Career Profile: Chicago's Favorite Interior Designer Nate Berkus

by Damian McKnight, Contributing Writer
Career Profile: Chicago's Favorite Interior Designer Nate Berkus
Berkus Style

Since founding his Chicago interior design firm in 1995, Oprah Winfrey's featured design expert, Nate Berkus has created memorable interiors for some of the most celebrated homes and commercial spaces in the world, including projects for W Hotels, Barney's New York, Wolfgang Puck's Spago, Billy Joel, Kirstie Alley, and The Oprah Winfrey Show. Nate Berkus Associates, based in Chicago, now employs a notable team of design experts, each bringing their unique aesthetic to the firm.

The eldest of six siblings, Nate's passion for the decorative arts began at a very young age and under flourished under his mother's influence (Designer Nancy Golden from HGTV and DIY networks). After graduating from Lake Forest College with degrees in Sociology and French, Nate began his career with Leslie Hindman Auctioneers in Chicago.

'I grew up in suburban Minneapolis and my mom was an interior designer, so I was always exposed to the arts, design, furniture and textiles. I always knew I would do something creative because when I'm not doing something creative. I have the attention span of a third-grader so, for me, there has to be constant visual stimulation, and that has to be constantly changing, just for my own personal happiness".

In 2001, Nate was catapulted to a new level when he was invited to make over a small space (a 400-square-foot apartment) for The Oprah Winfrey Show From there, Nate became a featured design expert for the show and garnered national press in publications such as ELLE décor, US Weekly, People, and O Magazine, to name a few. Nate's unique style is evident in all of his projects—often mixing modern furnishings with antiques he finds at flea markets, antiques stores, and auctions.

In 2005, Nate established his own home line with Linens-N-Things and released his first book, "Home Rules: Transform the Place You Live into a Place You'll Love," (Hyperion), which went on to become a New York Times Best Seller. 2006 saw the debut of Nate's radio show, The Nate Berkus Show, on XM's "Oprah & Friends" channel and in 2008, Nate launched a new line of home products on HSN and hosted the reality series "Oprah's Big Give".

"One thing that's a personal philosophy of mine is, you have to figure out what you're really passionate about, what you really like to do. That to me is how I feel about design. In my spare time, I do the same thing that I do in my work time", Berkus says.

Nate is the latest "Oprah" regular to get his own show along with Dr. Phil, Rachel Ray and Dr. Oz. The show is being co-produced by Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Studios and Sony Pictures Television, and distributed by Sony. It will be shot in New York, where Harpo and Sony's other series, Dr. Oz, is also produced. The Nate Berkus Show will launch this fall on TV stations in high-definition. "It will be a daily multi-topic, multi-segment show," Berkus has said.

"For me, it's going to be a lot of conversation, a lot of transformation. It's going to be telling and finding compelling stories. It's something I'm obviously really excited about."

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