. Instead being a collector of beautiful things over a lifetime is the goal. I like that this quirky approach to design is catching on and people are inspired to make their homes reflect who they are.


Multi-Use Living Room

Good luck Danielle on your future endeavors! Us Material Girls (and boys) will keep a look out for your upcoming HGTV show, Shop This Room!

In honor of tonight’s Oscars, I wanted to share a very exciting and personal interview that I was fortunate to have with the designer of the Oscars Greenroom!! For this year’s 84th Academy Awards, Architectural Digest selected Waldo Fernandez, designer to the stars, to design their backstage greenroom! We were given the chance to have a private phone interview with Waldo, and Emily generously passed along the opportunity to to me (her assistant, Taylor) and I was so thrilled to do so! I could not wait to talk to Waldo about his glamorous design for the Oscars greenroom, but little did I know he would share amazing, personal stories about his relationships with some of Hollywood’s biggest names (including Elizabeth Taylor and Brad Pitt!!)

Here is a little background information on Waldo – Waldo Fernandez is one of Hollywood’s legendary interior designers. He came to the United States from Cuba to explore his passion for design and love of the arts. Waldo’s career began as a set designer for 20th century Fox, and his involvement in the entertainment industry led to his very successful career and large list of celebrity clientele. Fernandez’s impressive portfolio, spanning more than three decades, not only includes homes for an incredible roster of clients—Elizabeth Taylor, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, and Darren Star among them—but also a number of commercial projects, such as the Beverly Hills Hilton and the West Hollywood Soho House club. So you can imagine how excited I was to talk him!!

Waldo was just as friendly and humble as he looks in the picture above!

Take a look at his fabulous design for the Architectural Digest greenroom, inspired by 1930’s and 40’s Hollywood glamour. Oscar greets you as you enter the gorgeous space! –

Roger Davies for Architectural Digest

Roger Davies for Architectural Digest

Waldo has a passion for furniture and said that for this space he wanted to start with only good quality furniture – no reproductions. To achieve the 1930’s and 1940’s Hollywood look of the greenroom he went back to his sources and selected only the highest quality furniture from the 20th century. He carefully selected Schumacher fabrics for the upholstery and told me that, “if you select beautiful fabric and good quality furniture, the whole room comes together.”

Roger Davies for Architectural Digest

Architectural Digest partnered with Caesarstone, California Classics Reserve Collection Flooring, Circa Lighting, Feizy Rugs, Giati Designs, HP, Questroyal Fine Art, Samsung, and Schumacher Fabrics to furnish this beautiful space and provide it with the latest technology!

Roger Davies for Architectural Digest

The color palette of the greenroom was inspired by his love of gray – specifically a cool gray wall finish from Donald Kaufman Color. From there, Waldo layered the color throughout the room in different tones and then added in the cream color with Schumacher upholstery fabrics. In all of Waldo’s designs he uses a neutral color palette because he believes that the art, furniture and fabric are what give life to the room. He believes the walls should be a soft color because it goes with anything and “walls without art are dead.” – We couldn’t agree with him more!

Roger Davies for Architectural Digest

Waldo used rugs from Feizy to soften the space.

Roger Davies for Architectural Digest

In a smaller sitting area, Waldo centered a Ruhlmann-style dining table beneath a simple chandelier from Circa Lighting. This is a perfect example of Waldo’s refined, glamourous style and his appreciation of quality furniture.

Roger Davies for Architectural Digest

The custom bar features a CaesarStone countertop.

Roger Davies for Architectural Digest

The outdoor space is furnished with Giati Designs “Castillo” metal furniture.

Here is Waldo lounging in the Oscars Greenroom with the amazing HP ENVY Spectre laptop. HP provided ENVY Spectre laptops for the greenroom so the celebs could keep track of the action online during the show!

Be sure to check out this video tour of the greenroom provided by HP!

Waldo was one of the nicest and most inspiring people I have ever had the pleasure of speaking with, so I am very excited to share this interview with you all! Here are more highlights from my amazing chat with Waldo –

Of course I had to start the interview with MG’s favorite quesiton: “What is your favorite material?”

Waldo replied that his favorite material would have to be fabric. He loves textural fabrics that are woven with beautiful materials – he does not like plain fabrics with prints. For the upholstery in the greenroom he selected an ivory Schumacher fabric that was a mix of cotton, rayon, wool, and silk – VERY luxurious! Of course Waldo could only select the best for the Oscars!

My next question for Waldo was whether or not he was going to attend the Oscars this year. Waldo replied that he was not attending, and that he preferred to spend the night at a friend’s house watching the show with a cocktail in the comfort of their living room. He said the bar was way too crowded at the Oscars! In past years, he spent the evening at his dear friend, Elizabeth Taylor’s home, just the two of them, watching the show. Then we talked about his history and friendship with Elizabeth Taylor – I was so star struck I could barely speak!! Here is Elizabeth Taylor in her home designed by Waldo Fernandez –

Firooz Zahedi for Architectural Digest

Waldo told me that the most memorable experience of his design career was his opportunity to work for Elizabeth Taylor and the close friendship that developed between the two of them over the years. He met her for the first time many years ago when he was “fresh out of Cuba,” he said he was shaking at their first meeting because he couldn’t believe he was talking to THE Elizabeth Taylor – I couldn’t even imagine! He recalled that, “She was sitting by the pool in a bathing suit with a reflector on her chest” – so glamorous! She told him that she was leaving for the Cannes Film Festival and needed her house finished in two weeks!! Like any designer would say, Waldo said, “That is impossible.” (Here was one of my favorite moments from the whole interview…) Elizabeth Taylor replied, “Nothing is impossible, my love.” – And amazingly Waldo finished her entire home in two weeks!

See the tour of Elizabeth Taylor’s home in Architectural Digest HERE!

My next question for Waldo was, “If you were going to the Oscars who would you be most excited to see?”

Waldo told me that he would love to see his clients Angie and Brad!! (As a huge fan of both, I could not contain my excitement!) He told me that “Brad was fantastic and a pleasure to work with.” He said that he and Brad were a perfect match because, “Brad has a passion for architecture, good furniture, and art” just like himself! He said that Brad reads about design and architecture and really gets into it. – So from what Waldo told me, Brad really is perfect!!

I asked Waldo what his favorite room to design for Brad was and he simply said “the whole house.” I can imagine it would be hard to pick just one!!

Waldo also just finished a project for the writer of the Sex and the City movies, Darren Star! This project was featured in the February issue of Architectural Digest! Here is Darren’s living room –

Roger Davies for Architectural Digest

You can see the full tour of Darren’s Bel Air home HERE.

To wrap up the interview, I asked Waldo, “What is one piece of advice you would give young, aspiring designers like myself?” He told me, “Never be scared talking to your clients, but still listen to them, and stick to what you believe is right.” Such wise words! He also told me that the most important aspect of interior design and being a designer is knowing scale – Once you understand scale you know how everything in a room works together! Thank you so much Waldo!

It really was a dream come true talking to Waldo and getting a behind the scenes look at the design of the Oscars greenroom! Thank you HP for this amazing opportunity! Be sure to watch the Oscars tonight and be on the lookout for the greenroom and Waldo’s beautiful design!

I borrowed Mad Men (seasons 1-3) from my grandparents a few months ago, and let me just tell you, I’ve been HOOKED ever since!  This isn’t the first time an MG has blogged about the set design from this addicting AMC show, but there is one element from the set, that hasn’t been pointed out here yet.

The Curtis Jere wall sculpture that you see above the sofa in the photo below really caught my eye for two reasons- 1) it’s amazing and 2) I’ve seen it many times before but just now discovered that it’s a vintage piece.

These pieces of wall decor are not just things of the past (50’s, 60’s, 70’s) …they are incredibly hot right now!  C. Jere pieces are being sold on 1st Dibs and Ebay and according to Elle Interiors-  “the value of (Curtis Jere) wall sculptures is increasing all the time and should prove a great investment.” You’ll also notice that a bunch of designers as of late have incorporated his sculpture into their projects.

{Sterling Cooper’s former lobby}

Here’s the skinny on these fabu sculptures-

-They were first created in the 50’s by Jerry Fells and Curtis Freiler.

-They are hand-made and constructed out of metal.

-They come in abstract designs and also scenic designs.

{Palmer Weiss Interior Design}

{Elle Decor}

{Metropolitan Home}

{Brass Curtis Jere Raindrops wall sculpture via 1stDibs}


{Anch Construction Services}

Where would you put this little piece of eye candy if you had it?

Last Friday I had the pleasure of participating in a Q&A call with Nate Berkus and several other bloggers.  We got to ask Nate our most burning questions!  While I don’t have an audio file of the call (I wish I did- Nate was so sweet and informative!) I do have the transcript of what questions we all asked, including Nate’s great design advice and tips for the upcoming holidays.  I must say, he was so nice and patient with all of our questions and took the time to thoroughly answer everyone.

Scroll down about 3/4 the way through to see what MG asked Nate!

For your reading pleasure…enjoy!

Today, we have joining (Teresa Anderson) from Blissfully Domestic, we have Vivian Manning-Schaffel from momlogic. We have Christine Koh from Boston Mamas. We have Beth Anderson from Chic Galleria. We have Erin Renzas from iVillage. We have Emily Johnston from Material Girls Blog. We have Katja Presnal from Skimbaco Lifestyle.  We have Angela England from Untrained Housewife. We have Linda Sellers from We have Danielle Smith from Extraordinary Mommy, Laurie Turk from the Tip Junkie, Duong Sheahan from Live Healthier and Happier, and Kimba (Rue) from A Soft Place to Land.

And without any further adieu, we’ll go ahead and open it up for Q&A and thank Mr. Nate Berkus for joining us today.

Our first question comes from the line of Vivian Manning-Schaffel from

Vivian Manning-Schaffel: Hey, Nate. How you doing? Really nice to meet you.

Nate Berkus: Nice to meet you too. Thanks for being part of the call.

Vivian Manning-Schaffel: Oh, thank you for having me. I’m a big fan of yours, so I’m thrilled to be a part of it and to make your acquaintance.

My first question is, I’m sure your upcoming episodes the Nate’s Crate Drops were just such an amazing experience for you, and as a mom I can’t think of a nicer gift than a room makeover. What were the highest highs and the biggest challenges in taking these makeovers on?

Nate Berkus: Well, the Nate’s Crates actually aren’t always a makeover. The Nate’s Crates can actually have anything inside them. It could be a person, it could be airline tickets, it could be a surprise contributor from the show, it could be me, it could be a makeover. But, they really can have anything inside and they can end up in any city at any time with really any idea we can cook up inside them, which is as you can imagine, been a lot of fun, Vivian.

But, the…

Vivian Manning-Schaffel: Right. We were tipped off that you had a couple makeovers coming up, which is why I asked specifically about that. There was a mom, I think, in an upcoming episode who you did a room makeover for, so I was just wondering about that.

Nate Berkus: Yeah. The – oh, I’m sorry…

Melissa Armstrong:I think she’s referring to (Monday) Morning Makeovers or While You Were Sleeping.

Nate Berkus: Well, there’s two. I mean, we do do makeovers with the Nate’s Crate as well, so you’re – everyone’s sort of right, but I just wanted to be clear that Nate Crate – a Nate’s Crate drop doesn’t always mean it’s a room inside.

Vivian Manning-Schaffel: No. Yeah, I know. I’m sorry if I wasn’t more clear in asking that question.

Nate Berkus: No, no. That’s okay. That’s okay.

Vivian Manning-Schaffel: I’m on my first cup of coffee, so I’m sorry.

Nate Berkus: I’m with you. The – you know, it – what’s great about the makeovers surely is that after nine years of being part of the Oprah Show, the – and doing 127 makeovers, I was doing them about once every month, once every six weeks. And with a daily show I have the opportunity to, one, now be more in the field and be doing them much more frequently.

And I really always believed that our surroundings have a great impact on our effectiveness, on our happiness, on the way that we view ourselves, and the way that we sort of react to other people. And so, to have the opportunity to be out there in the world and surprising people with new spaces and new environments is just something that I’ve always loved.

Vivian Manning-Schaffel: That’s so – I can’t imagine. You must feel like Santa Clause a lot of times (unintelligible)…

Nate Berkus: It is, like a short Jewish version of Santa Clause, and hopefully a little thinner.

Vivian Manning-Schaffel: Right. Right, totally thinner. But, what are some of the biggest challenges when you take these makeovers on?

Nate Berkus: Well, the Monday Makeovers that we’re doing in November have been While You Were Sleeping, which is a new concept that’s never been done on television before, and we’ve been sneaking into peoples’ homes every Sunday night and redoing a room top to bottom while they’re sound asleep; sometimes five feet away behind a very thing door.


Vivian Manning-Schaffel: Wow.

Nate Berkus: …that’s – that has presented an enormous challenge and each one has been different. Coming up on Monday, we have – we end up in Cleveland, which is a story that I think any mother can relate to, and was probably for me the most moving story that we’ve had on the show so far.

Vivian Manning-Schaffel: Oh, my gosh. Well, can you give away a little bit about what gripped you? Like, why it was so moving or…

Nate Berkus: It’s a mom that…

Vivian Manning-Schaffel: …just the circumstances on the mom?

Nate Berkus: …the story is of a mom who’s gone — sorry — the story’s of a mom who gone through really an unspeakable tragedy; something that no one should have to go through. And yet, she’s remained and found a way to continue her work in the world and help other people. And the community where she lives, which is in Cleveland, Ohio, really has rallied around her, and we found out about the story and it was really the perfect opportunity for me and my team to come in and do what we do best.

Vivian Manning-Schaffel: That’s amazing. I’m sure our readers will love to tune in and watch it.

Nate Berkus: Yeah, that’s…

Vivian Manning-Schaffel: Just one last quick question…

Nate Berkus: …(so not to be missed), it really is.

Vivian Manning-Schaffel: Oh, wow. I can’t wait to see it. What runs through your mind just before an unveiling?

Nate Berkus: Really for me, it’s always – you know, the magic of makeovers is not really about the transformation for me as much as it is knowing that I’ve done my homework and researched who these people are and what’s important to them and what will impact them, and what will make their lives better by what I do in the space.

So, when I’m standing there holding someone’s hand and their eyes are closed, what I’m thinking of is, “I really hope I got this right.”

Vivian Manning-Schaffel: I’m sure. I’m sure it’s daunting, but you’ve done so much research and all of your work is so personal, you know? And it’s just – it’s great what you’re doing for people, so thank you…

Nate Berkus: Well, thank you.

Vivian Manning-Schaffel: …so much for your time…

Nate Berkus: My pleasure.

Vivian Manning-Schaffel:     …I really, really appreciate it.

Nate Berkus: No problem. Thank you.

Coordinator: Our next question comes from the line of Linda Sellers with Please go ahead.

Linda Sellers: Hi, Nate. How are you?

Nate Berkus: I’m well. Hi, Linda.

Linda Sellers: Thank you so much for taking our calls. I know it’s a busy time of year and we really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us.

Nate Berkus: Well, I appreciate everyone else’s time as well, so thank you.

Linda Sellers: Thank you. Well, I – my first couple questions are going to come from one of the callers, Kimba (Rue), who actually has lost her voice, so she didn’t want to…

Nate Berkus: So, you’re speaking on her behalf.

Linda Sellers: I am speaking on her behalf. She’s listening in though, so…

Nate Berkus: Okay, great.

Linda Sellers: …you can say hi to her if you want.

Nate Berkus: Hi, Kimba.

Linda Sellers: Her first question is, do you have any great ideas for inexpensive hostess gifts to take to holiday parties?

Nate Berkus: Absolutely. In fact, there’s – the – I’m listing them on my Web site, and the month of December – the end of this month and the month of December we have segments throughout all of our holiday shows that talk about great hostess gifts, great holiday gifts, all under $20, under $10.

And it’s something that I’ve had a lot of fun researching because I’ve always – you know, most people grab a bottle of wine when they’re walking out the door. And I can’t stand that because by the time – if you, you know, buy a good bottle of wine, by the time everybody gets around to it they’re already drunk, so what’s the point?

So, I prefer to give gifts that actually can be used all year round and that are practical. And whether that’s a beautiful vase that comes in a great package for under $20 or I found these threatened animal notebooks that are from Japan that are beautiful, and the artwork on the cover are of animals that – a single animal that’s an endangered species. And the covers are so great I’ve – I actually removed the covers and framed them in white frames with white mattings from IKEA.

But, just, you know, gifts I think that show, even taking a vintage piece of silver plate or silver that you find for a good price at an antiques mall or a yard sale or estate sale, and going to the trophy store in your town and having someone’s monogram put on it.

So, it’s all about really thoughtful gifts and things that aren’t just for the holidays, but things for under $20, under $25 that are the same price as a bottle of wine, but that last forever.

Linda Sellers: Very cool. You’re talking my price range now. I like that.

Nate Berkus: Good.

Linda Sellers: Okay, and her second question, since you’re a pretty stylish guy, if you had only a few bucks to spend on clothes for holiday parties what would you be on the lookout for?

Nate Berkus: You know, I really wear – my uniform lately has been in just a sport coat and button-down shirt and pocket square or a thin tie. And I’ve never believed in having tons and tons of stuff, but having a few really good pieces. So, it’s – for me, it’s just always about a nice cut jacket, and even if it is from T.J. Maxx or something like that, you can take it to the local tailor and have it fit like it look like – that – like it looks like it’s custom.

Linda Sellers: Very cool. Well, you do always look like you’re very well dressed, I’ll say. So, yeah…

Nate Berkus: Well, thank you. I have a budget for clothes.

Linda Sellers: And then, a few questions for my readers. My first one, I call myself the Domestic Hack, and it’s basically because I’m always looking for decorating shortcuts. Duct tape and pipe cleaners are some of my best friends, but what is your favorite decorating shortcut?

Nate Berkus: My favorite all-time decorating shortcut is to use bedding, like bed sheets in a pattern and spray starch, and if you submerge the sheet in spray starch – if you spray the wall and spray the sheet until it’s totally saturated you can literally smooth it out on a wall, like made out of drywall or plaster, it doesn’t matter.

And when the starch dries the sheet sticks and you can trim the edges with a razor and add grosgrain ribbon or ribbon around the borders, or whatever you want to do. But, you can literally upholster an entire room of white walls with a beautiful pattern sheet or set of pattern sheets.

And when you’re tired of it, or if you move, if you’re renting, it peels off without leaving a mark on the wall. It’s like miracle.

Linda Sellers: Very cool. Very cool.

Nate Berkus: It’s been by the far the best DIY think I’ve ever seen.

Linda Sellers: That’s something I could put the teams on and get them to help me with very easily.

Nate Berkus: Oh, absolutely. And actually, I’ve done it on TV. I’ve shown it and the instructions are on the

Linda Sellers: Very cool. Okay, my last question is about holiday decorating, and my family has some Scandinavian ancestry, so you’ll see that reflected a lot in our holiday decorating. And I’m just wondering if there’s anything from your childhood or family traditions that have influenced your ideas for holiday decorating?

Nate Berkus: Well, that’s an interesting question for me because I was raised both Jewish and non-Jewish, so I celebrated Hanukkah and Christmas every year, so it was a bit of a schizophrenic holiday season for me. I would go from my mom’s house where we had Hanukkah to my dad’s house where we had Christmas.

So it – for me, it’s really about the blend of the traditions and actually about the food. My aunts used to make these incredible – like this incredible blueberry pie that was in a casserole dish with cream cheese and a graham cracker crust, and the taste of that makes – it – like I don’t even know that I could eat it outside of December. It’s like – it has such great strong holiday connotations for me.

And my other aunt makes fudge, and so it’s just – it’s always about that just how the house smells and what – and those types of traditions. And I think we are so busy and we’re so stressed and everyone has so many things on their plate, but to me the taste of a home cooked desert or a home cooked meal around the holiday time is the best gift you can give someone.

Linda Sellers: I totally agree. Well, thank you very much and we’re really looking forward to the shows.

Nate Berkus: That – thank you very much. I appreciate your questions.

Coordinator: Our next question comes from Danielle Smith Please go ahead with your question.

Danielle Smith: Hey, Nate. Thanks for chatting with us.

Nate Berkus: Sure. Hi there.

Danielle Smith: My first question is, you know, I – you are getting well into a groove with your new show, what is it like and what is the biggest surprise for you with this being a brand new endeavor for you?

Nate Berkus: Great question. I – the surprise, I think, has been, you know, we’re developing our show basically on the air. Most shows have like over a year to plan and get ready over 14 months is typical, and we launched our show in four months. And so, the biggest surprise has been just how exciting it is every day to try out new ideas, some which work, some which don’t.

And I really do feel going into Thanksgiving that we are getting our stride, and that the content of this show is where it needs to be and we’re able to do more shoots in the field and I’m able to get out of the studio more, which I love. And the information is really honed in and focused on design and living well and ideas that people can really practically apply to their everyday lives.

And so, the – I guess the most surprising thing is the evolution and how much time it takes and how much energy it takes. And it’s been – you know, my producers and I have a really wonderful relationship and the environment at the show is a highly creative one, and there’s a lot of laughter and there’s a lot of exhaustion getting through the November.

Launching a new show is really hard, but every time we come up with a great story or someone emails us a wonderful idea and we’re able to build that into a great segment on the show, it’s so rewarding, and it’s – I think it’s the process that’s been the biggest surprise.

Danielle Smith: Do you go back and think, “Oh, I loved that segment,” or “I think, oh, I really want to change that, I do,” that thing (unintelligible).

Nate Berkus: Well, that’s the thing. I mean, you know, most people have the opportunity to edit and we of course have that opportunity before we put it on air, but you know, the truth is I do go back and I – and in all honesty I think some of the segments that we’ve done were horrible. I think some have been incredible.

And that’s just the course of – that’s just par for the course of a new show, and it’s also a very creative process. Sometimes ideas that look good on paper aren’t – don’t translate well, and sometimes thing that you think, “Oh, I’m not sure how that’s going to go,” become this beautiful moment on TV that really resonates with the audience.

There’s really – you know, there’s really no right or wrong, but I really pay close attention to what the focus groups say and what the bloggers say and what the feedback has been, and it really helps guide us in creating show that gives people around the country the information they really want and really expect and deserve.

Danielle Smith: Well, I think it’s fun for – my purpose is to watch you evolve because I can see a difference in the show from the very first show I watch to – you know, to the show that I can see yesterday. And I have one final question, because I know a ton of people have questions, so watching, you know, the Nate’s Crate, I am an incredibly sensitive person, so cry at Hallmark commercials, kind of girl…

Nate Berkus: Me too.

Danielle Smith: …and I know that you are sensitive…

Nate Berkus: Me too. I used to cry at Little House on the Prairie.

Danielle Smith: Exactly. So, know that you’re sensitive too, so when you are doing these Nate’s Crate moments, obviously you are not just – you’re not just making a wish, you’re not just saying, “Oh, you wanted to change your room a little bit. Let’s just do that for you.” You are actually making a fundamental change in someone’s life.

How do you hold it together? How do you maintain your composure while you are really shifting someone’s life?

Nate Berkus: Sometimes it’s easy because I know that I’m there to deliver the story and inspire other people to either do what I’m doing or to help someone else. And I know that that message is bigger than me, and so I can be very tuned into that and know that I have to deliver the information in a way that people will understand and react to, and then sometimes I can’t.

Sometimes I break down and cry, you know, in thinking about it, but – and then actually, you know, on the set with my guests. But I think, you know, what’s most important for me is I have a responsibility to my viewers. And if I’m falling apart everyday because I’m so touched by something, then it becomes something that is about me, and it’s not about me.

It’s about the people whose lives I’m able to touch. And it’s about the changes that my team and I are able to make, and I need to put that – you know, put that information out there. And you know what it makes me think of in all honesty? It makes me think of Elton John singing at the Princess Diana funeral. And he was such good friends with her, but he sang Goodbye English Rose to – at the funeral…

Danielle Smith: Yeah, I remember.

Nate Berkus: …and I – and – you know, I always think to myself, “How is he able to stand up there after his friend died and sing that song so beautifully?” And there’s a strength that comes from being able to inspire other people, and that’s what I try and tap into.

Danielle Smith:    I like that. Thank you very much. Keep…

Nate Berkus: You’re welcome.

Danielle Smith: …doing it, Nate.

Coordinator: Our next question comes from the line of Christine Koh with

Christine Koh: Hey, Nate. How are you?

Nate Berkus: Good. How are you?

Christine Koh: Good. I had the pleasure of meeting you in New York at BlogHer and I just have to say first, that you are just the most gracious swarmed by a mob of bloggers person I’ve ever seen.

Nate Berkus: Well, thank you.

Christine Koh: So, thanks for that and thanks for taking the time today.

Nate Berkus: Pleasure.

Christine Koh: So, I had two quick questions for you. The first is, I was interested see that you have an episode coming up on getting kids to share rooms and getting them excited. I have a 6-year-old daughter and I’m actually, somewhat surprisingly, pregnant with a second.

Nate Berkus: Okay.

Christine Koh: And so, I was curious about if you had any quick tips to share on that or what you think about the concept of getting kids who are farther apart in age, you know, like a baby and a 6-year-old or 7-year-old, to share and, you know, how to approach that in a smart way?

Nate Berkus: Well, I think it really has to do primarily with the actual space that you’re sharing, or intending to share. And if there’s a way to carve out (jones) in the room, I think that that’s always really helpful so that – I mean obviously a baby is not going to be sort of tracking that, but as your second child gets older.

I think it’s important for everybody just to have an area, and whether that’s a dresser or a little, you know, the top of that area or they each have their own side of the bed, you know, there’s – I think that it’s really – I’ve always been really connected to the spaces that I’ve lived in.

Even as a kid, I used to rearrange the furniture in my bedroom and kids would come over when I was in elementary school and have like a sleepover once, because they would never come back, no matter how many times I invited them, because at 2:00 in the morning I would, you know, still be asking them to help me push the nightstand…

Christine Koh: Oh, my gosh.

Nate Berkus: …to the other side of the room. So, you know, that invitation was a very popular invitation when I was young. But, I mean I know that all children aren’t as interested in their environment necessarily as I am, but I do think it’s universal that everybody needs to have an area of their own.

So, if you…

Christine Koh: Yeah, I was thinking like a canopy of her – you know, to kind of create a little private area or something might be…

Nate Berkus: That could be really cool. We actually…

Christine Koh: Okay.

Nate Berkus: …just put that on the show. You know, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony’s nursery had two canopies over each crib, and we recreated that using a canopy rod which was on for under $30 and bed sheets that we sewed and created rod pockets – king size bed sheets that we cut in half.

So, I mean there’s really cool ways to do that and I love that idea. And then, you could even hang, you know, above the headboard, you know, images or frame their artwork or something that feels really personal for that area of the room.

Christine Koh: Oh, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. Thank you. And then just my second and last question is, I’m actually in the process of (unintelligible), you know, I need to get everything done before March…

Nate Berkus: Yeah.

Christine Koh: …so I’m in the process of mulling over some redecoration of major rooms, and I have to say I’m actually a designer – graphic designer and I have a real strong vision with that, but when it comes to interior design I get a little bit deer in the headlights overwhelmed.

And so, when you are starting to think about a room I’m curious about whether you would start, you know, with finding like the perfect central piece of furniture, or do you just approach it completely holistically and try to go for a vibe?

Nate Berkus: You know, it’s sort of a mix. You need somewhere to sit and that’s the first place – or somewhere to eat or somewhere to, you know, dine, or whatever room you’re working on, so I tend to buy the major pieces first. Like if it’s a – like a sofa and the chairs or the dining table and the chairs, and then the light fixture, and then sort of do it piece by piece.

The truth is, the Internet to me is the most unbelievable source. I started my design firm in 1996; that didn’t exist. So, you know, now my company does 85% of its interiors online and the – you know, the – that search for the perfect dining table or the perfect side share or the perfect coffee table has become something that you can do, you know, when the kids go down for a nap, which is, you know, gone are the days where you have to be the weekend warrior and load everybody in the car and…

Christine Koh:      Nightmare, yeah.

Nate Berkus: …pack, you know, a 4-year-old through the furniture showroom, which is the worst thing in the world. But, I think that, you know, I do start with the major pieces, but I also really stop before I do anything and think, you know, “What is the story that this room needs to tell?” Like, “Who am I? Who – what is my – you know, what do I want this room to – if this room could speak, what would it say?”

“Would it say, I’m a comfortable place filled with family photos and kid-proof coffee tables, and it’s a no-coaster zone, and I’m going to buy this stuff and invest in this stuff. But, it’s going to be durable and I’m not going to panic when, you know, somebody’s got a popsicle in their hand,” or does the story of this room need to be, “This is a room for the adults to entertain when the kids are sleeping, and this is my space that I’m carving out in my home to have as a refuge from my (unintelligible) day-to-day chaos.”

So, you know, I think when you start sort of a little bit more philosophically and ask yourself, what do you really want? If the room could talk, what would it say to you? Then you start deciding, maybe there should be a wall of framed family photos here. Maybe there should be a – maybe I should look for a bookcase in this room if I want this room to be the place where I go and turn on a, you know, floor lamp and there’s a chair and an ottoman next to a wall of books where I can relax, or bring my laptop.

So, I tend to start always with the purpose, and then I buy the major pieces and build from there.

Christine Koh: I love that. That’s fantastic advice. Thank you so much, Nate. It was such a pleasure to talk to you and…

Nate Berkus: You’re welcome.

Christine Koh: …I’ll sign off now so other people can ask you questions. Thanks.

Nate Berkus: No problem.

Coordinator: Our next question comes from the line of Beth Anderson, Chic Gallery Magazine. Please go ahead with your question.

Beth Anderson: Hi, Nate. How are you?

Nate Berkus: Hi, Beth.

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

Nate Berkus: Oh, thank you.

Beth Anderson: 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?”

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

Beth Anderson: Great. (Joann) 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?”

Nate Berkus: 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.

Beth Anderson: Sometimes it’s nice to have grandma’s pieces tucked (unintelligible)…

Nate Berkus: I think it’s imperative, to tell you the truth. I mean, and I – it – you know, if you don’t – 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.

Beth Anderson: Right. And then, things you can then pass down…

Nate Berkus: Yeah.

Beth Anderson: …to the next generation.

Nate Berkus: 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.

Beth Anderson: 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?

Nate Berkus: 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.

Beth Anderson: I have one of those sitting in a closet, actually.

Nate Berkus: Oh, great.

Beth Anderson: That was passed down from my grandmother. I’m trying to figure out what to do with it. So, all right, well just 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 just a single most important thing that she should go look for to try to update her home décor? She’s wondering, like sofa is such a big investment, but like lamps or pillows or pictures? Like what – is there one thing on a budget that you would suggest that she go for first?

Nate Berkus: 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.

The -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.

Beth Anderson: Well, thank you, Nate, so much. I really appreciate you answering…

Nate Berkus: You’re very welcome.

Beth Anderson: …all the questions for me.

Nate Berkus: My pleasure.

Coordinator: Our next question comes from the line of (Teresa Anderson); Blissfully Domestic. Please go ahead with your question.

(Teresa Anderson): Hi, Nate. This is so fun…

Nate Berkus: Hello.

(Teresa Anderson): …to be able to talk to you. This is exciting in fact.

Nate Berkus: Good.

(Teresa Anderson): First of all, I wanted to tell you when I first saw your show I was like, “Wow,” excited, “Finally somebody gets us.” And I love the authentic – the way that you show things authentically and it’s something within our grasp. Anyway, it was exciting.

Nate Berkus: Well, thank you.

(Teresa Anderson): One of my questions is, I’m a mother of five, and a grandmother to seven, and all my children live far away from me. They live in different states. And so each month I like to send them a little gift in the mail. And I usually like to do it for something that they can use in their homes because they’re all, you know, college graduates and don’t have much money.

Do you have any suggestions on what I could pack up and send to them that would be, you know, something worthwhile for in their homes?

Nate Berkus: Yes, what a great thing to do. I wish my mom would do that. She’s going to need to read your blog. The – you know, one of the things that I think is probably one of the most meaningful things to send are taking old photos of your kids, whether it’s them with you, them with the whole family or just them with their siblings, turning them into, you know, going to Kinko’s or going to FedEx or something and turning them into like, a black and white or antique looking sepia or something like that, and then Michael’s sells pre-framed mats, or pre-cut matting that fits in really inexpensive frames.

And I love the idea of them helping you to assemble a gallery wall in their home and whether that’s you know, whether they’re contemporary with white frames and white mats or a little more traditional with wood frames and linen mats, framing, I think photos of their past and sending those off would – and writing a note on the back of the actual frame.

My mom did it for me once and, you know, I still have that in my house and I just – I think it’s the coolest thing that any mom can do when their kids are starting to assemble their own homes. And the other thing is, start a library for them.

(Teresa Anderson): Oh, okay.

Nate Berkus: The – if they’re interested in different topics, you know, go to the vintage shops and the thrift stores and the book stores and start a library for them. And you can print out actually book plates that you can design on your computer and glue to the inside cover that just says, you know, “From the library of blank, Love, Mom,” with the date on it.

And I think that every home should have a library, everyone’s interested in something, whether it’s fashion or flowers or travel or cars or boats or whatever it is. But I think that that’s also a gift that just really lasts forever.

(Teresa Anderson): That’s just so perfect, because four of my children are boys and so I’m dealing with, you know, my daughter-in-laws and I don’t know their styles, so this will be perfect for them (unintelligible) the frames a winner.

Nate Berkus: Yes, it’s a universal thing.

(Teresa Anderson):     Yes.

Nate Berkus: I mean, my mom says I’m really hard to buy presents for, and she’s right, but every time she, you know, I ask for coffee table books or even great novels that she’s read that she knows I’ll love and that, to me is just a, you know, a book makes us better.

(Teresa Anderson): Yes. Well, my second question is kind of on that same line of family. Since my children are all gone, they come home once in awhile for Christmas and, you know, I like to keep my decorations fresh and new and stuff, but the kids still want to see the traditional old decorations…

Nate Berkus: Yes.

(Teresa Anderson): …that we had as they were growing up. How do I keep everything fresh and new looking, but yet still, you know, bring out the traditional things that they are used to?

Nate Berkus: Listen, it’s funny. I guess you could sort of create an area in your home that is more designed for you around the holidays. Whether it’s a pair of vases on a chest with just greenery or something like that, but, you know, I have to say, when the traditions last that long and the kids anticipate that, I mean, my step-mom still has my stocking from when I was a kid and they…

(Teresa Anderson): Yes, I still have my kids’, yes.

Nate Berkus: …still go up on the mantle. You know? And so I don’t think that – I don’t think that there’s anything that beats that.

(Teresa Anderson): That in itself is probably more authentic than trying to do some of the fresh new styles and stuff that they have out.

Nate Berkus: I think so. You know what? I think so, I mean the point of these decorations is to welcome the ones we love.

(Teresa Anderson): Right.

Nate Berkus: And to make the home more festive and if they’re telling you that that’s what they look forward to, I would deliver.

(Teresa Anderson): Okay. One last question, it’s kind of off the other two, but I love to go to flea markets and second hand stores and so a lot of my home is those items. At what point is it too much? Do you just – do you stop at one point and say, “I need to bring in some new items.” Or is it okay to always use, you know, trash to treasure types of items?

Nate Berkus: You know, I think it’s okay to use it a lot. I would say 80% of a room can be that way, but there’s something about sitting on a new, well made sofa or a pair of new club chairs.

(Teresa Anderson): Okay.

Nate Berkus: You know, I tend to buy new upholstery because it’s – there’s something about the comfort factor that might be hard to replicate when you’re shopping all secondhand and, you know, but you can design an entire room with secondhand around a new sofa or if you have a sofa already, you know, adding a pair of really comfortable chairs or a beautiful new bookcase filled with all of your secondhand finds I think creates a really nice tension in the space.

(Teresa Anderson): Well, thank you so much, and like I said, I really enjoy your show, I’m…

Nate Berkus: Thank you.

(Teresa Anderson): …I appreciate you talking to, you know, us, as normal people and I look forward to watching more of it and thank you for talking to me today.

Nate Berkus: You’re very welcome, Thank you.

Coordinator: Our next question comes from the line of Erin Renzas with iVillage. Please go ahead with your question.

Erin Renzas: Great. Hi, Nate.

Nate Berkus: Hi.

Erin Renzas: I’m just wondering, you know, if there’s some quick tips or fun things that you can do during the holiday season that really make guests that you may have coming feel really welcome or really special and if there’s any things that you do when you have guests at your home?

Nate Berkus: Absolutely and I’m actually am in the middle of producing a show about exactly that topic.

Erin Renzas: Oh, great.

Nate Berkus: But, you know, to me it’s really all about showing somebody that you’ve anticipated their arrival and you don’t have to go overboard. It can be making their favorite dish or putting your favorite read that you know that they’re going to love on their nightstand with a printed note inside that says, “I just finished this book and I know you’re going to love it, so enjoy this, you know, before you go to sleep every night.”

A new set of white towels folded on the end of the bed in the guest room is always a big win with a new bar of soap, you know, tied with a ribbon or ribbon remnant.

You know, that kind of stuff, to me, fresh flowers, even if it’s, you now, three or four stems in a tiny vase on the nightstand or a bottle of water sitting on the nightstand.

Those are the kinds of touches that I think are so appreciated and one of the other things that I like to do is, when people are coming, I’ll use – I’ll print out pictures of them and use them in tiny frames from the dollar store as place cards around the table and it’s just, you know, people like to see – or even menus typed out on the computer for a special dinner, or it can be meatloaf.

It doesn’t matter, but it’s so great to put their name at the top and then have the menu of what you’re serving for a holiday meal printed out, sitting on everyone’s plate.

You know, people like to see their name written and people like to see photos of themselves in other people’s homes. I don’t know why we do, but it always makes us feel really, really welcome.

And so those are the kinds of things that don’t take a tremendous amount of time, but really, I think send that message loud and clear that we’ve been looking forward to someone’s arrival.

Erin Renzas: Great, great, and then kind of in that same vein, I was just wondering if you had any tips or tricks for how you can make your home festive and maybe unconventionally interesting without spending a fortune for the holiday season.

Nate Berkus: You know, I like taking – I actually like – I don’t think decorations have to go all over the house. If you have a family tradition of decorating for the holidays and it does, that’s great.

But for me, I think a little goes a really long way and one of the things that I think is really cool is to take all those glass vases that we all have under our kitchen sinks from the florist, that, you know, they’re just around our homes, and if you don’t have them, they’re really cheap to find at thrift stores and stuff.

And I love the idea of just taking a big group of them, 8, 10, 12 of them, and either putting them on the table on the entry and filling them with ornaments, all in two colors, like gold and silver or white and gold or white and bronze or whatever it is in different sizes, and then just greenery.

You know, greenery that you can also just put inside the vases to just create a moment and one candle and you’re done. And it works on an entry table it works on a dining room sideboard, it works on the mantle. It’s just all different clear glass vases in different shapes and sizes and then ornaments floating inside them, filled with ornaments that you can also, you know, find for not a lot of money.

Erin Renzas: Great, great, well thank you so much.

Nate Berkus: You’re welcome.

Coordinator: Our next question comes from the line of Duong Sheahan with Please go ahead with your question.

Duong Sheahan: Good morning, Nate.

Nate Berkus: Good morning, Duong.

Duong Sheahan: This is Duong from Chicago.

Nate Berkus: Hello.

Duong Sheahan: I miss you in Chicago.

Nate Berkus: Thank you.

Duong Sheahan: It was a pleasure to meet you this summer and I’m so excited to be on a call with you, thank you so much for your time.

Nate Berkus: No problem.

Duong Sheahan: There’s nothing more amazing than to see faces light up when you transform, you know, rooms. I’ve watched you transform so many rooms, touch so many lives and the one that I am looking forward to watching this coming Thursday is about a young man that looks like he’s overcoming circumstance, going to college.

I wanted to know, how did you find him? He’s homeless and graduating from high school and getting ready to go off to college. Number one, my first question is, how did you find that story?

Nate Berkus: My producers found the story, they’re very good at what they do. And when they brought it to me, I thought it was one of the most moving stories that I’d ever heard and his name is Orayne Williams and he has been an A student and living in a homeless shelter for most of his high school career. And he is now going to college on full scholarship, four year, accredited university and my team and I have a, you know, a huge surprise for him.

Duong Sheahan: That’s wonderful. Well, the reason why I’m intrigued with this story is not just because of his overcoming his homelessness and, you know, persevering and going off to college. My, you know, my dad used to instill that into us when we were little because how he had overcome school, living in another country and walking for a mile just to study under the light.

So when you hear a story like this, it’s just so inspiring and it helps me to, you know, help my kids to share with them to overcome and as a mom with a daughter going off to college next fall, we’ve already been talking about, you know, different, just decorating, like, we toured this past summer and we were just – I forgot how small the dorm rooms were.

Nate Berkus: I know. It’s crazy.

Duong Sheahan: So right away, my daughter was like, “Oh my gosh.” You know, realizing she’s not going to be able to pack her, you know, everything that she has here, but I wanted to know, what are some ways that number one, we can save, you know, huge budget because of college expense, I’d like to be able to start, you know, budgeting for her decorations for her dorm as well as where to shop. Because I am in a new phase right now with that season in our life.

Nate Berkus: Yes, I mean, I think that, you know, online is probably the best place to comparison shop for stuff, but the truth is, I mean, she doesn’t need a ton. She, you know, some pre-fab drapery panels and a rod would be great.

New bedding, a couple of foldable chairs, a bath caddy and, you know, maybe a couple of organizational pieces that she can put on the back of the door for her shoe and belts and, you know, socks and underwear or whatever it is.

But, you know, I think that it’s, you know, when I left for school, what I took were my framed photos of my friends and family and my mom got me, you know, new sheets and a new comforter, two sets, and then that was really it and the rest I kind of figured out as I needed.

But the best thing, and actually, the show with Orayne Williams has a lot of specific products and I don’t remember the source of every single one, but it’s all on the – on my website.

Duong Sheahan: Great. And space saving, you know, space savers. What we were looking at is finding pieces to really make it functional and yet, you know, be able to save on space as well.

Nate Berkus: Yes.

Duong Sheahan: Because it is really small and sharing with another roommate.

Nate Berkus: Absolutely, absolutely. Well, we address that actually on the show and there are some specific, like I said, specific products that I think would work really well for her.

Duong Sheahan: Great. Thank you so much for your time.

Nate Berkus: You’re welcome.

Coordinator: Our next question comes from the line of Emily Johnston with Material Girls Blog. Please go ahead.

Emily Johnston: Hi, Nate, how are you?

Nate Berkus: Good, Emily, how are you?

Emily Johnston: I’m good. Well, it’s so nice to talk to a fellow designer and ask you some of my questions, so thank you so much.

Nate Berkus: Pleasure.

Emily Johnston: I actually have two questions for you. The first one is, I live in a teeny tiny cottage in Dallas and it’s about 1000 square feet and I was wondering, what are your favorite design tricks for really small spaces?

Nate Berkus: The first one is actually what not to do, and it’s not to use small scale furniture in a small space, which I know is kind of counterintuitive,

I don’t know how you’ve decorated yours, but I find that people are, when they have a small space, and even when they don’t, even when they’re just decorating a room, because even if you have a huge suburban house, you still want your rooms to be, you know, as effective and well used as possible. But I just don’t believe in apartment sized or, you know, small scaled things.

Emily Johnston: Right.

Nate Berkus: Because I think the mistake that people make is, they buy like, the apartment sized sofa and they buy then the tiny scaled chairs or the table that really just fits two people and no one’s comfortable.

Nate Berkus: So, I’d rather sacrifice and have a real grown up, adult size sofa and maybe a pair of small slipper chairs or dining chairs used as extra seating in the living room than, you know, have everything be sort of diminutive in scale.

Emily Johnston: Right.

Nate Berkus: The other thing is, I love the idea of using large scaled artwork on the wall.

Emily Johnston: Yes.

Nate Berkus: Instead of lots of little things…

Emily Johnston: That’s exactly what I did.

Nate Berkus: …one big thing is great.

Emily Johnston: That’s exactly what I did, I did this huge, I think it’s 48×72, vertical artwork in my dining room and it’s just a teeny, tiny room, but the art just makes the whole thing.

Nate Berkus: But it changes the whole scale of the space.

Emily Johnston: Right.

Nate Berkus:         Yes, it really does and, you know, it’s funny, I mean, I lived in a 550 square foot apartment in New York city and, you know, I had a desk with a chair, I had a full size sofa, a lounge chair, a coffee table, two occasional chairs, a beanbag and a kitchen area with two barstools.

Emily Johnston: Yes.

Nate Berkus: And it worked great, you know?

Emily Johnston: Yes.

Nate Berkus: I mean, it worked great, so I think it’s almost counterintuitive and you do have to measure, obviously, because the worst part of design is when you buy something that doesn’t work.

Nate Berkus: But, you know, if you’ve got the dimensions of your room and you lay out everything on the floor with painter’s tape or, you know, or draw out a floor plan. I think more is more and real scale is always better.

Emily Johnston: Yes, I completely agree. Well, I just have one other question for you and it’s-what are your favorite holiday gift ideas for the interior design enthusiast?

Nate Berkus: Favorite holiday gift ideas? Well, one I mentioned earlier, but it’s – I love the idea of putting new monogram on old pieces.

Emily Johnston: Oh, yes.

Nate Berkus: I kind of am obsessed with it right now. So the idea of, you know, a flea market tureen with – in silver plate, or hotel silver, and going to the trophy store and having a monogram put on that, I think is really, really cool.

And I think that the – and I think that also design books, vintage design books, with a customer bookplate that you print out on your computer is really – I don’t think there’s a more sophisticated gift than that.

Emily Johnston: Yes, oh, that sounds really neat, those are all great. Well, thank you so much, that is all my…

Nate Berkus: You’re welcome.

Emily Johnston: I really appreciate you taking the time.

Nate Berkus:         My pleasure.

Emily Johnston: Okay, thanks.

Coordinator: Our next question comes from the line of Katja Presnal with Please go ahead with your question.

Katja Presnal: Hi, Nate, it’s Katja. I was actually on your show…

Nate Berkus: Hi.

Katja Presnal: …typing this Tuesday. I sat in the front row with a couple of media friends from Finland and they were from two different TV networks and they were really excited to see your show.

Nate Berkus: Oh, that’s great. Thank you.

Katja Presnal: So my question actually is that when are you going to be in Europe? When will people in Europe be able to see you?

Nate Berkus: We’re working on that right now. This show is…

Katja Presnal:       That’s exciting.

Nate Berkus: …actually – what’s that?

Katja Presnal: That’s really exciting.

Nate Berkus: It’s really exciting. The show is going to be appearing in Australia this December, which I know is not Europe, because I do know my geography. But the…

Katja Presnal: That’s good.

Nate Berkus: …we have meetings in France and in several European countries to talk about expanding the show there, and I’m very excited about that.

Katja Presnal: Oh, that’s really exciting. Then – a couple of them were actually in New York City for the first time and we did three shows. We get – right now I’m on the line to (Marquette) and the Nate Berkus Show. So it really was high on their list to see. A lot of them had already heard about you.

Nate Berkus: Oh, I’m very flattered, that’s great.

Katja Presnal: They actually – they have a couple of days, more or less, in New York. Do you have some of your favorite places where they could, for example, buy some home décor items or anything like that in New York City? Where do you (unintelligible)?

Nate Berkus: Yes, there’s a place called Showplace Antiques on 25th Street that’s incredible. It’s an antiques mall, multi dealer antiques mall. It’s best on the weekends. And there’s also the 26th Street Flea Market which is right across the street between 6th and 7th Avenues…

Katja Presnal: I love that.

Nate Berkus: …on 26th Street. Really it’s not to be missed. And then the – they should go to Williamsburg in Brooklyn which has – I can’t remember the name of the main street but I’m sure their hotel could figure it out. But it’s a real pocket of up and coming home designers and interior shops that I love to go to.

Katja Presnal: Sounds exciting, that’s exactly where we’re going to go today, afternoon, after we have seen the Rockettes.

Nate Berkus: Oh, great.

Katja Presnal: Yes, so that’s really cool. So one quick question, how can you do holiday décor for $200 in two hours? Like, if you had to go to one store or try to get everything together really quickly and you have a $200 budget, what would you do?

Nate Berkus: You have to go to the dollar store and you have to spend part of your budget on candles and votives and votive containers, and then you have to go to the florist or the grocery store and buy greens and a few dozen, you know, colorful flowers, whether they’re roses or whatever really looks good, autumn flowers or whatever sort of looks good.

And I love the idea of using your juice glasses or cut glass glasses, whatever you have glassware-wise, dropping votives in those, spreading those throughout the house using of them as well for small vases, and doing tightly packed floral arrangements. And mixing those in throughout your décor I think is one of the quickest and easiest ways of doing that, using what you already have.

Katja Presnal: Yes, for any holiday or party or anything, that sounds great.

Nate Berkus: Exactly, exactly. And the other tip would be to buy gift wrap that is in a pattern that you love and cut it into use for placemats and – or even a table runner.

Katja Presnal: Oh, I love that. Actually, what I also do, I buy frames from IKEA and I just put gift wrap or postcards or whatever, so I have the party décor right there.

Nate Berkus: Oh, that’s great.

Katja Presnal: So last time I interviewed you I asked how do you live life to the fullest since it’s Thanksgiving and everything. So what are you thankful for…

Nate Berkus: Well, I’m thanking for a lot this year.

Katja Presnal: …right now?

Nate Berkus: I – but most importantly for me are the relationships that I have in my life, my family, my friends, and those are the things that continue regardless of where my career takes me. But I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to have my own daily show because I love being the person that comes into people’s home everyday and gives them information and shows people how they can live better.

Katja Presnal: Thank you so much, Nate, that’s one…

Nate Berkus:         My pleasure.

Katja Presnal: …why we love you so much. Thank you so much.

Nate Berkus: Oh, enjoy your time in New York.

Katja Presnal: Thank you, bye.

Nate Berkus: Bye.

Coordinator: My next question comes from the line of Angela England, Untrained Housewife. Please go ahead with your question.

Angela England: Hi, Untrained Housewife is a lot about the moms who are kind of trying to come back home and trying to make their houses really homelike and be active parents, and with that in mind how can a parent who still has children at home, marry their desire for beauty with their reality of oh, being a mom of four? What would your tips be for a kid friendly and parent friendly common room design?

Nate Berkus: You know, I think what – yes, that is a central question always. I think it’s really about sort of unconventional storage solutions whether it’s decorative baskets, or – that are arranged as trunks or coffee tables, you know, they need to be sturdy, they need to have wire involved in their construction. You can use them as extra seating, but toys can go inside.

And I’m always very conscious of little fingers being slammed in heavy things. So I like the idea of being able to organize a space that has storage options that kids can access themselves without getting hurt.

But my fantasy room for that is really what goes up on the wall which they can’t wreck. Whether it’s a wall of different framed objects mixed with images, mixed with artwork, whatever, you know, sort of tells the story of your family and who you are, that’s always a safe place to decorate with children.

And then I see some very durable, you know, sectional or sofa and really cool accent pieces that already have age and patina to them so that, you know, when that bananas gets smashed into the top of the side table or the vintage trunk you use as a side table, whatever it might be, it’s not a crisis.

(Teresa Anderson): I like that. I notice that you talked a lot about books, and I’m a huge book-a-holic, and what are some creative ways to display and then also store books when you have a lot, like I do?

Nate Berkus: You know, I think that a bookcase is probably one of the single most important investments anyone can make in their home, and I think the thing about it is that there needs to be a – there needs to be a space in your home that showcases what you love and what you collect.

And, you know, mixing books in with decorative boxes and pottery and framed photos and I view every bookshelf as an opportunity to design something really spectacular. And I try and look at each shelf as like a store display. Like what would be the great balance? Some books on the side with a decorative object, with a pair of vases, with a framed photo leaning on the back, and I don’t do bookcases all in one second. I take my time and let them evolve.

But, you know, you can find really inexpensive options for shelving at unfinished furniture places and, you know, I don’t think they need to be expensive. I think you can do it out of a secondary wood and have them painted or wall paper the back. But I think that that’s really one of the things that brings rooms to life, especially if you’re a booklover like I am.

Angela England: Yes, and I am, too, my husband teases me about it. He says it’s a disease. Now, I have a situation where I have three boys and one girl. So I have children that are sharing a bedroom and I wondered what tips or design ideas or storage ideas you might have for kids who share a bedroom where each has kind of their own space, but then obviously there’s common areas there?

Nate Berkus: You know what? I would – I hate to do this to you but I have to leave for a field shoot. But I would ask you to go on the because we’re putting that exact information on our Website. We just did it for two moms with one who’s – actually we’ve done it twice on the show, or in an upcoming show actually, I don’t know which date that it’s airing. But we did one for a young boy who has to share a room with his 6-year old sister, so that really needed to be divided within the same space.

And we used something called a tension wall which is – it’s in detail on the Website.

Angela England: Perfect.

Nate Berkus: And then we did it again for two twin sisters who have completely different style which hasn’t aired yet. One’s a tomboy and one likes girly-girly, and so we built out a whole part of the show talking about how to decorate for those two distinct styles in the same space.

Angela England: Nice, I’ll look for that on the Website.

Nate Berkus: Thank you, I appreciate that.

(Teresa Anderson): Hey, Nate, we have one more blogger who hasn’t had a chance to ask a question, can we get one question in from her and then we’ll wrap it?

Nate Berkus: I can do one quick question. I literally have to leave; I have to be in Central Park in 20 minutes.

(Teresa Anderson): Okay.

Coordinator: Our next question comes from the line of Laurie Turk, Please go ahead with your question.

Laurie Turk: Hi, Nate, I’ll keep it really, really fast.

Nate Berkus: Thanks, Laurie.

Laurie Turk: I just think that your Nate’s Crate Drop shows are such a phenomenal idea because we want something that’s easy and quick as far as service. How do you hope that people will emulate the Nate’s Crate?

Nate Berkus: Well, I think that it’s – my hope would be that people take a look around, especially in this time of the year, and think about what they can do to surprise somebody in their own life that needs something.

You know, it’s – what’s incredible about having a television show is that the gestures that I make can be big, but big gestures aren’t the only things that matter. And lending somebody a hand or picking up somebody’s grocery bill for the week or knowing that you have a girlfriend who’s totally overwhelmed and needs an hour to herself and offering that time, all of these things I think are what makes us into a real community.

And so I hope it inspires people to do what they can in their town and among the people that they can impact.

Laurie Turk: That’s perfect, thank you so much for your time.

Nate Berkus: You’re very welcome. Thank you, everybody, I appreciate your time.

(And on another note, if you are craving more holiday advice from Nate, tune in to his show tomorrow, the “Ultimate Holiday Checklist”!)

Back in June, I went out to Baton Rouge to complete the Wisk Detergent laundry room makeover design for winner’s Kristen and Matt Maurel.  EJ Interiors partnered up with Wisk laundry detergent, Whirlpool, Star Exhibits and Environments, and TV’s Designing Spaces to give Kristen and Matt the laundry room of their dreams!

The design will be revealed on Designing Spaces Monday, August 30th at 8:30 am CT and Friday, September 10th at 8:30 AM CT on the We Network.  You can also watch the episode HERE.

Last week, I had the pleasure of working in the charming city of Baton Rouge.  I was in town to accessorize the laundry room belonging to the winner of the Wisk Laundry Room Makeover contest and also to watch the filming of the makeover (which will be featured on Designing Spaces in August).

Kristen and Matt Maurel entered the contest back in March by submitting this video.  If you haven’t already seen it, you must watch it!  Their video was so creative and so entertaining, I found myself laughing out loud at parts.  Kristen and Matt found out that they won the Wisk contest mid April, and then I had about two weeks to select the finishes and accessories for their laundry room while coordinating the makeover process with Whirlpool and Star Exhibits.

When I first went out to Baton Rouge for a site visit in April, I made sure to take tons of photos and measurements while I was there, to document their existing laundry space (and I knew I’d want to hold onto the original photos for some interesting Before and After comparisons!)

Their laundry room seemed even smaller in person than it appeared on their video (if you can believe it!)


Outdated vinyl flooring, an old washer/dryer, lack of good storage, and a poor room layout were just a few of the things that stood out to me on the site visit.  I knew that the room had a lot of potential and that it could look SO much better with more color, a little bit of pattern, and updated finishes.

Probably the most awkward part of the room was the window between the office and the laundry room.  This room was originally a sun porch, which explained A LOT.

The Maurels needed a new laundry room and needed it fast.  EJ Interiors to the rescue!

My intern Katie and I arrived in Baton Rouge on Tuesday and coincidentally enough, had our first meal two doors down from the Maurel’s house (I promise, we weren’t stalking!) Bistro Byronz came highly recommended and it did not disappoint.  Their blue cheese chips were a great start to the trip.

Wednesday morning we arrived at the Maurel’s home bright and early to start the decorating process.  The renovation had already been completed based on the finished we had specified a few weeks before, so all that was left was the decor.

The electrician finished installing the light fixture that morning, just in time!

And Katie (my awesome intern) measured the walls and cabinets in order to plan for the accessories.

The Maurel’s dog, Marty, was just a little overwhelmed by all the chaos and visitors, but was a great sport about it all.

After spending almost twelve hours putting the finishing touches on the room, we retired for the day and got ready for the big shoot that was to happen the next morning. Designing Spaces showed up bright and early Thursday morning along with Kristen, a scientist from Wisk.

{The Maurels, Katie, and Kristen}

At this point, Kristen and Matt had not seen their new laundry room yet and the big reveal was going to soon be on camera.

{Kristen and Matt two seconds away from seeing their new laundry room}

{Kristen from Wisk, showing them their new Whirlpool stackable washer/dryer and explaining to them that they must only use HE detergent in their HE washer/dryer}

All in all, it was a success and Kristen and Matt were overjoyed with their new room.

The color palette in their laundry room was taken from the rest of the house and its existing colors so it would all flow.   If you noticed in the previous photo, their kitchen is painted a grayed out blue/green color so this was the jumping off point for our design.  I chose a fabric from Duralee for the flat roman shade that incorporated this color and also a creamy white.  The creamy white color was then used on both the beadboard and built-ins (Benjamin Moore’s OC-13 Soft Chamois).

The flush mount light is Alexa Hampton for Visual Comfort (this fixture was love at first sight for me) and the ceiling is painted Benjamin Moore’s Gray Wisp (1570) to match the shade color.

Since Kristen and Matt told us their laundry personality was “Type A All-The-Way”, I made sure to include organizational pieces such as the numbered jars and woven baskets from Pottery Barn.  I decided to go with a lucite stool to add a bit of excitement and also since it takes up less visual space.  Towels are from West Elm and just happened to match perfectly to the window treatment and laundry basket.  The jute leather rug is also from West Elm and has flecks of blue/green in it which coordinated nicely with everything else.

I decided that yellow would be the accent color in there to add that extra bit of pop among all of the subdued colors.

Kristen and Matt- hope you enjoy your new laundry room half as much as I enjoyed working on it!

Oh the Tanners!  How could we ever forget you?  Jesse’s mullet, Michelle’s baby voice, Danny’s obsessive cleaning disorder?  I’m still wondering why and how this show ever left the TGIF lineup!


But what was even more memorable was their San Francisco based home.  In the opening credits, a row of Victorian houses are shown to the memorable tune “Everywhere You Look”.  Remember these?  They are located in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Fran and some even date back to the 1800’s.

full house1

Most people think that one of these houses must be the Tanner’s.  But in actuality, the red doored home that they claim to be the Tanner residence, is really located on another street named Broderick.

Some unforgettable interior shots of the Full House house.

Notice the plaid sofa-


And that overdone window treatment!


Can we say 80’s wallpaper? (and I spy…a mullet!)


This kitchen needs a renovation!


Luckily Full House was just a make believe set and we can now fast forward to the decor of 2009.

Ahh much better!


I know you won’t believe me just by looking at it, but this home (owned by Courtnay Daniels Hayden) actually has a lot in common with the Full House set…and that is, they were both featured on the show!  Well, to get more specific, the exterior of the Hayden residence was.

Courtnay’s San Francisco home is often surrounded by bunches of tourists taking photos of the home’s exterior.  Such a unique conversation starter when guests come over- “I live in one of the Full House houses!”  But this house is certainly a far cry from the outdated set of the 80’s sitcom.

So you want to see photos? You got it dude!






{Elle Decor- January Issue}

That’s the end of the tour. Chity chi bob botta!