eremiah Brent would like to ask you a
few questions. For starters: Are you a morning person or a night owl? What are your daily rituals? Where have you traveled that you loved?
He’s not wondering because he’s nosy—well, maybe he is—but all in the name of great design. Because if you’re lucky enough to hire Brent for your home, things will inevitably get personal. Collaborating with the prolific designer isn’t like working with anyone else out there—and it’s part of his enduring appeal (and surely responsible for his podcast; newly opened Los Angeles boutique, Atrio; multiple HGTV shows; and nearly a million Instagram followers).
And yet: “It’s an absolute nightmare to work with me,” he jokes, before explaining his studio’s process. “One of the things I started doing as a firm a couple of years ago is creating a soul and crafting a narrative for each project,” he says. That story has to come from somewhere—and who better than from the people who will actually be living in the home? As Brent puts it: “Picking a sofa is fun, but translating someone’s story into their space is f*cking magic.”
You might notice what hasn’t come up yet: any talk of favorite colors, furniture names, or design eras. “It’s actually a love story,” Brent begins when I ask him about the couple who reached out to him in March 2022 for help with designing their Palm Beach house—delightfully poetic, no?
When they met, the pair filled out Brent’s extensive 25-question form, which explores lifestyle rather than preferences. He explains that the two met later in life after a tragedy, then raised two sons. She’s a “wildly creative” former ballerina (an important detail he jotted down and kept in mind), and together, Brent says, “they both have a lot of life and joy in them.” The couple wanted the house to feel like a livable gallery, where “they could be anywhere in the world,” he points out. Bam! There’s his starting point.
Picking a sofa is fun, but translating someone's story into their space is f*cking magic.”
For Brent, scanning the Internet for inspiration can
be a slippery slope toward copy-cat design: “You can get online and you can see everything and you can travel the world in 10 minutes, but as a creative, I’m making spaces that really feel original and, more important, personal.”
Some things about his process are like any traditional design studio’s—for instance, he gathers materials for surfaces and furniture and upholstery in a tray. But also, he admits that the wall in his office where he pins his inspiration “looks like I’m a serial killer, because it’s my stream of consciousness of everything I’m finding beautiful right now—from images that I pulled to a painting that my daughter made.”
One picture that steered the ship of this Palm Beach contemporary house was of a hallway in Berlin with oxblood walls and concrete floors, the sun streaming through the door. The image, which Brent found online (we never said he was perfect), informed the bathroom’s dramatic palette but also the idea of moody light, a theme that appears throughout the finished home in the form of perforated metal doors and sheer floor-length curtains. “We wanted it to be a space that, even if it was during the daytime, it felt like it had a mood to it, like you were always in that twilight hour,” he says.
Remember the woman’s background as a ballerina? It informed the second theme: movement. To get the idea across, Brent designed a walnut screen to resemble ribbon blowing in the wind. Nearby, a curved vintage sofa gives off a similar sinuous feel. The custom art above the fireplace, which Brent crafted from plaster, is a replica of the couple’s favorite ski run on Bald Eagle Mountain in Utah.
We wanted it to be a space that, even if it was during the daytime, it felt like it had a mood to it, like you were always in that twilight hour.”
Brent speaks of “we” instead of “I,” and he swears that he loves client feedback. “You know why? Because I have no ego. I know what I know, and I know what I don’t,” he says, before adding, “The truth is, there are 3,000 ways to make something beautiful. I never want to become one of those crotchety old designers, like, ‘No, no, no, it doesn't work that way.’ It’s not true! I’m married to another decorator. And I’ve seen, just through some of our conflicts and opinions, how the most beautiful things have come out of it. It means a lot to sit across from a client and not be a dictator but be a collaborator.” So when his Palm Beach couple felt things were skewing too formal, he swerved to keep things casual but not beachy.
That’s not to say he isn’t particular—or at least a bit of a perfectionist. When it came to the powder room walls, Brent went through dozens of Portola Roman Clay samples before he found the right shade of “bruise—not a fresh bruise, but a three-day-old bruise.” (It’s Meritage.) And also: “It needed to look like it was sitting in the sun for 30 years.”
After about a year, the project nearly completed, Brent went into the final stretch: scentscaping—verbena candles, per his client—and cranking up his furniture install playlist, which included Beyoncé (always), Christine and the Queens, and Rhye. Oh, and kicking out the clients. “We keep everybody out for the last phase of the project, so they walk in with a fresh set of eyes,” he says. “It’s probably because I’ve been on design television for too long; I love a reveal.”
When the couple came home, there were tears, some dancing, and some drinks—but a designer’s work is never really over. “My goal isn’t to hand people a house that’s complete,” says Brent. “It’s to hand people a house that’s ready to receive them and the rest of their life.”
produced by Kate Berry
Portrait and Studio Photography Nicole Franzen
Interior Photography Trevor Tondro
Words by Julie Vadnal
What is it really like to work with one of the most in-demand designers on the planet? Jeremiah Brent explains why he’d rather talk about you than paint colors.
Lulu and Georgia
Akari Light Sculpture,
Shop the Story
Brent in his New York City studio.
Left: White Heron Paint, Benjamin Moore; Ahab by Jane Hallworth Pendant Lamp, Blackman Cruz; Akari Light Sculpture, Noguchi; Apollo Carpet, Stark. Above: Drape Fabric, Kravet; Modular Sofa, Eternity Modern; Silvio Coppola for Bernini Dining Chairs, 1stDibs.
Above: Olea Banquette, Sixpenny. Top right: Rosso Levanto Marble Slab; Akari E Ceiling Lamp, Satulight; Brass Mirror, Etsy; Aged Nickel Gooseneck Faucet; Atmosphyre; Travertine Tray by Mason Wylde, Shoppe Amber Interiors; Pure Linen Bath Towels, Atrio.
Far left: Mojave Round Dining Table, Lulu and Georgia; Stone Garden Sphere, RH. Center: Saviti Bone Velvet Office Chair, CB2; Pickford Desk, France & Son; Area Rug, Overstock. Above: Tack Console, Uhuru; Architect Side Table, Noir; Linen Coverlet, RW Guild; Lori Silk Rug, Warp & Weft.
Bottom right: Artemide Gople Suspension Pendant Lamp, Lightology; Hartnett Lamp, Dumais.
Hair and Makeup by Jessica Padilla