Beloved designers/husband-and-wife duo Robert and Cortney Novogratz talk to us about renovating their new home in the Hollywood Hills.
Robert and Cortney Novogratz have been turning houses into homes for the past 20 years. Known from shows like 9 By Design on Bravo and Home by Novogratz for HGTV, the married partners, along with their seven kids, have taken their design sensibilities and used them to renovate a veritable Hollywood Hills castle into their dream family home. Now, fans of the nine-some can get a behind-the-scenes look into how it all came together thanks to their new digital series The Castle Next Door—The Novogratz Family Takes Hollywood. Created by People Productions and Madica Productions, the 10-episode show, available to stream now exclusively online at People, takes viewers through their nine-month remodel and offers tips for those looking to spruce up their own spaces.
Here, we chat with the expert design pair about building their new space, the joys of alfresco eating, and the LA hot spot where they can't resist eating chicken Parmesan.
You moved from New York about a year and a half ago. Are there any favorite LA spots you and the family like to go? Robert Novogratz: We love to hike at Runyon Canyon. Our favorite restaurant is Pink Taco. We love LACMA and we go to the Melrose flea market every Sunday. We went to a lot of Dodgers games. Cortney Novogratz: We love Cafe Midi and the Soho House for Sunday brunch. We've replaced our New York Arturo's pizza for Dan Tana's chicken Parmesan.
The renovations on the home took nine months. When doing something of this scale, what is your process? RN: First of all, you have to find a place, which is a big deal. Coming up with a design is the next big thing. This was a total gut shot. We gutted it and we redid everything on the inside, but we kept the outside looking like a Hollywood castle. It was very important for us to preserve the history of the place, which I think is important in Los Angeles. CN: No matter the size or the budget of a project, we always start off by creating a wish list. It puts priorities into perspective and helps us to create a realistic budget.
What were the biggest hurdles in the redesign? RN: There’s always hurdles staying on a budget. It’s an important thing—which I think we did. The whole job is always just managing people. It’s always the hardest job of a major renovation. We were lucky that we had a really good general contractor who did a super job. It’s staying on budget, it’s staying on time. We feel like you have to be there a lot to make things move, which we have. CN: Deciding on the windows and whether or not we should strip the stucco.
What input did your kids have that you incorporated into the space? RN: They all did their own rooms and some of the common spaces. The theater and the living area, they had a lot of input. With kids it’s about exposure, so you want to expose them to as much as possible—be it art, design, flea markets, or architecture. Some kids are really going to respond to it and some don’t, and sometimes they respond to it later in life. But, it’s really about exposing them. CN: They had a lot of say in their rooms. Bellamy and Tallulah not only chose their paint color and wallpaper, they also laid out their floor plan. Five even added a window in his room that wasn't there before.
Do you feel like your design aesthetics have changed at all since moving to LA? RN: They’ve definitely changed because there’s such great outdoor living here. We’re fortunate enough to have a yard. We have a big outdoor kitchen. A lot of that stuff—as far as bringing the inside out—is big in Los Angeles and big for us. We had challenges in that we’ve never been that great with trees and plants, but we did it on our own with a really good landscaper. It took a little time and effort as we‘ve never done it, so we’re happy it turned out well. CN: Definitely. The house has much more of a California vibe—everything from the tile and marble choices to how much we emphasized indoor/outdoor living. We eat almost every meal outdoors. Even on chilly nights, we're eating outside thanks to our outdoor fireplace.
How can readers take advantage of their own backyards for alfresco entertaining this spring? RN: Use of an umbrella during the day is super important because the sun can get pretty intense. I love outdoor heaters so you can enjoy the outside at all times of the year. We did Moroccan tiles where the dining area is outside, so there’s a lot of stone and tile for that. I think a lot of people can do it on any budget. CN: Get festive outdoor strand lights, a sturdy outdoor table and chairs (or a bench), and a great grill. It really doesn't take much.
Where do you two shop for home decor and get design inspiration in LA? RN: We go to Melrose. We got a lot of stuff at The Shade Store. CB2 in Hollywood. Boffi Kitchen. Liz’s Antique Hardware is a great place, too. We’ve been doing real estate and homes for 20 years and we think that Los Angeles is an amazing place not only to build, but a force of design and art and antiques as good as any place in the world. CN: We love shopping at the flea markets and at all the wonderful antique shops on La Brea. We're constantly inspired by nature, and by restaurants around town. The funny thing about LA is that you can come across a restaurant in an unassuming mini mall, only to open the door to find a beautifully designed gem.
What’s one piece worth investing in for the home? RN: The dining room table. You can keep it forever. We got ours at Anthropologie. It’s a vintage table from England. CN: The table you eat on, whether it's a kitchen or dining room table, and whether it's old or new. It's where you nurture and feed your family, so make sure it suits your needs.
What’s one piece of advice for readers looking to redo their homes? RN: One piece of advice is you have to stay on a budget. You have to make a wish list within your budget, and then you kind of prioritize what’s most important to you. That’s probably what we try to do. Our dining room table was a little more expensive than what we’d normally pay, but then we saved in other places to afford that table. So you make a wish list, and then you prioritize what you need and what you want. CN: Meet with different contractors and get different bids. If you don't understand something, ask questions until you do. It will help you feel like you're in control of the renovation.
To watch all ten episodes of The Castle Next Door—The Novogratz Family Takes Hollywood, click here.