For Nate Berkus, making a decision to buy a home by the water was not an easy one. When offering a look at his new beach house, the "Nate & Jeremiah by Design" co-host hinted that the tragic loss of his late partner, photographer Fernando Bengoechea, in the 2004 Asian tsunami contributed to his reluctance in settling down at a seaside location.
Featured in the October issue of Elle Decor, the 49-year-old touched on the subject when discussing the purchase of his family home in Montauk, New York. "I was raised in Southern California and lived on a lake outside of Minneapolis. The water has always been how I think of a carefree afternoon. I didn't want my experience in the tsunami to deprive our family of summers like that," he explained.
While he did not elaborate further on his devastating experience, Nate kept Fernando in mind long after he lost him in the natural disaster. In August 2019, the interior designer celebrated what would have been the photographer's 54th birthday with an Instagram tribute post.
"It's been almost 15 years since the tsunami, when we lost Fernando. Every day I think of him, but especially today on his birthday," so the father of two wrote in the caption. "Fernando's brother Marcelo keeps his art alive by hand weaving photographs using the same technique and museum quality materials."
Nate is now married to fellow designer Jeremiah Brent. Since their 2014 nuptials, the two of them have had two children, 5-year-old daughter Poppy and 2-year-old son Oskar, together via surrogates. In August 2019, they moved to New York City after living in Los Angeles for three years.
While they settled on a West Village townhouse as their primary residence, the designer couple got drawn by the allure of a house once belonging to photographer Raphael Mazzucco. They have, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March, been social distancing with their children in the house.
Speaking about his and Jeremiah's approach to the renovation of the beach house, Nate told Elle Decor, "The pressure was off. We were building and selecting things thinking, 'It doesn’t have to be perfect.' I think that opened up something in both of us. The spirit in which we decorated and renovated this house is the spirit in which we live here."