But that’s not because she was born into a family of royalty – quite the opposite in fact. Cortney and her husband Robert know how to seriously hustle. The duo has a booming interior design business, complete with 2 reality shows (Home By Novogratz and 9 By Design) and 3 books (Downtown Chic, Home By Novogratz, and Beachside Bohemian). It’s a career that literally found them. She told us,
“While planning our wedding, we bought a condemned building in Chelsea with water and fire damage. It was a total gut job, so we got bids from contractors, but we couldn’t even afford the lowest bid, so we did it ourselves. After we finished renovating, singer Suzanne Vega rented it from us, kickstarting our career. And we have never looked back. We have learned everything on jobs along the way.”
They recently moved their whole clan from NYC (where they lived for 25 years) to LA in order to expand their business opportunities, which currently include a hotel on the Jersey Shore, a Beverly Hills skyrise apartment building, and Napa’s Timber Cove resort.
We sat down with the laid-back powerhouse to talk life with 7 children, carving out sexy time, and how to raise humble kids. Meet the nothing-short-of-amazing Cortney Novogratz!
Heading To Cali
We moved to Los Angeles 2 years ago, after being in Manhattan for 25 years – we had all 7 kids there. We did it for several reasons:
- Our kids were getting older, and we wanted them to experience living somewhere other than Manhattan.
- We started hitting a wall work-wise and needed to grow our network.
West Coast Life
Life has slowed down a bit because our social lives weren’t so robust, forcing us all to dig deep and lean on each other – that’s been so good for us as a family. You have to switch things up to put life into perspective. NYC will always be there.
On Having 7 Kids
Robert is 1 of 7, and I am youngest of 5. We both knew we wanted a lot of kids – you have to be on the same page as your partner when it comes to that. We didn’t change our lives for our kids, we just incorporated them into ours. One day they will get to go and dream big and live their own lives. I’m not sure how we’re going to pay for them all, but we’re having fun!
On Doing Reality Shows
Robert’s family did an intervention with us because they didn’t want us to do it! They also didn’t want us to buy a 4th dilapidated building, but we did. As the world changes, you have to change with it to create opportunities for yourself. We were scared, but we knew we could control what came out of our mouths. We got to tour the country, and that was amazing. It was so worth the risk for us because it opened so many doors. We have no regrets.
The feelings I had when we did our first hotel are something I always want to hold on to – we knew exactly what we were doing and had no idea what we were doing, all at the same time. Robert was great when I was overwhelmed because he stays in the present. That project instilled in me that focusing on today prepares you for tomorrow.
A Palm Beach client let us go – our first and only time that has happened. Our egos were bruised, but we knew not to take it personally (even though that’s easier said than done!).
The Struggle Is Real
The teen years are both hard and exciting. Technology brings a whole slew of challenges, but watching them become their own person is so fun. I know something is always around the corner to shock me, and I’m wise enough at this point to know that even on the darkest days, it can always get worse! One kid after another throwing up on a plane? Been there!
Raising Good Kids
Our goal has always been to raise kids who are hungry and passionate but humble. By watching us, they have learned that if you want something, you have to work hard for it. We rent out homes, so we can afford to travel. We sell our own furniture when a client wants it because it’s just stuff. Keep reminding yourself of that.
You have to get creative and carve out time whenever you can. For us, the bonus of working together is we can have sexy time when the kids are at school!
Don’t Cater To Them
Expose your kids to nice things: Don’t just do the living room – spread the wealth throughout the house. Put a sophisticated piece of art in their room, and have them take ownership of their space. That’s how they learn to appreciate and respect nice things.