It doesn’t take much to notice that Nate Berkus is definitely having a moment. From an incredibly successful and stylish accessories line with Target (we’re proud owners of this, this, and this!) to a bustling design firm based in Chicago, to a happy engagement to Jeremiah Brent, we’d say there’s little to complain about if you’re Nate. But most exciting of all at the moment is his much buzzed about new show, American Dream Builders, premiering this Sunday, March 23rd at 8pm ET on NBC. Showcasing the talents of the most accomplished designers and home builders in the country, “American Dream Builders” will pit 12 worthy contestants against one another in a high-stakes competition designed to push everyone’s creative reach. We don’t know about you, but we’ve got our televisions queued up for Sunday night! Recently we visited Nate in the Los Angeles home he lives in while filming American Dream Builders to get the inside scoop on the show, his business advice, and more.
Congrats on the new show! We’re so excited to tune in on Sunday! What will viewers be most surprised to see on the show?
The incredibly high level of design that these designers and builders showcase week after week. I’ve been in the business a long time and I wanted to see things I’d never seen before. And boy did the contestants deliver. People are going to be amazed and inspired.
What was the biggest challenge being judge?
Truthfully, biting my tongue! You don’t realize how animated you are until 10 cameras are pointed in your direction and you’re trying to NOT to let everyone read on your face exactly what you’re thinking! Design is subjective, but all of us can speak to how a space feels. And my co-judges Eddie, Monica and I had no shortage of things to fight for…or against… in each space.
Speaking of challenges, with so many big personalities and accomplished designers as contestants, was it difficult for them to work in teams?
Well, just imagine…you’ve got 12 people who are not trying to be the next big anything. They already are. They’re used to being the boss, and they have reputations to protect. Then they have to work as a group, where everyone has a different perspective…that’s when you see the personalities come out.
Sounds like a brilliant show concept to us! How did you come up with it?
I sat down with NBC to talk about how we could create the biggest and most inspired show in the design space. We spent our time focused on how our contestants can have access to what they need and want in order to deliver on how beautifully we all want to live. We decided we didn’t want to strip the cupboards bare and tell our contestants to figure it out. We wanted to start with what felt inspired and tell them to build it bigger. It’s very exciting!
Tell us a little bit about the homes being renovated and redesigned. Where did you find them?
We started with a list of architectural home styles that we wanted and sort of cast them like people. We needed two homes in the same neighborhood and two families willing to let us inside.
Switching gears a bit, you’re not only a talented designer, you’re also a successful business man. What business lesson took you the longest to learn?
It took me forever to learn that some opinions matter and some don’t. Everyone will tell you what you should do or how you should do it, but it’s really about deciding for yourself and trusting the right people that you’ve empowered. You can’t do it alone, but if you start listening to everyone, nothing gets done.
Amen to that! What do you consider your greatest professional achievement?
The fact that I get to do what I love each and every day. And I get to empower people to live better…that feels pretty great.
And last but not least, we’d love to leave our readers with this: what one thing should every space have?
Something that is truly personal. Beautiful furniture is wonderful, but a home is never truly a home until you layer in those things that tell the story of who you are.
Well, we can’t wait to see the stories unfold on the new show. Thanks for talking with us today, Nate!
Home tour originally appeared as part of our October/November issue here.