Nate Berkus's former apartment in New York City. (Roger Davies)

Nate Berkus, founder of the interior design firm Nate Berkus Associates, author of “The Things That Matter” and a frequent design expert on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” was the guest on this week’s Home Front chat. Here are some of our favorite pieces of advice from the live Q&A:

Don’t worry about trends. Love traditional Oriental rugs but seeing modern patterns in all the magazines? Don’t worry about it. “Design is really about finding a style that represents who you are and not following the trends in magazines.”

For a balanced fireplace mantel, you can go one of two ways: One large mirror or piece of art hung above the fireplace or several small framed pieces leaning against the wall. “A beautiful pottery bowl, a pair of candlesticks or a series of handmade pottery in complementary colors would be beautiful.”

Don’t be a slave to a home’s history. Rather than painstakingly searching for only art deco pieces for a 1920s home, pair classic elements, such as subway tile, with newer materials. “The best part of a well-designed interior is respecting the history but also incorporating elements available now.”

A small space doesn’t have to mean small furniture and accessories. A large mirror can make the space feel larger and brighter. And “resist the urge to scale down your furniture in a small space,” Berkus said. “Keep the sofa large, and remember that no one will be comfortable in your tiny chairs!”

"The Things That Matter," by Nate Berkus, with photographs by Roger Davies. (Spiegel & Grau)

Symmetry doesn’t mean pairs of things. “Symmetry is not always required, but it does make certain people (like me) more comfortable,” Berkus said. “It creates a sense of visual balance that can feel relaxing when you walk into a room.” Instead of loading up on pairs of heavy bookcases or chairs, try using items of similar heights, such as a bookcase on one side of a window and a tall potted tree on the other.