Darren Palmer’s tips for achieving the magazine look at home

Darren Palmer’s tips for achieving the magazine look at home

 If you want your home to look photo shoot-worthy, if even only temporarily, there are tricks to help. Photo: Armelle Habib

A home less ordinary is much more achievable than you might think.

Just look behind the designer curtain at some of the smoke and mirrors we use to make spaces shine as brightly as they can. If you want your home to look photo shoot-worthy, if even only temporarily for a special event, here are some of the stylist tricks that’ll help.

A three-storey warehouse conversion in South Melbourne. The ground floor is a design studio, an open-plan kitchen, dining and living space is on the mid-level, and bedrooms are on the top floor. WHO LIVES HERE – Interior Designer Carole Whiting with daughter Millie, 19, a fine arts student, and Sugarball the Burmese cat. Photo: Armelle Habib

Furniture layout

Worry less about where the television is or if there is one at all. Often we will remove TVs from rooms entirely to arrange furniture to highlight architectural features or orient toward views. Symmetry works well, but so too does having contrast by using differing furniture pieces. For example, choose a contrasting style and colour of sofa to the accompanying chairs. To tie together the look of the room, use side, coffee and console tables in the same colour, material or style.


Use a tray on a coffee table to tie together decor items. The perfect elements are candles, books, flowers and potted plants. My preference is always for natural plant life but faux will work where necessary, if they’re really high quality. A large floral arrangement – say, a grouping of orchids in full bloom – can really elevate a coffee table by providing height and a visual focus in a styled vignette.

A four-bedroom, pavilion-style Modernist home in East St Kilda designed by architect Harry Ernest in 1962. It also has four courtyards and an in-ground pool. WHO LIVES HERE – Interior designer Roger Ward. Photo: Armelle Habib

If you have many small pieces of art, gather them together in a French or gallery hang. These arrangements are great for staircases, hallways and bedrooms. Keep big artworks to feature above sofas, console tables and behind dining tables; this way you’ll get the best impact for the piece and the room.

Positioning is important. Whether you’re styling a console table or a whole room, keep in mind a forced perspective. Place smaller items close to the viewer, mid-sized a little further back and higher items at the rear. This will draw the eye upward.

Three is a charm. When you’re styling objects, work in trios. Use items of different heights, sizes and materials for interest.

A newly renovated 1980’s townhouse in Melbourne’s inner-east. The ground floor open-plan living space is entered though a private courtyard, and the first floor has two bedrooms and bathrooms. WHO LIVES HERE— Kristiina Reeve, an interior designer with Mim Design, with husband Kyle, a property developer, their baby, Will, 5 months and Winter the Schnauzer. Photo: Armelle Habib


In a kitchen, make sure to start first with a blank canvas. That means clearing everything from your bench tops to begin fresh. Styling additions should be appropriate to use so think about herbs, either planted in small pots or trays, or cut and presented in small vases or even drinking glasses. Herbs like rosemary look great cut and styled, even if just laid out flat on a board or counter.

Timber cutting boards are brilliant to break up the volume of splashbacks and if you lean one or a few against a splashback you can open a recipe book, have a small cutting of some herbs and perhaps a loaf of bread or a cup of tea and have a pretty decent simple little kitchen styling vignette. Cakes under cloches work well, so to do rustic bowls of root vegetables. Whatever you choose, you can do better than just a bowl of lemons or green apples if you just apply a little creativity.

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