written by:
May 22, 2014
In addition to designing spaces and collections (like this one for Target), Nate Berkus hosts the NBC reality design competition series, American Dream Builders, which airs its two-hour season finale this Sunday, May 25, 2014. Every episode features two teams of designers who tackle a complete renovation project that pushes their creative boundaries. Berkus, along with landscape architect Eddie George and interior design expert Monica Pedersen, choose the winner, and the losing group is then forced to eliminate one member. In Sunday’s finale episode, the remaining competitors, Lukas Machnik and Jay Riordan, will battle it out. (Read our Q&A With Machnik here!) Pulling inspiration from the show, Berkus shares advice for homeowners considering renovations, whether it’s small fixes or more involved projects.
mid-century modern living room palm springs

For homeowners on a budget, the Internet is your best bet when making upgrades. “What we should all really be excited about is how much access we have to furniture and accessories at any price,” Berkus said. “I started my design firm pre-Internet and now we source 85 percent of what we use online because we have so much incredible access online.” Berkus recommends shopping globally by scouring websites like ebay.fr for more unique pieces of furniture that will stick with you for many years. 1stdibs and One Kings Lane are other good options.

Pictured is a mid-century modern living room renovation designed by contestant Lukas Machnik in Palm Springs for American Dream Builders. Photo courtesy NBC.

1 / 5
minimal los angeles kitchen

If you’re able to dish out a significant sum on a renovation, pinpointing the areas of the home to tackle can be frustrating. Berkus warns that opting for trendy construction materials is not the way to go. “I am always interested in learning what’s happening with advancements in technology, but regardless of how much money you have it is always best to air on the side of timeless and classic in terms of construction materials,” Berkus says. “You can still live in a very modern way using classic materials like subway tile, statutory or Calgary white marble, stainless steel or butcher block countertops.”

Pictured is a dining room and kitchen renovation designed by Machnik in a Los Angeles loft for American Dream Builders. Photo courtesy NBC.

2 / 5

Small space renovations need to have a focus on multi-purpose uses. Says Berkus: “The most important thing to keep in mind is to continually ask yourself, ‘how can this piece or object function in more ways than one?’" For example, can the area underneath the bar in your kitchen be built with open shelving to store books? Can your coffee table include storage to hold throws or pillows?

Pictured, a vignette from a renovated, 600-square-foot modular home by Lukas Machnik and Erinn Valencich. Photo courtesy NBC.

3 / 5
midcentury kitchen with black cabinets and stainless steel

When it comes to decorating a small space, always remember to keep the scale of furniture in mind. “The biggest mistake I see people make when decorating a small space is small scaled furniture,” Berkus says. “You end up with a room that is scaled for a small space and is uncomfortable with nowhere to lounge around.” Berkus also suggests using software to test placement of furniture to help make more informed decisions about what works in every area of the home.

Pictured, a mid-century modern kitchen updated with black cabinetry and stainless steel appliances by contestant Andrew Flesher. Photo courtesy NBC.

4 / 5
rustic renovation

Berkus has gone through over 1,000 renovations in his career and has learned some key design lessons along the way. “I have such a passion for discovering and reusing vintage building materials and architectural savage,” Berkus says. “In my last home in New York, I found a set of four doorknobs with locks from Belgium in the 1940s and I had iron glass doors installed to work around them. I knew myself to know that the knobs I touched everyday would be something meaningful to me.”

Pictured, an enclosed porch in a rundown rustic cabin in Big Bear, California, updated by Lukas Machnik. Photo courtesy NBC.

5 / 5
mid-century modern living room palm springs

For homeowners on a budget, the Internet is your best bet when making upgrades. “What we should all really be excited about is how much access we have to furniture and accessories at any price,” Berkus said. “I started my design firm pre-Internet and now we source 85 percent of what we use online because we have so much incredible access online.” Berkus recommends shopping globally by scouring websites like ebay.fr for more unique pieces of furniture that will stick with you for many years. 1stdibs and One Kings Lane are other good options.

Pictured is a mid-century modern living room renovation designed by contestant Lukas Machnik in Palm Springs for American Dream Builders. Photo courtesy NBC.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016
amaroso40040
When a garage damaged by termites had to go, a studio emerges.
June 19, 2016