How Jeremiah Brent Brings Soul and Romance to His Projects (Including Oprah's House)

In an exclusive conversation with Livingetc, the superstar interior designer (and new Queer Eye star) explains why your home should be a love story

jeremiah brent in a living room
(Image credit: Adrian Gaut)

The American interior designer and TV personality Jeremiah Brent is on a mission to do away with soulless, decorate-by-numbers homes, and instead to inject them with personal significance, memories, and the space to be truly ourselves.

His new book, The Space that Keeps You: When Home Becomes A Love Story, features 10 new interiors projects (among them Oprah’s), in which feeling always comes first.

Livingetc caught up with the designer to discover the essence of how to bring your story, and history, into the interior design of any home you live in.

How exactly can you make your home your love story?

'My husband and I moved 10 times in 10 years. Obviously, we love to renovate, but we never really had a place that held us and all the echoes of our lives; that gave us a sense of security. I realized that for some people, many of whom are in the book, their home was enough; it was a love story for them, and one that helps carry them through life’s most important moments.

This isn’t about conventional beauty in a home, but the beauty of ceremony, ritual and [personal] history. This realization completely shifted the way I design — it’s less stereotypical now, and more existential and introspective.'

a bedroom with a large headboard and wallpaper

(Image credit: Paolo Abate)

And what does that actually look like in a home?

'The space needs to reflect your story. I had a client who explained that the most beautiful room in their house was the dining room - but they never threw dinner parties. So I said, “Let's take out the dining table and create a beautiful window seat”, because they’d talked about how important the window seat was for them growing up. We also created a library for all her books, and added a little bar area, because her husband and her enjoy having a glass of wine together in the evening.

Every home I design looks completely different because everybody is different. I always think, “Let's create something wildly original here,” because this person is so different to the last person.

This sounds like something of a mission of yours

One hundred percent. I am so tired of being told what you can't do, that you need to spend a lot to live a beautiful life, that it needs to look like page 30 from the catalogue. Interiors has become transactional and formulaic.

Historically, you’d fit your life into a space created by a designer, but the way I approach design now is that it fits into the moments that matter to you — that’s where the beauty comes from. The homes that have really changed me had nothing to do with money or opulence. They looked like long dinner parties and furniture worn from nights with people laughing for too long, and dings in the floorboards from children running around. You just intrinsically feel that person when you walk through the space. That’s my goal — to try to shift how we see beauty in a home.

a kitchen with a marble island

(Image credit: Paolo Abate)

How can we apply it to our own homes?

'It's asking yourself how you can tell your story through your home. Choosing the right color is about thinking, “What color do you love?” Think about the moments of your day that matter to you — how you wake up, what you do before you go to sleep. Are there any rituals that you didn't even realise you had? What was the first space that really mattered to you? It’s about blending in the past and the present, and leaving room for the future. For Oprah, beauty had everything to do with looking at the trees. It often comes down to what you valued as a child.

a modern room with a daybed

(Image credit: Paolo Abate. Desigm: Jeremiah Brent)

Could you tell us about your own interiors love story?

'The first space that really felt like home was a Fifth Avenue apartment that Nate [Jeremiah’s husband] and I lived in when I was 29. But we left for Los Angeles to be closer to family, and later tried to buy it back, but couldn’t afford it.

Two years later, it became available. This time we had two children, so we asked ourselves things like, “Where am I going to cuddle [my daughter] Poppy in the morning?” So we made space for that. We put our pottery collection from our travels on the mantelpiece. We gave our kids complete creative licence with their own spaces. Centering a room around what you need it to be, rather than what you need it to look like will change the way you live.'

Fleur Britten is a well-respected journalist who for years was the Senior Features Editor at Sunday Times Style. She is known as one of the smartest lifestyle journalists around, revered for being able to decode trends and report on new zeitgeists as they happen. She now writes for the Telegraph, Livingetc, Vogue, The Times, Harper's Bazaar and the Guardian.