WA chats to Danielle Wales

Dani Wales is a Block All Star, an entrepenuer and certainly knows her stuff when it comes to the home! I caught up with Dani Wales, founder of The Home Journal about her experience with interiors, tips for trends and what it’s really like to be on The Block with her partner Dan.

Danielle Wales and partner Dan on the set of The Block 2012 - Image Credit Tina Smigeilski, The Block 2012 - Guest Bedroom - Image Credit Elizabeth Allnutt

Danielle Wales and partner Dan on the set of The Block 2012 – Image Credit Tina Smigeilski, The Block 2012 – Guest Bedroom – Image Credit Elizabeth Allnutt

“Thanks for taking the to speak to the West Avenue readers. Your debut into the ‘home’ industry came about when you hit TV screens on The Block in 2012. What inspired you to be involved with the show and how did your passion for buildings and interiors start?

My pleasure! My partner (Dan) and I were living in London and decided to make the move home in 2009. One of the first shows we saw when we came back was The Block Vaucluse series, there was something about that series that really caught our attention. It may have been that we were looking for that next adventure since moving home, or perhaps we both just loved that industry more than we realised. We wanted to apply for the Richmond series but missed the cut off so 2012 it was!

Dan has been a carpenter for over 12 years now so his passion has always been within the building industry. He wanted to be a builder ever since he was a young boy and he is almost there.

I was working in the finance industry prior to The Block but it was more something that I ‘fell’ into in my early 20’s than a chosen career path, so The Block for me, completely opened my eyes to a number of new industries from renovating and building, interior design, TV, media… the list goes on. We did quite well during our first series so I think it was a no-brainer for us to stay within that industry and build our knowledge and skill set.

Block 2012 - Living Room - Image Credit Elizabeth Allnutt

Block 2012 – Living Room – Image Credit Elizabeth Allnutt

Would you say your experience during the show was how it appeared on screens? What was the hardest part of the whole ‘Block’ experience?

What you don’t see as a viewer is how much fun everyone has together behind the scenes. There is arguing and tension between all couples but it’s not often aired. We weren’t portrayed in the nicest light in our first series, which was largely due to the amount of negative footage that was aired. If we see enough of people in a certain light then we develop opinions about them and end up believing that must be how they are in everyday life. The Block was a whole new experience for Dan and I. We were in each others faces 24hrs a day, I’m not sure it’s natural to be around your significant other 24hrs a day (laughs) … I’ve heard that the toughest things a couple can go through together is travelling and renovating.

The Block is a very unnatural experience. There is no family or friends, no sense of normality really. We didn’t eat right or exercise, we hardly saw out loved ones and we rarely spoke of anything else except The Block for around 5 months. Even today we still think and talk about The Block everyday of our lives… but that’s a good thing as we wouldn’t be doing what we are now without it.

The hardest part was probably literally leaving our lives for a few months and putting everything on hold. We had just bought an apartment and had to go through the settlement and moving in process while renovating our master bedroom and ensuite. It was a totally new experience for us so every little problem felt like the end of the world. Coming into the second series, The Block All Stars, I almost had an epiphany and felt so stupid for thinking that any difficulties we were having on the show actually meant anything. I had a very difficult time emotionally… stress is a funny thing.

 The Block All Stars 5 - Super Styling Challenge - Image Credit Julian Cress

Since then you’ve become an entrepreneur, establishing your website The Home Journal! How did you come up with the idea for The Home Journal? What was is like embarking on an unknown adventure that is a new content website?

Oh thank you, that’s very kind. I’ve never thought of myself as an entrepreneur just someone who likes to dream big I guess.

The Home Journal came about really as a bit of a fluke really. I knew that I always wanted to stay in the interiors industry but wasn’t really in a position to study full time so this seemed like a good option. I had never really read too many blogs or online magazines as I grew up in a small town and it just wasn’t a culture and then when I moved overseas I worked in admin and hospitality and spent my free time travelling, so running a blog or a magazine seemed worlds away and would not have even crossed my mind.

The funny thing about The Block is that it kind of launches you into this new world where people want to know what you’re doing and what you like (which I still struggle with sometimes). The Home Journal provided me with an outlet to share that with the people that had supported us and genuinely cared about what we were up to. Sharing great architecture, interiors, people is really fun and from the outside probably doesn’t look like much of a job… but I can tell you I have never worked so hard in my life (oh apart from The Block of course).

The Block All Stars -  Formal Lounge - Image Credit Elizabeth Allnutt

The Block All Stars – Formal Lounge – Image Credit Elizabeth Allnutt

It’s been a very big and trying 12 months for THJ and when we hit our 6-month point we decided that this little publication was growing into something that neither of us had expected and it wasn’t just a hobby. THJ is my full time job and more and we have so many exciting projects in the pipeline.

Now, to get a little more personal. How would you describe your own home style? What inspires your own spaces?

My home style is currently such a jumble.  I have kind of put a self-imposed ban on committing to great furniture and really making the place something special. I do however try to make sure my bedroom is a place of sanctuary as when I go to sleep, I need to be in a space that is calm and forces me to zone out.

The difficult part about running an online home and lifestyle magazine is that I see so many great styles and products so it’s hard to decide on what I want in my own home, as I love it all. I think my style is always evolving and changing, but something I have realised since my time on The Block is that I like my interior spaces to be quite minimal yet beautiful.

What are some spotlight trends that you predicts will blow up big for the rest of 2014?

I’m not a big trend follower to be honest. When people ask me for advice on trends I always say to take inspiration from trends and interpret them in their own way. I sound like a broken record but Copper is still going absolutely silly, but as we move through the cooler months, I’ve seen lots of pastels and greys, which I love. Navy is set to be quite a big trend again in the coming months as well.

Left - Navy trends found on brides.com, Right - Copper and pastels found on yellow.dk

Left – Navy trends found on brides.com, Right – Copper and pastels found on yellow.dk

What is next for Danielle Wales and The Home Journal? Any exciting plans to expand into the industry?”

Next for myself… there are a few exciting media projects in the pipeline, which will be fun. I also want to study in the next two years so that is something that still sits high on my to do list. Interior design and decoration is a big love of mine and as far as working on my personal skills and knowledge, so that is definitely something I need to do for myself. I love finally having some direction; it’s taken me almost 15 years to really decide what I wanted out of life.

The Home Journal is launching an online homewares and furniture shop and has me bursting with excitement. We have put a lot of time and energy into getting products that we love so I hope our readers love it as much as we do.

Dan and I will also continue to develop property and there will be many more Home Journal renovation projects to come. Providing people with unbiased, real time knowledge and guidance on property renovation is something that is very important to me and something I will endeavour to continue to do on The Home Journal.