When Darren Palmer was in high-school, he knew he wanted to build houses.
He thought that architecture was the only route into the building trade, but not having the marks to do so, he enrolled into graphic design instead. A few years on, with his own graphic design business under his belt, he realised he needed to change direction.
“All I ever thought about, read about, dreamt about was interiors,” he says.
“I would walk into someone’s house and think, ‘if you just pull this down, do this, do that – it was automatic; I couldn’t stop it.”
“So I thought, if I don’t stop what I’m doing and start doing what I’m really passionate about, I’m going to go mental.”
He started building up experience with a friend of his, buying his own apartment, and fixing it up with the assistance of his friend and now business mentor.
He had photos taken of the apartment and sent them off to Belle magazine. Within a couple of months, his work was featured, and Darren’s path was cemented.
Since then, he’s starred on HomeMade in 2006, before joining The Block as a judge in 2013.
He says he’s a passionate 'fixer-upper', buying homes and renovating before selling them and repeating.
When it comes to buying a place, Darren says his biggest tip is to look for things you can’t install – location, natural light, ceiling height and architectural detail.
“I personally love 1930s apartments,” Darren says.
“Their facades are just beautiful, and they’re difficult and expensive to replicate,” Darren says.
Having styled the homes of major celebs like Jen Hawkins, Darren is well versed when it comes to the subject of interior design. While Darren admits to following trends when it comes to fashion, he says he disregards fads when it comes to interiors.
His interior must-have? “Rugs,” he says.
“A lounge room without a rug is like leaving the house without your shoes on – it’s silly,” he says.
For renters, sprucing up a space that doesn’t allow you to tear down walls is easy.
“Have a conversation with your landlord first and foremost. Invest in some DIY vinyl that looks like floorboards. Do it yourself over the weekend. Anything that wont make a mark, go ahead,” he says.
“And décor! I talk about cushions like they are really important because I think they are! I’m sure that sounds fluffy but cushions will change a room. Set a brief for yourself, define what you want, define the mood and then incorporate things that will represent you in the space and the colours that represent the mood and then it's done.”
The dapper designer has just teamed up with Carpet Court to create Provincial Lane: an affordable, stylish flooring collection that includes durable laminate, a European vinyl plank and bamboo hard flooring as well as a 100 percent wool carpet range, available in a striking palette.
“It’s removable, doesn't take glue and clicks together. We have some really beautiful colours, 4 or 5 oaks alone, some dark and light variations. It looks very woody - and it’s cheap!"
As for what’s in store for the latest series of The Block, Darren is less vocal.
“Every week on (last season's) Sky High, I was like ‘what am I going to see next”. This time, it’s like ‘WOW’. Every week, there is some really phenomenal stuff. Mind-blowing stuff!”
Catch Darren on The Block: Fans vs Faves on Channel 9.