Nathan Turner loves California

Designer and Cookbook Author Nathan Turner has always worn his California roots on his sleeve in his relaxed yet refined designs. Now, he is debuting his first fabric collection, The California Collection, inspired by his childhood spent in Northern California, namely his beloved family ranch in the foothills of Sierra Nevada.

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Classic motifs like chintz, quilting, animal prints, and plaids get a thoroughly modern makeover in Turner’s hands. Even before cottage core was a trend, the designer has infused clients’ homes (and his own) with a relaxed California charm. Now, anyone can capture the look using the 30-plus prints—each an homage to the wild, natural beauty of the Golden State.

“I translated all of my wonderful memories of growing up in California into this collection.” Says Turner.

Describing the collection as traditional with a lived-in look and feel, Turner wanted to honor classic design motifs while ensuring nothing felt staid or stuffy. Though the direct influences are California-born and bred, Turner explains these relaxed, refined prints work in any home.

Each print comes in a myriad of subtle, slightly sunbleached hues, from neutrals like taupe to soft blues, greens, and pink and gold tones that create a polished charm to any room, from kitchen nooks to bedrooms and baths to the busiest living spaces. Now, anyone can capture the look using the 33 prints in the line—each an homage to the wild, natural beauty of the Golden State.

We had the chance to chat with Nathan Turner about his design process, inspirations and aspirations for the collection. Read on for more: 

DNN: “The California Collection” is heavily nostalgic. What specific childhood memories and experiences growing up in Northern California did you draw from to inspire the collection?

Nathan Turner: Oh my…so many and so many fabrics are direct correlations to memories. When on a ranch as a child, if you were seen lollygagging around, someone would inevitably give you a job. So, I was always wandering off and keeping myself busy and out of adult eyeline.

 In the summers I’d walk to my great aunts’ [house which] was up the road. The driveways were lined with wild blackberries…I’d always bring a bucket and fill it up so I could help make some sort of dessert…cobblers were my favorite. So naturally I designed a flowering blackberry pattern. 

Patterns I’d see on the ranch on old quilts and horse blankets left impressions on me [and] can be found all over the collection. Florals that remind me of my grandmothers’ bedroom. 

One year my brother and I raised California quails, you’ll find a quail pattern. Other state staples seen all over the ranch like oak trees and of course California poppies show up as well.

DNN: Now let’s talk about Californian design, more generally. What aspects of California’s style have you aimed to capture with this collection?

Nathan Turner: California’s ease and relaxed spirit is always at the forefront of my work and was definitely there when designing the fabric line. I like the way we live here: laid back but with style! 

My California is pretty traditional. I think part of that comes from growing up in Northern California where we aren’t as susceptible to trends and lean [more] into the classics.

Nathan Turner on his collection’s broader appeal

DNN: Despite “The California Collection’s” name and regional influences, it was important that the collection have broader appeal; that it works in any home, regardless of location. Can you elaborate on the versatility of the line? How do you see it being used outside of California?

Nathan Turner: Absolutely! In my book I Love California I talk about the California spirit and how it’s not about my home state but more a state of mind [It’s the] same thing here. 

I think a relaxed version of traditional favorites works anywhere.  Florals, stripes, and plaids on relaxed fabrics like linen and cotton are classics, these are just California classics!

A return to traditional

DNN: Many of the patterns in the collection, like the “Dora Chintz” and “Cowboy Toile,” put a unique spin on traditional motifs. How did you approach modernizing these classic designs while still maintaining a sense of timelessness? 

Nathan Turner: My childhood bedroom is covered in forest green toile…it’s a classic and after all these years it actually still holds up. So, starting with the classics and personalizing them like I did with my Cowboy Toile is enough change to give an update but not too much, so it keeps it timeless.

DNN: What is your take on trends invoking the old-meets-new approach? Are you seeing a swing towards more traditional aesthetics? 

Nathan Turner: I am! I have definitely seen an interest in looking back to the traditional. I also see a lot of people showing interest in hand made and American design…even crafts and folksy design. I’m here for it!

See Also

DNN: As a designer known for your “relaxed yet refined” aesthetic, how does your new textile collection compliment your overall design philosophy? Any plans to use “The California Collection” in your own home yet or in any clients’ homes?

Nathan Turner: It complements it well! Many patterns were things I was looking for but couldn’t necessarily find. More specifically color combinations I really like but don’t see a lot.

I started in my home (and friend’s homes). As designers our own homes are the best places to experiment and work things out. I’ve taken risks with clients but at home I can decorate with abandon. 

DNN: Can you share any insights into the production process for this collection? Any trials and tribulations to report or lessons learned? What advice might you have for a designer who is interested in starting a line – whether that be of fabrics, furnishings, lighting or decor?

Nathan Turner: We’ve been working on this for two plus years, and when I say we it’s an amazing team of people that have helped me. People with more knowledge than me of digital printing, creating repeats, laying out patterns, color work etc. 

Things, that, an interior decorator, I didn’t have a lot of experience in. So my advice would be to surround yourself with the right people. Be open to their input. I love the creative collaboration. The best ideas always come from being open. No one person knows everything! 

DNN: Lastly, dream a little! Is there a specific designer or particular space you would love to see use “The California Collection?”

Nathan Turner: I am so excited to see how people use this collection…I think I’m most excited to see how it’ll be imagined outside of California! Maybe it’s my connection to my English grandmother, and her being the inspiration for so much of it. I’d love to see it used in old homes in England.

The California Collection by Nathan Turner is now available: For samples and pricing, please visit nathanturner.com.

About Nathan Turner

Designer Nathan Turner, one of the country’s top interior decorators and lifestyle experts, comes by his unique American laid-back, high-style honesty. A fifth-generation Californian, Nathan Turner has spent time across the Golden State. It infuses his designs with every sense of its heritage, from sunny color to natural texture to bold, fun touches.Nathan has shared his passion for design, travel, and food in two best-selling books, Nathan Turner’s American Style and Nathan Turner’s I Love California. A popular lifestyle expert, Nathan has appeared on the Today Show, Extra, CBS Early Show, and Good Day LA/NY. He has been featured in the pages of Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, Vogue, Veranda, Domino, Food & Wine, Town & Country, Veranda, Sunset, House Beautiful, and C Magazine.

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