Living Neale Whi­taker on why per­sonal taste out­shines “ap­pro­pri­ate­ness” in home styling.

It can be easy to be crit­i­cal of some­one else’s in­te­rior design choices, but is it ever re­ally that ap­pro­pri­ate?

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - by Neale Whi­taker

As Lit­tle Bri­tain’s Lou might once have said, “What a ker­fuffle.” And all be­cause of some kitchen pen­dant lights. I re­cently posted an im­age of our kitchen on Instagram

(not for the first time, I has­ten to add) and the oversized, wo­ven pen­dant lights im­me­di­ately sparked not joy, but fierce de­bate.

While most re­sponses were over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive, there were some that felt our pen­dant lights from Syd­ney-based Koskela ( were too big, too beachy or – most puz­zling of all – inappropri­ate.

Now, I long ago ceased to be of­fended by crit­i­cism of my home. I ac­cept that peo­ple love to judge the TV judge, and when you put your head above the para­pet – as I of­ten do – some­body will take aim. And let’s not for­get that style is a very per­sonal thing. But what

I take ex­cep­tion to is the sug­ges­tion of self-im­posed dec­o­rat­ing rules, and that any­thing in our homes that we love be deemed inappropri­ate.

I have a friend who de­scribes her apart­ment as her “beach house in the sky”. To be fair, it’s not far from the beach as the crow flies, but it sits atop a 1930s block with views of red brick and gum trees. Yet step in­side the sunny, white­washed in­te­rior and you can al­most hear surf crash­ing on sand

“Some peo­ple dec­o­rate from the heart, not the realestate hand­book”

and smell the ocean breeze. It’s charm­ing and wel­com­ing and if you knew its owner, en­tirely ap­pro­pri­ate. An­other friend has turned her tiny in­ner-city stu­dio into an ex­quis­ite, baroque jewel box. Some peo­ple dec­o­rate from the heart, not from the real-es­tate hand­book.

And so it is with our kitchen. We could ar­gue that our coun­try home lies just a few kilo­me­tres from the beach and that our pen­dants are there­fore a nod to a coun­try-meetscoast­al vibe. We could. But that smacks of jus­ti­fi­ca­tion and the truth is far sim­pler. We love our pen­dants and would have hung them in a dugout in Coober Pedy or a ski lodge in Thredbo.

To the per­son who asked if they cast a beau­ti­ful warm glow: yes, they cer­tainly do. And to an­other who said they were out of pro­por­tion: yes, they are, and de­lib­er­ately so. Pro­por­tion is vastly over­rated. Our pen­dants make us smile ev­ery time we step into our kitchen, and if that’s not ap­pro­pri­ate, I don’t know what is.

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.

IT’S PER­SONAL (from top) This im­age of Neale Whi­taker’s coun­try kitchen re­cently sparked a de­bate over the “ap­pro­pri­ate­ness” of his pen­dant lights; in­dus­trial-style this Syd­ney bar; an Art De­coin­spired home cel­e­brates pas­tel pink and brass.

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