New York City
- Reality show design couple Bob
and Cortney Novogratz
's "9 By Design" sat down with Hamptons.com prior to a book signing in support of their new Rizzoli hardcover "Downtown Chic."
in Downtown Manhattan at Fifth Avenue and 15th Street was the perfect venue for these young, hip designers to meet and greet their fans, of which there were plenty as "9 By Design" has risen like a meteor in the realty based television genre. Joining the couple was their son Breaker
, who was as thrilled as his parents by the success of the show and the excitement surrounding their first book.
Fans Chad Bailey and Maya Wilder pose for a photo with America's hippest, young design couple and their son.
The couple may definitely have a handle on "Downtown Chic" but this couple did not grow up on the streets of Downtown, "My mom was from Queens, but my dad went to West Point, so we were Military. I grew up mostly in Northern Virginia," explained Bob. "And I am from the deep south, South Georgia, but we have been here for 18 years so it feels like home," noted Cortney.
I asked what first brought them to the Big Apple, "Something big, something exciting, which is right here in this city. We moved here to live out the dream like everyone else," said Cortney who first came to Manhattan in pursuit of an acting career.
The intention was clearly not to have a career in real estate renovation but as Cortney noted they were in the middle of it before they knew it, "I don't know if it found us or we found it somehow, but we bought our first condemned building before we even got married. That really changed the course of our careers and the course of our life together."
They hadn't planned on being hands on, but having thrown all their saving into purchasing the building and with plans for a family when the first bid from an architect came in at $12,000 Bob said, "Let's go buy a tape measure and measure the place ourselves." Cortney added, "It literally started that way. We learned everything on the job and it has been that way ever since."
Ever since has included renovating dozens of homes, several hotels, commercial gyms and a home bowling alley, among others, including a home in Amagansett. The family has three homes of their own in Manhattan, Massachusetts and Brazil, all of which they self renovated.
Aspiring Interior Designer and elated fan Laura Falcone with her autographed copy of "Downtown Chic."
I asked the couple how the show "9 By Design" came about, "They approached us. We had been featured in a couple of magazine articles and several networks contacted us. The whole process took about a year." For those unfamiliar with the show, "9" comes from the fact that the Novogratz' have seven children and all are featured on the show. In fact, number seven, Major
, was born during the first season. I have seen the show several times and after meeting Breaker, it is clear that this is a loving and devoted family that has created a great life together that many would envy.
In describing their first book the couple explained, "We, of course, share our design style with the readers. Our designs are very different, but we also tried to tell a story. Our story is one of being self taught and we want to share that with others. We share the mistakes we made and hope not to repeat. We tell people to take chances and don't be afraid of making mistakes. Enjoy life, it is short. We offer contracting advice, real estate advice, we are really just telling our story. It is about a lifestyle, along with decorating a home. You can create great art out of any four walls on any budget."
When I asked if they had any projects coming up in the Hamptons, Bob told me they had just missed purchasing the Memory Motel in Montauk, "We wanted to do a cool little box hotel, but we missed the deal by a week." The couple has two other potential projects in the Hamptons on the horizon.
The book signing started at 7 p.m. and the line formed before the family arrived at the table. Autographed book in hand, ecstatic fan Laura Falcone
told me, "They are the most inspiring couple I have ever met, watched or came in contact with in my entire life. I am an aspiring interior designer who was just accepted to Pratt for my Masters. I just asked Bob and Cortney if I could intern with them and they are going to meet with me and give me a shot. I am on cloud 9 right now because they are the best."
The Novogratz family through their show "9 By Design" and their beautiful new book "Downtown Chic" are not only changing the way everyday people are looking at design, renovation and real estate, but they may very well be breeding an entire generation of new age designers. And that is above and beyond the brood of seven young designers they call their own.
Foe more information go to www.rizzoliusa.com
Frequently mistaken for the "Most Interesting Man in the World" from the Dos Equis commercials and the iconic gray-bearded Sean Connery, DMH is the Senior Contributing Editor at Hamptons.com. www.hamptons.com