There's not much not to love about Nate Berkus. The 45-year-old interior designer, while having reached stratospheric levels of success at a young age, is also super-relatable. He keeps it real, whether that means opening up about his journey to quitting smoking or how hard it can be to squeeze date night in with his partner, interior designer Jeremiah Brent.
You can get a glimpse into Berkus's world on his new home makeover show, Nate and Jeremiah by Design, which premiered on TLC a few weeks ago on April 8. To learn more about what goes on behind the scenes with the Brent-Berkuses and their adorable 2-year-old daughter, Poppy, scroll down.
Nate Berkus: We have a nanny that we’ve had since Poppy was born, and she does something mysterious to her mac and cheese, and we’re all obsessed with it. I wish it was a really healthy answer, like, "Oh, we make these patties out of julienned veggies" — which does happen on occasion — but it’s ultimately just the homemade mac and cheese. She blends her own cheeses and uses real cream.
NB: The short answer is no. It was many years before I spent time outdoors and actually noticed it while I was there. I think that happened when I became a new father because it had been 20 years since I’d laid down on a blanket in a park. Spending time outside with Poppy, lying there looking up at the trees, is as restorative as anything I’ve tried to do like yoga, spinning or hiking.
NB: What I found as a new dad, and when I hit 40, is that it became hard to compartmentalize any one area of my life. My 30s were all about work, which was going great, but personal life not so much, and then with my health, I thought, "I'll get around to it." Then, all of a sudden, I hit 40, and was like, "I’m smoking, which is unacceptable, and I can’t ignore that just because my family, personal and professional life are all working now."
I came to a place where I didn’t want to have to have things in my life that I wasn’t thinking about intentionally. I wanted to live a healthier lifestyle across the board. Nicorette was a tool I used to help me quit, but it was part of a larger upheaval for me as a new father who hit a milestone in life and took a long look at everything I was doing. It’s universal: We’re all guilty of justifying our choices, like, "I work out, but I eat candy," or "I eat healthy, but I smoke." It doesn’t work like that — you're either committed to taking an honest look at every category in your life, or you're not. I don't think there's anything in the middle.
NB: I think for every parent, that’s the universal question and concern. Jeremiah and I just finished taping our new show, Nate and Jeremiah by Design, that’s airing now. We’d have those days where it was hard, and we talked about it openly on camera. Leaving Poppy to go to work is really difficult. But I’ve always believed in quality time over quantity time and really being super-present when we are home, which means no phones, reading books and playing together.
The same goes for date night with Jeremiah. We both lead busy lives, but whenever we need to, we'll say to each other, "Let’s actually sit down and have a real conversation." That means no phones and full focus on one another. In terms of dates, we switch up our activities, but we're both pretty sensitive, so one of us will say to each other, "I don't feel connected — I need a date night," and that helps.
NB: For me, setting the table for me is one of the most enjoyable things about entertaining. It’s such a creative opportunity. One of the things I do is look around rooms and bookshelves and use things I find — whether it's rocks or geodes or small objects — as part of the table decorations. I think people always default to the expected stuff, like a floral arrangement, vase or candle sticks — and there's nothing wrong with that stuff — but you can do better and be more original if you want. Plus, it can ignite conversation when your guests are looking at this interesting arrangement of objects that each have a story or have come from a different place. It’s a way of communicating through design.
NB: I've definitely tried to find a balance between bingeing on every headline and completely ignoring what's going on. For me, personally, this is a time about activation and thinking about what's important to you and your family and how you can stand up for your value system. One of the things I’ve always found depressing is when people feel powerless. I think what’s interesting about this political climate is that there aren’t a lot of people walking around feeling that way. They’re getting out there, talking about what’s important, marching, fundraising and donating. And that's a very welcome change.
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