WHAT­EVER WORKS

Home ren­o­va­tions don’t have to fall prey to ev­ery last trend

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page - By Neale Whi­taker Neale Whi­taker is co-host of Fox­tel’s Love It Or List It Aus­tralia on Life­style, and a judge on Nine Net­work’s The Block.

Iam a for­mer mag­a­zine ed­i­tor, and an­nounc­ing so feels strangely lib­er­at­ing – be­cause I’ve re­alised that am no longer at the mercy of trends. De­spite the mag­a­zines I have edited and my roles on two ren­o­va­tion-based TV shows, I’ve al­ways been a some­what re­luc­tant ren­o­va­tor my­self. And I put that down to be­ing like the plumber who has leaky taps or the chef who goes home to Vegemite toast.

But it’s taken me a while to grasp that the truth was more complicated. I was trend-pho­bic. Is there a word for that? While I could spend ev­ery day in the of­fice edit­ing amaz­ing homes for the pages of a mag­a­zine, when it came to my own, I was like a deer in the head­lights. I didn’t know what to choose for fear of get­ting it wrong – or per­haps, more ac­cu­rately, for fear of be­ing judged. Crazy, huh? Me, of all peo­ple. Me, who be­lieves so pas­sion­ately that when it comes to dec­o­rat­ing, peo­ple should just fol­low their hearts.

But that was then. My part­ner and I are just about to un­der­take our big­gest-ever ren­o­va­tion and, while we have more than a touch of stage fright about the work that lies ahead, the cre­ative vi­sion for our new home is jointly shared, beau­ti­fully clear and, im­por­tantly, it will be a trend-free zone.

The orig­i­nal house was built in the early 1940s and, in that patch­work way of some Aussie coun­try homes, bits have been added over the decades, not al­ways sym­pa­thet­i­cally. You could de­scribe it as a gor­geous mess, but the good bits are worth pre­serv­ing and the bad bits… well, they just have to go.

We’re plan­ning a time­less home that re­spects its her­itage and coun­try lo­ca­tion, but with just enough con­tem­po­rary touches to keep it in­ter­est­ing. The cy­press pine floors won’t be re­placed, but they’ll be sanded and whitened to re­flect the abun­dant nat­u­ral light. An in­ter­nal wall will come down in or­der to max­imise the liv­ing space and, down the track, there’ll be new doors, win­dows and, yes, VJ pan­elling. It’s not fash­ion­able but – like the sub­way tiles we’ve cho­sen for the kitchen – we love it. We’re giv­ing our­selves the lux­ury of a but­ler’s pantry and a spa­cious laun­dry, but there will be no walk-in wardrobes. Who needs those in the coun­try? Most of our gear will be stay­ing in the city. The kitchen is the big-ticket item for us, as that’s where we tend to live. It’s nice be­ing my own client be­cause there aren’t too many sur­prises. Un­less, of course, you count the sur­prise in lov­ing our reg­u­lar trips to Bun­nings and IKEA. Be­cause I’m no longer a de­sign mag­a­zine ed­i­tor. And if I want to get ex­cited about a new gar­den hose, then I will.

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