At Jeremiah Brent’s Book Party Pondering: What Makes a Home?

What makes a house a home?

On Tuesday night, that question floated in the delicately candle-scented air of a three-story penthouse apartment on lower Fifth Avenue in Manhattan where the interior designer Jeremiah Brent lives with his husband and fellow designer, Nate Berkus, and their two children.

An intimate gathering of about 30 guests had assembled to celebrate the publication of Mr. Brent’s first book, “The Space That Keeps You,” a collection of photos and stories of interesting people and their enviable houses.

For Mr. Brent, who along with Mr. Berkus is a mainstay on HGTV with shows like “The Nate & Jeremiah Home Project,” a home is a “weird blend of space and place.”

“You’ve got to be in the right place and have the right space at the same time,” he said in an interview, speaking from recent experience. Mr. Brent and Mr. Berkus originally lived in this apartment from 2013 to 2016, when they sold it and moved to Los Angeles. But they longed for what they had previously had, and seven years after selling, they bought the apartment back.

This was the first time the couple have hosted a party since returning to their old apartment. Amy Astley, the editor in chief of Architectural Digest, was there, along with Elle Decor’s editor in chief, Asad Syrkett, and New York magazine’s design editor, Wendy Goodman. The designer Athena Calderone, the filmmaker Shawn Levy and Ashley Avignone, a stylist and friend of Taylor Swift, orbited the dining area, where a spread of intricate bites — duck fat-fried fingerling potatoes with creme fraiche and caviar, blistered shishito peppers with fennel pollen and lemon juice — were artfully arrayed.

One guest could be heard marveling at how good everyone looked in the apartment’s not-too-dim-to-be-dramatic light.

It was a scrupulous attention to lighting that led Brooke Cundiff, a retail entrepreneur, and her husband, the writer and editor Michael Hainey, to a West Village apartment that was subsequently featured in Mr. Brent’s book. But before settling there, they looked at a lot of places that didn’t feel like home. Mr. Hainey developed a test: With each apartment they’d enter, he’d ask, “OK, it’s a Wednesday. You had to call in sick to work. Can you imagine being home in this apartment all day? Like, how is the sunlight?” He added, “On your worst day, is this going to make you happy?”

Another guest, Antoni Porowski — the food and wine expert on TV’s “Queer Eye” — said that, to him, a home is made up of the things that remind him of where he came from.

Mr. Porowski was still living in a small studio when he purchased a pair of Adnet chairs from 1stDibs. His apartment at the time was barely big enough to accommodate them. Now, the chairs sit in a spot in his living room where they don’t get much use, but he still loves to gaze at their burgundy leather, thinking back on the “tiny studio apartments with one drawer and two functioning kitchen burners” where he used to live.

“Every time I look at them, I remember what that was like, what my life was like, and how much it changed,” he said.