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Nate Berkus

Helping Others Love the Way They Live

Nate Berkus smile and oral health.

Art comes in many everyday forms, revealing elements in such things as interior design to cosmetic dentistry and surgery. However, art in its many forms shares a common passion: the production of work that inspires, evokes the senses and in general, makes life better or more pleasing. These are just a few of the reasons that Nate Berkus graces the cover of this issue. Nate is a consummate professional who as he says is committed to, “helping others love the way they live.” And it is this driving force that is shared by so many professionals in the field of dentistry, in the pursuit of health and well-being.

For many people, Nate Berkus has been one of Oprah Winfrey's most popular finds. He is a talented designer that she initially featured on her show to do a small space makeover. Thanks to that initial visit — and the 127 makeovers over the last 8 years he has done for her since — Nate has become one of America's most beloved go-to guys for the latest design trends and inspiration. In fact, due to his enormous fan base and practical advice that many of us so easily relate to, he now is host of a nationally syndicated daily talk show, The Nate Berkus Show, which premiered September 13, 2010.

“I realized many years ago, that I wasn't going on Oprah to pick sofa colors and paint chips, I was there to lift people up through the way they live.”

And when he isn't busy working on his show, Nate focuses his energies on his exclusive line of home products for the television-shopping network, HSN, or the design firm he started in Chicago in 1995, at the age of 24. The firm, Nate Berkus Associates, has quickly grown to complete projects for Wolfgang Puck's Spago, Barneys New York, and W Hotels, in addition to a prestigious list of private homes and clients. Nate is also the author of Home Rules: Transform the Place You Live Into a Place You'll Love and a contributing editor to O Magazine.

Nathan Jay Berkus discovered his love for design at a very early age. He says, “I was barely in grade school when I helped my mother rearrange the living room furniture for the first time.” Under the influence of his mother (she's also a decorator), a young Nate began saving his allowance so that he could purchase things for his bedroom. He says, “I think I was the only kid on the block who knew about furniture scale by the time I was 8.” After graduating from Lake Forest College, Nate began his career with Leslie Hindman Auctioneers. He credits this position, as well as an internship with Dominique Aurientis in Paris, and his exhaustive world-wide travels for giving him his deep love and knowledge of decorative arts and furniture.

Getting To Know Nate...

Whenever we interview celebrities, we like to have some fun and ask them questions we feel our readers would like to know the answers to. Some are related to oral health, while others may simply make you smile. Here's how Nate responded.

  1. Electric or manual toothbrush... which do you prefer and why?

    I have both. If I'm on the road I pack my standard toothbrush. At home, I have my electric brush.

  2. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being the lowest and 10 the highest, rank your anxiety level about going to the dentist.

    #1 – I don't mind going to the dentist at all. I think it's because I haven't had too many cavities in my life.

  3. What do you do to keep your breath fresh on the set or throughout the day?

    I try to drink plenty of water and make sure I don't get too hungry, eating apples and yogurt throughout the day. And in a pinch, a breath mint always works.

  4. If you could change one physical feature about yourself, what would you change and why?

    I'm not going to say I'm short (he's 5'9"), but I'm not maybe I'd change that.

  5. Given your eye for details, what is the first thing you notice about a person when you see them for the first time?

    Maybe it's because I'm a designer, but I tend to notice several things at once, their style, energy, confidence — I take it all in.

Since those early days of decorating his childhood bedroom, the budgets and timelines may have changed, but not Nate's design approach. “Inspiration comes to me from every, art, travel, film...everywhere. I might pass a woman on the street and take note of the cut of her vintage jacket and go home and sketch a pillow. You just never know what will ignite an idea.” He also takes inspiration from his extensive travels throughout the world. When we asked him what country or place inspires him the most, his response was Mexico. “The beauty, the culture, the food. There are so many things that speak to me when I'm there.” However, Nate did share one critical secret of his design success. “When making design decisions, go with what you love. Don't worry about mixing metals, eras or styles. If you love each item, you'll find a way to make it work.”

When we shifted our questions to dentistry and oral health, we discovered that Nate credits his all-natural smile (no orthodontics or cosmetic veneers here) to the treatments he received as a child from his dentist, Dr. William Wagnild. “I'm grateful for having been given fluoride treatments and sealants as a child. Healthy habits should start at a young age.” Nate stressed that he maintains his smile by brushing his teeth at least twice, or sometimes even three times a day. He also closely follows the advice of his dentist when it comes to flossing, “floss the ones you want to keep!” And while he said he did brighten his smile once before, he felt his teeth were too white, so now he just maintains his natural tooth color and smile.

Nate also revealed some very personal experiences in his life. In December 2004 while vacationing in Sri Lanka he survived the tsunami that took the life of his partner. “Surviving the tsunami but losing my partner to it, certainly changed me in so many ways. It taught me that you never know what other people are going through or carrying inside when you pass them on the street or in the grocery aisle. It's why we must always treat one another with kindness and care.” This inspirational character trait is clearly evident to anyone who has met Nate or seen him on HSN, during an interview, or on his own show.

He also closely follows the advice of his dentist when it comes to flossing, “floss the ones you want to keep!”

Of course, before we ended our interview, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to ask him about the many years he spent working with Oprah. “I realized many years ago, that I wasn't going on Oprah to pick sofa colors and paint chips. I was there to lift people up through the way they live. The amazing legacy of her show is that she not only helps people tell their story, but also finds a way for them to write a new story for themselves. I want to carry that tradition on with my own show. It's very important to me.” And now Nate has the opportunity to share the expertise and experience he has acquired with his audiences. As he told us, he has a daily opportunity to transform lives, which he feels always enriches his own life. He added, “The truth is that every project touches me and teaches me things about living well.” Nate also shared the following about his Oprah show farewell. “On my finale appearance on Oprah, she presented me with a photo book filled with letters, stories and thank-you notes from all the makeovers I have done. It brought me to tears. Knowing that something I did helped someone rise up in their own life is amazing.”

Many times life really does come full circle, as evident by Nate's life and career. “It's funny. As a kid, I think I rearranged the rooms of almost every house on the block. I feel like I'm still doing the same thing. Except, now I'm coming into the living room through the TV, helping people make their home their own.”