Robert and Cortney Novogratz started fixing up rundown buildings in New York City almost 15 years ago. Now, they star in the reality TV series 9 By Design and fix up everything from residences to hotels. The mom/dad duo design team opened up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about their seven (!) children, how they balance their busy career and family life and how they make time for self care and date night.
CBS: You have 7 children! Please tell us their names and ages.
C&R: “Wofgang, 13, twins Tallulah and Bellamy, 11, Breaker, 9, twins Five and Holleder, 4, and Major 17 months.”
CBS: Do your children run the full gamut? Are some academic? Some athletic? Some artistic? Some outgoing?
C&R: “When you have seven kids, you get a mix of personalities and interests. We have some kids that are great at sports, like Wolfie, who is a basketball star. Some are more artistic, some good students, some not so good. A few are shy, and then others are not shy at all. The key is to figure out what kind of child you have and nurture him or her in the areas where they are strong, and help them where they are weak.”
CBS: Did you always plan to have 7 children? Are you religious? What has driven you to have such a large family?
C&R: “We never planned to have seven kids. But both of us come from large families (Bob is one of seven, and Courtney is one of five kids). We knew we wanted to hav ea large family, but we never put a number on it. We love having a large family. It is not religion that dictated the size of our family.”
CBS: Are you done at 7?
C&R: “We think we’re done, but then again, we never say never.”
CBS: What are the values and belief systems you are teaching your children?
C&R: “We want each of our children to be loving, caring, generous and empathetic human beings. We want them to be exposed to a lot of different things so they can find what interests them. And we hope for them to find something in life to do that makes them happy, in the way that we have. We try to set a good example for the kids in all areas, and help them reach their potential and most of all, to have happy and fulfilled lives.”
CBS: Do you feel like you have enough time with each child?
C&R: “We work from home, so we spend a lot of time with the kids. We make sure that each child gets special me-time with both parents.”
CBS: How do you do it all? Do you have nannies? A cook? A house cleaner?
C&R: “We have help! There is no way we could do this all ourselves without assistance! We always say it takes a village to raise such a large family in the city, or anywhere. We are very lucky to have so much support.”
CBS: You live in Soho, New York City with your children! Do you have enough space in your home for everybody?
C&R: “We do have a very large house and we are grateful that we do have enough space for all of the kids (and us) to have room to live comfortably! The kids share rooms, but that is actually a nice thing for everybody, and within those rooms, every kid has his or her own private space to do homework, etc.”
CBS: Tell us all about your reality TV show, 9 by Design.
C&R: “It was an amazing experience for all of us. We really enjoyed the process, getting to know the crew, and learning how a TV show is made. And being on TV has been incredible! Not only has it showed people around the country (and the world) our work, it has introduced us to a lot of people. Our fans are very supportive and let us know how much they enjoy the show. That is really gratifying!”
CBS: Are the children enjoying having the cameras around? How are you safeguarding your family from the ‘reality TV curse’ of divorce and breakdown?
C&R: “The kids only filmed if they felt like it, but to be honest, they really enjoyed it mostly! The show was more about our work than the family, so the kids did not have to film that much anyway. We discussed it with the older kids before we got into the show in the first place, and they were up for it. Ultimately, though, being on TV has not made a huge difference in our daily life. We are doing what we always do. And the kids are doing what they always do. We did not make such a big deal about being on TV. It’s fun, but not the focus on our lives. And we are not going to get divorced or the kids have a meltdown. We have busy lives and work and family, and we just concentrate on that.”
CBS: What is the secret to being married, co-parents AND working together? How do you not drive each other crazy?
C&R: “We enjoy working together. We compliment each other well, and are a great team. We always have been and we don’t really drive each other crazy. We support each other and love our work so it is all good.”
CBS: Do you ever make time for date night/time alone (and not working)?
C&R: “We definitely spend time doing fun stuff by ourselves. Whenever we can, and are not always working. We go out for dinner, see friends, go to events. We make time to just hang out, too, especially when the kids are at school.”
CBS: Do each of you practice in self care? If so, what are your best tips for busy moms and dads who don’t make time for themselves?
C&R: “We both are physically active and eat well and take good care of ourselves. The best tip we can give to busy parents is just find a little time for yourself, even if it seems impossible. Just do it!”
CBS: Tell us about your passion for fixing up homes. How long have you been doing it? Is there any kind of projects you refuse to take on?
C&R: “We have pursued our passion of building beautiful houses and now, hotels, for almost fifteen years. We only take on projects that we love, and our favorite thing is to build and design a home for our family! We built our first hotel last summer, bungalow, on the Jersey Shore, and the response to it has been amazing. Everyone loves the experience of a small, chill boutique on the Jersey Shore!
And we are working on a second hotel in the same locations, Cabana, and a hotel in Mexico in Punta Mita. And lots of other projects – we have had an enormous number of job offers since the show started, from bold faced names in Hollywood, fashion, art, and lots of people in the tri-state area who love our aesthetic.”
CBS: If you are working with any charities, please feel free to discuss.
C&R: “We support a number of charities on a regular basis, as do our kids. It is an important aspect of our lives.”