If you know anything about Bobby Berk (and if you’ve ever watched the iconic series Queer Eye, chances are you do), then you know he’s all about making design more accessible. On the show, he can almost always be seen offering tips for design newbies in a way that’s easy to follow, whether that’s helping them figure out their style or showing them how to make their space more functional. And no, it’s not just for the cameras. In real life, it’s just as important for Berk to prove that good design can be budget-friendly and available to all. In fact, that’s exactly what his latest venture is all about.
Though perhaps more accurately, it’s focused on making Berk’s designs more accessible — which, it’s safe to say, are pretty much universally loved. That’s thanks to the Queer Eye star’s namesake line of timeless furniture, which he recently made available on BobbyBerk.com. But not only that: Berk has also partnered with Affirm so that shoppers are able to choose flexible payment schedules, thus spreading out the cost of their investment pieces over time.
“When I designed my furniture line, it was very hard balancing a super accessible price point with quality,” he tells TZR over Zoom. “In the end, we ended up at a really good price point. But I know for some people, spending $2,000 on a sofa at one time isn't always an option. The Affirm partnership was perfect for me to be able to offer people quality furniture that is going to last them for years, that they can buy and break the payments up over time.”
Yes, spending a big chunk of money on one item may seem counterintuitive to being budget-friendly. But as Berk explains, it will inevitably save you hundreds, if not thousands, in the long run.
“[With Affirm], you can buy a good-quality sofa that you can keep for years. And then as your tastes change throughout the years, you don't have to get rid of the sofa.” Plus, he continues, trying to get away with spending a couple hundred dollars on something like a couch will inevitably mean you end up with a piece of furniture that’s falling apart and another hefty bill just a few months later. “Just spend $1,500 to $2,000. Affirm [allows you to] break that up over payments on your own terms.”
Of course, being a famous design guru, Berk has plenty of other tricks up his sleeve when it comes to creating a space that speaks to you on a dime. From eschewing trends (yes, seriously) to his go-to paint colors, continue on for more of his tried-and-true advice.
Read The Reviews
Berk may recommend splurging on those big furniture pieces, but don’t do so until you’ve done your homework. After all, the only thing worse than having to replace a $500 couch after a year is having to replace a $2,000 couch after the same amount of time.
“Reviews are important,” he explains. “Make sure you really read them when buying furniture.” And if there are none? “I would steer away from it unless you know someone else who's bought it. It's not to say that piece is bad because it doesn't have any reviews yet, but if you're buying something for the first time, you don't have a lot of experience knowing what you're doing.”
Utilize Dark Paint
Berk’s ability to make the smallest, dingiest, and least-inspired spaces look expensive is frankly astonishing. According to him, though, it often comes down to one simple (and affordable) trick: dark paint. “People always call me out and are like, You always make the walls so dark!,” he jokes. “I'm like, it looks good though, doesn't it? Darker paints make things look chic.”
Contrary to popular belief, this actually doesn’t shrink rooms. At least, not when done right. “Black walls often make a space look bigger because it gives it depth and makes the room look like it goes on forever.” The key, he says, is balance. “If you go in and do dark walls, dark furniture, and dark floors, then your space is going to look small. But if you do dark walls and you balance it with a light floor, a light rug, and light furniture, that's a way to make a room look way more sophisticated.”
Focus On Timeless Pieces
Berk’s biggest piece of advice may be to invest in high-quality furniture — but that doesn’t mean splurging on the trendiest pieces you can find. “When you do get the more expensive pieces, try to get them more neutral,” he suggests. “Don't go out there and buy that fuchsia sofa. You might look at it right now and be like, Oh my god that is the most amazing thing. That is gonna make me so happy. I guarantee you in six months to a year, you're gonna be like, Oh no.”
Instead, the designer explains, incorporate trends you love through smaller, more affordable accessories. “You know what, buy a gray sofa and get some fuchsia pillows or a fuchsia rug, because that's a less expensive option. Then when you're over it in a few months or a few years, you can switch it out.”
Don’t Be Afraid To Dig
While Berk does recommend using accessories as a way to incorporate trends and personality into a space, he explains that it’s not necessary to break the bank on those less permanent pieces.
“Thrift shop!” he says. “I used to find cool things on the streets in New York when I lived there. You don't have to go out and spend a lot of money on everything. I've literally found rocks that cost me nothing, and when people walk in my house, they're like, Oh my god, that's the coolest rock. You don't have to spend money everywhere in your home to find things that are cool and that make you happy.”
We only include products that have been independently selected by The Zoe Report's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.