We caught up with Darren Palmer, interior designer, author and TV personality to find out his top styling tips, judging on The Block and the inspiration behind The Room Project by Darren Palmer.
How would you describe the looks you’ve created?
One is masculine, the other feminine. The masculine has a mid-century modern feeling, the feminine feels more at home in 2017 with references to contemporary colours and materials. It’s great to have been able to create two looks, seen side by side, that show the product in such a different way, interpreting each piece for a particular buyer and giving the pieces their very own era, style and mood.
What was the inspiration behind each look?
The leg on the Encore bed is slightly curved in cross section and feels very much like Danish mid-century pieces or the classic Featherstone Australian pieces. That leg started the idea of taking it back to the middle of last century and playing with it in a sophisticated way, feeling like a trip into a bedroom room from a penthouse in “Mad Men”. There are a lot of pieces in this room that appeal to me personally, the strong masculine patterns like suiting and textures like velvet and details like buttoning. Horses, architectural flowers and design classic lamps compliment the look and this feels very much like a cool bedroom I’d be at home in.
The Feminine look started with the upholstery of the Symphony bed. Its stitched detail makes the bedhead already feel soft but I wanted to play up the feeling of soft luxury that comes with an upholstered bedhead. I wanted linen and the colour that I thought would work best with the Wenge base was Blush, the two colours having a red base. Blush works perfectly with Salmon and Terracotta and I wanted to contrast those colours with a blue grey which is a very contemporary colour palette. Marble in the mix works perfectly well and it feels like an elegant, contemporary, feminine space.
Describe your signature style and how you incorporate this into your home interior?
My signature is not necessarily a style but an approach. I like to create comfortable, sophisticated interiors that suit their owners and their locations working with constraints defined in the brief. The results vary from case to case but the common thread is comfort, livability and a natural, light and friendly feeling. I apply this at home in a really beachy way as I live in a beach suburb, but I’ve also created Federation style homes for myself with a contemporary twist and city pads in Art deco buildings. My work is fairly varied.
What is your favourite King Living design and why?
I am completely in LOVE with the brown velvet Seymour chair with black metal leg we created for this look. I would love to own it; I have nowhere to put it but I would love to own it. It feels like everything I love embodied in a chair. The brown velvet brings a whole new dimension to the chair, which is the best thing about creating your own pieces with King Living, you can interpret them in your own way with your own creativity creating a whole new piece no one has seen before.
What is your 'must have' interior styling accessory?
I have a few, books, lamps, candles, plants, décor objects and art. Soft furnishings come into play too. All of decoration is about layering and refining, layering and refining. The choice is as important as the edit.
What’s your top styling tip?
Decoration is the best way to create a finished room. Whether it’s dressing your side tables, creating a vignette on a console table, placing your art in places for impact, lighting things so they really shine, adding texture and colour to sofas or beds through soft furnishings it’s the attention to detail that makes your home reflect your style and really present your place in its best light. As Charles Eames said, “the details are not the details, they make the design”.
What are your favourite interior trends for 2017 and what are you incorporating into your home?
I love that we’re seeing darker timbers come back, Walnut being my big favourite of the moment. We’ve seen lots of oak but it’s a welcome change to see the warm, nutty tones of walnut being used in furniture and joinery. I’m happy to see that there really is a wide variety of style in fashion at the moment and interiors aren’t being dominated by any one type. It’s great to see people feeling free to interpret styles in their own ways and creating fusions where they can.
What do you look for when judging a room on The Block?
I judge on 4 factors:
1 Appropriateness to the market
4 Layout and design
Those each get 2.5 points to start with as they’re equally important. That’s why you will see me sometimes judge something that is unfinished but otherwise amazing an 8. They would get full points in 3 of the 4 and get perhaps half a point for the work that is complete. It perplexes the contestants but it’s fair and rational and I consider every detail in the room.
I think about what the buyers will think when inspecting and whether the solution is right for the building and the location. I think about how well things are detailed and completed, paint, installation etc. I think about all the things that they put into the space, the furniture and décor. And I look also at the planning, the proportions, the flow and the solutions. All of these things are extremely important in any project, design or renovation so it is only fair they all get considered as part of the judging process.