Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent’s span­ish-Colo­nial La home


Mod­ern mas­culin­ity meets old-school Hol­ly­wood glam in this LA fam­ily home

On first in­spec­tion, nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent felt that the house, clock­ing in at over 800 square me­tres, was much too grand for them and their chil­dren, Poppy and oskar. ‘our im­me­di­ate re­ac­tion was, Who lives like this?’ nate says, re­call­ing his and his hus­band’s ini­tial visit to the 1928 span­ish colo­nial in Los an­ge­les’s han­cock Park neigh­bour­hood. ‘cer­tainly not us.’ But as they made their way through the var­i­ous sa­lons and gar­dens, the de­sign­ers soon be­gan to heed the prop­erty’s siren call.

First, there was the ma­jes­tic 200-yearold oak tree ris­ing in the back­yard, like some­thing out of a fairy tale. ‘We pic­tured Poppy, oskar and the rest of our fam­ily play­ing un­der that tree, and we thought this was a place we could put down roots,’ Jeremiah says. Then there was the re­al­i­sa­tion – per­haps ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion is a bet­ter word – that while the house is in­deed large, its rooms, true to pe­riod style, are rel­a­tively in­ti­mate, par­tic­u­larly in com­par­i­son with the bloated vol­umes of con­tem­po­rary Mc­man­sions and Mc­mod­erns.

But the clincher for nate and Jeremiah was an en­counter with the then-home owner and her el­dest daugh­ter, who were shar­ing a bot­tle of wine in the kitchen. ‘Jeremiah and I had the ex­act same thought – that we’d like to raise kids who want to hang with us when they grow up,’ nate says.

Past the front door there’s the gor­geous grand stair­way with its orig­i­nal wrought-iron balustrade, straight out

of a movie from hol­ly­wood’s golden age. Then room af­ter room bathed in glo­ri­ous sun­light, gur­gling foun­tains, and that heav­enly oak tree, lit­er­ally top­ping ev­ery­thing off. and, of course, there’s Poppy, the mis­tress of the manor.

‘We were lucky that the house was in great con­di­tion. It had been looked af­ter. all we re­ally needed to do was give it a cos­metic makeover – the per­fect as­sign­ment for two dec­o­ra­tors,’ nate says. That facelift en­tailed in­stalling floors of an­tique mar­ble to de­mar­cate points of en­try and tran­si­tion; strip­ping, bleach­ing, and wax­ing the ex­ist­ing ma­hogany pan­elling in the din­ing room; re­plac­ing fire­place man­tels and hard­ware with an­tique mod­els; re­work­ing the kitchen with new fixtures and sur­faces; and adding that sig­na­ture Berkus-brent style.

‘We go for a very clean, mas­cu­line look. We don’t like to live with a lot of colour,’ Jeremiah says. ‘or any!’ nate swiftly chimes in. as for what con­sti­tutes clean and mas­cu­line in this con­text, the de­sign­ers lay­ered the house with rus­tic French, swedish and amer­i­can fur­nish­ings of wood and stone, jux­ta­posed with more tai­lored con­ti­nen­tal pieces by the likes of Jac­ques ad­net, Maria Per­gay, an­gelo Man­gia­rotti, and afra and To­bia scarpa. The through line is the doggedly neu­tral pal­ette; nate and Jeremiah rely on

tex­ture and patina to an­i­mate their per­sonal in­te­ri­ors. ‘We chose to use more coun­try an­tiques be­cause they al­ready feel time­worn. an­other ding just adds to the life of the pieces,’ nate ex­plains, con­tin­u­ing, ‘When you live with small chil­dren, you don’t want to feel be­holden to your pos­ses­sions.’

The one ex­cep­tion to the rain­bowof-beige rule is Poppy’s bed­room and play­room. ‘she’s ob­sessed with pink and princesses – big shocker – so we try to keep the colour and chaos con­fined to her zone,’ nate ex­plains. ‘But we like to help cu­rate,’ Jeremiah adds, with an in­flec­tion that sug­gests not just any polyester princess getup will do. In her bed­room, Poppy has the be­gin­nings of a proper art col­lec­tion, stocked with gifts from her par­ents’ friends.

For nate and Jeremiah, the one other space that seems to de­vi­ate from the rest of the house is the mas­ter bath­room, which fea­tures hand-painted mu­rals by James Mob­ley along with ar­chi­tec­tural de­tails of a Prunella mar­ble richly veined in deep pur­ple and brown. ‘The stone’s a lit­tle weird for us, but we loved it,’ nate con­fesses. ‘It has an old Vene­tian qual­ity, and that in­flu­enced the mould­ing pro­files.’

The cou­ple took ad­van­tage of the am­ple space be­yond the bath­room to in­stall two very se­ri­ous his-and-his clos­ets. ‘sep­a­rate rooms are es­sen­tial,’ Jeremiah avers. ‘good clos­ets make for a good mar­riage.’ and that’s the gospel ac­cord­ing to Jeremiah and nate. Nate Berkus 8 nate­ n Jeremiah Brent 8 jeremi­ah­

‘We’d like to raise kids who want to hang with us when they grow up’

clock­wise, from top left nate and poppy be­side a 19Th-cen­tury ital­ian book­case in The gallery; in The main bed­room, an rh bed, dressed in mat­teo linens, is flanked by 1970s ital­ian Ta­bles; a james mob­ley mu­ral and mar­ble pan­els in The mas­ter bath­room

from top in poppy’s room, a wall­pa­per by ap­pa­ra­tus stu­dio and Zak + fox hosts art by hunt slonem, michael hainey, fer­nando ben­goechea and mary lit­tle; poppy pushes a wheeled bas­ket with harvey and swiggen, Two rex cross rab­bits

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