Tara Dennis is getting ready to celebrate 10 years on Better Homes and Gardens but first she has to get Christmas out of the way.
English-born Dennis first appeared on Channel 9’s Changing Rooms in 1997 but has been part of the team on Seven’s lifestyle show, hosted by Johanna Griggs, since 2006.
During the past decade, Dennis, who has a young son, Harry, and grown daughter, Avalon, has turned her decorating and craft TV segments into a onewoman design, publishing and homewares industry.
A lot of people are so busy at Christmas. Why should they take time out to do things like making their own gifts or decorations? It is adding a bit of humanity back to the whole thing. Christmas has become so commercialised these days. You have to get back to the basics. It is all about family and togetherness and reconnecting to what is real in your life. You don’t have to do a lot but a few little hand-done touches make that connection more worthwhile. It is about putting more love into it.
I hear all the team has got together at Johanna’s place for this Christmas special. The producers absolutely hate that (filming) day because we don’t get together very often. We are like the dysfunctional family at Christmas — we don’t stop talking. We’re catching up on the whole year. Usually we’re all off shooting our own segments. I think people assume we’re all filming in the same street (for each episode) but it isn’t like that. What has nearly 10 years on Better Homes and Gardens done for you? On a work front, it is great to be part of a team which feels like family. I’ve got great friends as a result. It gives me a nice balance. I film two to three days a week which allows me to have time with my family and for my design company. Not many people get the opportunity to inspire others.
Do you ever run out of ideas for your decorating and craft segments on Better Homes and Gardens? It is constantly creative. I never get dry of ideas. This year, my primary focus has been on kitchens and bathrooms and laundries. I’ve been doing bigger makeovers. I like to tell a story (about the person we’re doing the makeover for). It’s not just about the renovation. I’m enjoying the people. It’s so nice to bring that element to
Do you think the world’s caught up with you? There seems to be a real move back to that handmade aesthetic. Very much so. It is all about authenticity. When I’m overseas I love to walk the streets to see what’s happening. The notion of reconnection and getting back to basics is everywhere. Because we’re in the age of computers, people want to balance that out by growing vegies or having chickens — bringing that sense of community and a village back to it.
What is your plan for Christmas Day? In the morning we’ll get up and have a relaxed breakfast. Normally I host Christmas lunch but it is such a busy time for us so I said to my husband Martyn, ‘why don’t we just go to a restaurant this year’. That way we can all just sit and talk and be together. If the sun’s out, we’ll take our boat out on the Hawkesbury (in the afternoon). After Boxing Day we get busy again.
BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS CHRISTMAS SPECIAL, CHANNEL 7, FRIDAY, 7PM
Tara Dennis enjoys getting back to the basics, especially at Christmas.