Tara Den­nis

Herald Sun - Switched On - - ON THE COUCH - COLIN VICK­ERY NA­TIONAL TV WRITER

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

the show.

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.

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