03 January 2012

'Home by Novogratz' Redux, Episodes 1 & 2

Last night I tuned in to the first two episodes of HGTV's newest series Home by Novogratz (and even better, I watched it in HD thanks to a free preview this month courtesy of our digital service provider!).

For those of not familiar with the Dynamic Duo of eclectic design, Bob and Cortney Novogratz are a husband and wife team who have been traveling, collecting, designing and reinventing spaces for more than two decades.  Their signature look marries luxe elements with vintage finds to create layered, complex and unique spaces, and their aesthetic is known and appreciated worldwide.

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More impressively, the Novogratz not only manage a thriving business that includes design and renovation services, a home product line and two television series, but they are also parents to seven (!!) kids ranging in age from three to 16 years old, including two sets of fraternal twins!  Admittedly they have plenty of help to both raise their family and run their company successfully ~ as Cortney said in a 2010 interview with Celebrity Baby Scoop (discussing their Bravo series, 9 by Design, and what it's like raising seven children in the city), "We have help!  There is no way we could do this all ourselves without assistance!  We always say it takes a village to raise such a large family in the city, or anywhere.  We are very lucky to have so much support."

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I've been a huge fan of their style sensibility since I read about their New England house, featured in the September 2007 issue of Living Etc., and I'm continually inspired by their fearless approach to interiors.  And since their original series was top of my Tivo list, I was super stoked when I heard their newest venture was launching on Monday night.  At 8pm I absconded with the remote and hunkered in for a full hour (episodes one and two) of Novogratz goodness.

In the premiere episode, Bob and Cortney take on an 800+ square foot condo project for newlywed, super-hip couple Pat and Rika.  The apartment has some great features ~ chief among them an incredible exposed brick wall and amazing light throughout ~ but there is little-to-no storage, no light fixtures (literally, the condo was riddled with bare bulbs screwed into the ceiling) and fairly standard finishes throughout.  The space required a complete decorating scheme in order to make it as funky and unique as the couple who owns it.

In typical Novogratz style, Bob and Cortney nailed down a design scheme in short order and hit the town shopping for those unique items and vintage pieces that are the hallmark of their brand.  Rika made her preference for feminine, ornate, slightly gaudy chandeliers crystal clear at the outset, and Cortney hit it out of the park with a mismatched pair of gilded beauties that Liberace would have approved for the kitchen and living areas.  An array of vintage mirrors in juxtaposing styles, shapes and eras made a lovely and visually interesting wall feature against the exposed brick, without making it overly busy.  Stenciled lettering, chalkboard paint and vintage tchotchkes built a subtle layered effect in the main living area, giving the rooms personality and a sense of provenance that first time buyers often struggle to infuse their spaces with (for obvious reasons!)

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Where they really kicked it into gear, however, was the master bedroom, which in the opinion of this blogger can pretty much be summed up in one word: yummmmm.  From top to bottom, I adored the graphic black and white colour scheme, the killer hexagonal wallpaper feature wall, the vintage chandelier and side tables and most of all, the repurposed gilt chaise updated with black and white ticking stripe.  The room was restful yet playful, young yet sophisticated, and spare but very functional: everything you need in a master bedroom, and beautiful to boot!

Home by Novogratz
Home by Novogratz Episode 101
images via here

In the second episode, Bob and Cortney traveled with their middle son Breaker to LA for the purpose of designing a 4000 square foot retail space for Babakul in the Fred Segal shopping centre in Santa Monica.  There were some definite highlights in their design vision, and the duo scored high on the luxe-o-meter with custom birch wood shelves commissioned through John Houghmand and a huge, one-of-a-kind art installation commissioned through artist Ann Carrington.

Overall, however, I was underwhelmed by the final product.  Perhaps I'm not well-versed enough in the intricacies of successful retail spaces, or maybe it has to be seen in person to appreciate the true scope and detail of the design.  Or maybe it's as simple as it just doesn't appeal to my own personal aesthetic?  Whatever the reason, this was a bit of a miss for me, made more disappointing by the fact that disappointment is a first in my borderline-obsessive relationship with the Novogratz.

As usual, however, the quirky personalities of the Novogratz family are infectious and charming; even Bob's sometimes-grating tones of condescension are sanitized and easy to overlook.  Cortney shines as the heart of the program and of the family, and as usual the couple creates some impressive design magic.  The disappointment of the Babakul space aside, I'll definitely be tuning in next week!

Did you watch the first two episodes?  What did you think?