Interior designer Nate Berkus became a household name when he did his first television redecoration project on The Oprah Winfrey Show almost 15 years ago. He's had a full dance card ever since with books, design collections (including a home line with Target -- his spring 2014 collection is in stores now) a daytime talk show and a newfound modeling career. (Berkus and fiancé Jeremiah Brent were featured in Banana Republic's "True Outfitters" campaign.) On the eve of the premiere of American Dream Builders, his home-design competition show on NBC, Berkus took a head-clearing trip with PAPER and the Coveteur to his personal sanctuary, also known as the Showplace Antique and Design Center in Chelsea. Here, he points out great finds, gives us a few tips and teaches us how to bargain like a pro.WOOD IS THE WAY:
Antique or vintage wood furniture is definitely making a comeback. These chairs, which I probably wouldn't have thought were that interesting two years ago, now I look at them and think they'd be great mixed in with a neutral interior that has modern '60s and '70s things. I think we're moving out of the industrial design craze. The high-end design community is moving back towards antiques, which means 100 years or older. And what's great is that the dealers haven't quite caught up to that trend yet, so the pricing is still good -- especially for wood furniture.TREAT YOURSELF:
I've had my eye on this watch for a while, and I think I'm going to just buy it because my show is premiering tonight and I'm celebrating. It's an Audemars Royal Oak from the '80s. I don't like oversize watches, but they're smaller from that time. I'm going to see if I can take it with me today so I can wear it tonight.PIECE OUT:
Sheri's Vintage Collection is one of the best places in the city for vintage jewelry. I've stood at this counter for hours, going through bins with my little sister, trying to find the right earrings for a party. I like big, signed pieces from the '50s and '60s by Yves Saint Laurent and Lanvin.
The correct way to bargain at vintage and antique stores is first to ask, "Is this price firm," which means that your intent is to bargain but it's a polite way of saying it. Then you say, "What is the absolute best price you can sell this for?" And then usually they'll be willing to negotiate. Pointing out flaws in an antiques or vintage store to get a price down is obnoxious.EARTH CHAIRS ARE EARTH-SHATTERING:
These chairs are sick. Don't you want to come home and sit in these? It's $5,900 for the two chairs and the ottoman, and I think that's a good price. I've never seen these before.FASHION IS INSPIRATION:
I find inspiration in vintage clothing, and I love Marlene Wetherell Vintage. Putting clothing and accessories in terms of home design -- every dress or coat becomes inspiration for a pillow or bedding. Like this little laminated Gucci coat from the '60s with zebras. I have tons of animal prints in my collection for Target. When I see a coat like this I think, "This needs to be a pillow." I'd take out the orange stripes to make it look less '60s, but I love the scale of the print.
BASK IN THE GLOW OF VINTAGE:
I think vintage lighting is the way to go, and they have great fixtures here. Even if you rent, just switch out the entry fixture, or the fixture in the living room, and throw the original under your bed. This light is great. It's Italian, '70s, lacquered stainless steel with nine Lucite rods. It's so good. I would pair it with the wood chairs from downstairs.THE COUPLE THAT DECORATES TOGETHER:
My fiancé thinks I have an animal problem. He's like, "Why do you need to have small stuffed animals everywhere?" My answer for that is, "Why don't you understand how cool they are?" But otherwise we have the same taste. We don't fight about design; we fight about who gets the last piece of pizza. If he eats the last piece of pizza, it's like Divorce Court
. We need Judge Wapner.SMALLS ARE BIG:
The smalls are amazing. It's so fun to dig in the cases here because you never know what you're going to find. It's everything from vintage accessories to pottery to incredible boxes, vases and sometimes handbags. It's also great for finding last-minute gifts. This mid-century candle holder for $125 is an amazing gift. If someone gave you that as a birthday present, wouldn't you be like, "Yes, thank you; I'm really happy I asked you to my dinner"?Grooming by Steve Berg.
OUR MAY DESIGN ISSUE IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE DEVASTATINGLY CHIC FOLKS AT THE COVETEUR! FOR MORE FROM OUR COLLABORATION, CHECK BACK HERE AND ON THECOVETEUR.COM.