It’s the summer evenings on the verandah when Neale Whitaker and partner David Novak-Piper feel most content in their South Coast of New South Wales home. “Or winter evenings with the fire glowing and our four dogs stretched out in front of Netflix,” says Whitaker.
Year round, the house tells the story of sophisticated simplicity. In 2018, the couple left their Sydney apartment for “that beautiful region where the NSW South Coast meets the Southern Highlands”, says Whitaker, who resettled in a charming country cottage.
For the King ambassador, media personality and design judge, the move turned from reverie to reality when a house on the very street they dreamed of moving to hit the market.
“We thought we’d be in for a long wait but in 2018 this house on that particular road found us,” he recalls. “It was love at first sight for David; second sight for me.”
Settling in has been a process of imprinting their country cottage with their story. “We knew we didn’t want a traditional country cottage style,” says Whitaker.
“Our tastes are complementary but different, and we knew we had to accommodate that mix. If I had to put a label on it, I would describe the mood as ‘modern country’.”
Over the course of a staged renovation, Whitaker and Novak-Piper opened up the floorplan, added a new kitchen and laundry and painted the floorboards white. The couple have also brought in a mix of styles and objects they collected together over time.
“You can read our story through our furniture, art, books and shared possessions. Not to mention our beautiful dogs.”
If the home were an outfit, Whitaker says it would be “muddy Blundstones, ripped jeans [and a] cashmere sweater”. As a playlist, it would be true to the tunes he plays: “Everything from Bach and Handel to ’40s crooners, ’70s funk, Latin jazz, Donna Summer, The Carpenters and Harry Styles.”
New furniture pieces (many from King) now live side by side with slowly collected artworks, books and decor. It’s a little bit city, a little country and all style.