Neale Whitaker Talks New Styling Trends

Neale Whitaker Talks New Styling Trends

Neale Whitaker is a high-profile Australian design expert and television personality. His advice is sought by home lovers across the country so who better to discuss current styling trends.

Whilst I’m not a trend-led designer, it’s always valuable to keep up-to-date with trends that may help clients make informed decisions. Neale Whitaker is a leading voice, and eye, when it comes to interior design. He’s recently visited trade show, Maison et Objet in Paris, one of the premier interior design events in Europe.

He has returned with information on trends shaping the design industry. He says sustainability is big among the primary players along with small-scale living multi-functionality and ‘bricolage’. This is an interesting trend which mixes styles and eras, shapes and textures for truly original interiors. Apart from functionality, above all else, home interiors must be authentic.

Neale Whitaker Throws Away Trends

Funny that we’re talking about trends and Neale’s first piece of advice is throw away the trend book. A man after my own heart. Neale says that one of the first considerations of interior design in your home is your own emotions. I totally agree. One of the first questions I ask my clients is “What drew you to this house?” and I often discuss with them how they ‘feel’ and to trust their instincts.

“People often don’t consider how a space makes them feel,” says Neale. “It’s easy to open a catalogue and simply pick out a theme to replicate, but if your space doesn’t suit that theme, it simply won’t feel right. Your home is yours, so make it your own. Merge trends, and don’t be afraid to mix and match styles within your room.” Neale suggests you go slowly and take confidence in your own taste and style.

What Is Bricolage?

To this end, Neale Whitaker brings back from Europe the trend of bricolage. Whilst sustainability is a macro trend, it’s not going away anytime soon, he says bricolage is a micro trend. Micro trends tend to be about shapes and styles including current themes such as those that are artisan made. These may include using natural fibres including jute, rattan and wicker or global-nomad influences such as Asia and the Middle East.

“Most of the current trends are quite neutral,” suggests Neale. “These can be easily added into existing decor themes, like the inclusion of a rattan-backed chair, or a group of ceramic vessels, similar in shape or colours. My favourite interiors are always the ones that blend different tones, different styles, different colours, different periods.”

Maximise Natural Light + Add Warmth

In addition to the interior design styles you favour, maximising natural light will open up spaces and elevate the mood. I will always find ways to maximise the natural light in a room. However, finishing a room usually requires window treatments. Neale Whitaker is also an Ambassador for Luxaflex® so he knows how impacting window dressings can be.

“The Luxaflex® LumiShade® is a great option in terms of a classic window covering. They combine the versatility of a vertical blind with the elegant appeal of a soft window furnishing. This lets light in whilst balancing style, durability and practicality, he says.”

Another fave for Neale Whitaker is the Luxaflex® Pirouette® Shadings. He says they are perfect when adding warmth and seeking a soft finish. They are seamless blend of blind and sheers allowing a warm light but also privacy. Their shutter-like effect is very on-trend with delicate folds appearing to float above the window allowing light to filter through.

Lamps. of course, are wonderful for softly illuminating spaces. Use rugs and soft furnishings to also create warmth, layer with art you love, personal photographs, books and mementos. Your personal items tell your story, add depth and personalise your home.

Trust Your Instincts

This is important advice from Neale Whitaker and one area of interior design I share with all my clients. It’s YOUR home, YOU live there. Therefore your home, and sanctuary, must reflect you, your loves, your lifestyle, your travels. Imbue your home with spirit, personality, fun and surprises. Mix things up a little. If you love it, then you’ll love living with it.

Designing for the Future

I am often asked for timeless or classic interior design. However, unless you live in a museum nothing is truly timeless. (OK, maybe Hamptons style is, haha). In our modern era, design and technology go hand-in-hand. There is a growing emphasis on sustainability and smart homes. Modern renovations and home building will incorporate smart design and technology that contributes to homes being energy efficient.

“The Luxaflex® Duette® Architella® Shades have an innovative honeycomb design with cell-within-a-cell construction, for example, that helps reduce heat loss in winter and keeps the home cooler in summer. They can reduce your heating costs by up to 43%[1], making them the most energy efficient window coverings on the Australian market,” advises Neale Whitaker.

Trends will come and go, authenticity will remain. What will also remain are genuinely useful, functional and design-worthy elements that enhance your lifestyle.


[1] [1]  Savings are based on the installation of fully-recessed, reveal-mounted Duette Architella Shades with 20mm blockout fabric in an average home in Sydney, compared with the House Energy Rating standard of Holland Blinds from AccuRate, in that home. These calculations have been modelled by an independent third party. Savings will vary based on the window type and installation.

Faux Flowers Styled To Look Real

Faux Flowers Styled To Look Real

When I say ‘faux flowers’ do you immediately think of cheap plastic roses with dust ingrained in them? Take that horrid thought out of your mind.

Because in 2020, faux flowers, and trending floral stems, are better than ever. Follow these simple tips and your fabulous faux flowers will look real… no-one will know (and I won’t tell).

Having fresh flowers in any home adds beauty, a touch of nature and often fragrance. However, if you can’t pick them from your garden, it can be expensive to regularly have fresh flowers in your home. Consequently, the range of faux flowers and floral stems now available is a great alternative. To ensure your faux flowers look real, use these five simple tips.

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Know What Faux Flowers To Buy

If you know what a flower is supposed to look like, then you’ll likely spot a faux flower over a real one. So, it’s a good idea to purchase faux versions of the flowers and branches you really love. I have three favourite flowers – orchids, peonies and hydrangeas – and a favourite floral stem – cherry blossom.

However, there is a broad range including lavender, magnolia, roses, tropical flowers, tulips, mixed garden flowers and Australian natives. Available also are ‘fantasy florals’ including pod stems, floral stems, cut flowers and blooms. The fantasy florals add interesting décor elements a variety of pinks, blues, reds, blacks, greys, silver and gold.

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Always Buy Quality

To ensure your blooms and stems look as real as possible, purchase the best quality you can afford. I suggest opting for a smaller bunch of flowers for a coffee table, bathroom counter or bedroom dresser if you have a small flower budget. It’s better to have something smaller but of higher quality than a big display that looks cheap. My go-to is Florabelle. For wholesale pricing, please contact me.

Combine Faux With Real

Trick the eye by combining your faux flowers with real blooms or stems. You can do this in two ways. One is to mix real and faux in the same vase. The other is to place real and faux close together in different vases. This styling tip will help your budget go further and create more opportunity for having blooms in your home. It is also true for faux and real indoor plotted plants such as fiddle leaf trees and mother-in-law’s tongue.

Don’t Be Afraid To Trim

Whilst you may not wish to ‘fiddle’ too much with your newly purchased faux flowers, trimming some of the leaves may make a display look more real. You may also wish to trim the length of stems to suit your vase.

Decor Gold Designs

Use Beautiful Vases + Vessels

Faux flowers will always look more beautiful, and real, when placed in pretty vessels including ginger jars and the many different vases available. And, because they are faux, you can arrange and rearrange them to suit your mood and change vases and vessels to suit your décor.

The One Important Decor Trick Most People Miss

The One Important Decor Trick Most People Miss

There is one important decor trick most people neglect when it comes to interior design. How can one little imperative make all the decor difference? You’ll be surprised when I tell you…

We live in a country where people love their homes, and their gardens. For such a bunch people who love their indoor-outdoor living, it’s surprising that one important decor trick seems to get missed.

Many people who contact an interior designer, do so because they need expert advice and a stylish eye. Bringing on a professional designer will help make a home more functional, livable, modern and chic.

When I start working with clients, I look at the functionality of the space including the use of the room, the air flow, natural light, sound design and, importantly, the view.

Yes, this is the one important decor trick that most people neglect, miss or ignore completely!

The view! Whilst you may not have million-dollar views, you can create a better view within your own home. Consider your home – when you move around the rooms, what views do you see? Which rooms have the best views? Which rooms need help?

The view from your window is the one important decor trick most people miss. Because they usually don’t consider it unless it’s a big picture window.

modern white living room furniture in front of huge floor to ceiling window

Even in the glorious Adelaide Hills, where I live, not every home has views of rolling hills, leafy eucalypts and lush shrubbery. However, you can maximize the views or create a new one with some deft interior design advice.

It’s not all about big windows and sprawling bi-folds either. Perhaps you have small bedroom windows or windows with views on to something ugly… like the neighbour’s fence.

Here are five ways to embrace a single important decor trick you can use TODAY. These tips will help you to maximise good views and disguise bad ones.

Bring the Outdoors In

Keep connected with the outside environment by positioning furniture to take in outdoor views. Place a chair for reading near a window. Position a dining table, sofa or bed to see some kind of outside space.

Your home is not meant to be a solitary space even if you live alone. Favourably impact your mental well-being and sense of human contact by opening up the views you DO have.

two leather chairs positioned in front of lots of indoor plants

Hang trailing plants around the windows if you don’t have much outdoor space. For example, add a ledge above the window frame so plants can trail down beautifully.

Add colourful pots of succulents or other virtually indestructible indoor plants. Greenery and living plants inside will help keep you connected to nature… which is very healthy. Health and well-being in our homes is very much supported by this important decor trick

Expose As Much Glass As You Can

Enable curtains and blinds to be completely drawn back from the window frames.

rustic window seat in front of huge window

This means either no window treatments OR extending the curtain rods beyond the window frame so drapes can be pulled back from the window. Expose as much glass as possible when the curtains are open.

Crop and Frame

Think of your windows as the frame to an artwork. What can you see through the window? How can you maximize the view? For example, a window may capture trailing roses growing on an outdoor wall. However, cropping will eliminate the view of your neighbour’s ugly air-conditioning unit.

This is also why you should invest in quality outdoor furniture. If you don’t have a proper view, create a beautiful outdoor setting that will be seen from the windows. Add plants atop the table, candles and gorgeous seating cushions.

Paint It Charcoal

I am constantly recommending to my clients that they paint a garden shed, fence or back garden wall in a dark charcoal. Dulux ‘Domino’ is a fave of mine and works beautifully with Colourbond ‘Monument’.

Dark colours recede so dark charcoal is a perfect colour to blend with residential flora and trees. So if you have an ugly shed or fence when you look thorough a window, paint it dark charcoal.

Another popular trend, and important decor trick, is to paint windows in a dark charcoal. The dark colour works to blend the view and the window frame making the window less obvious when looking outside.

modern bedroom with charcoal painted window frames

In fact, I have just had the windows in my own home painted in ‘Domino’ both inside and out. They look amazing.

Avoid cream and green because they don’t blend as well as a dark colour. AND it makes the space seem bigger… and not in a good way!

Light It Up

Adding solar powered fairy lights to trees and shrubs means you still have a delightful view when it’s dark. The result is that night time is the optimum time to enjoy your views, even if you have create one yourself.

large garden tree lit up with thousands of fairy lights

An important decor trick is to take the focus away from un-slightly views to fairy lights and a gentle ambience.

Want More Expert Tips? Why not view more of the great advice offered by Plush Design Interiors in our Expert Design Tips section. Articles are added regularly and seek to provide you with information you can use immediately. Because when you love where you live, you want it to be better and better, right?

Plush Design Interiors is an Adelaide based interior design, outdoor living and home additions design company. We specialise in residential interior design, especially in the Adelaide Hills around Stirling, Crafers, Aldgate and surrounds.

How To Create A Real (or Authentic) Home

How To Create A Real (or Authentic) Home

It may seem odd that I’m writing about having a real or authentic home. I mean, it’s YOUR home so it’s totally authentic, right? So why do homeowners hire an interior designer?

Many people hire a decorator or interior designer for different reasons. Often they have no time to do it themselves, even though they want an authentic home that’s personal to them.

However the most common reason for hiring an interior designer is because most people don’t trust their own instincts and ideas. Of course, I don’t want to do myself out of a job because I LOVE what I do.

You may also like to read the article on ‘Breaking Design Rules‘ on this blog.

However, I also discuss with my clients the importance of having a home THEY love. It’s not my role to tell clients what to do. Moreover, my role is to interpret what a client wants in the most functional and stylish ways. And maybe break a few design rules along the way.

Getting Your Authentic Home

The atmosphere or feeling of a room is very important. In addition, this translates to the style and theme of the whole house.

For example, it would seem a little strange to have a minimalist living space but a kitchen that is rustic country or Hamptons inspired.. Instead, aim for interiors, and exteriors, that convey YOUR loves and lifestyle.

Tapping Into Your Neighbourhood

In order to create a real or authentic home, pay attention to the architecture of your home both inside and outside. Take photos of your home, its garden and your immediate neighbourhood.

Walk around your neighbourhood to take in the ‘flavour’ of where you live. Make notes that describe how you feel about what you are seeing. It’s very likely you purchased the home because of the style it’s style, the land and views, or the neighbourhood.

Can you take some of those exterior concepts indoors? This will create another level of authenticity in your home.

Authentic Homes Live

Don’t be afraid to mix styles. For example, if you live in a heritage home don’t feel you have to be a slave to the period. You can acknowledge the heritage whilst creating your own wonderful juxtaposition of styles.

This not only creates a personality-filled home but it’s also very authentic to your loves and lifestyles. As always, love where you live.

Home Styling Tips With Easy Ideas for Every Room

Home Styling Tips With Easy Ideas for Every Room

Home styling tips don’t require a renovation or hours spent with an interior designer. Whilst interior designers have an expert eye and can save you from making expensive mistakes, with a few styling tips you can personalize any room.

You could say that ‘styling’ is the art of arranging of objects so they are pleasing to the eye. A home should never be ‘perfect’. A home should be relaxed, stylish, surprising, entertaining.

So having items off-centre or injecting a surprising colour is a fun way to showcase your personality. The home styling tips shown here are not exhaustive but they are easy to execute.

Home Styling Tips for Your Living Room:

– if you have different table lamps then keep the side tables uniform to show cohesion

– inject curves into an angular room with rug patterns, a round ottoman, or a curved arm to a chair

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– if you have matching furniture then mix up the colours and patterns in the cushions

– use a rug to ‘ground’ the conversation area

– inject a bold colour even in a small way, such as a vase or the trim on a cushion

Home Styling Tips for Your Bedroom

– keep the bedroom restful but personality packed

– use fun and quirky items that have no place in another room. This is your private space so let your hair down

– have a calming tonal palette but use pattern and texture to liven things up

– in a small bedroom don’t use large-scale fabric prints as they will make the room feel smaller

– fresh flowers are never out of place in a bedroom

Home Styling Tips for Your Kitchen

– have a beautiful tray laid with a jug of lemon and mint infused water and gorgeous glasses

– add the warmth of wood, natural fibres and ceramics to a black and white kitchen

– place your stylish soap dispenser and hand cream on a hand thrown pottery plate

– create a vignette using an upright wooden chopping board, a mix of fruits, a plate stand, artisan bread and interesting old cutlery

– buy a fabulous copper pot and display it on the cooktop

– use small art works to create interest in unexpected places

Home Styling Tips for Your Dining Room

– use large leafy branches in a table centre display instead of flowers

– tall sculptural plants help to move your eye around the room

– use a fabulous drinks cart to display decanters, glasses, premium liquor and cocktail paraphernalia

Plush Design Interiors works with West Elm as one of our valued suppliers

– display art works and signs that relate to eating and drinking

– use wooden pizza paddles on display with wooden trays and cutting boards

– in winter, place a couple of sheepskin rugs or mohair throws casually over a couple of dining chairs

Made To Be Broken… Design Rules That Is

Made To Be Broken… Design Rules That Is

I’ve never been one to play by the rules (just ask my Mother) so I do like to break a few design rules in my interior design work too.  If you want to create edgier décor, then be open to breaking a few design rules… just like these.

#1 Art Should Always Be Hung At Eye Level

The question here is at whose eye level should art be hung? People with differing heights usually populate homes. Moreover, we don’t stand around looking at the walls. We lie on the floor, sit on chairs, lounge on sofas, and relax on beds.

Try placing a large artwork on the floor (secure it if you have children). Hang an artwork high up on a flight of stairs to draw the eye up and be a point of difference. Play with size and scale by mixing up the prints and frames for an eclectic effect.

#2 Always Match Timbers

As an interior designer, I am never a fan of matchy-matchy anything let alone timbers. When faced with timber floors, wooden kitchen cupboards, wooden furniture and wooden doors homeowners can panic about matching all the woods. Natural timbers are warm with a unique personality.

Timber works fabulously with almost anything including concrete, stone, metals, tiles, etc. This is one of the silly design rules you shouldn’t be afraid to break. However, don’t mix more than 3 or 4 timbers and choose woods with similar undertones (warm or cool).

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#3 Never Mix Metals

Again, matchy-matchy usually breeds boring interiors. Mixing metals adds character and depth to interiors especially in wet areas. The trick is to mix cool metals – stainless steel, chrome, silver – with warm metals – copper, brass, rose gold, gold.

I am obsessed with black metal windows, as they don’t ‘frame’ the view they blend it and seem to disappear. So if you choose black metal frames for window or art, mix with warm copper lights or other warm metals.

#4 Paint Your Ceilings White

Why? I often recommend painting a ceiling in quarter strength of the wall colour. This creates a cosy room with an intimate feel.

Painting a ceiling in a darker colour will draw the eye down so you can focus on the view or another feature. Even wallpaper a ceiling for drama or a calming effect.

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#5 Paint Small Spaces White

This is the worst ‘rule’ ever. Absolutely break this silliest of design rules. A tiny powder room wallpapered in a bold print looks amazing. Dark colours in a small room can make it look bigger because it blurs the wall lines, especially if it has great natural light.

Natural light will help a darkly decorated room feel warm. Add reflective surfaces and mirrors to expand the space.

If you’re thinking of renovating, then please check out more expert design tips on this blog including expert renovation advice you may not have considered and renovation preparation before you start.