So when they were producing their new HGTV series “The Nate & Jeremiah Home Project,” the two made sure the homeowners’ stories were at the center of their design work. That involves emotions on Brent’s part and a lot of research on Berkus’ end.
In the premiere episode made available to preview, Berkus and Brent venture to Queens, New York, to help two sisters keep the charm and fond memories from their childhood home alive. While they manage to give the mid-century property an open floor plan and contemporary design, they also keep and upgrade treasured family keepsakes, like their late mother’s 1945 Steinway grand piano. With some research and knowledge from his early days working at an auction house, Berkus found the piano was built during World War II and is now worth upwards of $100,000 dollars. The family was shocked.
All their renovations and upgrades are personalized to each family.
“[The show] was born from our desire to get to know the homeowners in a meaningful way, and I think one of the things that we realized early on was that a really great entry point to get to know somebody is to have them show you the things that are important to them, because it always brings out the stories of where they’ve been and where they aspire to go and who they’ve loved and what they’ve lost and what they hope to gain in life,” Berkus explained. “And so we used it as a vehicle to get to know them, but we also realized that truly it was unique in the world of home renovation shows. One of the things that was really important to us was to create a show that was not about how quick and how fast and how cheap you could put something together, but how to make something personal and meaningful and how to really craft a space that was rooted in your story.”
Berkus understands how attached people can be to items in their lives through his own experiences. His former partner, photographer Fernando Bengoechea, died in a tsunami while they were vacationing in Sri Lanka in 2004. He’s kept the woven photographs Bengoechea gifted him “within the four walls” no matter where he lives.
Brent understands and says he loves them too.
Brent describes Berkus is the “pragmatic one,” skilled at finding a story or the value of an item. Berkus says he knows “at least enough to know what questions to ask or where to do the research.”
“I’m a little bit of a nerd about stuff like that. I like doing the research. I like connecting the dots,” he says. “I like understanding where things came from and what was happening in the world of the time when something was made.”
Brent adds, “I am very emotional and romantic. I like to sit there and cry with people.”
“We love working together and truth is we learned a long time ago that there’s a lot of ways to create something really special and really beautiful,” Brent says. “A lot of these people that we’ve met, we’re still in close contact with, we still know what’s going on with their families and it’s a really wonderful, it’s a really vulnerable position to kind of come in and ask us to not only to help you change your entire life.”
Outside of the show, they operate their own design firms and have offices in L.A. New York and Chicago. They also juggle multiple licensing deals and a furniture collection.
“Always busy,” Brent laughs.
“The Nate & Jeremiah Home Project,” premieres Oct. 5, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HGTV and Discovery+