In TZR’s franchise, Interior Motives, celebrities and tastemakers discuss their unique approach to home design and how it reflects their personal aesthetic. Here, we sit down with interior designer and television personality Jeremiah Brent to discuss his cozy Montauk home and the reading nook he can’t get enough of.
“I’m just getting weirder by the day, which is terrible for my husband.” One would hardly (nay, ever) describe Jeremiah Brent’s design aesthetic as “weird,” but in a recent phone call with TZR the interior designer insisted that’s where things are headed these days. “My design aesthetic has really changed a lot,” explains the Nate and Jeremiah Home Project star. “I’m drawn to a more monastic lifestyle and spaces that are deeply emotional — like, when you walk in and immediately feel something. I still have that clean, California sensibility in a lot of ways, but I’m intrigued by different design periods and how I can blend those. Like, how do the ‘70s look with the ‘30s? That’s what I’m really interested in right now.”
Perhaps this shift in creative vision is what drew Brent and interior designer husband Nate Berkus to purchase their beachside estate in Montauk. “We purchased that house completely accidentally,” he says, explaining that the home’s “funny, contemporary architecture” was not something the couple would normally gravitate toward. But the property was rife with potential, and nothing excites an interior designer quite like a challenge.
“We walked into it and fell in love,” says Brent. “We renovated it right before COVID happened and we moved right in.” According to Brent’s design site, the coastal home was painted black to “contrast with the brightness within,” stripped and sanded floors were added for lightness, and the kitchen was redone with plaster walls and white concrete countertops. Now, Brent says, the couple and their two children, Poppy and Oskar, find themselves in Montauk any chance they get.
The coastal space has also seemingly inspired other business ventures of Brent’s, including his recent collaboration with Grove Co. His latest collection with the homecare brand “brings together the interior designer’s signature ‘California Modern’ style with Grove Co.’s best-sellers, including sea-inspired scents like Himalayan Sea Salt + Sage, and Eucalyptus + Cypress soy wax candles and incense sets.
Ahead, read more about Brent’s coastal abode as well as the little things that drive his creativity and inspiration.
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How would you describe the Montauk estate?
It turned out to be the perfect backdrop for this global, coastal vibe we landed on. The spaces are really well layered and rich with a lot of texture. The house is so comfortable — that’s the part that always gets us. You walk in and you feel that big sigh of relief. Nothing in the house is precious because we brought everything in with the intention of you being able to run in with sand on your feet or kids running around. It’s been really lovely to live that way.
What specific space or nook do you gravitate towards in the house?
This house has always [been] about the important moments of our day and rooting the space in them. So, the corner in our sitting room in particular is where I sit every morning and have coffee. I talk about this all the time, but the art of ceremony and accessing those mindful moments is really important to me. The light comes through in a very particular way through that window, so there’s always warmth. It just has turned into this perfect corner for me and my daily ritual.
What key decor elements define that particular space?
Nature for me is a huge inspiration and one of the things I like to incorporate into any space we have. That black olive tree is something we’ve had for almost three years and it’s huge and kind of cascades over that entire space. It’s one of my favorite things about it. But we also have some ambient lighting via the Noguchi paper lantern, which has a playful sophistication to it. And then, you have the rolled arm sofa with the velvet — so all of those textures are so inviting, but nothing feels pretentious or precious.
How do you approach a fresh canvas like this new home in Montauk? Is it a collaborative effort between you and your husband?
We have one rule in our home that [Nate and I] established in the first year or two we were together: If someone looks at the other person and says, ‘I actually hate this and don’t want to do this,’ then it’s a non-starter and we don’t discuss it. With the house in Montauk, since it’s two minutes from the beach, we wanted it to feel like you were at home on the coast anywhere in the world. And so, the way we did that was with rich salvaged wood from docks in Montauk that the previous owner had used and the pebbles and rocks that are by the fireplace. We leaned into the things that were already working for the house and peppered in our own personalities.
You mentioned drawing inspiration from various time periods and blending them together to create something fresh and new. Is there a particular time period you’re gravitating toward at the moment?
I’m intrigued by the ‘20s and ‘30s. When you look at that and balance it with lines from the ‘70s, it creates a friction between the two that I think is really interesting. There were such beautiful things being done in the ‘20s. Things like art deco [designs] feature such timeless silhouettes.
Is there a destination in the world you are constantly inspired by?
Venice is one of the most interesting places visually and creatively. I’m really intrigued by the inconvenience of modern living in cities like that. I think it’s really interesting that there’s like gondoliers going past you with a FedEx box. There’s something so interesting about contemporary life shoved into that environment. Mexico City is another huge source of inspiration. It doesn’t get a lot of attention, but there are so many amazing artisans based out of Mexico City and so many rich layers to it.
Where do you shop for home decor?
It’s tricky right now, especially with some of these big box stores. The delays are crazy. Whether or not people notice or understand it, there’s a return to craftsmanship right now. If you look at the local artisans that are making things that are unique and readily available, it’s just a really interesting moment in design. Etsy is a huge source for me — for a lot of things. There’s people on there who make pleated lamp shades better than half of these bigger retailers do. And there’s people doing embroidery that you can get in a week and it’s beautiful, custom work.
OK, I love that you love Etsy, although it can be overwhelming for some. Can you share your search strategy?
I always do keyword searches, like ‘embroidery.’ I search by different periods of time, because a lot of time these vendors will reference periods like the ‘80s but I always have come prepared with a list of keywords to describe the pieces I’m looking for. And then I write down the vendors I come across. And then sometimes, I’ll come across a vendor who doesn’t have exactly what I’m looking for but has the capacity to do it, so I’ll email them directly. They’re often really amazing to work with and they’ll do it! There’s beautiful ceramic lamps I’ve had made, lampshades, and custom linens. There’s a lot of people in different parts of the country working hard to establish themselves as a business and I love the idea of giving them the work and being able to collaborate with them.