Neale Whitaker's 2021 Home Decor Tips

The Block’s resident judge and co-host of Foxtel’s Love It Or List It, Neale Whitaker, recently visited the biannual interior design trade fair, Maison & Object, Paris.

The show, which is one of the most important interior design events in Europe, was held in January – conveniently right before global lockdowns were rolled out – and proved a great opportunity for the interior designer to take a peek at some key design trends for the coming year.

Neale Whittaker

Neale Whittaker is the Luxaflex Window Fashions Brand Ambassador. Picture: Luxaflex

“I approach trends as macro and micro,” said Mr Whitaker. “Macro trends are those around for extended periods of time, with no view of going anywhere anytime soon, like sustainability.

“Alternatively, micro trends are more like shapes and styles – the things that come and go more quickly.

Bricolage – the mixing of styles and eras, shapes and textures for truly unique interiors – would fall under a micro trend, as would other current themes like artisan-made, natural fibres including rattan, jute and wicker, and global-nomad with influences of the Middle East and Asia.”

Nursery interior

Handmade homewares made from natural materials are a great way of mixing up your style. Picture: Luxaflex

Mr Whitaker said that while it’s always good to know what’s popular right now when styling or designing your home, there are a number of other important considerations:

Remember to inject your own personality

“When it comes to the home, it’s always good to know what the trends are and why they are, but I do believe your home is all about you,” said Mr Whitaker.

“Find interesting ways to hang or display your artwork or personal knick-knacks, and don’t be afraid to put a bit of yourself into your home’s style.”

Consider how your space makes you feel

Create a mood, said Mr Whitaker.  “People often don’t consider how a space makes them feel,” he explained. “It’s easy to open a catalogue and simply pick out a theme to replicate [it], but if your space doesn’t suit that theme, it simply won’t feel right.

“Your home is yours, so make it your own.”

Living room with relaxing colours

There’s no point in picking out a style from a catalogue if it doesn’t make you feel good. Picture: Luxaflex

Merge trends

“Don’t be afraid to mix and match styles within your room,” said Mr Whitaker, who suggested going slow and taking confidence in your own taste and style.

“Most of the current trends are quite neutral and 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 styles, different tones, different periods, different colours.”

Maximise your natural light

Maximising the light in your spaces will instantly elevate your mood. Mr Whitaker is a big believer in using the right window dressings for your space.

As a Luxaflex Window Fashions Brand Ambassador, he’s a fan of their ‘LumiShade’ product. “[It’s] a great option in terms of a classic window covering, combining the versatility of a vertical blind with the elegant appeal of a soft window furnishing,” he said. “This lets light in whilst balancing style, durability and practicality.”

Create warmth by layering

“Aside from lamps, which are wonderful for illuminating spaces softly, and using rugs and soft furnishings to create warmth, layering art that you love, your personal photographs, mementos, books – the things that tell your story – will add depth and turn a house into a home,” said Mr Whitaker.