Real State

When Nate Berkus Decorates Your Home, It’s Best Not to Change a Thing

Patrick Page and Paige Davis met in the mid 1990s, during New York rehearsals for the first national tour of the musical “Beauty and the Beast.” But with Mr. Page working on his scenes in one studio (he played Lumière), and Ms. Davis, an ensemble member, singing and dancing in another, they didn’t really get acquainted until performances began in Minneapolis.

“We started hanging out as friends, and we’ve been hanging out ever since,” said Mr. Page, 61. The couple’s 2001 alfresco nuptials were chronicled on the TLC series “A Wedding Story.”

For several years, the vivacious Ms. Davis, now 54, was the host of TLC’s “Trading Spaces,” a home improvement show (wherein neighbors, backed by a design team, would redo a room in each other’s homes on a $1,000 budget), and later returned to her theater roots, starring in “Chicago” on Broadway. Recently, she completed an indie short film that’s due out this year.

The couple could likely rest on their laurels and retire to a country estate if they had a nickel for every person who has approached Ms. Davis (or thought to approach Ms. Davis) in the past 20 years with what they seemed to believe was a fresh observation: “Oh, you’re Paige Page.” Alas ….



Occupation: Actors

I love you just the way you are: “Having Nate Berkus do our apartment was an unbelievable gift,” Ms. Davis said. “And because the design was so thoughtful, any alteration affects the whole look. So when we do change even a little something, we do it as carefully as we can.”


Ms. Davis joined Mr. Page in his 400-square-foot, one-bedroom rental on the Upper West Side in the late 1990s. Space was tight, sure. But they were in love, and they stayed put until 2003, when they decided it was time to buy a place.

But the market was hot and they lost out on several apartments for failing to act quickly enough. “So Patrick said we needed to go to open houses and educate ourselves,” Ms. Davis recalled. “That way, when we saw the perfect apartment we’d know it was the right place for the money. We were just going to look.”

Ms. Davis agreed it was the sensible plan. She isn’t one for quick decisions, and apparently has never met a variable she doesn’t want to review. And review some more.

The weekend after adopting this new stratagem, they walked into the first place on the list. “And when we came out, Paige was like, ‘That’s it. That’s the apartment.’ And she hadn’t been like that about anything,” Mr. Page said. “And I told her that we owed it to ourselves to at least look at the other two places we’d planned to see.”

Ms. Davis begged to differ. “I said, ‘I’m telling you this is it. If we don’t make an offer, we’re going to lose it.’ I was getting upset on the sidewalk; I was crying. And Patrick said, ‘It’s fine. We’ll go back and make an offer.’ And I said, ‘It’s not fine. We’re going to lose it. But we got it.”

The object of those histrionics was a two-bedroom co-op on the Upper West Side with 10-foot ceilings, nice big windows and an airy, loft-like feel. The previous owner had taken down the wall between the second bedroom and the living room, “and it just kind of opened up the whole space,” Ms. Paige said.

She had planned to get decorating guidance from a designer on the staff of “Trading Spaces,” but out of the blue came an enticing offer.

In the fall of 2003, the show did a two-hour special, “$100,000 Challenge,” which allowed each designer to ditch the usual $1,000-a-room limit and spend $50,000. The episode got attention and high ratings, piquing the interest of Oprah Winfrey, who invited Ms. Davis to Chicago, where “The Oprah Winfrey Show” was based.

“I spent the afternoon with her,” Ms. Davis said. “It was pretty awesome.”

Even more awesome: Soon after that visit, Ms. Winfrey and her staff came up with the idea of dispatching the interior designer Nate Berkus to the Davis/Page apartment, in the mold of “Trading Spaces,” and letting him paint, paper, tile and furnish as he saw fit. (Mr. Berkus did check in with Ms. Davis about her favorite color: orange.)

Could she and her husband refuse? They could not. After all, the price was right — they paid nothing — and the timing was excellent. They had only recently moved in and had done little but paint one wall red (about which, the less said the better). They had to clear out for two weeks while Mr. Berkus labored, but “The Oprah Winfrey Show” paid for a hotel.

Ms. Davis was a guest on the show and Mr. Page was in the audience when the producers cut to video footage of the renovation and the big reveal — rustic shakes hands with modern.

A sleek glass dining table sat atop a base of real tree branches. In a touch that Ms. Davis appreciated mightily, the canopy bed Mr. Berkus chose for the couple’s bedroom was made from the same branches. Similarly, the sconces in their bedroom echoed the chandelier over the dining table. Dark wood cabinets and open shelving in the kitchen replaced an expanse of white laminate. And because Ms. Davis is as tidy as a Trappist, Mr. Berkus knew he was on safe ground choosing a glass-fronted cabinet for storing towels and linens, as well as a glass-fronted refrigerator.

Two decades on, the apartment remains almost precisely as Mr. Berkus left it. The sculptural earth-tone sectional in the living room? Still there. The patterned yellow curtains that close off the guest room/media room from the living room and obscure the tiny his-and-hers offices? Still hanging. The orange tableware, a tip of the hat to Ms. Davis’s favorite colors? Still stacked on a shelf in the kitchen, along with a cache of green plates and bowls.

One of the very few adjustments Ms. Davis has made — swapping out a marble-topped console table for a credenza — was in the interest of creating more storage space. And yes, they did replace a rug, but you can blame that on the depredations of the couple’s beloved Maltese, Georgie.

To be sure, Mr. Page and Ms. Davis have put their own stamp on the apartment. Three floating bookshelves in a corner of the great room hold books, plays and 500 or so Playbills, alphabetized by Ms. Davis. To celebrate their first wedding anniversary — year No. 1 is designated paper — Mr. Page hired a calligrapher to write out the wedding vows they had composed for each other. The finished product hangs in the primary bedroom, tucked between two pieces of plexiglass.

Mr. Page’s collection of canes (one concealing a sword, another hiding a flask) are in a stand near the front door. His Grammy Award for the “Hadestown” cast album is nearby, as is a framed page from a Shakespeare folio.

Ms. Davis’s natural inclination is to have more open space. Mr. Page’s tendency is to fill that space.

They meet, happily, in the middle.

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Scoop Sky is a blog with all the enjoyable information on many subjects, including fitness and health, technology, fashion, entertainment, dating and relationships, beauty and make-up, sports and many more.

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