In news that won’t surprise many of you, the latest research from ME Bank has shown that home styling is more important than personal styling when it comes to the happiness of Australians. 76 per cent of Australians said that the style of their home was important to their happiness and individuality whereas only 46 per cent said the same about their fashion choices.
And while there are many reasons posited, one of the most compelling is housing affordability with 44 per cent of Australians saying that they spent more on styling their home to compensate for living in a home that is below their expectations. “That 44% of respondents said they’re focused on styling their home because they can’t afford the house of their dreams shows many Australians are willing to compromise when it comes to their property aspirations, a good strategy considering high house prices. The right styling can significantly improve how much you love your home,” says ME Bank’s money expert Matthew Read who recommends using the services of an interior designer to avoid making costly mistakes.
Affordable homewares retailers are also driving the trend with cost-conscious consumers now spoilt for choice. “It’s encouraging to see that while Australians are incredibly house proud, they’re still cost conscious when it comes to styling their homes, opting for inexpensive on-trend options that can be updated seasonally,” says Matthew. Buyer demand is certainly reflected in Kmart’s latest annual report which shows that the budget department store’s revenue has risen by 33 per cent since 2013 to $5.6 billion after introducing its now infamous homewares line.
Combining a home styling obsession with a cost-conscious approach is something that Melbourne’s Freddy Grant knows well. “I spend far more time in my home than I do in clothes. I’ve always believed in quality over quantity and don’t enjoy shopping for my wardrobe. Clothes shops are either crowded and discounted or quiet and ridiculously overpriced. Clothes are much more temporary, especially how they’re made these days, whereas when I buy for my home I’m thinking long term and like to buy second hand if possible,” says Freddy who owns his own home with his husband Burt Reynolds (yes, really!).
“Your home is an extension of yourself. Finding the perfect space for something you love is a great feeling. I think it’s human instinct to collect and arrange things – most people do it in some way so I guess that’s why it gives you a rush,” says Freddy who works for online art gallery Bluethumb.
“I’ve certainly noticed a lot of my younger colleagues buying art and taking pride in their rental homes, which has surprised me as starting an art collection is traditionally enjoyed by an older demographic. I think it’s become more important to have a space you’re proud of, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune,” says Freddy.
“I love collecting art, and working for Bluethumb means I’m tempted to spend every day, so have to control myself. The great thing about the online art revolution over the last few years is that original art has become much more affordable, so it’s not my biggest extravagance. An artwork is also for life (not just for Christmas), so makes it incredibly good value when you think about the lifespan of the purchase,” says Freddy.
Freddy’s home has been styled with a mix of secondhand and new finds. “Collectively I’ve spent quite a lot of money setting up the house with furniture, but most of it was second hand and bargained for,” who admits his biggest splurge was on his Samsung ‘The Frame’ television. “It’s definitely the most pretentious TV on the market, but it totally fools people into thinking it’s an artwork on the wall. I highly recommend it to anyone that’s sick of having your living room designed around the TV. Currently there’s a beautiful photo by Megan George displayed, but the great thing is you can put any artwork or photo (you own the rights to!) on there and it comes with a huge collection to choose from too,” says Freddy.
Photography: Megan George