Photo: Tim Geaney
Inside Cortney and Robert Novogratz‘s bedroom in a garage-turned-loft in the far West Village, several light fixtures are scattered on the floor, while plans and design books cover a bench meant for sitting.In addition to being an after-work haven, the bedroom functions as a storage unit and it’s a reality TV show set. Their kids broke the lock on the door ages ago.
The Novogratzes star in HGTV’s “Home By Novogratz,” a show based on their design business and personal lives as they juggle clients and parenting seven children. Their kids range from ages three to 14, and they come along for the ride as mum and dad travel the globe decorating.
Click here for photos of their work >
The reality show is the couple’s second (the first was on Bravo), and it follows them as they do five-day-long “stealth” room makeovers. During the first two seasons of the show (season one is currently airing), the duo redesigns everything from bachelor pads and condos to Wendy Williams’ guest lounge and Tony Hawk’s ski house.
How do they juggle it all? Cortney and Robert try to do as much business as possible within the four walls of their home in the West Village. When we recently stopped by, Cortney had books, laptops and papers scattered across the vintage kitchen table. Other members of the design team were typing away or grabbing Starbucks for the group as a pick-me-up.
The Novogratzes are self-taught designers. The couple met at a party in their early 20s, and dreamed of a loft they would one day call home. Robert left his career in finance and the pair embarked on a full-time career in design once they realised they were “pretty good at it,” Cortney said.
For their first project, they found the “perfect” condemned building and turned into a livable home, redesigning it and living it before renting it out. They’ve now flipped 15 houses in Manhattan in the same way, and will eventually move out of their West Village loft, all in pursuit of a dream to keep doing what they love, Cortney said.
The house flipping led to a book deal, which then led to networks approaching them for reality shows. The couple sat their kids down and explained that they wanted to try out the concept of being on a reality show before accepting the offer.
“It would either be great for our careers, or we’d all have a good laugh at the end,” Cortney said. “We turned down the first few networks that came our way. But then, the economy was changing, so we decided to embrace this. Some of our family was concerned, but they were concerned when we bought a condemned building all those years ago!”
Now the pair juggles the show’s clients and their own high-end clients (including some celebrities who wish to remain nameless), along with the launch of their own line of home decor coming this fall.
Cortney says her husband’s strengths include number-crunching before they pick a location to develop, while she’s better at sketching plans for what the interior will look like. But together, they have a similar design aesthetic and the same goal of finishing a room, so working together is easy.
“It’s nice because we can pick up each other’s slack when one is tired, or if he has to make our son’s basketball game,” Cortney said. “We’re very understanding of each other because we have the same family.”
The Novogratz kids enjoy watching the show more than Cortney and Robert, Cortney said, adding that her oldest daughter even wrote a screen play, something Cortney felt she learned to do after watching her family life become a TV show.
“I am myself on the show,” Cortney said. “I have a lot of kids, I’m barely keeping it together. I’m moving furniture, or they start taping right as I wake up. Or I’m shuffling kids to and from doctor’s appointments. I look like myself.”
Cortney said they sometimes stock up on light fixtures when they see a very unusual one, like the one here, before they even have a room for it to be used in.
Here's the family in front of their current home. They've moved a lot in the past 20 years. In one year alone, they moved three times.
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