Ask a Designer: Nate Berkus

The designer weighs in on decorating with personal finds, sprucing up a neutral palette, and more.

By Madeleine Frank

Designer Nate Berkus dishes on his seaside style.

What's an unexpected place to display one-of-a-kind, personal finds?
NB: The kitchen is an opportunity to incorporate things that aren't food-related. I have vases, framed photographs, and a little vintage marble lamp with a burlap shade arranged on my countertops. It makes the space feel homier and more collected.

How do you add interest to a beach house with a neutral color palette?
NB: I always bring in things with age or patina. An old farm table with its original finish paired with a modern upholstered chair will be a thousand times more interesting than a new table paired with new chairs.

Do you have suggestions for filling vacant wall space?
NB: Mix in some three-dimensional objects. Try hanging a pair of beautifully carved antique doors or even a piece of paneling from an old house.

What are your favorite beach house seating picks?
NB: An extra-long sofa always feels really luxurious. I also use upholstered ottomans, because they don't take up a lot of space visually, but they're a great place to land when it's time for board games.

TAKE FIVE

  1. The Right Light (pictured above) "This pendant feels very vintage with a nautical twist." Kathy Kuo Home Wesley Vintage Glass Nautical Coastal Style Rope Pendant Light, $252
  2. Quirky Container (pictured above) "A detailed woven basket brings in a sense of travel." Nate Berkus Seagrass Stripe Storage Drum Basket, $35
  3. Eye Candy (pictured above) "Prints by Gray Malin are so perfect in a home that's all about beach living." St. Tropez Light Blue Beach Chairs Photographic Print, from $249
  4. Bright Towels "Beach towels on hooks or in a stack can infuse a ton of color and pattern." Nate Berkus Zig Zag Beach Towel in Blue/Green, $18
  5. Hanging Out "I love using a hammock in an unexpected way. I have one hanging in my living room in L.A." L.L.Bean Backyard DuraCord Hammock, Marled, $189