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.

Tobi Fairley Interior Design

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.

Plush Design Interiors

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.

Luxury Living Room Key Features

Luxury Living Room Key Features

A luxury living room will be different for every person. What makes something luxurious for one will not necessarily be shared by another.

So the idea of a luxury living room depends on the perception of the home lover. Additionally, the word ‘luxury’ may be different for each person. Depending on the style of home you want, your idea of luxury could be contemporary, rustic, traditional, futuristic – almost anything.

However, when it comes to designing your own luxury living room, there are key features that are shared by every elegant and luxurious room. Deliciously, you can incorporate these key features to create your own luxury room without the price tag.

Image courtesy of RLH Studio


The Window Treatments:

Bring a luxurious feel to your living space with heavier drapes that hang above the top of the window and to the floor. Even if the window does not reach the floor, ensure your drapes do. There is nothing more luxurious than stunning drapes that touch the floor.

Image courtesy of Applegate Tran Interiors


The Wall Art:

I always encourage my clients to choose wall art to which they are drawn. Pieces of art, including wall art, sculptures or installation art can add a very luxurious feel to a room when well-chosen. Don’t be concerned about buying a ‘name’ artist or whether the piece matches the cushions. Hang or install art and sculptures that you love. Simple.

Image courtesy of Ann Lowengart Interiors


The Rug:

Create a luxurious focal point in your living space by using a beautiful rug that is the right size and pattern for the space. Rugs anchor and delineate a space when used in front of a fireplace or under the sofa and coffee table. It’s very important to choose a rug that’s the right size. You won’t create a luxurious looking living space when the feature rug is too big or too small. It must be perfect.

Image courtesy of James Said


The Lighting:

Similar to a rug, dramatic lighting such as a chandelier will provide a luxurious focal point of your living space. Not all chandeliers are large and dripping in crystals. The style of your space must be considered. There are now many chandelier options including mid-century modern arm chandeliers that will create a stunning focal point.


The Vignette:

Styling centerpieces are now very much part of interior design. Whether you arrange items of varying height on a fireplace mantelpiece or on a tray for the coffee table, display vignettes suggests luxury and thought. Use candles, fresh or faux flowers, succulents, objects and books. Use your creativity and change seasonally.

Create vignettes or table decor by organising objects in a delineated space, such as on a tray or table runner. Mirror bottom trays reflect glass, crystal, flowers and other objects such as a silver animal. I have mirror bottom trays in living rooms, the guest bedroom, bathroom and in my dressing room. I use items specific to those rooms including beautiful room diffusers and highly scented essential oil Tilley soaps in the bathroom.


Another excellent item to add to vignettes, especially if you use flowers, is battery-powered candles. The new candles have a wick that moves simulating real fire-light. They come in a variety of sizes and my guests are always surprised that they are not real candles.

Plush Design Interiors


In creating your luxury living room decor, it’s important the the style reflects your tastes and lifestyle. For example, if you have small children running around then choose more child-friendly objects to display on coffee tables.


The final element in creating luxury living room decor is to not have too many social points. Don’t cram all the ideas listed above into one room. Pick a dynamic and single focal point – such as a rug or chandelier – and then par back on the other luxury inducing items.


As with all interior design advice, it’s YOUR home and your lifestyle so stay true to what you love and how you live your life.