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“The Block” TV Star shares home makeover tips

Originally posted November 2014

Danielle Wales is known as one half of “Power Couple” Dan and Dani from Channel 9’s hit home renovation show The Block, and is set to hit our screens again as the host of Network Ten’s new show Healthy Homes (Dec).  

With Christmas holidays approaching home is definitely where the heart is, and although we may not be able to totally renovate the way we’d like, some simple touches can make a huge difference to a home’s look and feel. 
Dani took time out of her hectic schedule to give us some décor tips to make our homes more attractive and inviting this festive season.

Q:  Hi Dani.  Great to chat to you!  You and Dan were nicknamed the “Power Couple” and came runners up on the hit show The Block in 2012.  How has being on the show changed life for you, and what have you been up to since?

A: Being on The Block has completely changed our lives. Prior to The Block I was working at an Analyst at a financial institution and while I loved it, The Block opened my eye to a whole new industry. Design, Construction and Media are now three things that I’m highly passionate about and literally live and breathe.

For me, I realised I wanted a career change and for Dan, it reiterated to him that he was heading in the direction he was meant to. I have since launched online home and lifestyle publication The Home Journal and most recently an online shop aptly named The Home Journal Shop. I am also co-hosting a brand new home and lifestyle show to Network Ten called Healthy Homes, which is due to air on the 13th December.

Dan has been working as a Site Manager for a design and construct business and is also currently filming a new TV show… but that one is still top secret ;-).

We are also currently building/renovating a property in Seddon, which has quickly turned into the house of horrors. I am also writing about the progress of the build on The Home Journal.  

Q: It’s that magic time of year again… Christmas.  How do you and Dan like to celebrate?  Are you big entertainers?

A: We are both very family oriented people and Christmas is always packed with as many family members as possible. I am actually from North Queensland so my family tends to come to Melbourne for Christmas to escape the humidity. This year we were meant to be having Christmas in the house we are building as yes I love to entertain but we have had some major delays so it was moved back to Dan’s parents house in Sunbury.

Dan’s mum goes to huge amounts of effort with Christmas in every way. The house is always decorated in traditional colours and there is always plenty of “Santa” presents in the stockings for us “kids”. It really is a fun and exciting time... one of my personal favourite.

Q: What are some fun and simple ways to refresh the home décor and add a bit of a festive feel around Christmas?

A: I have always been big on traditional Christmas decorating but this year (if our house was finished) I was really going to go all out and make it more Australian… But that will now have to wait until next year.

I like to have crisp white dinnerware and let the decorations do the talking. But in terms of just sprucing up your home a little bit to get in the festive season, the obvious ones are changing up your soft furnishings like cushions and throws. I also like to change my scented candles… thin cinnamon or vanilla. There is a fine line though with Christmas decorating so pinterest is a great source of inspiration.

Q: Any tips for hosting a Christmas function at home? 

A: I’m not the most credible person to ask about hosting Christmas lunch as I’ve never hosted one, but I think the key thing is to delegate. My brother-in-law is always responsible for bringing the ham and Dan and I normally provide the prawns.

Also make sure everything you use for plating up can go in the dishwasher to minimise clean up time. Prepare as much as you can the day before so you’re not rushing around on Christmas morning.

Oh and try your hand at DIY decorations and table centrepieces as they can be awfully expensive.

Q: The backyard can be a big one to tackle and we can’t always afford to do everything at once.  From your experience which one thing that can make the biggest difference to a backyard?

A: I get asked this quite a bit and I made a point of asking Dave Franklin of Franklin Landscape and Design recently and his top tip is to use pots. Trees can always be uprooted and potted as a good way to contain them and move them around. It’s always easy to create interesting groups of plants in pots and also do multiple plantings in one pot.

It’s a good way to create structure and interest and instantly liven up an outdoor space.

Q: Name your top 3 tips to make a home feel more inviting to guests?

I am really big on first impressions and I learnt how important this is throughout the marketing campaigns of our Block houses so scents are very important. I always have a scented candle burning when entertaining. There is nothing worse than walking into someone’s home and smelling shoes or pets. We have two dogs so I’m always conscious of masking pet their odours when guests are over.

Secondly it’s always nice to have fresh flowers or live plants in the home. It’s great for the air filtration but always immediately softens a room.

Thirdly, clean up and channel your inner stylist. No one wants to see your mess so put it away in a room and close the door. I also like to create interesting vingettes for people to look at and admire.

Q: Do you use essential oils and if so, what are your favourite uses for them around the home?

A: We actually do! The dogs can be quite messy and smelly so we have started using products with essentials oils to clean the tiled areas of our house.