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?
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 (koskela.com.au) 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.