As one of the “Fab Five” on the Netflix hit reality lifestyle show “Queer Eye,” Bobby Berk has risen to bonafide “it” status in the interior design sphere, thanks to his hip, youthful aesthetic that’s geared toward millennial homeowners.
In 2019, Berk made his mark in Arizona by designing the interiors of six model dwellings for Tri Pointe Homes’ Avance community near South Mountain. Recently, the 40-year-old tastemaker put the finishing touches on three of the four model homes in Tri Pointe’s latest master-planned community: Domaine at Waterston in Gilbert.
We caught up with Berk to talk about the three models — Acacia, Oak and Pistache — and get some tips for creating your own desert oasis.
Gilbert Lifestyles: What influenced your designs for the three model homes at Domaine at Waterston?
Bobby Berk: Whenever I begin on a new project, the first consideration is always the architecture, which is paramount to informing my design direction. The exterior styles of Domaine at Waterston’s homes were conceived by the collaboration between Bassenian Lagoni Architects and Tri Pointe Homes. They ultimately landed on a modern ranch, a contemporary and a farmhouse style to begin with, so I let those serve as a jumping off point for the concept direction at each interior. The Pistache plan is the modern farmhouse elevation, which I gave a fresh feel by utilizing a lot of white balanced by light oak, accents of moss green and hits of black. These elements were layered with casual linens and natural woven materials to add dimension and texture. The Acacia model is a desert contemporary style that utilizes a soft neutral palette of earthy desert hues, such as rust and sand, grounded by black elements throughout. In order to give it a really young, cool vibe that felt sophisticated but not too fussy, I incorporated sculptural furniture forms and punchy graphic art for a design that is striking with just the right amount of whimsy. Lastly, the Oak model is a modern ranch elevation that we envisioned as a tailored and refined midcentury ranch house. Here, we used high-contrast neutrals that play off warm woods and cool gray elements. Repeating the textural organic materials with tailored detailing gives the design subtle visual interest, and pops of blue and navy offer up some fresh color.
Gilbert Lifestyles: Gilbert has a strong history of agriculture. How did you blend that aesthetic with your own personal style for this project.
Berk: Gilbert does indeed have an agrarian past, and paying homage to that past was very important to the Arizona team at Tri Pointe Homes. They spent a lot of time with the project site planners, architects and landscape designers incorporating Gilbert’s past into this community. On the site where these homes are constructed, there used to be giant cisterns for storing agricultural water reserves, and the amenity planning and landscaping incorporate nods to this history and the town’s strong ties to water. The lots orient to community greenscape and water features, like those found in neighboring Veterans Oasis Park. In terms of the interior, we did lean into more organic elements that incorporate the local vibe and history. The Pistache farmhouse design is one of the places where that connection is perhaps most evident.
Gilbert Lifestyles: You’re known for supporting local artisans and businesses. Did you include any local pieces in your designs?
Berk: Whenever I can, I love to support small makers and craftspeople. In order to incorporate some local flair, we turned to Etsy to find local artists who created pieces we could use in the project, such as art that showcased maps of Gilbert and depictions of the water tower. During install week, despite the best laid plans, there are always things that get damaged or go missing. The Crossroads Towne Center, while certainly not a “secret” to locals, was one of the best resources for those last-minute essentials and became a real lifesaver!
Gilbert Lifestyles: You’ve now done two major projects with the Arizona division of Tri Pointe Homes. Has the area influenced your designs at all?
Berk: I’m excited by trends we’re seeing coming out of the region in the worlds of architecture, design and progressive cultural movements. Phoenix has been one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. for years, and it’s clear why. It’s always such a pleasure spending time and working with our teams there, and I’m really looking forward to more projects in the area soon!
Gilbert Lifestyles: Did the pandemic change the way you see and create interiors?
Berk: The pandemic made us realize how important our homes (and the spaces within them) really are, and the design world has taken notice. There’s a renewed focus on creating environments that bring a sense of calm and security, as well as carving out separate rooms for work, relaxation and spending time together. I think we'll continue to see an evolution in the distinction between public and private areas of a home, and spaces that have an uplifting energy that really makes you want to spend time there.
Bobby Berk’s Top 3 Design Tips
· Figure out what style speaks most to you and is appropriate for your home. It will serve as a guide to refer back to when you get conflicted about making decisions.
· Scale is the most important thing to remember when selecting your furniture. Measure twice before you purchase anything.
· Layer contrasting elements to provide emphasis. If everything is tonally the same, details can tend to get lost.