Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Things That Matter

Nate Berkus is having a big fall.  I guess I should say autumn.  The other way sounds ominous.  His new home line launched at Target a couple of weeks ago, and then his new book debuted. 

In The Things That Matter, Nate takes us on a textual journey through the living spaces of tweleve of his friends/clients and then brings it on home (whoops) with a final chapter on his own apartment.  Oh, and there are lots of photos.  Great photos. 

This is by no means an original formula for a design book, but I love the message here.  If you happen to have watched any of The Nate Berkus Show (which ended its two-season, Emmy-winning run earlier this year), then Nate's touchstones are not new for you.  He is a strong proponent of having your home "rise up to greet you" with objects that are "collected over time."  He loves framed photos and African beads and books.  He believes that a home should tell the story of who you are.

I like the distinction he makes in the book that loving these things does not make us materialistic.  On the contrary, they connect us to our past, to our loved ones, and to our vision of what we want our lives to be.  Often the objects have little to do with the amount of money that was spent on them.  Some of the subjects' favorite things are simple family heirlooms, childhood artwork, and thrift store furniture.

But there's something else at play here, and that is Nate's ability to tell a story.  He begins (and ends) with his own, which includes exhilirating highs and excruciating lows, but he always deftly ties the action back to design.  I wanted to get to know all of the people he features in the book--and not just because they tend to have successful careers or blogs or whatever else.  They genuinely interested me, and each space is a different expression of who they are.  A nice way to sum up these themes is from page 19:

For me, the most successful interiors in the world are put together by people who surround themselves with objects that bring them joy.

Well, for me, this book has been added to that list.


  1. Excellent review, Tom. I thought it was a good read as well, and like you say, fab snaps inside, too!

  2. I really enjoyed this post! We are going to have some little home improvements done this weekend. This review was perfect to set the tone for our weekend of trying to make our home tell a story about us.

  3. I NEED to get this book and stat. I adore Nate Berkus. I thumbed through some of the pages at Target last week, and I'm not sure why I didn't just pick it up then. The layout is striking and I love the quote you chose to share:) I couldn't agree more!

    P.S. The specs shout-out it today's post was totes for you;)