Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know and love Queer Eye‘s Bobby Berk, the design expert with a knack for completing incredible home transformations in record time. For season three, Bobby — along with Tommy Rouse, Production Designer + Stylist with Queer Eye — designed the Fab Five’s loft space in Kansas City using West Elm furniture and accessories. The loft needed to be a place for the guys to relax and hang out, but also have everything they’d need to pull off life-changing transformations — a kitchen, a living room, a wardrobe space and a makeover area. (Oh, and a bar!) The result is a stylish open space with functional vignettes throughout the room. We chatted with Bobby to learn more about out his design inspiration for the Queer Eye loft, his smart style tips to make the most of your space, his favorite part about working with the show’s heroes and more.
See a full tour of the Queer Eye loft outfitted exclusively by West Elm here!
The loft was a big open space before we used it, so I wanted to create a space that was not only functional for what we needed to use it for, but also had different areas that allowed the space to feel more familial and comfortable. Creating different vignettes throughout the room in a cohesive color palette allows me to define the different spaces without having them feel separate from each other.
When your living room does double-duty as an office, a hangout, and a place for the occasional dinner on the sofa – it’s important to make sure that every piece in the room has a few different functions. Storage is key in these types of rooms. Look for side tables with drawer storage and a coffee table that also lifts up to house blankets and extra throws.
I also try to make sure that all the fabrics and rugs are performance-grade and can stand up to the many different uses the room will get. We all want that comfy flokati or shag rug in our space, but if you have a lot of foot traffic then it might not make the most sense. Instead, opt for a flatweave that will clean up well if needed. I also love to put a thick rug pad under those types of rugs to add some extra comfort.
Last but not least, always go vertical – if you have the space for it move as much as you can from the floor space onto the walls. Built in bookshelves or a tall unit with baskets and bins in it will help keep things organized as well as free up the floor plan.
I love the West Elm Pictograph media console that we used under the TV. Finding a good decorative piece that also gives a lot of storage is not always the easiest and this one does both.
No one wants to play bartender all night long, especially if you are the host of the party. So when you’re creating the perfect bar area, it’s all about providing all the necessities so that everyone can make their own drink and refill it when they are ready for their next round. Whether that is housed on a bar cart or on your own countertop make sure to have all the items out for everyone – that way you can enjoy the party rather than tend to it. To keep the setup feeling personal, I love to mix and match the cups — just be sure to keep it in a tonal color palette so that it doesn’t look too chaotic. And if you want to take it one step further you can provide some fresh herbs, fruit and mix-ins for people to use in their own drinks.
Every room needs an accent wall or a graphic element to help the room pop. I like to keep things fairly neutral in color for the foundational pieces like couches, rugs and drapes and then you can bring in color and visual interest through the smaller accessories, throws, pillows or even an accent wall of temporary wallpaper.
Open spaces can be overwhelming for people. They can often go cold and sterile, so I like to bring in warmth through texture and subtle color like we did here as well as some wood elements like you see in the credenzas and as accents on the furniture.
Texture, interest, and something personal. I love to start with the foundational pieces in the room in a tonal palette and then bring in texture through the textiles (pillows, rugs and throws). You can bring in interest by adding in some graphic elements throughout the room, whether that be with an accent color, a graphic wallpaper, a large piece of art or even a sculptural tree. Last, you’ll want to bring in some pieces that help your home feel like your own. Whether that is family photos or a personal item that you picked up during your travels, adding in something personal gives the space personality.
At the end of the day, you and your family are the people who use your space the most. So although you will want it to feel pulled together and inviting for guests, don’t get caught up making it look too perfect – be sure to include items that allow you to relax and enjoy the room and make you happy. I love adding in fresh flowers or plants to every room – it’s something that always brings a bit of life into the space and seeing them makes the room feel more inviting. On top of that, I always have a few candles lit around the room – the scent fills the room with just the right aroma and the light adds a little bit of ambiance.
When you come into someone’s home and completely transform their space it also allows you to transform and change their life. I feel so lucky that I am able to help redesign the spaces that our heroes live in, and work with them to teach them how having an organized and clean space can translate directly into their daily life. Surrounding ourselves with things that make us happy allows us to bring that same feeling into the rest of our lives. But that happiness doesn’t have to mean something you buy – it could simple come through by changing around the layout of your room or organizing your room to get rid of what you don’t use. Happiness starts in your home and I love that I can help our heroes find that.
See more from Queer Eye Season 3 here!
Photography of Queer Eye loft by Landon Vonderschmidt.