The story of Oprah’s favorite home designer, Nate Berkus, is amazing. At the age of 24, he founded his own company, Nate Berkus Associates in 1995 Chicago. Six years after opening the firm, Berkus had dinner with a family friend who happened to be an executive producer of Oprah, and the rest is history.
After making dozens of household makeover appearances on the show, he appeared on Oprah in 2005 to tell a tragic story. He and his lover, Fernando Bengoechea, had been on vacation in Sri Lanka when the deadly 2004 tsunami hit, killing over 200,000 people in South Asia. When their hut washed away, they were forced to cling to a telephone pole and each other for 30 seconds before being separated.
Bengoechea’s body was never found. The tragic account touched millions watching the show. It was also Berkus’ first time talking publicly about his homosexuality.
Picture of Nate Berkus from his official website
He won a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Visibility Award for his courage. “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. Berkus has received many design honors, 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).
In the fall of 2005, Nate published his first book, Home Rules: Transform the Place You Live into a Place You’ll Love. (Here’s a link to Amazon to buy the hardcover New York Times Best Seller for $18.45.) In 2006, he premiered The Nate Berkus Show on XM’s, Oprah & Friends radio channel. The same year, Linens ‘n Things began to carry the Nate Berkus Collection.
Nate Berkus shirtless in Hawaii 3-30-09 photo
In 2008, Berkus hosted Oprah’s Big Give, a prime time reality show where people compete to change lives through a Winfrey endowment. The fall of ’08 marked another milestone for Nate, with the debut of his new designer line on the Home Shopping Network (HSN).
Boyfriend Brian Atwood and Nate Berkus photo
And, as a final note, he announced on a recent Oprah that he’s currently dating Bally Shoe Creative Director, Brian Atwood. Cool, huh? Visit the official Nate Berkus website: http://www.nateberkus.com/