Nate the Great

By Kate Riley February 17, 2013

It’s a title tossed around my family a lot since my younger brother is a “Nate”, but that’s not the one I’m referring to today. Nate Berkus has long been one of my favorite designers, he has that knack of turning every space he decorates into a beautiful room that’s always perfectly pulled together down to the last detail. I also bought his latest book and the stories throughout The Things That Matter  are examples of this truth:

successful interiors

So I was catching up on my O the other day and came across this video where Nate reveals his thoughts about why his television show didn’t work. I was sad to see the show end since I enjoyed it and had the privilege of actually meeting him and being on the show.

I’ve discussed the end of The Nate Show with other interior design loving friends and I always thought Nate was so great on camera, I just wondered if the daily talk show really was the right format – those 3 to 5 minute snippets of decorating tips squeezed in between commercials – it was good, but he’s so much greater at doing what he writes about in his book, letting a space evolve over time with layers of meaningful things collected over the course of many months and years.

nate and oprah

View the video here.

Nate talks about how he lost sight of what was important during those years, how he felt unhealthy, and reveals that the format was not right for him. In hindsight, it would have been so much better to have a once a week show. Yes, I so agree!

I was inspired by his revelation so I wanted to share it with you in case you haven’t seen it. He’s “Nate the Great” to me not only because of his gifted sense of design but also because he has the strength to admit that yielding to the pressures and values of others took him to a place that wasn’t authentic and made him unrecognizable to himself.

Good design, the kind Nate makes look so effortless, really does take time – and how true is it that the best rooms are multilayered, filled with meaning, and unfold slowly as you collect the things that matter most over the course of your life. I hope to see Nate back on TV someday where we can watch him work his magic on camera and transform rooms in realistic time. If it ever happens, I’ll be watching!



  1. I miss him & his show so much. If there ever was a designer that I would hand the keys to my home & just say, “Call me when you’re done.”…it’s him.
    I have both of his books & they are amazing!

  2. I love, love, love Nate, and I LOVED his show. I was disappointed to hear it was cancelled, but at the same time, I knew it wouldn’t be the last we see of him. Also, I got what I needed to get out of the show. My home is a work in progress now after being stuck for many many years. I just couldn’t make decisions, didn’t know what I wanted, and really just had no clue, so I did nothing. Nate just had a way about him that made me feel like I could do it. He introduced me to CG and a few other blogs where I got to zero in on colors I like and I built my sense of style and my confidence. My home is no where near finished, but it actually feels like home because of Nate Berkus and some really awesome bloggers. I was thrilled to see his line in Target, and I treated myself to a few pieces. When ever I look at those pieces it reminds me of my journey thus far, and I smile. This gives me the courage to part with pieces that no longer make me smile and things get better and better. I wish him all the best and would LOVE if he could do a 1 day per week show. He’s really a good person, and no matter what he thinks about what viewers sensed about his struggle with the format of the show, his huge heart and desire to help people always out-shined all the rest.

    • Soooo well said Lori, I agree, he did give people that confidence (and still does) and I hope to see him on my screen again soon, maybe a 8 – 10 week season (similar to the format of Sarah’s House) where we see the slow progress of a home or rooms in transition.

  3. Kate
    Thank You so much for sharing this! I miss seeing Nate every day he is so inspiring and I love his spaces.

  4. Nate is the guy . . . and i hope he reads what you had to say. A piece of what you wrote, I put in quotes below, I loved it and it says it perfectly for something personal in my own life!

    Serendipity . . . browsing through, stopping in to visit you and then these words, for me too.

    A format for Nate, like Sarah’s House, would be perfect!

    Thank you Kate, I will be giving you the credit for this quote . . .

    “He’s “Nate the Great” to me not only because of his gifted sense of design but also because he has the strength to admit that yielding to the pressures and values of others took him to a place that wasn’t authentic and made him unrecognizable to himself.”

    Sooo good!

  5. I watched this interview also and I as a blogger sometimes feel as Nate has. If I force myself to come up with a post just to have a post, the readers can tell. It needs to be something that happens naturally and be something that I am proud of. If I don’t have a post everyday of the week that’s okay. I did love his show and was so sad when it was cancelled, but if you feel like you aren’t being true to yourself than you need to go in another direction. I have really loved reading his book, he is a talented author. As Lori said, Nate was the one that turned me on to my very first blogs (yours being one of them). I am so glad because I wouldn’t be a blogger now if I wasn’t inspired by great bloggers like yourself. I look forward everyday to see what you posted! Thanks so much for your vision, I hope someday my blog will be as successful as yours!

    • Great takeaway Shanna, if it feels forced (I’ve sometimes felt that way, obligated v. inspired) it’s time to pull back for a few days. All the more reason to take blog breaks!

  6. I have the 2 episodes of ‘Super Soul Sunday’ on my DVR and plan to watch it later tonight. I loved the Nate Berkus show and was so sad when I heard it was cancelled because I had only just found it 5 months before the news came out that it wouldn’t return for another season. The thing I liked best was that everyday I could get a ‘design fix’ instead of having to wait for HGTV to finally air a design program instead of a real estate program. However, that said, I really just watched the design segments and would fast forward through all the other stuff because I really didn’t watch for cooking or fashion advise. I hope that he’ll return to TV because he was so much fun to watch and taught us all how to be House Proud!!

    • Exactly Kimberly the “House Proud” segments were the best! I loved how he took ordinary people and brought them on the show to share their personalized homes. :)

  7. I *adore* Nate Berkus! I miss watching his show so much. I still have certain shows that I loved on my DVR so I can go back and watch them.

  8. I too love Nate!! And it was so sad that his show ended. I think sometimes it came through on the show, that what he was doing just wasn’t somehow true to him. For myself, after 15 years and 3 houses, I have FINALLY learned to not rush decorating. I used to feel compelled to fill that space with something… anything! Now I don’t mind leaving a wall blank or a space empty til I find something that I really love, or has meaning to me and my family.

    • So true Debbie, my grandmother always said just what you did, better to have a blank wall or empty corner than rush to fill it with something that isn’t just right. :)

  9. I didn’t see this interview. So very interesting. I do miss his “Isn’t that amazing?! It’s amazing! Don’t you think it’s amazing?!” and “collected over time” phrases. Towards the end of the run, you could tell they were just reusing things to cross it off the list – same dining table with different chairs, a sideboard, an industrial pendant, and a mirror. That’s not how he works and it was sad to see him have to resort to a room formula just to cross a segment off the list.
    I would love to see him on a once a week show! I think that would be perfect for him and his cute mug. ;)

  10. Thank you for sharing this…. it’s wonderful advice for all of us, wherever we may be in our lives. Really, thank you.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing this!! I too LOVED Nate’s show and was so sad to see it go off the air. And I hope he does come back in a different television format. I know I’ll be watching! Love him!!

  12. I’m such a huge fan of Nate too and I was so sad to see him go. He also did so much for all the bloggers. I wish they would come out with a TV show just about and for bloggers.
    He is charismatic and his sense of style is so inspiring. I have not read his book yet but it is on my list. I have heard only good things about it.

  13. I think everyone falls in love with Nate, his smile, his warm nature and his very clever designs. I first saw him on Oprah years ago and whenever he came on her show and I knew in advance I would tape it. Here in Australia last week Nate featured on “Days of our Lives” which is the day time soapy that has been running for years. He played himself and was helping with some design of some offices for a skincare/makeup range. He is as cute as he was when I first saw him. I tape Days of our Lives and watch it in half the time in the evenings and loved seeing his face on the show for a couple of days in a row. Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

  14. ME TOO!!!! Probably one of the best shows ever on tv! I learned so very much from hm and really am glad that although I was super sad when it ended, I came away with plenty of design knowledge! Honestly, the best thing I got from his show was YOU!!! I see his essence in many of your posts!

  15. While I know Nate has great taste, I always felt that his show was cold and forced. He seems like a nice guy to hang out with over dinner or in an intimate setting, but he didn’t look comfortable on his show. He certainly did help a lot of bloggers become household names, or increase their traffic, so that was great. But after a while too much of it seemed like time filler rather than wow moments. I’m glad that Nate still feels the love from us, and hopefully he’ll find a format that works better for showcasing his talent.

  16. Wow Laura, that’s amazing, thank you for visiting all this time, I have Nate to thank!

  17. Ha Kathy, I didn’t know he was on *Days* I haven’t followed it for years but how cool that he made an appearance there, great call on his part!

  18. I too love Nate and miss him. I wasn’t even aware that his show had been cancelled, I went to turn it on one Monday and it was gone. The cancellation truly left a whole in my world for a while. Nate may have thought he wasn’t living up to his potential, but I did learn alot from his show. And while I would love to see him back on television, even for just one day a week, I sincerely hope it is not on OWN, I am not a fan of Oprah.

  19. What a great ode to Nate! I have always loved Nate and kind of felt like they were exploiting him and his design ideals by making him fill that much content daily! I did love how Nate took the time to support bloggers, Etsy artists and not just big name celebrities. I hope he finds a format to showcase his design skills that better suit him, too! Although between his line at Target and now his line at Calico it seems like we get more Nate products since he is off TV!

  20. I felt like I had lost a friend when he left the air.I learned so much and have added so much more to my life because of the lessons I learned from him.I am a new retiree and loved all of his redos.Thanks for this post wish you could send them to the network!!

  21. I’m convinced that we’ll be seeing more of “Nate the Great” in the future. They wouldn’t dare waste a wonderful talent like him – he’ll be back !!!

  22. I love Nate and his style (also personality). But you know I never watched the show. It felt too gimmicky to me and not who he was. This is the very reason I have never wanted and never do want a cooking show. Many of my friends urge me to try out for those gimmicky cooking shows and challenges. That would steal my soul. I run a “slow kitchen” and like it that way. It’s so nice of you, Kate, to remind us of who Nate is and it’s a lesson to all of us to examine our purpose.

  23. I was wondering what happened to the show! The design segments were really all I tuned in for. With his talent he doesn’t need to let them force him into the same old format everyone elese has. I checked out his book at B&N the other day, so great! Wish I could get it but have to save the cash for my fixer-upper!

  24. I’ve loved Nate from the first time Oprah introduced him on her show. Thank you for sharing his explanation and I agree, I’m sure we will see him in the future. And I can’t wait!

  25. I saw this episode on OWN last week and was absolutely touched by it. I actually had quite a few of my own ah ha moments during the episode. I never actually had the opportunity to watch the show while it was on air due to my work schedule, but I did have a serious revelation about my own sense of style. Some of the things he said stuck emotional chords with me and really made me think about why things matter to me. After seeing this episode I made a proclamation never to feel guilty about surrounding myself with “things” anymore. Watching this episode gave me such a sense of respect for him and his work and made me see him in a completely new way. I wasn’t interested in reading his book until now. I’ve ordered it and can’t wait for it to arrive. It really was a very powerful thing for me to see. It’s funny how something as simple as a “decorating” segment can be completely life changing.

  26. Thank you for posting this video. Nate Berkus and I are design compadres. I love walking into my home because almost ever item in it has a story, a memory, behind it. No longer do I go out and buy something for my home just because. Every item has to “audition” for a spot in my limited space, and most of my things are either made by me, acquired on trips or from my mom. I taped his show every day and loved the way he brought in ideas from everywhere – designers, bloggers (like you!), magazines, etc. His approach was so attainable. That said, I never thought he was meant for the camera. He was always a little stiff and sometimes awkward. I was so sad his show was cancelled though. I am looking forward to watching the video this afternoon.

  27. Thanks for posting this Kate. I was a fan of Nate’s long before I appeared on the show and while I loved Nate, his talent, the obvious care he puts into his work, I never felt that fully translated onto his show. I read part of his latest book, and thought THAT is the Nate I see in his work. Although I was sad to see his show end, having watched his revealing interview with Oprah, I can’t help but think that this experience is just what was needed to help propel him into the right place and show.

  28. I too miss the Nate Show! It seems like all the shows I like get cancelled. I always felt like he was bringing design within reach for those who don’t have unlimited funds….His Hi/Low segment, Goodwill Hunting, Centsational Girl, all showing how to make design accessible….I also like how he advised people to save up and do decorating in bits and bobs, rather than shaming people into thinking it all had to be perfect in one shot! I don’t think there is enough of this kind of programming on tv…anyone remember the Trash to Treasure show on HGTV? That was back when they actually had some cool home decorating shows, now it is just a real estate channel. Thankfully there are some very talented bloggers who have stepped in to fill the void for those of us who haven’t yet mastered the art of creativity.

  29. Thanks for sharing this clip. It is helpful on so many levels. I recently started my blog and there are so many opinions on how often and when to post. Just today my boyfriend said just let it come natural. I think that is the best way to go.

  30. Hey Kate! The Things That Matter just arrived to my house on Thursday and I read it cover to cover over the weekend. His philosophy makes so much sense to me. I get tired of design books that are all style but no substance.

    I love all things Nate and am bummed his show ended. I only recently discovered it while on maternity leave, so now, I tape his shows on OWN and me and my little one watch it each morning. A little quality time, lol.

  31. I think so much of Nate Berkus. I learned from him about making my environment more beautiful and the importance of living with the things I love. I never missed his show and recorded every episode any way. My husband (the “decorator” in our home) would watch with me taking in every detail. He has always admired Nate’s sense of style.. I always thought Nate was some kind of beautiful creature, misunderstood and ridiculed by many due to the confining format of his show. He always seemed like a “caged bird”, just waiting and wanting to take flight, but was forced to a halt so as to move on to the next guest. He will always be a favorite of mine, not just for his incredible design but also for his heart.

  32. oh thank you for sharing this! I was so so sad when it got cancelled and Im thankful to hear more about it now.

  33. Hi Kate: I watch this show in reruns at 6am weekdays on OWN. It is so much more uplifting than the local news. (Which explains why I often remark, “I didn’t know it was supposed to snow today!”). You were on yesterday’s episode-you helped a couple with the too large sectional for their living room. I was happy to see you and wish you could come visit and assist with my decorating adventures.

    • Wow Leslie, how amazing! Someone else mentioned the reruns are on OWN! How funny you saw that episode with the cutest couple – I was privileged to assist them – wish I could have done a few more! xo

  34. I think another part of it is audiences say they want more design shows but don’t watch them. I commend Nate for trying a new format than the traditional design show.

  35. It’s funny because I’ve loved Nate for so long but when his show started I found myself only tuning in on the days when one of my favorite bloggers was going to be on the show. I think I felt a disconnect between him and what he’s really all about and what the show was about. I’m excited for him – I think this door was closed for a reason and only great things will happen as another door will certainly open for such an inspiring, creative person.

  36. I love Nate’s work, but haven’t checked out his book yet (the library hasn’t gotten a copy yet!). I’m looking forward to reading it, though – thanks for the sneak peek!

    I always appreciate when people are true to themselves – and it sounds like Nate wasn’t being true to himself with that show of his. Like you, I hope he’s willing to try again, in a format that really showcases his talents.

  37. It’s amazing that media can introduce us to a world of people whom we never would have met in our day to day lives, but who we really identify with in a deep and soulful way. People, like Nate and you Kate, who may have stronger skills or be more successful in their fields, but whose spirits and principles are like our own.

    After becoming a lawyer, getting married and taking 20 years to realize I wasn’t being true to myself, I changed it all to lead an authentic life. I remarried my soul mate, I’m a better mother to my kids and I happier… lol… in spite of being pretty broke. But I’d trade money any day for the people I’ve gotten to meet in the design world… people who are warm, welcoming, kind, in touch with emotion and color and beauty and all the things that make life worth living.

    I hope Nate will do the kind of show you mentioned (just love Sarah’s house) and I’d really love it if he taught a week long seminar… sort of like when you went to Rust-o-leum… a way to really learn from someone who has so much to teach. I’d definitely save my pennies for that.

    Thanks Kate, I think you’d be surprised how much you’re like Nate to a lot of us, who think of you like a friend in a world where people don’t always reach out to each other anymore. :)

    • Wow Ally, that is really so inspiring that you followed your passions regardless of the fact you make less pennies, and I can’t tell you how much your sweet comments mean to me, I can’t hold a candle to Nate’s design talents but to be compared in spirit is quite the compliment. And I so agree with you on how remarkable it is that the internet connects us with people with like interests that we’d never meet in life.

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