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The Castle Next Door ...

The Novogratz Renovate a Castle

Novogratz Family Portraits and Lifestyle Photography

I met the Courtney and Bob Novogratz when we were all on HGTV 5 years ago hosting our independent shows and I immediately loved them. They are just like they seem – funny, down to earth, easy to talk to, and they absolutely dance to the beat of their own drum, or in this case drumset. They moved to LA after 20 years in New York and bought an old Hollywood castle to renovate. They documented the whole process on their new series on People.com and while I’m only up to part 4 (I might watch more tonight) its pretty darn entertaining and really makes me wish they were back on TV full-time.

I couldn’t find pics that did it justice so I’m going to let you guys watch the series to see how it looks, But here is the exterior of the castle before and after:

Novogratz_Before After Castle

The inside transformation is similar – its new and modern and every finish has been changed and updated. Its totally unrecognizable inside, which is controversial, I know. It’s full of beautiful pieces and modern furniture.

What is so remarkable about these people is how much they just do whatever they want in life. It’s absolutely insane to think how and why they had 7 kids, intentionally, lived in Manhattan and now moved them all to LA just for a change of pace. They became designers because they wanted to, with no training. They do things as a team and a family and because of that (not in spite of that) they have been and will continue to be really successful.

Novogratz_Family

We went to the housewarming party for this castle a month ago and man it was fun. There was a burger truck, great drinks, lots of people, etc. All the usual ‘make for a good party’ ingredients. But what was so remarkable is how their entire family was involved and so many of their kid’s friends were there. It wasn’t Hollywood scene-y or shmooz-ey, it was a big family having a fun big party altogether. Breaker’s band sang and Five and Holleder break danced for everyone – not because they were showing off but because they wanted to break dance and were comfortable and confidant enough to do it in front of strangers.

It was the first time that I have ever thought ‘Wow, a small bit of fame or television work might actually be good for kids’. Maybe it’s because they aren’t being trained as actors to “perform”. Maybe it’s because they are collectively famous (and not in a ‘they get recognized too often’ kinda way), as a family. I know how much being in front of the camera as myself has made me more confident in the last 6 years so imagine if you grew up causally doing it. Not all the time, just a few months out of the year as a family, while mostly talking about design or in the background. I don’t know, guys, they were making a REAL good case for it (unbeknownst to them).

novogratz-family

They also seem to genuinely like each other. I’m not just saying that because it sounds lovely, no, my friend Corbs and I witnessed it. We were hanging out in the screening room when a few of them came in. They proceeded to plop down and hang the heck out with their friends and each other and just shoot the shit with us pretending not to listen but absolutely eves dropping (the room is big and there were others that were in there, too, with music playing, etc). Their relationships seemed so good, and like they genuinely loved hanging out with each other. We kept saying over and over Why didn’t we start having kids earlier and what can we do to get 7 kids now!? If you’ve run into me in the last 5 months you know that “our family is complete” (read: WE ARE DONE), but after hanging out with them I was sold on big family life again. They make it look so fun and easy and joyful. Oh how I know it’s not that easy (I came from six kids, remember?) but between them and the show Parenthood there are days when I think how I wish we had started when we were 23 so we could have 5 kids at a slower pace, not this back to back (lovely) thing we decided to do. Point is: we left the party with nothing besides total admiration for this family and kinda wishing we were 2 of their kids.

YES, the design of the space is incredible with some interesting and very Novogratz-y pieces and rooms to be stared at and shared. There is insane art, the most beautiful tiled courtyard, a screening room, a game room, a music room, an amazing master bathroom and a grand bedroom for the parents and much much more. It’s room after room of personality and surprise.

I’m hoping that by watching the show I can glean some sort of secret or catch the magical spell on how they have succeeded in being so normal and so unique at the same time.

You can watch the whole series here. I highly recommend it.

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  1. LOVE this family so much and so much fun that you got to go to their party! So jealous, and cannot wait to tune into the show. When are you going to be back on TV we miss you.

    1. Agreed! we want you back on TV

  2. You and the Novogratz are always my 2 design inspiration..I pull from your ability to layer and make a space warm and their ability to make art really work for a space. I had no idea about this series!

  3. Ha, I love how Robert can button his shirt like a three year old and still pull off the cool vibe!

  4. Any family who can rock a wrongly-buttoned down shirt or color coordinate without looking like they all shoped at the same store while heading a design lifestyle brand is good in my book! There are no haters when you follow your own rules, as the Novogratz family has done. Good on them!

  5. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said “I wish we were 2 of their kids.” I am one of 13 kids and have always LOVED being part of a big family. But I “only” have 3 of my own, as I would NEVER want to be the parent of so many kids. Truly insane. Love you mom!

  6. Emily- I totally agree! I’m also done with two kids, but I think about the fearless folks who plunge in early and go all the way with everything they do, and I’m envious.

  7. I made it as far as the crazy kid names and Robert wearing his sunglasses indoors and decided to cut and run. I think they rubbed me wrong on HGTV, too. I’m sure they’re fabulous but not my thing. They just seem pretentious.

    I don’t think adding castle-ish features to a house makes it a castle, either.

    1. Ha. Not to be their emotional bodyguard or try to change your mind BUT they are ANYTHING but pretentious. She’s southern, almost always makeup free and couldn’t be more easy and unfussy. I promise.

  8. Ok they are seriously all so beautiful!

    1. Totally. Good genes. They’re all very beautiful.

      I’m thinking the oldest of the guys should be a Abercrombie model – and even thinking that made me feel like a creepy old lady (he’s 18, I just googled it, Wolfgang, and he’s an athlete) 😀

  9. Love the Novagratz! A couple of years ago (we still lived in Massachusetts) I went to the “tag sale” they had at their house in the Berkshires. It was similar to your description. It was truly a party with the whole family talking to all the people and helping them find treasures. I had a wonderful day, bought a few treasures and made some fun memories.
    P.S. I would really love to see you on tv again!

  10. I love a story about a sweet family, strongly bonded. What their parents are choosing to do professionally and with the day to day as they raise their kids is tangential to the love that’s always there. The takeaway to me is not that they’re a nice family with a public profile – it’s that they’re such a nice family. Love this post!

  11. I had never heard of them until they were featured on Apartment Therapy a while back. I grew up with five siblings and I love that they enjoy having a big family. And I agree with Emily that being in front of the camera can help you get over certain fears. But I am so glad that this whole reality thing didn’t exist when I was a kid. They are fortunate that all their kids seem OK with it. I would not have been for most of my pre-teen and teen years. I would not even have enjoyed the amount of facebook coverage some parents give their kids.

  12. A friend and I were talking about our families the other day… we have 2 children and they also have 2. My husband and I decided a long time ago (after much debate) that we were finished having babies and she and her husband are in the midst of making a decision on whether they should have more. One piece of advice I gave her is that you NEVER hear people say that they had too many children… but you DO hear people saying that they wish they had more. Myself included. I say if it’s even debatable, maybe you should take the leap! That’s my two cents!

  13. Great story, I am definitelly going to watch this amazing family remodeling their spectacular home.

    1. I am sure their nice people but I got major 2nd hand embarrassment when Breaker starting singing at the party. Yikes.

  14. I think you both should be back on TV. I loved the Novogratz show on Bravo, and I loved your show too!

  15. I stumbled onto their series on People.com recently and it was fun to see you at the party. I thought it was great and wished each one was a little longer….. I had followed them on HGTV so I was surprised they had moved across country as they seemed so connected to their area in NYC. Fun to see them here.

  16. the link isn’t working to watch their show?

  17. Thank you for this! I read about the castle redo and scoured Netflix in vane today for it! We have 6 kids so I try to be hip like Courtney. ?

  18. Aww the Novos throw the best parties!!! I used to work for them in NYC, and they are literally the coolest.

  19. OMgosh, I remember these guys, yes! I do want to watch … Short of the ‘I Want To Be Them’ disease I sometimes catch so easily from certain shows …

  20. Just wow Emily!!!! no words .

  21. Am I basically the only person in the world who hates their aesthetic? They do seem like cool, super nice people, but the horrendous line they did for CB2 boiled down to a formula of 1) pick clashing 90s jewel tones and a wide stripe 2) put a word on it. It is glaringly obvious that they lack training, and this seems like an emporer’s clothes situation because they are so likeable.

    1. Their CB2 line was horrible. I don’t know them at all but they comes across as smug to me.

  22. I’ve seen the previous series and still wonder how they do it? I’m exhausted after one three day weekend babysitting the grandkids. As in sending my husband out to scout the streets for their car. As in hitting the wine and chocolate as soon as they leave.

    I’m thinking actual magic may be involved.

  23. The link isn’t working for me. I keep getting sent to People videos with no way to search their show. I’m dying to see it but can’t find it!

  24. I enjoyed the quick series. Their style leans toward kooky and that fits them perfectly. Creative, colorful, expressive, bold. Refreshing.

  25. I loved their show on Bravo! While their aesthetic isn’t my own, I adore them.
    I’m an only child and have an only child. I couldn’t handle more than one, I’m too high-strung, but watching their kids together brings tears to my eyes.
    Thanks for the post, I wasn’t aware of the series and promptly watched them all (too short!).

  26. Fabulous Post Emily, Such a beautiful blog

  27. The Novogratz family does seem nice and it’s obvious they’re having a ball. And the kids seem fun and happy. But I’ve never been able to shake the feeling that there is something poseur-ish about them, especially the dad.

    Because why does all their “marching to their own beat/doing their own thing” just happen to align perfectly with such an excruciatingly hipster aesthetic?

  28. I have always loved them! They are so confident, easy going and loving. I don’t share their personal style or design esthetic, but every time I see them it encourages me to listen to my own voice. They have a vibe worth spreading. Thanks for sharing!

  29. Lovely positive post. Looking forward to watching the series.

    http://elyceabrams.com/home.html

  30. Love this family and always wondered what happened to them! Will be watching the show for sure! Did anyone catch Bob’s shirt in the last picture you posted!! lol

  31. I watched the show in one sitting and loved it! You’re totally right–they make a very compelling case for the big family!

    P.S. I spotted you in the housewarming party episode and you looked ultra-lovely, as always! 🙂

    xx Hannah // http://www.HomemadeBanana.com

  32. I’m sick of reading about their castle renovation everywhere online, but actually seeing very little of the castle renovation! This has been the most overplayed PR campaign I can recall, without any weight or details. Show us the rooms, tell us how much you spent, how much everything costs etc etc.

    They come across as being excessively rich, so everything they say, do and buy is way beyond anything I can imagine. Sending the kids to buy a full room of new music equipment: who does that? They remind me of the Beckhams.

  33. Hey Emily. Your blog is awesome.

  34. These two have some of the most compatible DNA I have ever seen. They make such gorgeous babies.

    And the house is nice. 🙂

  35. The inside transformation is similar – its new and modern and every finish has been changed and updated. Its totally unrecognizable inside, which is controversial, I know. It’s full of beautiful pieces and modern furniture.