Nate Berkus

Nate Berkus Headshot

Designer • Personality

Birth Date: September 17, 1971

Age: 52 years old

Birth Place: Orange County, California

Spouses: Jeremiah Brent

Chicago-based interior decorator Nate Berkus appeared numerous times on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" (ABC, 1986-2011) revamping celebrity homes (including Winfrey's own office), and making headlines of a different sort in 2004 when he survived the deadly tsunami that struck throughout South Asia. His partner, photographer Fernando Bengoechea, was killed during the devastating event, and Berkus went on to tell their story on Winfrey's daytime talk show, giving a face to the millions who were affected by the natural disaster, but also to young gay men coming out.

Four years after the tragedy, the handsome design guru found a new way to get inside millions of American homes, as the host of "Oprah's Big Give" (ABC, 2008), the first competitive reality show from Winfrey's mega media empire. Eventually Berkus left the proverbial nest by hosting his own design/talk show, "The Nate Berkus Show" (syndicated, 2010-12), proving he was a viable draw to millions of viewers on his own merit.

Nate Jay Berkus was born on Sept. 17, 1971 in Orange County, CA, but grew up in suburban Minneapolis, MN. While sharing a room with his younger brother, Berkus discovered his love for keeping his space neat and aesthetically appealing. His father, and mother Nancy Golden - who, herself, was also a designer - then gave the budding designer his own bedroom and bathroom in the family's basement where he could arrange and decorate it any way he pleased.

While other kids spent their time after school at nearby beaches, Berkus raced home to put his room together, from installing fixtures to hanging wallpaper. "I think I was the only kid on the block who knew about furniture scale by the time I was eight," he said. His parents' support inspired the designer to go after his dreams instead of shying away from what he felt was much different from what other kids his age were doing.

Making home improvements in his own space eventually brought Berkus to design for others - whether it was for his neighbors, or as an intern at Dominique Aurientis in Paris and Sotheby's in Chicago, IL. He graduated from the Windy City's Lake Forest College in 1994 with degrees in French and Sociology, but honed his keen eye while working at Leslie Hindman's auction house, his first job out of college.

Working there also exposed Berkus to the television industry because his employer also hosted two shows on HGTV (Home and Garden Television). His first job was from a walk in the park for the fledgling designer who worked 70 hours per week for not a lot of money, and he was often fined for being late.

At the age of 24, having had enough of working at the auction house, Berkus decided to open his own company in Chicago. Nate Berkus Associates opened in 1995, and things started rolling fast for young upstart. Even though he did not have much of a portfolio, he had friends in real estate who recommended him to top clients, as well as a confidence, charm, and talent that earned him an excellent reputation in the industry. His major projects included Wolfgang Puck's Spago, Barney's New York, and the W Hotel chain. "It's funny, as a kid, I think I rearranged the rooms of almost every house in the block," he said. "I feel like I'm still doing the same thing."

Six years after opening his firm, Berkus had dinner with a family friend who also happened to be an executive producer at "The Oprah Winfrey Show." The meeting led to a project for the designer to give a makeover to a small Boston apartment - in 72 hours - for Winfrey's show. It was a challenge for Berkus, but at the same time, he knew this was the perfect opportunity for the country to fall in love with his work. Sure enough, the audience and Winfrey herself went wild for Berkus' design. He was invited numerous times to appear on her top-rated show as a design expert, making over celebrity homes from Kirstie Alley to Jerry O'Connell, to working on Winfrey's personal office. The designer also contributed to the media magnate's O at Home magazine, wrote the book Home Rules: Transform the Place You Live into a Place You'll Love in 2005, and launched a collection of products for Linens 'n Things.

The most memorable appearance Berkus made on Winfrey's show, however, did not involve a design makeover. On Jan. 20, 2005, he took center stage on his mentor's program a month after losing his partner, Fernando Bengoechea. The couple had been on vacation in Sri Lanka when the deadly tsunami hit and killed more than 200,000 people in South Asia, including Bengoechea. Berkus and his partner's hut washed away and they were able to cling to a telephone pole and each other for 30 seconds before being separated. The heartbreaking story touched millions watching the show - even those in Oprah's demographic who may have disapproved of his heretofore undisclosed sexual orientation - which was also the designer's first time speaking out about his homosexuality.

Berkus' tragedy struck a chord among so many people, gay or straight, and his episode raised almost $2 million for the regions struck hard by the tsunami. His courage to come out on national television also made Berkus a hero to millions of young men and women dealing with their sexuality, who wrote supportive letters to the designer. He also won accolades for his bravery, including a Human Rights Campaign's Visibility Award in 2005. The award joined many other honors that Berkus had previously received for his design work, including Chicago Social Magazine Design Director (2000), House Beautiful's Next Wave Design Talent (2003), and Craine Business Magazine's 40 Under 40 To Watch (2003). "After almost dying, you realize that your word and your actions are all that you have in the end, and you're forced to think a lot more about what your impact will be when you're gone," he said.

In 2008, the ever loyal Berkus became the host of "Oprah's Big Give," a reality show where people competed to see who could change other people's lives through a charitable fund provided by Winfrey. Years after losing his partner, Berkus also found love once again, with shoe designer and Bally brand creative director, Brian Atwood. To add to his upswing, it was announced on an early 2010 episode of "Oprah," that was, in fact, a valentine to the designer from the magnate, that he would be leaving her show to host his own. "The Nate Berkus Show" premiered later that year to stellar ratings. A combination of talk show and design makeover show - complete with visiting A-list celebrities - Berkus proved as smooth and amiable headlining his own program as he had popping by Winfrey's.

Credits

Home Town KickstartStream

Self
Reality
2022

The Nate & Jeremiah Home ProjectStream

Host
Reality
2021

The Drew Barrymore ShowStream

Guest
Talk
2020

Nate and Jeremiah: Save My House

Host
Show
2020

Rock the BlockStream

Contestant
Reality
2019

The Kelly Clarkson ShowStream

Guest
Talk
2019

Today With Hoda & Jenna

Guest
Show
2019

Strahan & Sara

Guest
Show
2019

Today 3rd Hour

Guest
Show
2018

Gordon Ramsay's 24 Hours to Hell and BackStream

Guest
Reality
2018

Daily Blast Live

Guest
Show
2017

Daily Pop

Guest
News
2017

Nate & Jeremiah by DesignStream

Executive Producer
Reality
2017

Nate & Jeremiah by DesignStream

Host
Reality
2017

NightcapStream

Guest Star
Series
2016

Harry

Guest
Talk
2016

The $100,000 PyramidStream

Guest
Game Show
2016

Hollywood Today Live

Guest
Show
2014

American Dream Builders

Executive Producer
Show
2014

American Dream Builders

Host
Show
2014

American Dream Builders: Extras

Actor
Show
2014

American Dream Builders: Extras

Self
Show
2014

The Social

Guest
Show
2013

Hollywood Game Night

Guest
Game Show
2013

Steve Harvey

Guest
Talk
2012

Project Runway All Stars

Guest Star
Show
2012

The Marilyn Denis Show

Guest
Show
2011

The Gayle King Show

Guest
Show
2011

The HelpStream

Executive Producer
Movie
2011
76%

The Talk

Guest
Talk
2010

The Nate Berkus Show

Host
Talk
2010

Red Carpet to the Primetime Emmys

Host
Show
2010

The Joy Behar Show

Actor
Show
2009

The Dr. Oz Show

Guest
Talk
2009

Watch What Happens Live With Andy CohenStream

Guest
Talk
2009

The Bonnie Hunt Show

Guest
Talk
2008

The Wendy Williams Show

Guest
Talk
2008

Oprah's Big Give

Host
Show
2008

Chelsea Lately

Actor
Talk
2007

The Better Show

Guest
Show
2007

Rachael Ray ShowStream

Guest
Talk
2006

Rachael Ray ShowStream

Host
Talk
2006

etalk

Guest
Show
2006

Jimmy Kimmel Live!Stream

Guest
Talk
2003

The View

Guest
Talk
1997

Cityline

Guest
Show
1993

The Oprah Winfrey ShowStream

Guest
Talk
1986

Good Morning America

Guest
News
1975

Days of our LivesStream

Guest Star
Soap
1965

Today

Guest
News
1952

News aboutNate Berkus