His online biography might say otherwise, but he admits to disorderly conduct.
Too many cushions, throws and over-the-top floral arrangements in bathrooms are Neale’s pet dislikes. He lives by the mantra ‘less is more’.” So reads my bio on The Block website. OK, let’s talk.
I could just close my front door and hope nobody visits for the next few years. Or – being the honest, upstanding chap that I am – I could simply confess. I have clutter. There are 100 works of art on the walls of my home (I’ve just counted them) and 22 shelves groaning beneath the weight of hundreds of books. That’s not counting the vertiginous freestanding piles that have taken on sculptural forms. And no, I don’t colour code the spines, since you ask. Two small sofas share 12 cushions in my living room and upstairs in the bedroom it’s a similar tale. Dammit, we even have bolsters to ballast the cushions.
But as with good and bad fats, there’s good and bad clutter. Books, photos and art are all the things that bring a home alive. The best advice I can offer would-be clutterers is to keep the palette neutral and hold back on pattern. Make space for mirrors amid the artworks and balance clutter with clean. My living room might be crowded with memories but my kitchen is light-filled and minimal.
I love that my online bio specifies that I dislike over-the-top plant life in bathrooms, as that allows the odd cactus or succulent – which is perfectly
acceptable, though mind the spikes. I actually detest OTT floral arrangements anywhere (other than nature), but I smiled when I read that comment. There have been some real doozies in my 10 seasons of The Block, but I think it was some particularly scratchy thistles in one bathroom and a suspended macramé basket of foliage in another that earned me my anti-green reputation.
And when it comes to throws, I’m guilty as charged. Throws bring chaos to order. Can I tell you how many bedrooms and living rooms I’ve judged over the years that have been ruined by the lazy toss of a throw? I would rather see an unmade bed. But if you’re determined to throw, then at least limit it to one per room and think about folding it neatly over the arm of a favourite chair. You’ll be amazed by how much better – and calmer – it looks. Now don’t get me started on slogan mugs… Neale Whitaker is editor-in-chief of Vogue Living.