Sensibly Chic


Nate Berkus and Lauren Buxbaum’s first Atlanta project is as stunning as it is family-friendly, thanks to a spirited, happy-hued home that’s also a haven for his clients and their combined seven children.

Interview by: Elizabeth Ralls; Photography: Fred Gerlich

Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles: Welcome back to the South, Mr. Berkus! We’re thrilled to see your personal stamp on an Atlanta abode. What was the scope of the project, and what was the homeowners’ design edict?

Nate Berkus: They were a large, blended family so they home had to be beautiful, but also very, very functional. It was important that nothing was too precious…every room had to be livable.

Design Director Lauren Buxbaum: The client is a total free spirit, and that’s how she runs her household (although it’s infused with some sensible rules), so we wanted the decor to be a reflection of their lifestyle.

Nate, you’ve recently started a family of your own. How has this influenced your perspective on design? Where do you begin with a family with 7 children?

Berkus: For starters, I never, ever thought I’d be living with so many brightly colored plastic things. Baby-proofing your home means also being inventive in the ways that you decorate. We don’t close rooms off from our daughter, so every design decision needs to take into account a now on-the-move toddler.

Buxbaum: The client’s kids are totally respectful of their home, and our client was okay with her [at the time] teething twins chewing on our African bead accessories, so it was a little give-and-take. The only room with restrictions was the boys’ bedroom, where our client assured us that they would be swinging off the light fixtures! We kept that in mind while designing it, and, indeed, they ran into their new rooms like Tasmanian Devils. The kids were also lucky enough to get a full arcade in their basement complete with every machine you could ever dream of.

Last time we had the pleasure of interviewing you, you were speaking in Atlanta at the Design Bloggers Conference about giving yourself permission—permission to take risks, to trust yourself, your perspective and your eye. Which design elements in this project are reflective of the client and their lifestyle and personality? 

Berkus: The art is very much a reflection of the client’s personality, like the quirky Harland Miller piece and the red/orange resin table. We also layered in a lot of vibrant patterns and colors, mixed in with antiques and unusual one of a kind finds. The vibrancy that you see in the home—that’s who the client is—very free-spirited, and a lot of fun. Bringing in color was a great way to reflect this. Nothing was too serious.

What was your favorite room in the house and why?

Buxbaum: This is my first project where this question is nearly impossible to answer, but if push comes to shove, I would have to say my favorite room is the dining room. I love the juxtaposition of the Jansen Sconces on her custom painted fringe burlap wall covering and whimsical celadon dining chairs with her parchment dining table. We took some serious pieces and paired them with something slightly out of left field to maintain some eccentricity and spirit that is prevalent throughout their home.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the Atlanta design scene!

Buxbaum: I am obsessed with the old homes in Buckhead, landscape included!

Check out the complete project, including design tips from Berkus and Buxbaum included, on Nate Berkus’ “Right Now” home tour!