Five Questions With Celebrity Design Firm Berchtold Harris

Having a designer to create your dream vision of home style is just one more thing to envy celebrities for. Behind every great photospread in a shelter magazine is a talented team that turns vision into reality. Unfortunately we don’t all have moviemaking money or homes with jaw-dropping ocean views but we can tap the wisdom of a hot L.A. design team for a moment or two.

Berchtold Harris, a team headed by principals Julie Berchtold and Samantha Harris offer a full range of design services, taking care of every detail of design and construction. They are one of Hollywood’s best kept secrets, as Berchtold Harris are the only females who combine their expertise in the areas of design with architecture and engineering. Harris, a former antique store owner and house flipper, uses skills honed by years of study to meld form and function. Berchtold began her career building companies from the ground up in both the biotech and technology industries but got the design bug when she started remodeling her own homes. Her natural talent eventually led to work designing five properties for her good friend movie star Charlize Theron. We asked these talented women a few key questions on how to conceptualize a remodel like a star even if you don’t have a movie star budget:

1. If you only have enough budget for remodeling one room of the house where should you focus your energy?

The kitchen. If done right, it is the thread that ties families and friends together. Everyone congregates in the kitchen and it is where most people drink, eat and toast together.

2. How do you get your celebrity clients to fully articulate their vision and how can homeowners “interview themselves” to find out what is most important to them in a remodel?

They should first figure out a budget, then have us look at their property and start with what room is most important to them. Generally, it’s the kitchen/ dining then their master bedroom and bathroom and closet and next the living room/ family room and then to the den. Most of our celebrity clients just rely on us to do what we do best and that is to create a home with as many ‘wow’ features as possible.

A good rule of thumb for people to ask themselves is what room makes them happy or peaceful and what room do guests usually migrate towards if there is a party gathering. There is a common awareness that habits of people usually follow a ‘path of least resistance’ pattern in a house and therefore, those are the rooms that should be the main focus of a home remodel. Build upon the energy that naturally exists in a home or in aroom.

3. If your personal style is a bit at odds with the style of your home (for example: you live in a Victorian but adore clean lined modern style) what are some simple ways to make things work without changing your home’s character?

It is not a problem to incorporate modern with old; it’s just a question of having someone or Berchtold Harris come in and figure out the way to do it properly. We often feel that it is more exciting for the owner to have styles intersect one another to bring depth and layers to a home environment. We are always playing with blends of personal preferences. It invigorates the mind and awakens the senses when style doesn’t follow a traditional process. For example, when modern meets the warmth of reclaimed wood from an old barn. It is much more interesting and enticing to the eye when a design and style fall outside the standard box.

4. Do you use any apps or online software to help you in your process? Are there any apps you would recommend to homeowners as they go through the remodeling process?

The only APP that anyone should use is their heart and our design skills.

5. Many of the celebs you work with have homes with great views. If you don’t have the luxury of a fantastic vista what ways can you still make your home feel open and light-filled?

Using water is a wonderful way to open a space and make it feel alive. Because water is reflective, it helps create an illusion of breadth of space. We also love to create large outdoor beds and living areas where groups of people can feel connected rather than individual lounge chairs. To add dimension, we love to place drapes outside to bring your eye to the farthest part of a property.

Posted By Deidre Woollard