(L-R) Greg Natale, Jason Grant, Interiors Addict Jen, Thomas Hamel and Darren Palmer.
I’ll tell you the story behind this shoot next month…
Top Design judge Amanda Talbot MC’d proceedings and ercol managing director Nick Garratt flew in from the UK.
Some timeless pieces were on disaply, including the well known butterfly chair and Studio lounge (which was designed when Elvis was at the height of his fame!). Old classics continue to be popular and have been given a modern twist with on trend colours like orange. These simple, gorgeous designs, with some pieces by Sir Terence Conran, certainly caused a stir.
(Interiors Addict, Mr Jason Grant and Kirsten Bookallil)
(Interiors Addict and Glen Proebstel)
Ok, so February is in danger of becoming Darren Palmer Month on Interiors Addict but I just couldn’t not share this transformation when he gave me the go ahead. And hey, when there’s all this design goodness to share, why not?
Here, for your viewing pleasure, a before and after (you can guess which is which) of a Potts Point home Darren designed. I know, it had a WATER COOLER! And the less said about the shiny-shiny chairs, vertical blinds and tiles the better. But just look what it became! A room full of depth and texture in Darren’s trademark natural-but-not-neutral palette. While I usually prefer a bit more colour myself, I could move right in!
Styling. “It’s the icing on the cake. It’s pointless without the cake but the cake is pretty darn boring without the icing!,” said Darren Palmer at his Coco Republic Design School session on Wednesday.
Everyone can have a go at styling, not everyone gets it right. But it’s fun and non-committal and you can usually use things you already own, just displayed and arranged differently. I personally never get bored of styling up my home.
Darren’s suggested essentials for styling:
Flowers and greenery
Assortment of vases
Options for blankets, linens and throws
Objets and sculptural items
Candles: an assortment of sizes
More cushions than you can use (Yes!)
Bowls, plates, decorative vases
Books! Great to complete the picture.
My own coffee table has a tray (to collect the messy remotes and annoying little things my boyfriend leaves around), a vase of fresh flowers, two piles of design books and a big old candle (Glasshouse) on it. What’s on yours?
“Like the best advertising, idea-driven design has the most impact,” says Darren. “The idea helps you sort through finishes and schemes to achieve your look and represent your vision.” Your idea might be “fuss-free family home” or “stylish Hamptons”. He advises using interiors magazines, the internet (including blogs like this one, of course!) to search for inspiration and create a scrapbook or an online moodboard with Pinterest (Are you pinning yet? I knew it!).
Now an idea and a theme are two very different things. The way he explained it, a kids’ birthday party might have a theme, while a wedding, something altogether more classy, should be about an idea instead. And we all know people who make the mistake of going with a theme (in weddings and in homes) and taking it so far it becomes ridiculous. I’ll risk upsetting a lot of people here but French country? What’s that all about?! (I flirted with shabby chic myself a few years ago. Patchwork and roses EVERYWHERE. In hindsight? Terrible! But I loved it at the time).
Another boring but absolute necessity that Darren talked a lot about was planning, highlighting the importance of function and flow in a home. A scale floor plan enables you to see the space configuration and hopefully any major issues will jump out at you and you can look at solutions. He advises allocating some of your budget to fixing planning and layout issues (badly located doors, restriction of light etc). Pay attention to proportions, which can really have an impact on flow and liveability. Darren says priority number one (assuming you’re revamping your entire home) should be to improve the layout of poorly positioned rooms, particularly kitchens and bathrooms (“They sell houses!”). An accurate floor plan will also help you discover the best place for pieces of furniture.
“Don’t be afraid to block out a window or change a doorway here or there. These small, yet dirty changes, can yield transforming results,” he says.
Come back tomorrow to learn about styling. Everyone loves that bit, don’t they?
It’s amazing how much you can pack into three hours. I left last night’s Coco Republic Design School session with Darren Palmer feeling three things: impressed (by Darren’s amazing work), inspired (to make my own home even nicer employing his expert tips) and just generally excited (because that’s how I get when I’m around anything interiors, especially surrounded by other interiors addicts!).
It was a full house for the session (there’s another tomorrow) which was all about how to work with your home to show it in its best light, covering the most common problems, offering solutions and advice. And Darren made it a really enjoyable experience by being a natural, warm presenter with a sense of humour who shared countless before and afters (you can never have too many before and afters in my opinion; interiors or weightloss!) and answered many questions.
Now I couldn’t possibly share it all here in one blog post (which is why I’m going to do one a day for the rest of this week) and I’m going to pick out what I took most from it and hope you find it useful too.
You know what my biggest issue with decorating my home is? IMPATIENCE. This is why I rush into choosing and buying things, only to get them home and find they don’t quite work, or love them for two weeks and then want a completely different scheme (we don’t talk about the orange bedroom anymore). So although I found it hard to hear, I totally agree with Darren’s advice to put a good deal of planning into your interiors before you even start parting with any cash. He threw around words like focus, control and EDITING which are hard for a girl who wants everything done by yesterday to hear, but I have to admit he is so right and had I been at this session last year I could have saved myself a lot of time, money and frustration (not to mention arguments with the boyfriend about wasting money).
We’ve all been there. There is SO much choice you don’t know where to begin. Darren says: “The more constraints you can put on an interior the better. An interior can’t be all things to all people,” and adds: “it’s important to have a consistent, considered and cohesive approach to the items you choose.” My approach is so the opposite of that, I have to laugh. Sometimes I’ve got it terribly wrong. Other times I think I’ve been blessed by a bit of luck. Just when I thought Darren was already sounding way too serious, he says: “Be diligent, focused and controlled. It’s not that fun!” Spoilsport or what?!
He is absolutely right though isn’t he? How often have you wished you’d waited until you could afford the coffee table you really wanted or wished you hadn’t rushed into that ‘trendy’ colour scheme that really didn’t work for you in reality?
So, today’s lesson is patience and planning. Tune in tomorrow for some more fun stuff…
(Did I mention what a pleasure it was to finally meet Darren in real life?)
Following last night’s great design session with Darren Palmer at Coco Republic Design School, I’ve already signed up for the session with Steve Cordony from belle magazine next month. Last night Darren said Steve is one of the most amazing stylists he has ever seen! High praise indeed! Read my interview with Steve here, sign up for his session at Coco Republic Design School here. Read more about last night’s session with Darren later today. I have so much to share with you!
I’m bursting with inspiration and ideas after a three-hour session with Darren Palmer at Coco Republic Design School in Sydney this evening. The sell out session with the former star of homeMADE and The Block was all about making your own home the best it can be. This guy seriously knows his stuff. Anyone who has a snobby view of reality TV should think again because he really is extremely talented, and charming to boot. He shared some stunning before and afters with us, was very generous with his knowledge and answered a LOT of questions. I seriously recommend you attend his next session on Friday if there are any places left.
I’ll be writing up everything I learned over the next few days. There’s SO much!
Darren and I in a fab Kelly Hoppen chair at Coco. Excuse the grainy phone photo. I forgot my camera…
I’m lucky enough to be going along to Darren Palmer's session at Coco Republic Design School on Wednesday night. Anything you’d like me to quiz him on? Any burning interiors questions you’d like a bit of expert help with? Let me know by commenting below! I’ll be writing up what I learn for a future blog post. Jen