Darren Palmer’s first book is out on Monday. I got my hands on a preview copy of Easy Luxury and let me tell you, I am seriously impressed. I asked Darren about the story and inspiration behind the book and how on earth he managed to juggle writing it with being a judge on The Block, a dad and an interior designer! Keeping it real as ever, he reveals how he lost it when he got his hands on the first copy, how some of his best ideas came to him in the shower and how his hectic diary looks a little like a game of Tetris…
The title seems a good place to start. Does luxury have to mean expensive? “No way! It has nothing to do with spending a lot of money. Luxury to me is about having something that fits me perfectly — something that suits me better than anything else would because it’s been created in response to my particular needs and desires,” he says. “The other luxuries for me are choice and time. Time with family, time to unwind and time to see new and inspiring things. Money does buy you more choices but you need to understand how to filter those choices so that the things you choose work for you.”
Darren has spent the last couple of years contributing to magazines like GQ and Grand Designs Australia and words have always come quite easily to him. “I started to feel like I had a good tone and something of worth to say. As my experience has grown, so too has my desire to share some of my knowledge. I started checking with publishers early last year and was grateful to have Murdoch pick up the book.”
I believe he has achieved his desire to write a comprehensive book that demystifies the design process, explaining things in easy terms that everyone can understand, while also sharing some advanced ideas and concepts. “I don’t use jargon or over-complicate things and there is no single correct answer given to design and decoration challenges in the book. I wanted to deliver foundations and fundamentals to anyone who would like to understand why good design is good, so they can create beautiful and functional spaces for themselves, to suit their own lives and families.”
Understanding these principles can help everyone have the luxury of good design. “When you understand the principles behind great design, you can interpret how it can fit and assist you in the creation of your perfect home. Living in a beautiful space has an effect on your mental and physical wellbeing, and your sense of prosperity increases when you consider your own home as a prosperous space. It’s not based on how much you spend, it’s based on how considered and appropriate and consistent your result it. How well it suits you and what the finished result looks like is the focus and Easy Luxury gives as much straightforward information as I could contain in one book.”
Darren, who has big plans to renovate his own Sydney home if he ever gets the time, says the book came easily as he was simply talking from experience. “The words weren’t always there, and they don’t always come in the most convenient places. I had bursts of creativity in the shower, on the plane or sitting at home with my laptop on my lap with no other distractions. But I also found when I’d earmarked time to write I didn’t have much to say! It’s a funny thing but it was very enjoyable writing the book. I probably rewrote it four times in the process, changing the structure and organising things in response to conversations with Murdoch and the brilliant editorial team working with me. But proudly, every word in the book is my own and I loved almost every minute of producing it.”
When it came to getting his hands on the first hard copy from his manager, he was way too excited to play it cool: “I was beside myself. I was trying to keep a lid on it but pretty much had to leave and take it to my car and just let the excitement out. It’s an amazing feeling. I immediately called a few people who would get my excitement but not one of them answered! So I was sat in my car on my own looking like a kid in a candy store. Must’ve been quite some sight!”
Being as busy as he is calls for some serious organisation and Darren’s diary is colour-coded and separated into different calendars. “I tend to just organise and slot in time for everything like a Tetris game. The diary looks like a Rubik’s Cube from day to day with so many things layered on top of each other but it works and I’m really grateful to be working on what I love.”
So, after a couple of crazy years and impressive success, what’s next for Mr Palmer? “You called it years ago. I recall you mentioning in our first interview you thought I was the next big thing! (Well yes, and I was right! Jen). I don’t feel that’s the case but it is a really amazing place to be, to have a lot of the things that I’d always desired and been working really hard towards finally come to fruition. It’s funny though as the more I work and the more things I’m able to tick off the list, the more things get added to that list. It’s harder to stop and celebrate those victories as the next thing is underway and takes a lot of energy and focus but it’s a really brilliant place to be.
“There’s so many wonderful opportunities that are in front of me and I’m truly grateful for all of the things that have so far come to pass. It’s more important for me now to spend time with the people I love and prioritise the most important as well as beneficial things in my life. I’m learning I can’t do everything so I need to choose wisely and keep my feet on the ground. My family won’t ever let it be any other way though so I’m a very lucky man.”
All photography of Darren’s work shot by Felix Forest, from the book Easy Luxury, published by Murdoch. Available in all good book stores from Monday 1 September.
I’ll be writing a proper review of Easy Luxury when I’ve had more of a chance to read it.