Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - by Neale Whi­taker Neale Whi­taker is ed­i­tor-in-chief of Vogue Liv­ing.

Neale Whi­taker talks open homes and go­ing from judge to judged.

Re­cently I sold my house and, for a month be­fore the sale, we went through the usual rig­ma­role of twice weekly open-for-in­spec­tions – a frenzy of early morn­ing cush­ion fluff­ing (or “karate-chop­ping”, as my fel­low Block judge Dar­ren Palmer would ad­vise) and de-dog­ging. Usu­ally some­thing by Jo Malone to hide the (ad­mit­tedly gor­geous to a dog lover) whiff of Weimaraner. Noth­ing re­mark­able in any of this, you might be think­ing, it’s hap­pen­ing ev­ery day of the week across Aus­tralia.

But if you’re the ed­i­tor of Vogue Liv­ing, with 10 sea­sons of The Block un­der your belt, it’s sud­denly dif­fer­ent. The word is ex­pec­ta­tion. Ex­pec­ta­tion that ev­ery lamp in your home will be worth more than your car; that ev­ery stick of fur­ni­ture will be “mid-cen­tury some­thing” and that your art will be on loan from the Met in New York. In short, that your home will be de­signer, what­ever that means. The in­ner-city pad that Mi­lan looks to be­fore it sets the trends for the year ahead.

For an ex­cru­ci­at­ing pe­riod of my life, my home was dis­sected, dis­cussed and dissed. “So is that where he lives?” posted one woman on­line, as if she were peer­ing into a wom­bat hole. The shots on the real es­tate agent’s web­site went strangely vi­ral and I was sud­denly judge-turned-con­tes­tant. How many points for that ce­ramic Chi­nese stool (so 2009) and that framed map of Aus­tralia (so 2011)? And let’s talk about my art. Af­ter all, ev­ery­one else did. “That’s not art,” wrote some­body. “Of course it is,” shot back an­other, “it’s a paint­ing.”

Was I naive to think no­body would want to stick­y­beak in the home of a man who has made a ca­reer of judg­ing other peo­ple’s homes? To­tally. But at the end of the day, the same rules ap­ply to me as ev­ery would-be seller. De-clut­ter, get all the im­por­tant lit­tle jobs done (smoke alarms, squeaky stair treads), think about a fresh coat of paint or two and max­imise the flow from one room to an­other. These days it re­ally is all about open-plan liv­ing, even in a ter­race. And yes, kitchens and bath­rooms can be deal-break­ers, but in­creas­ingly buy­ers want to put their own stamp on them, so just make sure yours are clean, tidy and brim­ming with po­ten­tial. And a word to the wise: if anonymity is re­quired, re­move all life-size por­traits of one­self. They tend to be a give­away.

GREAT EX­PEC­TA­TIONS When these images of Neale Whi­taker’s in­ner-city Syd­ney home went vi­ral, would-be buy­ers and gaw­pers alike rel­ished judg­ing his de­sign choices.

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