Love It or List It – Neale Whitaker

Love It or List It on Foxtel sets up the battle between Andrew Winter on the sell side and Neale Whitaker on the improve it, stay where you are and love it side. This highlights the dilemma facing many property owners as their family situation changes and they ask the question – “Is it easier to improve or move?”. Neale Whitaker joins us to discuss the series and what he is learning about where renovators get it right and wrong.
Transcript:
Kevin:  Love It or List It on Foxtel sets up the battle between Andrew Winter on the “sell” side and Neale Whitaker on the “improve it, stay where you are, and love it” side. This highlights the dilemma facing many property owners as their family situation changes and they have to ask that inevitable question: is it easier for me to improve or should I move?
Neale Whitaker, interior design expert, editor at large of Vogue Living, judge of the television series The Block, and also co-host of Love It or List It, joins me right now.
Good day, Neale. Thank you very much for your time.
Neale:  Pleasure, Kevin. Good to be here.
Kevin:  I have to say I am thoroughly enjoying Love It or List It. I’ve always been a great fan of Andrew’s and yours, but it’s good to see the both of you together, a bit of tête-à-tête happening there.
Neale:  Thank you very much.
Kevin:  That’s all right, mate. The series, of course, features fed-up homeowners turning to the experts – both you and Andrew – to rejuvenate their outgrown houses while also coming in with an exit plan in the form of, say, a new abode.
I guess for many people, Neale, it’s not going to be as easy to do this – it’s easier for them to move – because they don’t have your skills of being able to see those hidden potentials. The thing that’s coming through for me is your ability to see behind and look at…
Do you think people miss a lot of opportunities because they can’t see what you see?
Neale:  Kevin, for sure. Absolutely. I think the longer you’ve been in a home, the less likely you are to see that potential. I think we kind of get locked in to the space that we’re living in and the problems that come with it. You basically can’t see the wood for the trees. I’ve been guilty of this in the past, too, in previous homes. You stop being able to see what could be.
I come in with fresh eyes. They’re not homes that I’m used to myself and I can immediately see what could potentially be – depending on the available budget, of course.
Kevin:  What are your tips for helping people make this critical decision, Neale?
Neale:  At the end of the day, it’s all about being very realistic and having your eyes wide open. What I mean by that is I think people need to really think about how they live and what they need. I think sometimes people over-capitalize, over-stretch themselves, and take on renovations that they perhaps don’t really need. I think just be realistic about what you actually need.
I always give the example of if you’re not a great cook or you don’t love cooking or entertaining, then why do you need an amazing state-of-the-art kitchen? You don’t. Just be realistic about the way you live your life and the way you want to live your life.
Then also, do your homework. Do your homework with similar properties in the area. Over-capitalizing is a real danger. Be realistic about what your property is likely to be valued at once you’ve done the renovation and take into consideration what it’s likely to be valued at now.
My final bit of advice, of course, is the oldest one in the book, and that’s always have a bit more money up your sleeve. If you calculate what your renovation is going to cost, then I always say whack on at least 30% because you’re going to need it.
Kevin:  I’ve often wondered about design and color and so on. I know your favorite color is blue, if I’m correct. Is that right?
Neale:  Yes, I like blue a lot.
Kevin:  Me, too. It resonates with me, as well. Who sets design and color trends? Is it the designer or is it the consumer?
Neale:  With a residential renovation?
Kevin:  With trends. We see things move in, the old mission brown trend and things like that. Where does all of that come from?
Neale:  Trends filter into the fashion industry and the design industry through the big annual trade fairs. The big one for the interior design industry is Milan, which happens every April. That’s the equivalent for interior design to the fashion runway shows that you see in London and Paris and New York.
That’s when you start to see the trends emerging, but it’s kind of a slow burn with interior design. Something that was, say, premiered in April of this year, you’re not likely to see that filtering through for another couple of years, in my experience.
Kevin:  Neale, we’re going to have to leave it there, but thank you so much for your time. All the best for you and Andrew with the series. We look forward to watching it as it unfolds. Love It or List It is on Foxtel. Neale Whitaker has been my guest. Neale, thanks for your time.
Neale:  Thanks a lot, Kevin. Pleasure.

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