Renowned designer Nate Berkus hosts NBC’s bold new reality competition series American Dream Builders that showcases the talents of accomplished designers and home builders in the country. The show pits 12 talented contestants against one another in a high-stakes competition. Read about all the contestants.
Meet “American Dream Builders” designer Nancy Hadley.
Zillow: How did you get into design?
Hadley: I studied art at University of California-Santa Barbara, where I did both two- and three-dimensional art. After college, I started designing museum installations, which meant I had to understand functional space. I actually got involved with “Extreme Home Makeover” when I emailed Ty (Pennington). I didn’t know him, but I was a fan of the show and I emailed to say, “Hey, I think I can help you.” The crazy thing is that he responded. I went in to help with a kid’s room and then became head muralist and later became art director. I loved how fast paced it was, especially compared to museum exhibit design, which was sometimes painfully slow.
Zillow: What’s the best design advice you’ve ever received?
Hadley: Work big to small. A lot of people get caught up in the details first and you can’t do that. You need to start with an inspiration or motivation and let that move the rest of the project forward. That works for exhibits as well as for commercial and residential design.
Zillow: What’s your signature design trick?
Hadley: My signature design trick really is my signature. I like to have my hands on something in a space — a painting or fabrication that embodies my clients’ personalities and inspires creativity.
Zillow: Describe your design style in three words.
Hadley: Natural. Inviting. Creative.
Zillow: What are the design trends that excite you most right now?
Hadley: When you’re dressing a room, I love using luxurious textures against modern lines. It’s so appealing to take a cold, hard space and soften it with a sheepskin rug or textured draperies — that really plays to my sense of balance.
In terms of color trends, this year’s Pantone color is “Radiant Orchid.” I always think it’s good to check the color trends, but it’s also OK to acknowledge that’s a tough color. I like to take the color and look for grayed-back or lighter versions of it. Layering those trendy colors can add depth to a space, while still keeping it current.