Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent have returned! On their new HGTV show, “The Nate and Jeremiah Home Project,” the married couple help clients make over homes where the emotional stakes may be high to get it just right.
In the series premiere, “The Make Mom Proud Project,” Berkus and Brent meet Lauren and Lisa, two sisters who recently lost their mom, Florence. They inherited her house (their childhood home) in Queens, NY, and are now hoping to move back in.
The house needs a lot of updates to satisfy the sisters’ more contemporary tastes. So Brent and Berkus use their $100,000 budget to make this 1950s house look and feel fresh and modern—all while preserving some of Lauren and Lisa’s favorite memories of their mom. Here’s how Berkus and Brent bring new style to an old house, with plenty of tips for updating a beloved hand-me-down home.
Two-tone counters can provide a mix of styles
When Brent and Berkus first see this house, they’re unimpressed by the kitchen, with its closed-off layout and tight square footage. The pair decide to open up the kitchen walls, but the footprint is still small.
Meanwhile, they want to pack big style into the space with black and white quartz counters.
“With a small kitchen like this, we’re really trying to find ways to bring in a lot of visual impact,” Brent says. “We’re trying to show some contrast. It’s pretty, it’s timeless, and it feels contemporary.”
The black counters add a dramatic flair while the white island top, with a scalloped edge, adds a classic feel to the kitchen. Updating the counter colors was a great way to add both classic and modern touches to a space.
Intricate flooring modernizes a home
While this home is filled with Florence’s furnishings and mementos, Brent and Berkus notice the home design is rather simple. To add some more style, they rip out the carpet and put down a special feature: herringbone-patterned flooring.
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“In the 1950s, when their house was built, there wasn’t a lot of architectural detail,” Berkus says. “So when you have an opportunity to lay something with a little bit of intricacy to it, like the herringbone pattern, all of a sudden the space feels more expensive, more layered, and you’ve added a detail that definitely makes the whole space seem more important.”
The hardwood flooring costs $15,000, but it’s a good investment. It adds style to the space while providing a clean, updated look.
Use a unique tile for the entry
While the hardwood flooring is beautiful, Brent and Berkus decide to put a checkered tile in the entryway. The pattern adds a unique look to mark the transition into the home.
“Most people don’t think a space this small needs as much attention,” Brent says when the tile is done. “But it’s nice; it gives this little entry a moment.”
Rework sentimental furniture
There are a lot of Florence’s things that Lauren and Lisa want to keep, like the grand piano, a radio, and a coffee table.
This coffee table wasn’t expensive—it’s a designer knockoff, but Florence loved it, so Lauren and Lisa love it, too. Berkus and Brent decide to update this table by changing out the glass top with gray marble.
“We found this amazing piece of stone while we were actually sourcing for your kitchen, and had it cut and rounded the edges, and it feels like it’s got a whole new lease on life,” Brent says.
Reframed pictures make for an instant upgrade
To finish this renovation, Berkus and Brent focus on the details. While Florence left behind many beautiful paintings, the old frames date the art.
“In a contemporary interior, which is what we’re both trying to make, all of that beautiful family art is great,” Berkus says. “But the frames, they’re all different. It doesn’t feel modern. It needs a quick update.”
They reframe the pieces and decorate the home with the pictures. But, instead of hanging these on the wall, they display them by putting them on a cabinet and leaning against the wall.
“We really thought leaning some of the family paintings was a really casual, kind of younger way to love those things,” Berkus says.