The ever-adorable Nate Berkus was the cover story in Sunday’s Parade Magazine. Former Bossette and all-around awesome chick Elizabeth Spratt Cooper (her new biz is called Art & Design Partners – website coming soon!) gently suggested that I might want to weigh in on his “Three Things a Designer Can Help You With” and “Three Things You Don’t Need a Designer For.”
Boy, was she right!
I’m loathe to disagree with Nate about anything. I mean, have you seen him? (Of course you have. You don’t live under a rock.) He’s a doll.
And he’s talented and savvy and thoughtful, and he hasn’t exactly had an easy time of things. (His beau, The Tsunami…you remember.)
But I will politely, professionally, challenge my esteemed colleague on these points.
Three Things Nate Says A Designer Can Help You With:
1. Getting the scale right. TRUE! says bossy color. This might be the biggest challenge for home decorating enthusiasts. Huge sofa + diminutive cocktail table = Alice in Wonderland.
2. Mixing styles. TRUE AGAIN! says bossy color. It’s harder than it looks.
3. Access to resources. TRUE, most of the time. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, we can get our grubby little mitts on many things that until recently were available only “to the trade.” But for the super fancy stuff, like Holly Hunt furniture or massive quantities of Manuel Canovas toile fabric and matching wallcovering, it helps to have one of us on your side.
Three Things Nate Says You Don’t Need a Designer For:
Here we go.
1. Buying furniture. Nate says “You don’t need anyone’s help to buy a well-made sofa or chest of drawers.” Well, TRUE, but please see Point #1 above. Buy at will, but install at your own risk.
2. Hanging artwork. FALSE! Nate specifically mentions gallery walls, and how he loves it when disparate things — framed/unframed, large/small, “important”/”modest” (these are my designations) — are mixed. I agree with that. But guess what. Mixing them is MUCH more difficult than it appears. I do this for clients often.
3. Choosing colors. FALSEFALSEFALSE! Holy cow. If I believed this, I’d be out of a job. Nate says, “I’ve always felt that color is intrinsically personal.” Darling, of course it is!
But if you want, say, a vibrant blue bedroom — if you ENVISION a vibrant blue bedroom — it can be impossible to create in real life what you picture in your head. It takes trial and error…and even then, you might not get it quite right. And THEN you have to make sure this room color works with the other rooms in your home.
Frankly, I think paint colors are one of the first reasons you should call an interior designer (designer, design professional, decorator…tomato tomahto.) So on this point, my friend from Minnesota/NY and I respectfully agree to disagree. (That’s so shades of the VP debate, isn’t it? “My friend the congressman…” But I really WOULD be friends with Nate Berkus if he wanted. I think we’d have fun.)
The moral of the story, Gentle Readers? Think for yourselves. And then call me.
Quoted in publications from The New York Times to The Washington Post to Real Simple magazine, Annie Elliott is considered an expert in color, residential space planning, and telling people what to do in the nicest way possible.