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#061: Creating spaces that serve your everyday life with Interior Designer + HGTV Star Cortney Novogratz

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On the show today, I have the honor of sitting down with Cortney Novogratz. There are just some conversations that I get to have that are really special and this is one of them. Cortney Novogratz is an interior designer, developer, and one-half of the Novogratz design duo along with her husband Robert. They are well known for their eclectic style and boutique-inspired furniture and home accents. They have been widely covered by global media for over a decade having starred in TV shows on Bravo and HGTV and recently published a book. It is actually more of a design bible than a book and it is called Novogratz Design Fix. Their products are sold at major retailers including CB2, Amazon, Wayfair, and Walmart as well as their own store Shop the Novogratz. 

In this conversation, we cover everything from design conversations to finding your style to how to design a space along with your family friends. This conversation is beautiful and draws from Cortney’s extensive experience. We dive into her design journey, her tips from years as a designer, her book, her store, and so much more. 

You can download this episode from Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsStitcher, and Spotify – or listen to it below!

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in this episode:

[03:02] Cortney’s journey to design

[05:51] Family-friendly design approach

[09:54] Her biggest advice

[13:14] Strategies for navigating the unknown of design

[17:33] Room in a box and other fun products at Shop the Novogratz

[23:25] Involving family and friends in the process

[28:35] Taking risks with color and pattern

[29:43] Creating a feeling to share with others 

[31:35] Including a piece of everyone in the home

[35:13] Cortney’s new home and project

[37:41] Her furniture collection launching soon

[41:44] What Cara’s obsessed with this week

[03:02] Cortney’s journey to design

I grew up in South Georgia and loved design. My mom was the kind of mom that would buy a one-room schoolhouse, move it on the property. She allowed me to constantly change my room. But I don’t think it really registered to me, my love of design until I moved to New York. I actually came to New York to be an actress but when I met my husband, Robert, in the state of North Carolina, We definitely shared that passion for architecture, design, and art. I’m not sure if our passion found us or we found it. 

[05:51] Family-friendly design approach

One approach that we kind of always hold on to, and I never have really gone away from that is that I keep things honest. Function is really important. That does not mean I have a bunch of kids and I have tacky plastic kids furniture everywhere. But it is true that I have a home that needs to function for us. So I’m okay with exposed hooks out in the open so everyone knows where to hang their backpack or their jacket. I just really allow for beautiful things and incredible space with art and with design elements. So I constantly ask people to design the life they want to live, but keep it honest and true.

[09:54] Her biggest advice

So whether you’re in a temporary space, or whether you’re going to be there for a while, dig in and make it your own. It doesn’t have to cost a lot. There are incredible ways to start to decorate. But also keep in mind, there is no such thing as a dream home. It’s a process. It’s a journey. It doesn’t have to have to be perfect overnight.

[13:14] Strategies for navigating the unknown of design

I would start with your surroundings. For example, if there’s one thing in that room or studio or apartment or house that really anchors the whole feeling, that’s your kickoff point. That’s your starting point. You can have vision through that because chances are that’s what spoke to you in the first place and why you’re living there and why you chose that place to be your home. Then really figure out your budget, what your dreams are, and then make a checklist. It’s really kind of making your dream wish and then figuring out how to get most of that.

[17:33] Room in a box and other fun products at Shop the Novogratz

Room In A Box really came to us because I have adult children now and we were getting them off to college and into their first apartment. It could also be if you find yourself many years later, downsizing or going through a situation that you’re on to a next chapter and you need to start again. Because we constantly are starting over in essence. So Room In A Box gives people that toolkit, that first kind of kickoff starting point where you get your basics.  It comes with a toolkit and anyone can put it together. It’s really easy. For us that’s really what we’ve been working on for many years now is how we can make decorating fun, first of all, and not so daunting where it can be inspiring and people can really believe in themselves.

[23:25] Involving family and friends in the process

I’m a big cheerleader that it takes a village with everything in life. Even if we’re not able to see our village in person, the incredible thing is we can Zoom or we can FaceTime and walk people through our space. We can have them over now. It is a great way to get input and help when designing your space. 

[28:35] Taking risks with color and pattern

If you think of your standard home, you think your baseboards and your trim are going to be white. Then there’s the trend where the baseboard can match the walls and the door and it could all just be this beautiful room wrapped in color. You can also mix it up and paint the walls white and do the trim a crazy bold color. When people think I don’t want to do that signature wall a bright color or bold color because I don’t want to go too risky and do all four walls. Leave the walls white, and paint the trim, the baseboards, and the molding the bold color. So kind of flip it upside down from what the average person expects. Another little trick is to paint the back of doors, just one color so it’s a little surprise.

[29:43] Creating a feeling to share with others 

I think overall my biggest goal for myself, my immediate family, my clients, or for anyone that buys our products and puts them in their home is to believe in themselves. To believe that they are decorators and that they can create a feeling to share with others.  We always remember the feeling we had in a place. We may not remember the paint color. We may not remember the pattern on the wallpaper, but we remember if it was a really good feeling. So that’s what you have to try to achieve in your life and in your home. 

[31:35] Including a piece of everyone in the home

All of our kids really are super creative. Ultimately, Robert, and I have to say, but we definitely tried to involve them. And through the years, as they’ve gotten older and changed, they have opinions, which is awesome. I can learn from them as well. When you involve them and they have a say, they take ownership of their space. Anytime you give someone a say and a voice, they have more ownership and that’s super important. Not one person is always in charge. I think it’s better if it’s a team effort.

[35:13] Cortney’s new home and project

We would love to move in tomorrow, but we are getting closer.  Building during a pandemic has not been easy anywhere in the world, no matter what industry you’re in. I feel just fortunate to be working and our guys being able to come to work. But again, it delays everything. The great thing though, is we are going to be moving into an incredible house. We are doing the fundamentals and basics and then we will do more over time. 

[37:41] Her furniture collection launching soon

It is going to be launching soon in stores, but I can’t say exactly when.  We just went to market and presented that. We’re really excited about that and Robert and I are just constantly trying to create really strong pieces of furniture that look incredible, but that doesn’t break the bank. Our biggest goal and challenge is to have something look new and fresh and really have a flair to it, but they can get to you in a box that can get to your house, no matter where you live, and that you actually can afford to buy and take some risk and other areas in your house and design-wise. 

[41:44] What Cara’s obsessed with this week

This week, I am really obsessed with Tempaper. We talked about this a little bit in the episode because Courtney and her husband have a collection with them. But I’ve used it on quite a few projects and I really, really love their wallpaper. With this trend of wallpaper and renter-friendly peel and stick paper, there’s a lot of peel and stick wallpapers that aren’t actually temporary. They claim to be temporary and renter-friendly, but the adhesive on them actually isn’t meant to temporarily stick to walls. If you are not planning to have to take it down like you’re not a renter, and you don’t necessarily want it to be temporary, then you can go all out with whatever paper fits your style and your budget. Tempaper is actually temporary. The adhesive is actually created to be able to be pulled down and not have any damage to your walls. So I’m obsessed with Tempaper. They’re a really amazing brand and I’ve had the opportunity to partner with them on a couple of projects. They have the cutest prints and they’re always coming out with fresh new prints and collections. 

connect with cortney:

instagram: @thenovogratz // website: thenovogratz.com

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