The Things That Matter, is a part coffee table book, part memoir and part biography of Nate Berkus and some of his close friends and interesting clients (many who he met through Oprah). I borrowed it from the library after a binge of ordering Bobbi Brown’s latest how to put on makeup book: Pretty Powerful, Pippa Middleton’s party planning Celebrate tome (it is big!) and the gift I bought everyone but myself at Christmas: The Smitten Kitchen cookbook. I am not sure what made me reach for Nate’s book during the snowstorm that left the Boston area housebound. Maybe I felt like decorating more than I felt like cooking, planning a party or putting on makeup.
Nate described how he developed his love for decorating (his mom was an interior designer), his struggles with coming out to his family, most of his career path, finding love, and the details of how he survived the Tsunami of 2004 but lost his partner and love, Fernando. We see beautiful pictures of the objects Nate describes in his stories. Each vignette follows this pattern: a story with descriptions of important possessions of everyone from the formerly homeless man behind the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness to architects, socialites and even Dr Ruth. Just like when Nate was on Oprah and now his own talk show, he drills down to the objects that matter and finds ways to make them part of the heart and soul of the home.
A collector of things like Nate, and someone who loves the thrill of the hunt, whether at TJ Maxx or the side of the road or a thrift shop, I could relate to the stories. I’ve already taken some tips from Nate, like framing my baby footprint for my mom, placing a bird’s nest and glass jars of seashells and smooth rocks on my mantel. His book made me think about the things that don’t matter to me and the things that do. I am already thinking about moving my treasured letters from my grandmother to a big enameled box. Now I just need to find one.