There’s nothing quite like a joyous gathering of friends and family around the holidays, but sometimes the details of event planning can become a bit overwhelming.
Luckily, Nathan Turner is here to help. Since serving as television personality on Bravo’s Million Dollar Decorator, Nathan has continued to bring his decor style and entertaining advice to the masses. He’s currently operating a pop-up shop in LA’s The Village at Westfield Topanga, which is chock-full of antiques and other curated goods. He also recently authored his own book, American Style: Classic Design & Effortless Entertaining (enter to win an autographed copy below!), which is a must-have if you're searching for tips and ideas to add warmth to your home on any budget.
Nathan’s design sense embodies his personality: equal parts West Coast cool to genuine small-town charm. He’s mastered the look of a relaxed, undone room and can translate that style into a laidback one-of-a-kind party.
We caught up with the California native just before his anticipated Denver book signing at the Shops at 9th Avenue. In an interview with Rustic Trades, Nathan talks about his signature style and tips on gearing up for holiday festivities.
What does American style mean to you?
NT: I have my own slice of America. I grew up in California which is pretty laid back and casual and all of those cliches, but it’s kinda true. I always feel like you don’t have to sacrifice style to be laid back and casual. Part of my favorite thing about where American style is today, is it’s a little bit of everything. It’s what you want it to be. We’re such a blended culture here in the States and I think we have permission more than other country to do what we want to do and be individuals and create the world we want to create for ourselves. That’s what I think is the coolest part about American style. I have a friend that says Americans have mastered a mixed look, rather than getting stuck in different periods and styles, which I think is so true.
Where do you find your inspiration?
NT: I’m probably most inspired by travel. I started in the design industry with an antique store, which I still have. I’m always traveling and looking for things for the shop. I’m abroad in Europe and South America and Asia, and I travel all over the States as well.
How did you find your signature style?
NT: I think it’s just natural, my natural vibe and what I was born with. I think a lot of it comes from my upbringing. My mother had decorators and we always had a beautiful home. In California we had a cattle ranch, where there’s style but it’s loose and carefree. I joke that I’ve worn shoes only 30% of my life. It’s as laid back as you get. It’s important to me for an interior to look great but also feel comfortable and cozy. My background is antiques. I’m a lover of things. I would never be able to be a decorator that has a specific look. I admire those rooms where you walk in and it’s only three colors like grey, and yellow and white, but I love things too much. I have to be able to collect things and bring objects into a room that make me happy. I think that evolved into my collected, laid back look as well.
What is your favorite thing about the holidays?
NT: I love the holidays. Probably because I love a good theme and I love entertaining. I love to throw parties and dinners. I love a theme because I think it allows you to elaborate on your decor. The holidays are just the ultimate theme. Also, my love of entertaining stems from my love of wanting to cook for my friends and family and bring them all together and introduce different people. I love that way of socializing. It’s a huge reason to do so. I also love my own personal family traditions. Holding on to those things, like certain recipes. I think that’s what the holidays are all about. Holding on to your old family traditions and making your own and bringing everyone together.
What are your tips for planning a casual holiday gathering?
NT: I always tell people to stick with what you’re comfortable doing. The most important thing is to have a good time. You want to have fun and you want your friends to have fun. If you’re not a cook, don’t do it yourself. Get someone to help you or cater it, then focus on the things that make you happy, like set the table or arrange the flowers. Delegate in a way, and if you don’t have a huge budget to do so, then employ your friends or family that are good at certain things. Everyone knows a good cook. Everybody knows someone that can set a good table. Don’t take everything on if you’re not comfortable doing so. If try to do it all, it will take away from your experience and the meaning behind it.
What are some ways to create a warm, inviting atmosphere?
NT: Whenever you bring somebody into your home, think about being a good host and making them comfortable, first and foremost. Add whatever kind of floral arrangements you like or pretty candles. During the holidays, I personally love bringing the outdoors in. I love big pine branches, garland and any fresh outdoor greenery. It smells good and looks great. Candles all over the place are nice too. Make sure your powder room is in order, it’s pretty and organized with nice towels and scented candles. It’s a moment that’s really for your guests and is one of those things that when you’re rushing around last-minute, you tend to forget. But try not to, it’s too important. Also, cater to your guest while they're there. It’s always nice to find out what someone likes to drink and have that on hand, or make their favorite h’orderve. Try to make people feel special.
What is your must-have holiday menu item?
NT: I like to do a big roast with New York strip. My grandmother also likes to do a traditional English lunch with roasted parsnip, a big roast beef and yorkshire pudding, which I love. I also like to do a crown rack of lamb; it’s another go-to.
What do you consider the perfect hostess gift?
NT: For someone I know well, like a dear friend or family member, I like to put a little thought into it and bring something that caters to them. But the perfect, generic hostess gift that anyone would like is a great bottle of champagne that’s cold. I like a perrier or rosé champagne. It’s not something I think someone would normally buy on their own and it’s festive and really delicious; you really can’t go wrong. Bring it cold because you can leave it out. If you really want to go overboard, you could bring decorative buckets of ice and 4 bottles of champagne. It’s a showstopper, everyone enjoys it. What’s great about cold champagne is they can serve it at the party or pop it in the fridge and enjoy it on their own.
We think Nathan's book would make a great hostess gift too. Enter for your chance to win an autographed hardcover copy!