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interiors

Date with Kate, Lifestyle

Date with Kate: Neale Whitaker

13th November, 2016
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The Block Judge, Neale Whitaker and I catch up at the Lexus Design Pavilion

 

Neale Whitaker is a judge on television’s The Block – which airs its season finale on November 13 – and editor of Vogue Living. Whitaker, 54, talks to me about the most frustrating part of being a Block judge, what makes him cringe, and his top tip to quickly rejuvenate any home.

Who do you think will win tonight’s finale? 

Ah, that’s a tough one. The judges don’t have the best form in picking the winner! Auction day is unpredictable and there are so many variables  – the auction order, the reserve prices and basically the depth of the potential buyers’ pockets. All of the apartments offer the luxury of space and an opportunity to live in a heritage building that’s been restored with integrity.

What has been your favourite room from this season and why?

Kim and Chris [Elliot] delivered the ultimate master bedroom with the proportions of a luxury hotel suite. I loved Julia [Treuel] and Sasha [Wright-Neville’s] kitchen, and Will and Karlie’s master bedroom with the wooden panelling was pretty special.

What have you learnt from being a judge?

From the contestants I’ve learned the importance of budget, careful planning and understanding your potential market. From my fellow judges, I’ve learned to see things through an interior designer’s eye – it’s far more detailed than a magazine editor’s eye.

What is the most frustrating element of being a judge on The Block?

When the contestants don’t take our advice and believe they’re being victimised. They’re not! We always try to be constructive and our advice is based on experience and knowledge. We want them to win, not lose.

Why do you think renovating shows have become so popular? 

We’re a nation obsessed with real estate, so the renovation frenzy feels like a logical progression. Renovating is achievable – it’s something we can do to improve our lives and increase the value of our property. There’s definitely a competitive edge there, too, regardless of whether you’re on The Block!

After so many seasons, do room reveals still excite you?

Yes they do! I guess the day they don’t will be the day to hang up my judge’s hat. There is always that sense of the unexpected and of anticipation based on what was delivered the previous week and the advice we offered.

When there is backlash on social media against you, how do you deal with this? 

You have to take it on the chin. That’s all you can do. Or maybe not look. What did Taylor Swift say? “Haters gonna hate.”

How would you describe your own interior style preferences?

It’s a terribly overused word, but eclectic. [My partner] David [Novak-Piper] and I like such a mix of styles and periods but we get a lot of pleasure out of making them all work together to create a home.

What trends make you cringe?

Trends generally make me cringe. That might sound like a strange thing for a magazine editor to say but I believe a home is a really personal thing. I would never buy – or encourage someone to buy – anything simply because it’s on trend.

What is your best advice for first-time renovators?

Plan, budget, plan, budget and then plan again. Just be really sure about what you want to achieve from the renovations. Is it for you or for resale? Be prepared for the renovations to take longer than anticipated and budget for 25 to 30 per cent more than you think you will need.

What are the most popular interior trends at the moment?

Don’t talk to me about trends [laughs]! But, realistically, we’re seeing a lot more colour at the moment and a real emphasis on anything hand-made and hand-crafted. I think we’re also seeing more confidence to mix things up. We’re starting to realise that it’s OK to be individual.

What is a quick fix to rejuvenate your home? 

A new rug is always the best fix for me. When you walk into a room, what’s on the floor is the first thing you register. And think about changing your art and adding a wall mirror. It can double the size of a room. New bed linen is [also] an amazing pick-me-up.

What is a day in the life of you?

Juggling! My main priority is editing Vogue Living, so most days will find me in the office with the editorial team, but I somehow manage to squeeze in quite a few other activities like emceeing and public speaking. Most evenings will find me at industry events, and when we’re filming The Block, I’m in Melbourne every Sunday. Life’s busy.

What led you down this career path? 

Life! I started in the fashion industry, moved into publishing, moved from the UK to Australia [in 1999] and then moved from food magazines to interior design magazines. That’s when I knew I’d found the place where I wanted to be. And then I stumbled into TV! I’ve been very lucky and I’m very grateful for the opportunities that have come my way.

You were an editor of Belle Magazine and now editor at Vogue Living. How has your role evolved? 

A magazine editor’s role is always evolving. Learning to harness the power of digital and social media is challenging and exciting. That’s not something I really had to worry about in my previous role.

What has been your greatest career achievement so far? 

I’m proud of many of the things I’ve achieved in my career. Perhaps I’m proudest of my longevity and managing to stay relevant. I hope I can keep doing that.

D’Marge named you as one of the most stylish men in Australia. What is your style secret?

I’m sorry to say I don’t really have one! I think my personal style is very understated, quite classic, and intuitive. At 54, I feel I know what suits me and I tend to stick with it.

What is your favourite room in your Surry Hills home?

The kitchen – it’s totally where we live our life! And it will be again in the new apartment we’re just about to move to in Alexandria.

Where is your favourite travel destination when you want to escape from Sydney? 

That’s easy. The south coast of NSW. It’s where I recharge and where I feel the most relaxed. I call it my “happy place”.

What are your plans for the holiday season? 

Our favourite thing is a road trip. We love to put our dogs in the car [weimaraners Otis and Ollie] and head off. This year we’re heading to country Victoria for Christmas, then back home via Melbourne and the NSW South Coast.

What is next for you? 

Whatever comes next! I’m enjoying the opportunities that are coming my way but I would love to do more TV. It’s such a powerful way of communicating. Watch this space – that’s all I’m saying!

The Block season finale airs on Sunday, November 13, at 7pm on Channel 9.  

BITE SIZE

WE WENT TO The Lexus Design Pavilion, Flemington.
WE ATE Raw striped trumpeter with salted turnip, mustard & horseradish
WE DRANK Matua Valley Lands & Legends Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, NZ
NEALE WORE  MJ Bale jacket, shirt and white jeans; P. Johnson Tailors tie and RM Williams boots. 
Fashion, Lifestyle, Shop

The one thing I always have in my home

28th July, 2016
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Candles aplenty at the Jo Malone “Just Because” dinner I hosted earlier this year

If there’s one thing my house is never without it’s a beautifully scented candle. I love having one burning in the background as there’s something quite luxurious about a gorgeous fragrance filling up your home (note: this is why I always have one burning when I have visitors over). A candle also adds warmth to any space which makes it a simple way to decorate a room. There’s no shortage of wonderful candles out there. And there’s definitely one to suit every taste and budget.

Check out some of my top picks below…

 

 

Tip: Candles usually come poured into a perfectly re-usable glass or metal jar so when you’ve used one up be sure to repurpose its home; you can use it for everything from a makeup brush holder to a vase.

To clean out the jar simply pop it in the freezer so the wax hardens. Once frozen take it out and scrape out the excess wax and wick which should leave you with an empty jar. If you’re removing the label, using a hairdryer, blast hot air over the jar to melt the glue, peel off the label then run it under hot water to clean the sticky residue.

Lifestyle

Decorating inspiration from the Lexus Design Pavilion

6th November, 2015

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During Derby Day and Melbourne Cup I spend most of my time at the Lexus Design Pavilion and each year it’s so beautifully styled and the interiors are so incredible that I always walk away with lots of design inspiration. This year’s Lexus Design Pavilion is based on a ‘Journey of the Senses.’ The theme was inspired by the theme of Lexus’ presentation at Milan Design Week 2015. Lexus collaborated with a stable of world-class creatives including Joost Bakker, Mim Design Studio, Ben Shewry, Dan Hong and Georgie Seccull. Guests of Lexus enjoyed the luxury experience through custom created sound scapes, scents, striking visual aspects and of course, taste. These pics give you a bit of an idea of how stunning the space was and these are some of the tips I took away from this year’s space.

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1. Don’t be afraid of colour

The gorgeous mint and forest green tones used on the dining chairs and banquette seating in the pavilion provided a great contrast to the white tones throughout. Sometimes it pays to be a little bit adventurous in your colour selections to give a room some personality.

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2. Use flowers unexpectedly

The tulip flower installation throughout the space was amazing. Suspending tulips from the ceiling all throughout was definitely striking and a great way to decorate a room in an unconventional way.

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3. Mix textures

The different textures throughout the room, including the stunning marble gave the room a luxe feel. Using multiple bowls was also a great way to decorate and is easily achieved at home.
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4. White on white

Much like white on white is a fail-safe option when it comes to fashion, white is is also a great way to keep a room fresh and inviting and gives the illusion of space. The touches of colour with the flooring and flowers gave it just the right amount of personality.

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5. Find a statement piece

The amazing butterfly wall art was a talking point for many guests. While you might not be able to recreate something quite so intricate at home, it’s a good lesson in the fact that you can dress up a wall by simply finding one stand out piece and letting it do the talking.

Photography: Earl Carter