Spaces

See inside the new “Queer Eye” loft in Kansas City designed by Bobby Berk and West Elm

West Elm’s Cora leather counter stools ($249 each) provide stylish seating space in the black and white kitchen of the “Queer Eye” set in downtown Kansas City.
West Elm’s Cora leather counter stools ($249 each) provide stylish seating space in the black and white kitchen of the “Queer Eye” set in downtown Kansas City.

Who here, besides me, has binge-watched Season 3 of “Queer Eye”? If you aren’t familiar, I suggest you head straight to the couch, cue up Netflix and get comfy.

The newly released season features eight episodes filmed last fall in Kansas City. It’s easy to watch them all in an afternoon — especially for KC fans who have fun spotting local landmarks on the show.

The wildly popular reboot of the early 2000s Bravo show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” isn’t focused on style-less dudes getting expensive makeovers. It focuses on real people who have lost themselves going through different challenges — and giving them practical advice they can stick to.

The Fab Five — Antoni Porowski (food), Bobby Berk (design), Jonathan Van Ness (hair), Karamo Brown (culture) and Tan France (fashion) — help local “heroes,” including a female penitentiary employee, a lesbian who was rejected by her adoptive family after coming out, a pair of BBQ legend sisters, a shaggy camp counselor and a widower with two young sons, to help turn their lives around.

Producers staged the “Queer Eye” TV set in a downtown Kansas City loft in the historic Firestone Building at 20th Street and Grand Boulevard. The set looks like a real apartment with a kitchen, living room, grooming station and makeover area.

Berk partnered with West Elm to outfit the stylish space, which is featured in every episode. He also used the store’s furnishings and accessories to outfit each hero’s personal space.

In episode 5, Berk visits the West Elm store at 400 W. 47th St. on the Country Club Plaza to select pieces for a Lawrence home.

I’m always impressed by how Berk can flip the heroes’ houses in a short span of time, making them sublimely individual. Sometimes I found myself thinking nothing could be done with the space he was given, but the final reveal would shine light on his brilliance, and I had to stop doubting the designer.

Berk starts every project with a honed set of ideas. He often begins with a neutral base and layers in interesting and personal items, mixed metals and living plants.

“I love to start with the foundational pieces in the room in a tonal palette and then bring in texture through the textiles,” he says. “You can bring in interest by adding in some graphic elements throughout the room, whether that be with an accent color, a graphic wallpaper, a large piece of art or even a sculptural tree.”

Keep reading for Berk’s approach to creating a luxe yet livable space, and visit West Elm’s website to shop the complete loft look.

Go vertical: If you have the space for it, move as much as you can from the floor onto the walls. Built-in bookshelves or a tall unit with baskets and bins will help keep things organized, as well as free up the floor plan.

Do double-duty: Look for side tables with drawer storage and a coffee table that also lifts up to house blankets and extra throws.

Get the right rug: Make sure all the fabrics and rugs can stand up to the room’s uses. We all want that comfy flokati or shag rug, but if you have a lot of foot traffic then it might not make the most sense. Instead, opt for a flatweave that will clean up well. Don’t forget to put a thick rug pad under it to add extra comfort.

Embrace color: Every room needs an accent wall or a graphic element to help the room pop.

Grow plants: Include fresh flowers or plants in every room. It brings a bit of life into the space and makes the room feel more inviting.

Create ambiance: Light a few candles. The scent fills the room with just the right aroma and the light adds a little bit of romance.

Incorporate your own pieces: Weave in family photos along with personal items that you picked up during your travels to personalize the space.

Let go: Don’t get caught up making your space look too perfect. Be sure to include items that allow you to relax and make you happy.

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