On the eve of Netflix’s release of Queer Eye season three, out today, interior design guru Bobby Berk talked exclusively to Design Hunting about a home renovation that touched on deeper issues. This season the Fab Five take Kansas City, Missouri, by storm, one project at a time, starting with a woman named Jody and her family.
Below, Berk shares before and after photos from episode one and breaks down the four-day renovation. The rooms are furnished with pieces from his new Bobby Berk for A.R.T. Furniture collection, which will debut at High Point Spring Market in High Point, North Carolina, from April 6–10.
The Living Room Before:
It’s clear to see that Jody and her husband love to hunt and hang taxidermy on their walls, and they love to play pool. The position of the worn-in comfy sofa and easy chair in front of the TV is a familiar scene in so many of our living rooms, where zoning out is a national pastime.
“The story was about Jody finding her personal definition of what being feminine means,” Berk says. “She wore her husband’s clothes all the time and didn’t like flowers. She was like, ‘Everybody always tells me I am not feminine enough, and I feel my house isn’t feminine enough, either.’ My discussion with her was like, ‘What really is the definition of feminine? Don’t let anyone ever tell you that your house isn’t feminine enough, your house is Jody.’ It was my goal to really show her that you are feminine just the way you are, and your home is as well, so let’s just make your home a little bit more cohesive and a little bit brighter.”
The floral wallpaper on the wainscoting and the decorative frieze below the ceiling confused Berk, as these flourishes didn’t jive with how Jody described her style. He discovered that they were left over from the previous owners, so out they went. The rustic hanging lamp above the pool table was dated and the sheer curtains filtered muddy light into the room, so those took an exit, too. Berk said he doesn’t disclose the details of his makeover during the show because his “heroes,” as he calls his clients, tend to get nervous and uneasy when they don’t know what to expect.
The Living Room After:
The first thing I notice is how light and refreshing the room feels with a coat of white paint on the clapboard walls, which signals a much more updated country feel. The cohesive color palette of brown and white, splashed with the touch of the ruby-red pool table adds a touch of zesty energy. If taxidermy is your thing, then arrange it like art, as Berk has done here.
“I don’t make the TV the center of attention, in some homes that we redo I don’t even put the TV in the living room,” he says. “I definitely wanted to set this room up for more conversation. Because Jody found this whole new Jody, this whole new self-confidence, she wanted to make sure that the living room was really set up to really function as a place to have game nights and communicate better, and not just sit in front of the TV.”
The seating area has been transformed into an elegant but comfy conversation area where you can imagine hunkering down to relax and enjoy family and friends. The ceiling seems higher without the presence of the frieze border, and a new ceiling fan makes a world of difference. Also note that the oatmeal-colored wall-to-wall carpeting has been replaced by natural wood flooring. It feels fresh and clean.
The Dining Room Before:
This room is very dark and feels cloistered between the dark wood-paneled walls and the hovering taxidermy. There is just lots and lots of dark wood everywhere.
“They had just redone their kitchen and their eat-in dining area, and it was super cute, rustic, country,” Berk says. “I had to think of a way to respect what she loves and already did, and it was definitely a challenge because my design aesthetic is not rustic country, but having grown up in Missouri, I was very familiar with it.”
The Dining Room After:
It feels like an entirely different room with the bold patterned area rug on the natural floors and the modern shelving filled with ceramics, books, and plants. This room feels welcoming and happy.
The Bedroom Before:
Again the bedroom is very dark to the point of depressing, and here is where Jody might have felt that her feminine side was a tad under the radar.
The Bedroom After:
Berk created a cozy cheerful nest by using a wallpaper border with a crisp but classical pattern above the white-painted wainscoting. The bed is as inviting as a fluffy cloud with its white bedding, and the window seems much larger as the curtain rod extends past the panes on the wall.
“We actually built her a whole new closet, her closet before was just two kitchen cabinets stacked on each other,” he says. “Now she has a place to actually have clothes of her own instead of just wearing her husband’s all the time. We also built a closet for her husband.”
Berk transformed the rooms by lightening up the palette, changing up the light fixtures, and whisking away chalky colored sheers that kept out natural light. The house has a new sparkle yet retains what the couple love.
“People [need to] realize that their home and the things they surround themselves with do really have an effect on their mental health,” he says. “When you wake up in a clean, organized home, you don’t wake up feeling defeated. You set yourself up for success to have a happy day.”