Nate Berkus in his West Village apartment
The thrill of the hunt is what Nate Berkus missed most during the two years he was tied to a New York soundstage filming his daily syndicated talk show, which is no longer in production. “I needed to get out, to hit the flea markets and roam through stores. It’s what inspires me. I was raised to do it,” says Berkus, who took an early retirement from Little League to make shopping his sport. He tagged along to estate sales with his mother, interior designer Nancy Golden. He rode his bike to Mainstreet in Hopkins. He furnished college apartments in Chicago with flea market finds—in those days, it was not only his style, but what he could afford.
Today, from the two-story Manhattan apartment he renovated—white oak herringbone floor to ceiling—Berkus says his taste hasn’t changed since those formative antiques shopping sprees. “I’ve just become more successful, which gives me a passport to do what I did in Hopkins all over the world.”
The meaning behind material goods influences everything Berkus produces today. His Target line, which expanded this spring from home accessories to stationery and bath, is designed to feel collected, rather than on trend. “It’s based on objects I’ve lived with,” he says. Same goes for his new Calico Corners fabric line, which is vintage Berkus, in gold and gray globally inspired patterns.
Now, Berkus is gearing up for a return to television as executive producer and host of a new NBC prime-time design competition called Renovation Nation. He says he had no desire to do another show unless it was all about design, and the series debuting next spring plays to what Berkus loves most: traveling, cultivating spaces, and shopping for the objects that give depth to the rooms we live in.
How Nate Shops
- DON’T BRING A LIST. “You can’t go to an antiques store set on finding a lamp. I let things find me.”
- BUY WITH ABANDON. “Decorators’ homes often look less done, less predictable, and more adventurous than our clients’. There’s a confidence in buying what we love and knowing eventually we’ll find a place for it.”
- EXPECT THE BEST. “There’s always something—a crazy sterling silver ball, a piece of green pottery.”
- TRUST YOUR TASTE, NOT TRENDS. “I wasn’t thinking this basket from a flea market in California would work with one I got years ago in Mexico, but it does, because I always gravitate to the same types of things.”
- GO AGAINST THE GRAIN. “While everybody is paying top dollar for midcentury modern, this is the time to buy old English and French furniture. The pendulum will shift again.”