On “The Nate and Jeremiah Home Project,” Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent are accustomed to coaxing homeowners to adopt more stylish environments—all without insulting their current aesthetics. Sometimes, this can be tough. Because, let’s face it, not all homeowners have fantastic tastes!
This issue definitely crops up in the latest episode, “Next Chapter,” as they help Sushil and Ashley move from a one-bedroom apartment and into a house they’ve just purchased in White Plains, NY. Their belongings are minimal, yet one particularly sentimental item is so glaring, it gives these designers chills.
Can Berkus and Brent convince this couple to toss a trend that’s long past its prime? Keep reading to find out, and pick up some wise decorating advice you might want to try around your own abode.
Masks are still a must—in certain circumstances
When Brent and Berkus return to the home to assess the progress of the renovation, they find they have to mask up again—but not because of COVID-19.
“We found 9-by-9-inch tiles that might be asbestos,” said their contractor when he met the designers outside the front door. He explains why he’s suspicious: “Asbestos is common in 9-by-9-inch floor tiles, especially in homes built before 1970. But we’re not sure yet. Just as a precaution, when you go inside, you probably want to wear masks.”
Brent and Berkus are ready with their professional-grade masks. It’s a good reminder that safety should always come first.
The living room of this 1950s home has a built-in wall unit of shelves and cabinets. But just because it’s old doesn’t mean it has to go. Brent and Berkus believe they can be refurbished rather than demolished.
Their original plan calls for stripping the old finish from the original built-ins, then preserving them to accentuate the natural wood. But when the wall unit is stripped, they find that the natural wood is not in good enough condition to retain, so it must be painted. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“The monochromatic sage green is already feeling moody and intimate,” says Brent. “It’s going to be the perfect setting to showcase that baby grand piano.”
The word-art trend is over—and can even be a ‘trigger’
Near the end of the renovation, Brent tells Berkus there’s “one last thing that I know you don’t want to talk about because I know that’s a trigger for you, which is word art.”
You know those signs with inspirational messages that were so big a few years back? Sushil and Ashley had one such wall hanging in their old apartment and hoped to hang it in their new home.
“That piece of art that they have is like their family spell,” Brent explains. “So we had talked about trying to come up with something for it.”
They decide to subtly combine the phrase into a custom painting by their friend, a decorative painter James Mobley. In this way, they can move on from tired, old word art to something more aesthetically pleasing. As Berkus points out, the words are what matters, not the canvas they’re on.
“The sentiment carries the weight,” says Berkus. “Not the piece.”
Combine occasional splurges with budget-friendly finds
Berkus and Brent visit a vintage furniture and accessory store looking for great pieces to use in the young couple’s home. They find some things that are outrageously priced and others that are quite reasonable.
They came across a beautiful, French cabinet that would be ideal for the couple’s colorful spices from India. But at $800, it’s pricy.
They also find a pair of mid-mod chairs that could easily be recovered, and they are only $150 a piece.
“I think it’s all about balance when you’re building out your space,” says Brent. “Yes, we’re going to have this [expensive] cabinet, but we’re also mixing it with $150 chairs. I think it’s all about being really mindful of your budget and really putting your money into the things that are going to make you the happiest to look at every day.”
Eliminate corners for kid-friendly furnishings
When Sushil and Ashley return to their house to see the home project completed, Berkus and Brent happily point out the various assets they’ve added.
“The coffee tables we had made custom for you—stone tops,” says Berkus. “They also have round edges for kids …”
“…Should some day that be part of your process,” Brent completes the thought.
Ashley rubs her tummy and blushes.
“Maybe it might be part of the process now,” she reveals.
Congrats and hugs ensue, not only because this couple was expecting, but because they’re thrilled with their new home.