I don't exactly remember the first time I decided I liked Darren Palmer and his style.
Was it when he appeared on TV as a contestant on homeMADE back in 2009... or later when he became the new, enthusiastic (and according to Neale Whitaker, 'self-appointed nice'!) judge on The Block? Either way, it means he has seen both sides of the reality TV juggernaut which encapsulates Australia's love of home renovation and interior design, and I watched the beginning of a career from the comfort of my greasy-kid's-fingers-stained sofa, surrounded by flat, mismatched cushions.
We've both come a long way. I now have lovely new sofas and gorgeous, well co-ordinated cushions (although the kids still live here), while Darren is now an established member of The Block team (and occasional mentor to contestants), busy working on interior design with his own clients, and excitedly celebrating the release of his first book, Easy Luxury.
In Easy Luxury, Darren covers everything you need to think about when designing, revamping and styling your home, and does so in a very amiable, practical and inspirational way. He knows there is no single answer to what makes a home perfect, nor should we take design culture too seriously... "No one lives or dies by my choice of linen".... but simply shares what he thinks works.
From the big spaces in living rooms, kitchens and bathrooms, to the less obvious but equally important aspects of lighting, focal points, wall art, reading nooks and stacking books ("I know books are supposed to be for reading and educating and transporting you to another place but they're super good as decoration too..."), Darren has tips to guide you, no matter what your taste or budget allows. He wants us all to find the courage to use colour (a man after my own heart, I don't 'do' white), look at materials we may have never considered, and recognise the opportunities in our own homes. And he does so without preaching any set rules. "When it comes to what is right for you, the only person who can tell you is, well, you."
Easy Luxury is also a visually beautiful book; the wonderful photography by Felix Forest capturing shots as diverse as whole rooms with stunning views, to smaller, elegant vignettes.
So if your home is suffering from 'greige' paralysis - stuck in a grey and beige holding pattern - or needs a bit of style tweaking, or you are starting from scratch, Darren Palmer's Easy Luxury might just be your solution.
It is the perfect coffee table book, but not one which will gather dust. You'll want to continually return to its lovely pages of advice, encouragement, style and practicality.
I must thank Darren for being a friendly, engaging bloke on all forms of social media, and for the fact I will never have floppy, unchopped cushions again.
(and nope, I'm not explaining that, you'll have to buy the book!)
Easy Luxury, by Darren Palmer
Murdoch Books, RRP $39.99