Robert and Cortney Novogratz, stars of Bravo's "9 by Design" and HGTV's "Home by Novogratz" which premiers July 16, joined Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza for their weekly Home Front chat. Together, they gave advice on interior decorating and home improvement.

Jul 07, 2011

Robert and Cortney Novogratz chatted about interior decorating and home improvement with Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza.

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Hi, folks. Thanks for joining the chat today. Jura's on vacation this week, but I have Cortney and Robert Novogratz of Sixx Design with me today. The Novogratz, who are best known for fixing up and flipping rundown buildings in New York City (all while raising 7 children!), also have a new reality TV series called Home with Novogratz, which will debut on HGTV on July 16th. 

Lots of questions already, let's get started

What interesting names your family has! What was the inspiration behind them?

Wolfgang was named after Mozart; Bellamy means beautiful friend in French; Tallulah after the actress; Breaker after Breaker Morant; Five he was our fifth child; Holleder after Wespoint football hero Don Holleder & Major after my father who was career army!

Any desire to change the name of your firm now that your family has grown?

We are now known as "Novogratz". Our new website is, enjoy!

Love the vintage-chic look in your homes, so I'm curious: do you ever shop chain stores? If so, which ones? Thanks!! - Katherine, Arlington.

Ikea and west Elm are our favorites

Bob & Cortney so happy to have you with us! What a treat! I'm fascinated by how you manage to juggle such a large family with such a large design career. What's your secret to maintaining order in the chaos?

We love what we do. We have been blessed and dont take our success nor failures so seriously, that's key.

I'm looking for a window treatment for a palladian window in my daughter's room. It's an arch or "eyebrow" window and the only treatments I can find are something like this. Any ideas?

You could have a custom shade made or hang floor- length, lined curtain panels (install rod above the arch), which you can open and close to control light.

Oh, how I wish I had a flea-market eye. But I go and go and go, always with an open mind and (relatively) full wallet, and end up terribly indecisive! Then, I walk home with nothing but regret. What do you look for when you go to markets? How do you know if it is the right piece? When I go to other people's homes, I'm always drawn to their quirky, eclectic finds... and I want some of my own! -- Bethany, VA

I feel the more you go and see you start getting it right. Start small and have fun with it - its all about the chase...

Stainless steel: in or out or dying or tired? Same question for industrial and/or distressed.

I've been looking for a small sectional for my deck for a while (something with two corner units, an armless chair in the middle & an ottoman). I found one at IKEA, but it's out of stock. I've looked at Lowes, Home Depot, Overstock, Amazon, C&B and Target and have either found nothing or found something that was way too expensive. Any ideas of other places to look? For reference, this is kind of what I'm looking for, just the gist of the setup that would work on my deck. Thanks!

Have you tried West Elm? They have some really great-looking outdoor pieces this season. I think they're having  a sale now, too.

Hi Bob & Cortney! Love the shows. Thanks for joining us! I'm wondering about what is next for you guys after Home by Novogratz? Any furniture lines? Product lines? Hotels? Would love to keep following your work!

Yes we have a paint line, Novogratz for Stark. And designs are coming out on our website:

I'm marveled by the fact that you guys have created such lovely spaces together (without ripping your hair out!) At least with my husband, picking out pieces (paint colors, rugs, you name it) can be a huge struggle. Do you guys argue over decorating? If so, how do you come to resolutions? I could use a dose of Novogratz-talent in my home!

We seem to have fun and dont fight to much. We are lucky as our taste level is the same (and you know who wins at the end...ha!)

What an interesting career -- and what a bold move. Equal parts glamorous and creative. What made you decide that you could do this for a living?

We redid our first home with a lot of success and luck...Wwe loved it and found our passion, nobody told us to follow our dream though. Rarely do people tell you to jump off the biggest bridge!

What are your current favorite floorings that are sustainable and durable?

We love bamboo flooring.

Hi there! My boyfriend and I just got a new place that has hardwood floors throughout. I'd like to get something soft to put under our feet in our bedroom, but we don't have the money to purchase an expensive rug. My mom said she used to buy carpet remnants and then had the edges bound, which was much cheaper. Any idea if anyone still does this? Any other budget-friendly solutions? Thanks!

Yep, you're in luck. Most carpet stores have a section of carpet remnants that you can have cut and bound to any size and shape you need. Another option is to keep your eyes our for sales at the big chains, which all carry area rugs. Dash & Albert is another good source for very affordable rugs.

LOVE the chats. I learn so much each week. I will be getting new counter tops and cabinets in my kitchen by the end of the year. I figure it is time to start considering materials. What is your recommendation for counter tops that is not trendy, reasonably priced and will stand up to a cook?

Try Caesar stone....we also love the mod ikea kitchens, too.

On the hunt for a modern dining table (I don't like worrying about rings left by glasses) that will seat at least 10 people -- and I'm on a budget. Any ideas?

West Elm, CB2, Ikea, Craiglist...

After 27 yrs on the UWS, I've returned to my roots to care for my ailing mother. I'm now on my own and am ready to renovate a bit. After my twin and I divide the furniture, I'll be incorporating my "clean lined" Japanese antiques into this Colonial ranch. Any ideas (other than the obvious painting) about how/where to start updating?

My bedroom is Tommy Bahama Plantation furniture, heavy, brown four poster but i love it. I spent a fortune on coral Ralph Lauren bedding and it's not very old, can't justify changing it yet. Current wall color is gingerbread. Question, do you think some kind of light teal or seafoam blue would work on the walls if i pulled in a new fabric with brown, coral same blue as walls for drapes and pillows. Or is this too far a reach. I am trying to snap it up a bit. The floors are going to change to light hardwood.

I love it already...we love mixing vintage and mod!

My husband and I have so, so, so many books. Coffee table books, albums, you name it. And we love them, want to use them everywhere, but in an organized and decorative fashion. Any suggestions on how to do this creatively and elegantly?

We put all our dvds and cds in books and albums away (love books for decorating). Also we display them on coffee tables in cases. Show them off!

The question of finding affordable art keeps coming up in the chat. I recently went on Etsy and did a search on "fine art oil painting" (or some such combination) and found many wonderful paintings for under $500. You can search by genre, price, medium (watercolor vs oil) and other search parameters. So it's possible to find affordable art. So please don't buy your art at Target--support a real artist!

Why not try Exhibition A, Half Gallery and 20 by 200 (all online). Good luck!!

I am seeking help in what to put in a corner of our house that the house plans call "the sun room," but it's really just a 5 by 5 foot corner at the end of our dining space near the back door. I once placed two tan upholstered arm chairs in this corner, but it looked a little cluttered. I'd like something cozy, so someone could sit comfortably and read a book here. The space is small, so I don't think I can fit a sofa. I thought a rug might help differentiate it from the dining room. Right now, the space is empty. Any ideas?

How about something like this banquette from Ballard Designs with a round table in front? 

I thought today's Q&A was so interesting, love reading these. What really caught my eye was the idea that you'll be showcasing an artist in every episode of your new show -- its a brilliant thought, how did you come up with it? And also, how did you pick the artists?

We love art and know many artist and galleries..we feel art is about to explode to the masses as great att has become more affordable ..

I am in search of that elusive creamy warm paint color for my living room--not too white, but not too yellow. Currently, I have BM Mayonnaise on my walls, but i'm in the mood for something warmer. I have tan couches and dark brown coffee/end tables, and have been using light blue as an accent color, although I'm thinking of switching that up for torquoise. I'm considering BM Grant Teton White because it seems to have a little tinge of tan in it. I've passed on White Dove, Linen White, Creamy White, and a few others because they seemed too light. Help!

One of my favorite warm and creamy whites is White Tie from Farrow & Ball. 

In the last several months, I've been unable to find the small 20-watt "decorative globes" used for my bathroom light fixture (soft white, not clear). It's made me wonder how many of us will be forced to completely replace our light fixtures because the bulbs they're designed for are no longer manufactured. Any thoughts/suggestions?

Try online as you can get them in mass there...@thenovogratz

I have a wonderful Scan teak table that I bought from a clearance sale and I just went to the local glass & mirror store and I had a piece of glass made for the table. Now, I can see the beautiful wood and don't care what gets put on the glass as it wipes up easily. I also have two pieces that fit the leaves so I can use it with none, one or both leaves.

The table with glass sounds awesome...@thenovogratz

Check out Martha Stewart's carpeting at Home Depot . . . they will cut and bind (two choices for binding) - we just purchased a nylon sisal-look piece that was much cheaper than a remnant from a carpet shop and lots of choice in color, pattern.

Great tip. Thanks!

Just wanted to say I'm helping my dad furnish a second house, almost all through Craigslist. He tells me what he's looking for, I search the listings, send him the links, he looks through, then decides what he wants. It's been great fun being his decorator! So much fun spending someone else's money. :)

Def and the web has made it so much easier to source...well done...@thenovogratz

Must have sat in hundreds of couches over the weekend. I want something unique, but family-friendly. I love the idea of a leather couch base with fabric cushions--where can I find one of those at a reasonble price, not custom prices.

We buy old couches on Ebay and recover them!

I want to make my dining room brighter and the ceiling seem more taller. Currently it has 70's brown wood panelling and burgandy/maroon carpet. How can I make this room more enjoyable?

Paint the walls white and replavc the carpet or keep it hardwood if possible..@thenovogratz

Sorry, your answer isn't appearing to the question about stainless steel trend. Interested in your thoughts on that. Thanks.

We love stainless...dress it down with some textures or woods..@thenovogratz

My kitchen dining room can be seen from front door and is painted Challah by C2. Living room is a color-wash with yellow, which I do not think really goes with the Challah. I was wondering if I should paint the hallway going upstairs a warm or bright white since it gets very little light. I live in an interior unit of a town home.

I love white...keep it bright..@thenovogratz

What paint color(s) do you recommend for a bedroom with hunter green carpet? I prefer lighter colors to keep the room from being too dark, but want something more interesting than the cream color it is now. I actually rather hate the carpet, but it's not in the cards to change right now! Thanks!

Oh, dear...hunter green is a tough carpet color to work with. If you are over the cream you currently have, you could try and go a little (just a very little) darker with a tan or taupe. A light gray might work, too.

I'm remodeling the kitchen in my DC rowhouse and am thinking about using an independent kitchen designer. How would I find one that's not affiliated with a particular contractor or store? I would like someone who will come to my home and possibly charges by the hour (I don't know anyone who's used a kitchen designer so I can't ask for referrals from people, and I've already checked Angie's List). Thanks!

We put the Ikea kitchens in super high end homes in NYC. (You can see some examples on, if you like). Don't be afraid to mix and match, styles and price ranges.

I've heard that you have other homes (read in your book, I believe) besides your Manhattan home/office. Where are they and are they also as impressive? What was the deciding factor behind the other homes?

We always buy in cool areas on the fringe..@thenovogratz

We replaced the carpeting in our master bedroom 3 years ago. I'm getting tired of trying to keep the carpet clean (husband doesn't believe in removing shoes upon entering carpeted areas) and am thinking about running the same hardwoods we currently have in the hallway into the master bedroom but like having carpet in my walk-in closet (nice for trying on clothes, etc). Would it be tacky to leave the carpet in the closets?

Nope, not tacky, but I would continue the hardwood in the closet and put down an area rug instead.  

We have a house built in 1963 with a dining room off the kitchen. It is a pretty dark room and we're trying to brighten it up, but haven't had much luck changing wall colors. There is a single double pane window on one wall and the other end of the room opens into a living room. We were considering changing the small window out for a bay window, but I wondered if you have seen any other successful strategies for brightening up a dining room (skylight, wall colors...) Thanks!

We love white -- sky lights are great. When we use white we bring in color with art and design.

Hi! I very much want to install window boxes on the second floor of our colonial-style home. Do you have any suggestions of where I can find nice ones in the DC area? Thanks.

Home depot has a big selection & I like the simple white ones.

I love that your style is "flea market chic." What do you look for when you hit the markets? I have this nagging suspicion that I'm flea-marketing-wrong because I never leave like I've found something marvelous... yet other people always seem to strike gold! Any tips?

Have fun with it and always ask questions. You'll regret it if you dont!

Would love to hear a little more detail about your other homes (Brazil and in the Berkshires!) Are they similar to your Manhattan home? What made you decide those locations?

We always look for the next great place and buy cheap... We loved both areas and rent both out homes when not in use.

I'm a little nervous about hiring a decorator to re-do my living room. I basically just want suggestions on how to arrange things in my living room which has many interrupted walls. I'd rather pick my own colors and accessories than have a decorator do it. Who decides what the decorator does?

Get one that works for you and doesnt design what he or she likes...

I need to have just the top of my dining room table refinished. Can you recommend a company that could come to my house to do this? thanks.

Most carpenters could do this!!

I am looking for some good color choices for a Laundry Room and Powder Room. Both are small with no windows. I have Duron Tobacco Road in the adjoining room and SW Mannered Gold in the dining room. I was trying to find something with some color for the laundry room and something subtle for the powder room. Any suggestions?

I think you should do something fun in the laundry room, which doesn't necessarily need to match the rest of the wall colors in your house. Actually, the same goes for the powder room. These small spaces are the perfect places to do something fun and different.  Are there any colors that you really love but are too afraid to try in the house? If so, give them serious consideration for these spaces.

I've seen photos of your NYC home and there is LITERALLY no clutter!! I'm amazed. With 7 kids, no less. How do you keep it all under control? I need your secret.

We dont let the kids keep a lot of toys and junk and we live that way as well..@thenovogratz

Looking for a senior-friendly elegant carpet for a FL villa. Suggestions?

We love The Rug Company.

I need to recarpet my entire second floor and stairway. Whom do you recommend in the DC area for price and quality of product and installation? Thanks.

Try Flor carpet tiles!

Robert and Cortney, your paint colors are always so interesting and courageous on the show and in your book. Do you have any go-to colors that you keep in your back pocket?? I could use some of that flare in my house!

Look for our new paint line Stark for Novogratz...we love the color Tudo Bem..its on our new site

That is a wonderful solution -- I've never seen anything like it. Also, I like the colorful fabric and pattern choices since we need something fun to anchor the corner. This is the last piece of the house that is unfinished and this looks like it could be our answer. Thanks so much!

Great! Glad to be of help.

I love your show! Did you ever think you'd have 7 kids? How do you manage your careers and have time to put food on the table! More importantly, how much say did your kids have in designing each of their rooms in your NYC home? I've seen pictures/videos online and it's full of character. Love it!

We are very busy and could not do it without a lot of help. We try to keep the kids rooms clutter-free with desks, books, and always music. We also love to hang art in their rooms as you can see from the picture in today's article!

You guys clearly love art, and it gives your home and projects such interesting twists!! Have you always been this way? I'm 25 and my fiance and I are just starting to really define our tastes and styles. We'd love to get collections going, but it is tough to pick a path and run with it... especially one that requires some significant investments here and there. How did you guys get started after you met? What do you suggest for picking art pieces (investing the money without regretting it later)? Love your show & can't wait for the next one!

Go to college art sales. We like to start with photography, too. Also, subscribe  to Art Forum, go to museums and art fairs and take a chance on a young artist... you won't regret it.

Thank you for answering my question about paint in interior town home. I am a first time poster who LOVES LOVES LOVES this chat. I read everyone religiously!!!! So, my follow-up question would be - what is your favorite bright white? My trim is C2's architectural white similar to the brightest white there is! Thank you!

I actually prefer my trim to be on the warmer, subtler side of white. My go to trim color is Benjamin Moore's White Dove, which has a little gray in it.  For something brighter, I know lots of people who really like BM's Decorator's White.

I love the story of how you guys got your "house flipping" career started. How did you make the payment for that first home? Chelsea may have been a "burgeoning" neighborhood, but that is still a hefty amount of money to put into a house pre-flip!

We bought a tw0-family home and rented out the big part to pay the mortgage (among other things!)

Are there any photos of the Novogratz's work, or their home? Seems odd for the Post to run a story like this with no photos. I understand I can buy the book, but a few teaser photos might tempt me to head to the bookstore.

You can see a lot of our photos on our new website ( if you're interested. Thanks for asking!

I'm bewildered by the musty smell in our half bath. I've cleaned it many times, the toilet is new, half the drywall is new, there's only a small rug in there that I've washed repeatedly, and we run the fan as often as possible. The only thing I can think of is that the bathroom vents to a pipe that ends outside our back door, and a bird made its residence inside that pipe. Perhaps its nest/droppings are causing the smell? The pipe is about 15 feet long from bathroom to back door, so how do we clean it out?? Any advice is much appreciated.

I would call a plumber and have it checked out asap.

Hi Novogratz's! Just curious if you (Robert) have a brother named John that went to William & Mary. If so, what a great guy! All the best to you and your SEVEN! Wow!!!

Yes, we all grew up in the Alexandria area and are very close!

The week before I go out flea marketing, I browse around the internet for ideas. Once I get some ideas (ooh, I need something small for the corner to make an end table), then I look for things to fit (ooh, that little cabinet with the legs would work as the end table). The great thing about flea market and Goodwill finds is that while I hate painting high end furniture (feeling like I'm ruining a style), I have no problems with second hand items picked up cheap. Then you can paint to match the room decor.

We love white subway tiles in baths -- very sleek and timeless, clean and affordable.

In our son's bedroom, there is a small closet with 2 sliding doors, so you can only access half the closet at a time. Adjacent to the closet is a hallway closet that opens with a normal door in the hallway. We were thinking to remove the interior wall between the two closets to give him a bigger closet (and changing the doors in his room, too so he can get at it all at once). Plus, we thought it would be cool if he could sneak out through his closet and then out the hallway door (at least until he is in high school). Have you seen this done before? Is there anything to be wary of?

I would replace the sliding doors first and live with it like that for a while. It could be that different doors with better access to the closet make all the difference in the world so knocking down walls wouldn't be necessary. Plus, it's always nice to have an extra closet  in a hallway.

We are building a new home and having trouble deciding on kitchen choices (cabinets, wood floors, granite, etc.). We are working with a very open floor plan (kitchen, dining room, and great room), and like a fairly contemporary style. Any ideas? Must the cabinets match the floor (or could we do dark espresso cabinets with a light colored wood floor, or vice versa)?

Light looks better as per the look you want to achieve.  I like dark floors/white cabinets.

Hi, thanks a lot for these weekly chats. They are awesome. I am thinking of remodelling two bathrooms in my condo. I thought I would replace the vanity, floor and tiles. Is it a bad idea to not replace the bath tub & toilet at the same time? Any ideas on how not to get lost in the vast selection of tiles available? Thanks.

If you plan on evetually replacing the toilet and tub, then retiling now might not be  practical choice. The new fixtures you get down the line may not have the same exact footprint as your current fixtures, so you may have to retile in some places.

That's all the time we have today. Thanks for all the great questions and to the Novogratzes for their advice.

Chat with you next week.

In This Chat
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius uses her years of experience as a home expert and her network of well-placed sources to help you choose everything from paint type and colors to how to de-shed sofas from pet hair to where to find the best designer fabrics at a discount.

Home Q&A archive
Terri Sapienza
Terri Sapienza is a staff writer for The Washington Post.
Robert and Cortney Novogratz
Robert and Cortney Novogratz are parents to seven children (including two sets of twins), co-owners of the New York-based design firm Sixx Design and the stars of Bravo's "9 by Design." Their new show, "Home by Novogratz" premiers on HGTV July 16.
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