10 Lessons We Learned from Nate Berkus
It’s hard not to be a fan of the work of designer Nate Berkus. Together with his team at Nate Berkus Associates, the celebrated designer has a true talent for creating timeless, thoughtful, and tasteful interiors that feel fresh and modern even years after completion. With keen eye for antique and vintage items along with a masterful grasp on texture and color, Berkus manages to deliver spaces that feel layered and personal—as if they tell the true story of the occupant’s experiences. After having carefully studied the work of this illustrious talent, we’ve picked up on a few trademark skilss that, when combined, speak to the overall value of the Nate Berkus aesthetic.
Keep scrolling to find what the designer’s portfolio has taught us over the years.
Berkus has a knack for incorporating unexpected colors, accents, and furniture into a space. From an antique wood center table placed in a master bathroom to leather wall panels in a limed oak home library, the designer knows that opting for an unexpected surprise always adds life and vitality to a space.
When it comes to ensuring a home is high-impact and stylish, Berkus always pays extra attention to detail. A perfect example? In his home library, which also functions as a dining room, rather than doing plain-front doors on the lower cabinets of the built-in shelves, the designer opted for brass grill inserts to bring warmth and texture to the space.
Though Berkus generally sticks to a neutral palette, he knows that a shot of pure, saturated color can do wonders for a space. Moody blue dining rooms, warm rust upholstery, and bright pops of yellow enliven spaces without feeling overbearing. The key is to balance these colors with a neutral base, a concept Berkus executes beautifully.
As fans of the designer’s work, we’ve been fortunate to peek into several of his homes over the years, thanks to gorgeous spreads in top shelter magazines. A keen eye reveals that Berkus has kept some key items (like a bright yellow ottoman and pair of brown lounge chairs) and transferred them from space to space, proving that even though a piece may seem extravagant and out of budget, if you love it and will have it forever, the cost will certainly be worth it in the end.
Traditional details and furniture pieces are a foundation of Berkus’s aesthetic. Herringbone flooring, Gustavian settees, Murano glass chandeliers, and Louis XVI side chairs are just a few examples of classic furniture pieces the designer frequently uses in his designs. Despite the presence of traditional lines and silhouettes, the careful inclusion of modern and contemporary accents and art ensures that his spaces always feel current.
Berkus and his design team are masters at combining differing styles and time periods. Never one to shy away from pairing a Victorian side table with a midcentury bench, Berkus knows that with a mix of styles comes a more compelling composition.
Because the designer favors a neutral palette, he knows that to make a space with a limited color story as interesting as possible, it’s essential to include a variety of textures—from natural fiber rugs and ornate marble mantelpieces to a rich velvet throw pillow on a Belgian linen settee.
Many of Berkus’s interiors feature oversized, sculptural artwork, while others make a statement with carefully curated gallery walls. Bright colors and a mix of styles and mediums further make his spaces feel collected and personal. Simple framing and an eye for scale make each piece feel like it was made for the room.
Each of Berkus’s designs features at least one piece that really “makes the room.” From oversized industrial pendants in a stainless steel kitchen to a leather screen layered behind a headboard, the designer knows that for maximum impact and “wow factor” a conversation piece is vital to a design.
In general, the designer limits the use of pattern in his spaces to rugs and accent pillows. His use of solid upholstery and drapery mean that each of his designs feels timeless and classic, as patterned pillows and area rugs are easily switched out if something starts to feel dated.