We are joined by Shaynna Blaze from Selling Houses Australia and The Block as we look at some of the design trends and how you can tap into those to get the best value for money.
Kevin: My next guest in the show is very well known for her roles, of course, in Selling Houses Australia, a judge on The Block, and her new show, Shaynna’s World of Design. I’m talking, of course, about Shaynna Blaze.
Good morning, Shaynna. Welcome to the show.
Shaynna: Good morning, Kevin. Thank you.
Kevin: Lovely to be talking to you. It’s a great show, too. It must have been a real thrill. How did it come about?
Shaynna: The company One World Collection actually commissioned me to do a lighting range, and then I was booked in to go to the Milan Trade Fair, so I pitched it to the LifeStyle channel and said, “Do you want to follow me? Do you want to do this?” We had a concept but weren’t quite sure. We wanted to do it more about design and travel. We didn’t want to make the lights such a feature, but it ended up being that way.
We went over there with a bit of an idea. We only found out two weeks before we left that we would actually be filming it. We just ran it from there. It was pretty organic how it ended up.
Kevin: Great idea. It must have been a bit scary when you realized, “Hang on a minute. Everything’s on the line here.”
Shaynna: It’s your reputation.
Shaynna: It’s not just your design skills and things like that. With manufacturing and creative design, it can’t always go your way. There have to be some sort of things that don’t work. It happened, but at least some of it worked, which was good.
Kevin: Yes. You’ve had some tremendous success, and you’ve got so many loyal followers all around Australia and around the world. How did the Shaynna Blaze story begin?
Shaynna: It’s funny because design wasn’t the thing that I was going for. I was actually wanting to be a fine artist. My auntie was a painter and my dad was a craftsman. There was always art around me. I wanted to be an artist – go to Paris and paint and be a starving artist, that sort of thing – but my dad pushed me into interior design because he did a lot of work around the house that we worked on.
I applied for fine arts and I applied for interior design, and as the universe goes, I didn’t get into fine arts; I got into interior design. I thought, “I’ll give it a go.” I wasn’t really excited about it. Within the first two weeks, I’m sitting there and I’m sketching and I’m doing the history of architecture, and I just knew that’s what I had to do.
Kevin: Yes. It’s quite amazing; we’ve seen many people you’ve worked for over the years just break down and cry when they see what you’ve done. I’ve often wondered whether it’s about the person or is it about the property? How do you get that understanding about what’s really going to turn someone on?
Shaynna: It’s a couple of angles. It is about the people because it’s your home, it’s your investment, and people are very emotionally attached to the memories that are created within that space.
When you’re doing it for somebody who’s going to keep the house, you’re actually creating a space for them to create new memories. There is that real personal connection that you can never let go. When you’re trying to sell a house, you’re hoping that you can convey that, that somebody can walk in and feel emotionally connected to the space, even though they don’t own it. To me, everything has to come from a personable angle.
Kevin: There’s a great tip there for anyone looking at selling their property. They should try and picture what the buyer will be like and maybe make the surroundings fit that personality.
Shaynna: Yes. I think a lot of people get caught up in their own memories and forget that they’re actually selling it for someone else to put their memories in it. That’s probably the biggest key.
Kevin: Shaynna’s World of Design, of course, was all about your lighting range. Are we likely to see an expansion of that. Will there be other lines coming along?
Shaynna: We’re already designing part two, which is absolutely exciting.
Shaynna: We’re looking at a couple different variations of the lights and then also accessories and things that will go with it. It’s not just about the lights; knowing that you can have things around in the room so they’re going to connect with each other. That’s really exciting.
It means that the lightings were pretty bespoke and that they’re between the middle and high end of a couple of them, and then the pieces that will go around it will be more in that affordable range. You can have your expensive piece and your lower price piece, so they actually work really well together.
Kevin: We’ve been promoting the fact that we’re going to be talking to you today, and we actually did have a question in from one of our listeners, Janine in Tarragindi, who says, “Can you please ask Shaynna, if you have only enough money for one thing, would you choose to paint the house or renovate the 1970s orange bathroom?”
Shaynna: I think the bathroom, and that’s because that is the hardest thing to do. You can do a lick of paint at any time, but I think if you can afford to the bathroom – it doesn’t have to be over-the-top expensive – that is a big money-spinner and that is a big thing, whether you’re going to live in it, it makes you feel good, because nothing about a ’70s bathroom makes you feel great unless you’re a retro queen. It’s about making you feel good every time you walk into that bathroom. If you’re doing it to sell, a buyer will walk in and not be put off by it because they think, one, it’s ugly, and two, they have to spend too much money.
Kevin: Over the years, we’ve lost our way, I think, with some of the design concepts we’ve come up with: the 1970s bathroom or the orange bathroom, even all that mission brown. It was great at the time, but how did we fall into that trap? It’s pretty ugly, isn’t it?
Shaynna: This is where I love history and history of architecture. It moves with the times. It was coming out of that concept of the Mad Men era, where you had everything loud and bright, and then you had the soft pastels. Then ’70s came along and just wanted to be very dark and moody and get away from that psychedelic era of the ’60s and the pastels of the early ’60s. It was really just creating a different movement and change.
Kevin: Yes, I understand. That’s fair enough.
Just before I let you go, Shaynna, just your renovation tips for beginners on a bit of a budget. Have you got a couple you can give us?
Shaynna: I think that the biggest renovation tip is to work out how long you wanted to have that renovation last for. If it’s a renovation that you just want a quick fix so that it’s going to look great for a couple of years, don’t spend your money on expensive surfaces because you might change your mind.
If it’s just a quick fix, look at your basic lights, look at your paint, and look at the fittings like your oven and your door handles that you’ll get a lot of use out of. If you’re going to do it for the long term, really plan it well. I think a lot of people go a bit too gung ho. They see a look and think, “I’m going to do this and do that,” and then start spending without really doing a proper budget and working out how it’s going to play out over the next 12 months, putting it together.
Kevin: Great advice. Finally, before I let you go, is there one thing with design, a must-have that applies to all homes?
Shaynna: Never forget the heart. I think that’s the thing. Don’t get caught up in the look. It’s all about the heart of the home, and it’s all about how you will fit in the space. Yes, don’t get caught up on the look.
Kevin: It comes down to that personality again, doesn’t it? You’ve got to live there.
Shaynna: It has to. Yes. It’s the space you have to walk in and feel good about yourself when you walk in, rather than feeling like you’re living in someone else’s house.
Kevin: One of the big challenges, I guess, for any designer – like you – is that you’ve got to actually put yourself in someone else’s place, as opposed to imposing your own personality onto a design.
Shaynna: I’ve actually become a very good psychologist and marriage counselor over the years.
Kevin: You’d have to.
Shaynna: It is. It’s tapping into the human psyche and actually trying to work out what they want even though they’re telling you something else. I love observing and I love people watching. It’s a really good skill. I get to go into people’s lives and they share so much with me, and it’s fun.
Kevin: Thank you so much for sharing some time with us this morning, Shaynna. It’s been a delight talking to you. All the success in the future coming your way, too.
Shaynna: Thanks you so much, Kevin. An absolute pleasure chatting to you.