TLC’s Nate Berkus talks to Healthline about designing a smoke-free home and the importance of refreshing your space with some new furniture, a new paint color on the door, and maybe a plant or two.
Quitting smoking is both one of the hardest and best things anyone can do for their health. Doing it successfully can mean redesigning your life and self-image.
Nate Berkus is a celebrity interior designer and star of TLC’s “Nate and Jeremiah by Design.” He knows how tough it can be to kick a smoking habit. He also knows what a crucial role interior design can play when quitting and creating a healthier lifestyle.
Nate recently partnered with Nicorette in a campaign to spread his message. He spoke with us about what inspired him to quit, how he stays on the path, and how anyone can make their home a smoke-free environment.
How long were you a smoker?
I’ve smoked on and off since I was a teenager. I picked up my first cigarette in high school, like most people do, and didn’t even think about it at all. I certainly didn’t think about the long-term consequences or the world changing around me, and having to walk outside of restaurants in the middle of dinner for a smoke break. So, I smoked on and off for close to 15 years or longer.
And how long has it been since you quit?
I’ve been smoke-free for five years now and it was a huge decision for me, largely based on becoming a dad two years ago. You make a lot of changes when you have your first child, and one of those changes was definitely a focus on my well-being and my health, because it just felt important to get healthy.
What role do you feel design can play in someone living a healthy lifestyle?
I do believe that design plays a huge role in lifestyle. I’ve seen the power of design change how kids do in school, when they have a designated area to do their homework, and they have all the supplies at their fingertips. I’ve seen people walk around feeling better about themselves and their schedules and jobs, when they come home and their house is organized and well-run.
If you’re quitting smoking, how important is design?
One of the things that’s always been interesting to me about how people are living is that we fall into habits. We pay our bills at the same place, we watch TV on the same sofa, everyone knows whose chair is whose. And to break a habit like smoking — if you have a ceremony around smoking or a place where you always smoke in the home — one of the things I found was really effective is to change it.
Create a space that’s in a different room, or make your own little area, wherever it is. But the idea is buying yourself a beautiful new chair, or updating the pillows, and getting rid of the things that smell like smoke. Buy a new rug in your favorite color, add artwork to the walls that’s inspirational, or a beautiful black and white photo of you and your family.
It helps you break the habit of smoking when your space looks different, and you get rid of stuff that was built around the ceremony of smoking.
Do you have any advice for people who smoke outside, like on their porch or lawn?
Same thing! Painting your front door a different color, buying some new chairs, or putting in a potted plant instead of an ashtray is going to change the way you feel when you go to that space. I’ve spent 20 years crafting environments for people to support the way they live and how they want to see themselves.
What is the best part about being a nonsmoker?
I think travel. Traveling when you’re a smoker is brutal. I remember caring so deeply about how long a flight was, or if there was a layover. Was there a way to get outside and have a cigarette? And now I’m like: How long is the flight and how many cartoons do I have on my iPad?
Can you pinpoint the moment when you really felt like a nonsmoker and you were out of danger of going back?
No, I wish I could. But definitely the idea of smoking a cigarette around my daughter, who’s 2 years old, just wasn’t the way I saw myself. And it’s very much at odds of how I view myself as a person.
There was a time when smoking seemed pretty cool to me. I lived in France for two years, and sitting outside a café with a coffee and a cigarette had a certain romance for me at that time. But that’s not really my life anymore. My life now is driving back and forth to playdates and stepping on toys.
Elaine Atwell is an author, critic, and founder of TheDart.co. Her work has been featured on Vice, The Toast, and numerous other outlets. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.