The Real Deal Los Angeles

Robert Novogratz on his family’s new show and why designing celebrity homes is overrated

“The Castle Next Door – The Novogratz Family Takes Hollywood" debuts this week

March 23, 2016 02:30PM
By Katherine Clarke

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Robert and Cortney Novogratz (credit: Studio Scrivo)

Robert and Cortney Novogratz (credit: Studio Scrivo)

They’re the New York City house flippers and interior designers behind shows such as “9 by Design” and “Home by Novogratz” on HGTV.

Now, Robert Novogratz, his wife Cortney and the couple’s seven kids have relocated to the west coast and are documenting the renovation of their new home, a 1920-era Hollywood Hills castle, for a new show streaming on People.com.

“The Castle Next Door – The Novogratz Family Takes Hollywood,” which is available on People’s website starting Wednesday, follows the Novogratzes as they scope out their new pad, gut it and then put their signature design skills to work.

The Real Deal sat down with Robert Novogratz to talk the show, the L.A. market and why designing celebrity homes is overrated.

Why did you move to L.A. in the first place?
We’ve always loved L.A. – we do a lot of design business out here. After 20 years in New York, it was time to change it up a little bit. So, we took the plunge, which wasn’t an easy thing to do. Moving across the country is hard enough for anyone, but it was especially challenging with seven kids.

What’s the age range of your kids?
We have an 18-year-old, two 17-year-olds, a 15-year-old, two 10-year-olds and a seven-year old.

Did they all go willingly?
Our two girls came kicking and screaming but they actually love L.A. the most now, so it all worked out.

How did you find the castle?
We looked all over the place. We thought we’d live in the Hollywood area just because it’s so centrally located and a lot of New Yorkers like it. We wanted a yard, we needed parking because we have four drivers and we wanted something a bit private but still close to everything. This had everything we wanted.

It looks like a massive renovation…
It was a total gut job. It has the great history of a 1920s castle home, which was built by a silent screen star. We didn’t want to knock it down. We wanted to preserve the history of the place. It still has that classic Chateau Marmont look to it but, on the inside, we totally changed it. The show starts on the first day of construction until the final housewarming party. It’s the construction, the design and a lot about how the kids are participating.

What’s the tone of the show?
It’s a cute show. There’s not a lot of chaos in there. It’s kind of funny to see how each of the kids is different.

So, it’s not exactly “Keeping up with the Kardashians?”
That’s not really our thing.

Did the kids all have a say in the renovation?
All the kids designed their own room. One kid designed the music room, another kid designed the library. Everyone had input. They all have totally different styles. With kids, whether you have two or seven, it’s really about exposing them to as much as possible. We have three that love design and the rest don’t want anything to do with it. One of our daughters wanted wallpaper so she wallpapered just the one side of her room. Another started an art collection on her side.

You’ve invested in a lot of real estate in New York. How is L.A. different?
I think New York is overpriced and I think L.A. is underpriced. When people are selling houses in Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn for over $4 million, it tells me the market is overpriced. I think services like Uber are really having an impact on the market here. For us, with kids, they take Uber X everywhere because we don’t want to be in carpools all the time.

People say that a lot of homes in L.A. are overpriced right now.
The high-end is the high-end and there are only a few people who can afford those crazy prices. I feel like there’s value in certain areas, like the outskirts of Venice. You just have to find the right area. The one thing I can’t get my arms around is Downtown. I feel like it’s overpriced.

Is this a permanent move?
The last six months have been incredible here and we’re really just starting to find our groove. I don’t think we plan on coming back anytime soon.

Are you designing any celebrity homes while you’re here?
We’re doing a couple of celebrity places right now, but we signed NDAs so I can’t talk about them. We’ve done a lot of work like that. It’s overrated if you ask me.

How so?
The super-wealthy don’t take a lot of chances. It’s more fun to do things for creative clients or hotels – or yourself. The world is becoming so homogenized. There aren’t a lot of interesting things. So, if you’re able to do something really creative, you have to jump on that.

What are some of the big trends in high-end design now?
Art has become big with everyone. I see the celebrities out a lot art the galleries and I never used to. The McMansion thing doesn’t seem so big anymore, thank God. People had been doing these big houses that were just overdone. Now, people have gotten a bit more real with their spending and design.

What do you miss most about New York?
The people. The people in New York you just can’t replace. New Yorkers really care about other people. People think they’re snobby or whatever but they’re far from it. In L.A., a lot of people are into nature or dogs more than people.