Neale Whitaker demystifies 5 “next-level” interior trends

Cookie-cutter style be gone.
Entryway of Taylors of Berry with inset of Neale Whitaker on the leftPhotography: Rachel Tagg via Airbnb | Inset: Wattyl

If anyone has their finger on the pulse of interior design trends, it’s Neale Whitaker. Not only is he an interiors expert, host of Love It Or List It and a beloved judge on The Block, he’s also created seasonal paint colour palettes for Wattyl, designed homewares and built a gorgeous guest house on the idyllic NSW South Coast called Taylors of Berry.

While he admits he’s “not big on interior design trends,” he recently took to an Instagram reel to demystify five of the most weird and wonderful trends he’s seen cropping up on social media. Why? Because “This year’s trends are next level.” And that’s no understatement. One of the trends is even called ‘mob wife aesthetic,’ and if you’re scratching your head wondering what that could possibly mean, never fear, because Neale has broken it all down for us. 

1. Urban Aunt

A home styled in the urban aunt aesthetic is filled with curated treasures and unique objects that, quite simply, radiate personality. “Apparently we all have an aunt that we aspire to who lives in the city in an apartment that is stuffed with cool things,” explains Neale, “I never had an aunt like that but maybe you do.” 

While TikTok gave this trend its name, it has since been embraced by the likes of Neale and interior designer Amy Spargo of Maine House Interiors. “These collected interiors are timeless and overall interesting spaces to be in,” she told Home Beautiful

One thing we love about this trend is its timelessness. Here’s how to nail the urban aunt look and make it last long term. 

Neale’s guesthouse Taylors of Berry is filled with interesting objects and art – the distinguishing feature of the ‘urban aunt’ trend. (Photography: Rachel Tagg via Airbnb)

2. Coastal grandma

Coastal grandma is a “near relative” of the urban aunt trend, says Neale. For this look think: the set of a Nancy Meyers film (especially Something’s Gotta Give) with its crisp white canvas, grand oversized furniture and breezy, timeworn textures. 

Interior designer Kathryn Borglund of House of Hanalei says she often thinks about the sets of As Good As It Gets and The White Lotus when putting together the kind of luxurious, lived-in, coastal home encapsulated by the coastal grandma trend. “They strike a balance between luxurious and subtle taste, which I believe achieves the perfect coastal aesthetic,” she says.

But, as always, Neale keeps it real. “The only thing in my grandma’s house that I coveted was my grandmother herself, that’s about it.” 

This dream family home on the Mornington Peninsula designed by Amy Spargo encapsulates the coastal grandma aesthetic. (Photography: Lisa Cohen)

3. Mob wife

“Yep, you heard that right, mob wife,” begins Neale. The dubiously-named trend was inspired by a fashion trend of the same name channeling the energy of strong female characters in films like The Godfather. “I can only assume a mob wife’s home is full of brass and bling,” says Neale. 

Furniture retailer Luxo Living say this trend is all about “getting a bit garish,” so you’ll either love it or hate it. The key to pulling off this trend is to go big and bold, embracing glossy finishes, dark hues, brass accents and over-the-top decor like crystal chandeliers, velvet and animal prints. 

Modern art deco inspired living room at Taylors of Berry, designed by Neale Whitaker
Neale says there are elements of all five trends at Taylors of Berry. (Photography: Rachel Tagg via Airbnb)

4. Dopamine decor

“Dopamine decor speaks for itself; lots of bright colours,” says Neale. In other words, it’s the opposite of the all-neutral-everything (aka ‘sad beige’) trend. 

Now’s not the time to be intimidated by colour. If your home makes you feel uninspired, consider giving it a colourful revamp courtesy of bold hues including cobalt blue, red, orange and sunny yellow. The idea is to create a room that is maximalist, playful and joyful. “Have fun,” says Neale. 

A cosy and colourfully decorated living room. The wallpaper is Ottoline ‘Sporty Stripes’ in Saffron while the walls are painted in Dulux Carved Pumpkin. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin | Styling: Cheryl Carr)

5. ‘Kitschen’

Minimalist, integrated kitchens have reigned supreme for years … until now. Out with the sleek, modern kitchen and in with the “kitschen”, says Neale. A portmanteau of ‘kitsch’ and ‘kitchen’, this is the heart of the home you’ve seen popping up all over Instagram recently. 

You know the one, it’s got the ceramic butlers sink, a sink skirt, open-shelving, a brightly-tiled splashback, plenty of artwork and favours old-school furniture pieces like hutches and free-standing islands over custom cabinetry. 

“Kitchen minimalism … is out and we are proudly putting everything on display,” says Neale.

A green subway tile splashback above turquoise cabinets in the kitchen.
Hand-glazed tiles in Emerald from Middle Earth Tiles are the hero feature of the jewel-toned kitchen. (Credit: Photography: Louise Roche / Styling: Kylie Jackes)

Trends may come and go, but Neale says the thing that ties all of these particular trends together is to “be individual. We’re seeing the end of the cookie-cutter style of decorating we’ve been seeing for a while.”

“At the end of the day, it’s about being you.”

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