I think I might be fashionable for just a minute. For once the zeitgeist and I are in step. ‘On trend’, as we say in magazines. It’s not because I have orange dining chairs or Leila Jeffrey’s oversized budgie on the wall, although guilty as charged on both counts. Nor is it the Robert Doble sketch, the dogs’ beloved Beni Ourain carpet, the Hoi An watercolours or the Bitossi vase. Let’s face it, if I was going to brag about my favourite things I’d at least choose some stuff that went together, that kind of matched. Right? But these are my raindrops on roses, my doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles. My favourite things, that clash with delicious disregard for anyone’s rules. It’s not having any one of these things that makes me so hot right now, it’s having them all together. I’m skirting around the word ‘eclectic’ because it’s conformist through over-use, but that’s what our home is. Muddled, mismatched and a little irreverent. Eclectic.
As an editor and a TV renovation judge, I’m often quizzed about my own home. People want to know how my kitchen drawers or my bathroom tiles shape up to the ones I rubbished on last night’s show, or if I embrace not one but all three ‘Spy’ trends in the latest issue. Am I aquatic and pop-art with a touch of bling? Do fashion editors wear every garment in the magazine? Of course not. They choose only what suits them, and so it must be at home. Between us, my partner and I share a century of hopes, dreams, sorrows, thoughts and memories. Our book shelves reveal my youthful flirtation with Buddhism, his with the masters of French cuisine, and our shared travels to India, Italy, France, Vietnam. And it wouldn’t take Sherlock Holmes to guess we love dogs, themselves no respecters of price, quality or value. But as every picture tells a story, so should every home. Like all trends, ‘eclectic’ will be fleeting, to be replaced by the next rigorous wave of whichever-ism. That’s how fashion works, and it’s fun. Where would magazines be, where would retail be, without it? But there comes a time when it’s as much fun to be off-trend, to realise the best ‘ism’ of all is individualism.
Neale Whitaker is Editor-in-chief of Belle and a judge on Nine’s hit home renovation show The Block.