Home decor tips from Charlize Theron’s interior designer

The more, the merrier? Not neccessarily so.

Jamie Durie, 46, started out as a landscaper, and gained fame as Oprah Winfrey's go-to gardening expert. The Australian designer and author later turned to furniture and hotel interior design, and has worked with Hollywood celebs like Charlize Theron and Chelsea Handler. When he’s not working with A-listers or designing the Lantern Rooftop Bar at the Fullerton Bay Hotel and "the waterfront area all the way down to the Merlion", he hosts and judges on Sony Channel’s original interior design-themed reality series The Apartment: Rising Stars Edition.  

jamie durie
Photo: Kelvin Chia

#1: To draw attention to your new fancy couch, make it the only seating area in your living room.

According to Jamie, most folks don’t interact with a space the way you want them to, unless you influence them psychologically. And yup, that means ‘forcing’ them to notice certain features. "For the Lantern Rooftop Bar, I was thinking about how I can get people to interact with the pool there. So I positioned some chairs about one inch into the water so that people would have to connect with the water when they sit there. [This feature] doesn’t appear very often, but it worked really well in this particular case. They are seduced by the luxurious idea of sitting in the water, but it is not so important that they do it. The art of architecture lies in the suggestive invitation to play with water. " 

#2: There should be enough space between your furniture, no matter how big or small your place is.

"Spatial awareness is very important," says Jamie. "If you put chairs too closely together and people are forced to sit [very near] each other, then it is quite irritating ’cos they are invading one another’s space."

#3: Got mismatched furniture? Make the eclectic mix look deliberate.

Okay, so you bought clashing furniture from Taobao ’cos it was cheap. But you can still save your home from looking like a garang guni man’s storeroom. Jamie’s tip? Make your selection sound intentional and le exotique. "When it comes to my own house, I’m not so worried about harmony. I have lots of things that I bought while travelling around the world, ’cos I like pieces that tell a story about my experiences." So you better give your flea market table a, um, solid back story.

#4: You can keep your place open and have privacy at the same time.

The unpredictability of outdoor landscapes was partly why Jamie shifted his focus to interior design. He explains, "Landscape design relies too heavily on [whether the homeowners can maintain it well], the weather, the environment and the water supply. So many things can affect your original design." Also unpredictable: celebrities’ requests for their homes. "I can’t name names, but I’ve gotten a brief which stated, ‘I want privacy, but I also want sun on my butt’. I ended up giving them really tall hedges and furniture that is good for sunbathing! But unreasonable demands don’t [faze] me, ’cos I’ve always been very open and flexible about my design. When you’re in this line for 20 years, you’ve to be [pliant] like bamboo. You can’t be concrete," he says.

The Apartment: Rising Stars Edition is on Thurs on Sony Channel (StarHub TV Ch 510 & Singtel TV Ch 316), 7.55pm


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