House Beautiful

Q&A With Design Genius (And TV Star) Nathan Turner

Three years ago I attended a good friend’s quinceanera in LA, replete with a taco stand and fresh watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew and pineapple margaritas. Forget the fact that she was turning 26 and had not one Latina drop of blood in her body.

It didn’t matter.  The night was incredible – thanks in large part to her cousin, the freaking fabulous interior designer/former Domino contributor (I die)/star of current Bravo series “Million Dollar Decorators”, Nathan Turner.

The party was held in the back area of Nate’s LA-based design store – a magical and inviting enclave nestled under strings of lights, surrounded by leafy trees.  It’s the perfect compliment to Nathan’s vision for his brand: laid back, welcoming, eclectic, well-traveled and warm.

If my other fave decorator Kishani Perera is the eccentric rocker girl at the metaphorical high school of LA designers, Nathan is the super sassy guy best friend who gives you tips on designing your locker and proceeds to get you get kicked out of class by making you laugh.


I have been a ginormous fan of Nate’s ever since I spotted his work in client Amanda Peet’s house, published in Domino Magazine’s December/January ’08 issue:

(Above left): A mismatched grouping of family photos and art.  (Above right): Simple, rustic and natural meets Boho glam in the dining room.

(Above left): Peet’s gracious living room – made even more inviting by plush upholstery and extra throw blankets.  (Above right):  THAT. RUG.  Raspberry and tangerine hues washed out to the color perfection against a black and white backdrop.  Slurp.

(Above left): The utilitarian bookshelf also houses extra linens.  Functional and chic.  (Above Right): I absolutely love this cozy little corner of their house overlooking the patio, with the French linen upholstered armchair, cozy nook and reclaimed wood coffee table.

In the kitchen above, white walls, bare windows, and weathered industrial chairs are balanced with a flatweave rug and vintage fabric-covered seats.

(Above):   I would like to have breakfast in bed and watch a movie here on a lazy morning, please and thank you.  With the breeze gently blowing and making those curtain sheers dance.  This bedroom is unfussy, totally unexpected, and deviously fabulous.  For starters, you don’t often see two different florals (Farrow & Ball wallpaper and John Derian coverlet) together, but the common palette of blues, greens and bits of gold seem to give the room a serene, cozy effect.  The pop of the marigold bedside lamp and the dusty red kid’s chair are pleasant surprises (as is that mercury glass lantern – holler).  And I love that they left the bed unmade for the magazine shoot.

(Above): Amanda’s daughter’s room.  First came the Funny Girl poster, then the daybed filled with a happy assortment of pillows, the gorgeous fuschia rug, and drawings from The Catwalk Cats, a book illustrated by Grace Coddington, a family friend.

Peet’s home feels warm, inviting and gorgeous without feeling “designed” or overdone – which is the mark of a truly amazing designer.  Like all of Nate’s work, it lacks pretention.

Annnnnd, he not only pimps the pads of celebs like Peet and Grenier, but lucky for us floozies in LA (!) we can stop by his store in LA (636 N. Almont Dr., 310-275-1209) and peruse a handpicked smathering of some of the designer’s favorite things from around the world.

As evidenced by MDD, the country’s leading decorators all flock to his store for antique armoirs, handmade ceramics, photo prints, what-have-you:

BUT – even if you’re NOT in the LA area, you can still soak up some of Turner’s style on the web…

If you get lucky, you’ll happen to catch a collection of his every now and then on One Kings Lane.

Also, his collection of antique, global finds can be found on 1st Dibs, such as this vintage embroidered Suzani below:

Or this pair of Mid-Century Modern Albini Rattan Ottomans from Italy.  I mean really.

So without further ado, a little Q&A with our fave guy:

Q: First of all, tell us about your new show on Bravo, “Million Dollar Decorators”:

(Eat your hearts out, Real Housewives of New Jersey)

A: The show follows the professional lives of myself, Mary McDonald, Jeffrey Alan Marks, Martyn Lawrence Bullard and Kathryn Ireland.  I had so much fun shooting it and I feel it’s a good representation of what I do… decorate, furniture design and entertaining!

Q: How did you get started?

A: I grew up in Northern California, and when I was younger started working with an antiques dealer and didn’t know what I really wanted to do.  I moved to NY and realized within months I was a California boy and needed to get home.  I moved to LA, found the space where I currently am and in the same week opened my store.

Q: Your store is not just an incredible textiles and home goods store with decor and furniture sourced from around the world…

(Above): Nathan’s decor/antiques/textiles shop in West Hollywood.  This globetrotter’s home away from home is a treasure trove of vintage items from all over the world.

…it’s also a FANTASTIC spot to hold a party.  How did you come up with the idea to start throwing them there?

A: I love to cook and entertain, so after I opened my store I decided to invite a few friends over for my first dinner party.  I started with 10 people and would invite a photographer friend, who’d end up using my shop for his book signing.  It’s all about extending your network.  I’d have the dinner table we were all sitting at for sale, in case it caught someone’s eye.  I started with 10 and the guest list eventually grew to 100 people.  It went from friends to friends and clients, to really large parties. I invited people into my shop like it was my home and I think people felt drawn to that.  The dinners were never business – they were always fun.

Q: What’s the most Nate-esque entertaining tip – ie the one thing you do that is totally unique that your guests love?

A: I’m so laid back; if you called me on your way in and you needed to bring your friend, fine; your kids, your dog, fine.  I want everyone to have a good time – if you want to smoke, there’s a place to go outside and smoke.  I don’t get bogged down with those details because the whole thing is to have fun.

And here’s a tip: Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable doing.  If you’re not a good cook, don’t do it.  Get a big takeout order. It’s all about making everyone comfortable.  I want people to eat and stay and have a good time.

I love a theme.  Indian dinner, Moroccan, Greek, Turkish.  I pick my theme, maybe it’s just a color, but my table will be all different tones of orange.  I love an Asian theme.

(Above): A Moroccan-themed party thanks to the host extraordinaire, decorated with the most exquisite hanging pendant I have.ever.seen, as well as a mix of fabrics and patterns, giving the room an exotic and old world feel.

Q: Do you have any budget-friendly tips on how to entertain guests on a shoestring?

A: There are so many great flowers that are inexpensive; something like a marigold is inexpensive.  Or a daisy, for a fun garden party.  You don’t have to spend a ton of money to make something.  Ikea is great.  And I’m also a big advocate in telling people to borrow stuff from their friends.  Mix and match.  Not everyone’s going to have service for 25 people.

Q: What’s on your dinner party playlist?

A: I match the playlists or make sure the music’s in the essence of the theme.  For instance, I threw an Indian party and had some fun Bollywood soundtracks.

Q: If there was one song that best described you/your life/encompassed your spirit, what would it be?

A: George Strait – “Living And Living Well”.  And Dolly Parton comes to mind.

Q: What are your favorite things to hunt for at antique stores/flea markets/estate sales?

A: Anything and everything, and I will go anywhere.  I think there’s something to be found at the grossest places or the nicest places.  Some of my favorite cities to go antiquing are Istanbul, Mexico City and Sicily – any place that has a cultural mix like all of those places do.

Q: What’s your favorite antiques store in LA?

A: I love JF Chen, Lief, and Lawson Fenning.

Q: You designed homes for Amanda Peet and Adrian Grenier.  How was that?

A: Adrian’s house had to be platinum certified green.  It wasn’t actually that hard for me because I use vintage things which is certified recycling.  If it’s reused it’s considered green.

(Above left): Reclaimed Spanish tiles decorate the risers on the stairway, and the framed vintage maps are all from Nathan’s store.  (Right): The upholstering included a custom sofa made from reclaimed wood and stuffed with soy-based foam.

Above: Cicsobrothers Table and Chairs.  Karrie’s note: I am DYING to find stools like these.  I’d use one as a side table to give my apt a rustic/beachy look. HOLLAR.

(Above): Fossils are framed artwork in this vignette.

(Above): The masculine influences are balanced by the soft colors and materials used throughout the house such as jute, wool and flax.

(Above): Super-efficient Fagor appliances grace the kitchen.

(Above): Anne Sacks tiles are made of 87% recycled materials.  How soothing does this bathroom look?

Adrian was easy in that he knew everything he wanted.  And a lot of clients will say, “Stay away from these colors, I love these colors” – Adrian was great because his look wasn’t minimal, it wasn’t cluttered.  It was open and airy and kind of masculine.

Q: If you weren’t designing/entertaining/party planning/shopkeeping/kicking ass as the male Martha Stewart, what would you be doing?

A: I would want to be a country western singer.  I would love it.  I love that music – we grew up with it.

(George Strait)

Q: You have a Sunday afternoon off to spend however you please.  What does Nate’s day look like?

A: I’m in Malibu every weekend, and I’ve always got my dogs with me.  I have two labs and I can’t keep them out of the water.  That’s the quintessential Cali:  hiking, the beach.  I definitely take advantage of living in Southern California.


Q: There are thousands of people dreaming of one day getting into the interior design business.  Do you recommend they go to design school or take more non-traditional routes?

A: I think school has its advantages, ie learning AutoCAD and other practical skills, but I have a degree in Business and Economics (with a minor in Italian) and I have figured it out.  Still don’t know CAD though!

Q: Last but not least, besides Covet Living, do you have any other favorite design blogs?

A: Besides Covet Living, I like A Bloomsbury Life, Decorno, Style Beat, An Aesthete’s Lament, and The Peak of Chic.

Thank you, Mr. Turner, for inspiring us ladies here at Covet Living as well as millions of viewers each week! Everyone tune in to watch Nate on Million Dollar Decorators, Tuesdays at 10 PM on Bravo.



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