Home renovation

Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent’s New Home Improvement Show Has a Real Heart

So when producing their new HGTV series “The Nate & Jeremiah Home Project,” the two made sure the homeowners’ stories were central to their design work. It involves emotions on Brent’s part and a lot of research into Berkus’ ending.

In the first episode made available as a preview, Berkus and Brent venture to Queens, New York to help two sisters retain the charm and fond memories of their childhood home. While they manage to give the mid-century property an open floor plan and contemporary design, they also preserve and enhance treasured family memorabilia, like their late mother’s 1945 Steinway grand piano. With some research and knowledge of its early days at an auction house, Berkus discovered that the piano was built during World War II and was now worth over $100,000. The family was shocked.

All of their renovations and upgrades are customized for each family.

“[The show] was born out of our desire to get to know owners in a meaningful way, and I think one of the things we realized early on was that a really good entry point to getting to know someone is to to show him 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 was really unique in the world of home improvement shows. One of the things that was really important to us was creating a show that wasn’t about how quick and fast and how cheap you could put something together, it was about how to create something personal and meaningful and to really create a space that was rooted in your history.”

Berkus understands how attached people can be to things 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 kept the woven photographs Bengoechea gave him “within four walls” no matter where he lives .

Brent understands and says he loves them too.

Brent describes Berkus as “the pragmatic”, adept at finding a story or the value of an object. Berkus says he knows “at least enough to know what questions to ask or where to research.”

“I’m a bit of a nerd for this stuff. I like to do research. I like to connect the dots,” he says. “I like to understand where things came from and what was going on in the world at the time something was done.”

Brent adds, “I’m very emotional and romantic. I like to sit and cry with people.”

“We love working together and the truth is, we learned a long time ago that there are so many ways to create something really special and really beautiful,” says Brent. “A lot of these people that we’ve met, that we’re still in close contact with, we still know what’s going on with their families and it’s really wonderful, it’s a really vulnerable position to come in and ask us to not only to help you change your whole life.”

Outside of the show, they operate their own design businesses and have offices in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. They also juggle multiple licensing deals and a collection of furniture.

“Always busy,” laughs Brent.

“The Nate & Jeremiah Home Project” premieres Oct. 5 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HGTV and Discovery+