The Gilt MAN Q&A

Questions for… Jeremiah Brent

The interior designer on why you should always break the rules, his exclusive new candles for Gilt, and the scent that divides him and his fiancé Nate Berkus.

Let’s talk about candles. (I’ve always wanted to start an interview that way.) A guy needs a few as part of his home repertoire. What’s your advice on that front?

It definitely helps with masking unsightly odors [laughs] — especially for the bachelor. With design, I’m always inspired by what I touch and see, and smell is like the final touch to any space, kind of creating that atmosphere. For the proverbial straight bachelor I always suggest a simple, clean candle.

Any particular scents a guy should look for?
It’s so hard, because scents are so personal, but for me — because I’m like a homeless lesbian with the way I live my life and design [laughs] — I like a nice campfire smell, something woodsy and masculine. But then my fiancé [home designer Nate Berkus] loves rose, which is like my least favorite floral scent.

It’s a very specific scent.
Yeah, but people love it! It’s like fire — people either hate it or love it.

Some people are into layering cologne — say, a musk with something woodsy — do people do the same with candles, sort of mixing and matching scented candles?
For me, mixing scented candles, unless they’re in the same family, is a no-go. I tried that whole mixing oils thing, and I ended up smelling like a French whorehouse. It was just too much. With everything, simple, simple, simple. It always weirds me out when you’re in a house and one room smells like fig and the other smells like a cinnamon cake. It just doesn’t make any sense.

Any scents you’d recommend a guy avoid?
Sugar cookie — I hate all those specialty smells, like pumpkin spice. I like to keep things like, herbs, or if you’re going to do floral, really subtle smells.

Who’s got the best smelling home you’ve ever been in?
That’s a good question. For me, the best smelling home would be my fiancé, Nate’s. He and I have this love for the same potpourri from Santa Maria Novella, and it just smells like home to me. When I went to his house I was like, wait, this smells like mine.

Where do you see Jeremiah Brent the brand headed in 10 years?
I don’t know where I’ll be in a year from now! But for me, it’s always been about brand integrity, that every time I do something I want it to be 100 percent quality. This candle I’m really proud of. It’s chic, you can reuse the vessel, which was really important to me.

I really want to change the way people look at home design, and have more fun with it. Network television and they way they’ve shown design, it’s all rules. And the truth is, you should break them all. It should be so much more fun than that. You can make your room look like page 32 of a catalogue, but when you come home you don’t actually feel like you’re at home, and that’s not good interior design.

What advice do you have for our readers trying to achieve that sense of home?
My biggest thing with people is that they need to take a beat and relax. People try to fill up their house immediately and get it done, and unless you’re a designer, you really need to take a moment to let the design evolve with you through the process. I don’t believe in rules, but scale is really important, with sofas and chairs. [Otherwise,] I think that you should break every rule that anybody’s ever set.

And invest, that’s the other thing. Invest in one key thing that you can have for 10 years. It’s like building a wardrobe. You find those investment pieces that you’ll have for 10 years, and then you can find the fun stuff around it that’s less expensive.

Shop Jeremiah Brent’s exclusive candle for Gilt >>

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