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Robert Novogratz on Design Mistakes, Budgets, and Stolen Stereos

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Welcome back to Curbed Interviews, wherein Raina Cox (of If the Lamp Shade Fits and Curbed's Moonlighting series) interviews major players in shelter media and interior design. Have a suggestion for someone whose voice should be heard? Send it here.

The design clan who took New York in Bravo's 9 By Design is back with Home by Novogratz, a new show on HGTV. Robert and Cortney Novogratz are changing the format, this time creating 13 half-hour episodes that are each devoted to a single project. With less focus on family drama and their own firm, The Novogratz, and more focus on accessible how-to advice, Home by Novogratz aims to take the craftulence out of DIY and show viewers that even a small budget can yield snazzy results. We caught up with Robert during the middle of shooting to chat about what we can expect from the new show, in-the-works projects, and what weekends with seven kids are like when you live in NYC. (Oh, and the Novogratzes will guest on Design Star tonight, right after a special Monday-night episode of Home by Novogratz.)

Has the move from Bravo to HGTV meant more DIY tricks and less Zaha Hahid sculptures?
(laughs) Well, you know I love the Zaha stuff. You know—no. Of course, because of the economy and because people around the world even are on a budget, I think it’s more interesting to do things on a budget. We tried to do almost 13 different shows and 13 different designs, so there are high-end—obviously more low-end—but there are two or three very high-end designs on the episodes. The Fred Segal store in Santa Monica would probably be the best showcase of our work. We did a really cool beach condo on the Jersey Shore. And then we still find four- and six-thousand-dollar budgets, though. We have a surf place in Brooklyn, so we kind of did the gamut, which I really enjoyed. I really like the design stuff more so than the reality-based [stuff].

What's the biggest decorating mistake a person can make?
The biggest decorating mistake, I think, is scale. I think sometimes people have way too big furniture for the space they have. (laughs) I see a lot of mistakes out there and another would be people going to a retail store or a showroom and buying the entire showroom—never a great look. But I think really it’s scale and it’s about cluttering and having too much.

What is the best gift your children have ever given you?
The best gift my children have ever given me—that’s a great one. Um... Aw, man. You know, I can give you the cliches but I’m thinking of something shallow—no, I’m just kidding. (laughs) The best gift my children ever gave me was—can I come back to that one?

Sure. How about: describe a typical Novogratz Saturday.
Saturdays are hectic. The weekends in the summer are much harder than in the school year. So we’re up very, very early. We have our oldest, who’s an elite athlete, a basketball player. We’ve been all over the country with him, all over the city with him. We always have kids sleeping over here, so they’re always running in and out of the kitchen—basketball players and kids’ friends. I think we’re typical of most families, just a lot busier just because we have so many kids. It’s Little League and parties, and according to how stretched we feel sometimes we go to the flea market early in the morning.

What existing house or public space would you most like to tackle?
I would love to redo an old hotel.

Circling back to the best gift your children ever gave you?
I had a stereo stolen once—a really old Bang & Olufsen that I loved—and they bought me a really cool boom box.

You’ve just announced a paint line with Stark. What other projects are in the works?
We’re coming out with a line of rugs for Stark, and we’re also spokespeople for [the search engine] Bing. We’ve created a lot of rugs and pillows and sheets and that kind of stuff, and we’re getting a ton of interest. But we’re kind of holding out for a huge retailer, which I think we’re close to. It’s not official yet so we can’t announce it. But I think what we’ve encountered is that if you sell something online or in a smaller version, you won’t be able to use it on a bigger scale, so we’re hoping that will work out.

Finally, what's the Novogratz life philosophy?
We don’t take our success or failures too seriously.

· Watch a Sneak Peek of HGTV's New Home by Novogratz [Curbed National]
· Home by Novogratz [HGTV]
· The Novogratzes Team With Stark on Eco-Friendly Paint Line [Cubed National]
· The Novogratz [official site]
· Sixx Design [official site]
· If the Lamp Shade Fits [official site]