Interior decorator Nate Berkus first stepped onto the Oprah Show stage in 2002. Eight years and 127 makeovers later, the resident cutie-pie is heading to New York City to launch his own talk show, The Nate Berkus Show. "We brought him here because of his incredible eye for style, and we grew to love him for his big ole heart," Oprah says. "He taught millions of us to love the way we live."
Nate says the new show will take his approach to decorating and apply it to every part of life. "Design is a huge passion of mine, obviously. It's what I love. I think the home should rise up to greet you, but people should rise up to greet each other," he says. "Your life should actually rise up to greet you."
During his tenure at The Oprah Show, Nate has made over 17 bedrooms, 22 living rooms, 17 bathrooms, 16 kitchens and plenty more backyards, basements and playrooms. But the one that started it all was Oprah's favorite. Nate turned a 319-square-foot studio apartment into a beautiful and multifunctional living space.
Nate says he's learned a few tricks since his first makeover. "We had nowhere to put everything we took out and nowhere to put any of the furniture that arrived," he says. "We didn't order a Dumpster. ... I'm thinking, 'This is the first time I'm going to go on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and the headline is going to be "Oprah's Bad Trash."' We'd never done it before. We didn't know the mechanics!"
The other challenge when he first started was time. "My design projects take years," he says. "So to see all of the furniture which I had preselected, obviously, arrive and I have a four-hour window. Sometimes stuff doesn't work out. You've bought a table or two and you think, 'That's not really what I hoped it would be.' I didn't have a choice. So from that day forward, I always ordered a little bit more than I needed to."
Nate's done a few small-space makeovers since that first one and says, above all, there are two rules to decorate by. First, furniture must be multifunctional. "You can't just have something in the house because you like it. You have to have double duty, triple duty even, if you can."
Also, use regular-scale furniture. "Using small-scale pieces in small spaces reminds us that everything's small," Nate says. "[A large sofa or other furniture] gives you more places to be. It's much more gracious than these tiny things that are designed for small spaces."
Among the 127 makeovers, Nate says he does have one all-time favorite. Kari and Dave Hale wrote in to The Oprah Show because they were desperate for a Nate intervention. They lived in Seattle with their 2-year-old son and three nieces. Kari and Dave bought their 1960s tract house in 2004, but soon afterward they became the guardians of Kari's three nieces, and their tiny home just wasn't cutting it. So in came Nate to perform the biggest OprahShow home makeover he'd ever done. "We had 15 days to do it, and we had wives and husbands bringing doughnuts and coffee and Thai food to the set," he says. "It was amazing."
Though Nate says he's asked for more time for makeovers in the past, the speed with which he has to do them has been a great learning tool. "That pressure is what I'm used to now, and it taught me a lot to be working against those time constraints," he says.
If he has to choose, Nate says his favorite guest of all time is Braden, the 2-year-old boy he watched when he took over for a stay-at-home mom. "He was just a great kid, and it was so much fun to be with him all day," Nate says. "I've always wanted children, and I've always been really close to the kids in my family—my niece and my nephew. I love being around kids; I absolutely love it."
After eight years, Nate says he's excited, but not nervous, to move on. "I'm ready for it," he says. "I've been so excited about it, and the process is so interesting to me that I'm really ready. I feel like I'm in the place where I should be."
To send him off, the Harpo staff compiled personal notes from former guests that Nate has touched and put them in a one-of-a-kind coffee table book. "The truth is that you, my friend, you have enhanced our homes and our hearts and made the world a more beautiful space for all of us to abide," Oprah says. "Thank you for the eight years of wonder and miracles and magic, and you are going to make me so proud. I'm already so proud of you, and I will be watching The Nate Berkus show on September 13. May you continue to dazzle us all."