10 Minutes with Belle’s Tanya Buchanan and Steve Cordony

10 Minutes with Belle’s Tanya Buchanan and Steve Cordony

Recently named successor to Neale Whitaker as Editor of Belle, the uber-talented Tanya Buchanan – who worked as Belle’s Managing Editor for the past seven years – is a wealth of information regarding all things interior design. After presenting an inspiring styling session at a recent Domayne At Home event alongside Belle’s Style Director Steve Cordony, both Tanya and Steve took time out of their hectic schedules to chat to us.


Belle magazine’s Tanya Buchanan and Steve Cordony

When working on a creative project, where do you find inspiration?

STEVE: I find inspiration in different mediums such as art, fashion and graphic design. Re-interpreting trends from more avant-garde fashion houses allows me to push the boundary creatively and then translate a larger and bolder look into interiors.

TANYA: I find inspiration in lots of places – in films, books, nature and of course magazines – the houses and SPY pages in Belle are always inspiring and I love the glam quirkiness of Spanish Architectural Digest. I often walk into work from my house on the lower north shore, over the Harbour Bridge, and I find the action on the harbour and the view ever-changing and exciting – good ideas often pop up on that walk. Artists and contemporary art are always a great stimulus. I love the work of Joshua Yeldham and if a pot of money falls out of the sky I will definitely buy one of his major works. I am a big fan of the work of Leila Jeffreys, avowed bird lover and lenswoman, and would love one of her owls. I also have an eye on a Robert Malherbe nude. I enjoy being able to follow interesting creative types on Instagram without having to be too committed – it’s great to see the work of interior designers, architects and artists and get an instant visual. Music plays a big part as it’s always on in the background at work and home.

How would you describe your personal interior decorating style?

STEVE: I love classic interiors with a twist of the unexpected. I always gravitate to a neutral colour scheme (black, white and flax) as it allows me to contrast with accents such as cushions and throws, which can be changed seasonally etc. My favourite materials to use are brass, linen, leather, marble and timber.

TANYA: I love white painted floors and walls and texture is really important. My house is an old Federation semi which was interestingly altered (read tampered with) in the ’80s and I have had to retain some of the additions due to a tricky block with limited access. I’ve tried to make the most of these features by painting the exposed brick to add another texture. To warm up the white on white – Dulux Luxaflor on the floors and Dulux Natural White on the walls I chose Dulux Domino for the French doors leading into the bathrooms and the shelving in the kitchen. In addition I have lots of vintage rugs, tribal pieces, a leather chesterfield, a massive French mirror, Thonet bentwood chairs and a French table and armoire in the dining room off the kitchen.

Do you have particular ‘treasures’ that will always have pride of place in your home, no matter how your style evolves?

STEVE: Definitely. I think sentimental pieces or items from your travels give any space character and a sense of personality. Pieces of art, vintage textiles and a vintage trunk will always be incorporated into my home interior.

TANYA: I still have a 1940′s cabinet that was my grandmother’s glory box that I have had restored and has travelled everywhere with me. It has had many incarnations including being the stereo cupboard and is up in my loft-style bedroom at present.

Ever had a decorating disaster or cringe-worthy styling mishap?

STEVE: Decorating with too much red, black and white tends to take me back to the eighties, which personally is a no, no!

TANYA: When I decorated my bedroom as teenager in the eighties I had chosen a beautiful pink floral Sheridan doona (we didn’t say duvet then!) and decided to paint the room to match it. I chose a really unfortunate candy shade of pink paint instead of the delicate shade of pink I was really after. That was a good lesson learned early. Test your paint colours before you paint the whole thing!

What are the predominant new season interior decorating trends that we can expect to see?

STEVE: Softer, pastel tones of colour are prominent, as is mixing lots of earthy textures within a neutral colour scheme.

TANYA: I think we are seeing a real return to glamour with metallic, marble and timber pieces looking fabulous together. There is a lot more layering as well.

What are the trending colour palettes?

STEVE: Indigo blue is always on trend but definitely big right now, as are aubergine, purple and brass.

TANYA: I really like the bronze and copper tones coming through which look terrific paired with stone and leather pieces.

When it comes to styling a room, what are your top five ‘don’ts’.


  1. Don’t choose pieces too small or too big for a space. Look at the area you have to work with and buy pieces accordingly, thinking about proportion.
  2. Don’t be afraid to mix it up and change things around from time to time.
  3. Don’t use too much of the one colour or texture.
  4. Don’t add too many contrasting elements in one room. Choose one hero artwork or rug etc. and build the room around that focal point.
  5. Don’t mix too many styles. Contrasting elements can make an exciting, eclectic interior, but too many can make a room feel too busy and mis-matched.


  1. Don’t buy the wrong size rug – make sure your rug is generous enough so that each piece in your living room touches it.
  2. Don’t hang your paintings too high – make sure they are at eye-level.
  3. Don’t leave home without measuring your room, doorways, windows etc and make sure you consider the proportions of the room when buying pieces, especially your sofa. There are lots of stories of sofas having to be returned because they couldn’t even fit through the front door.
  4. Don’t obscure windows, architraves, doorways and fireplaces with furniture that doesn’t quite fit.
  5. Don’t make everything for display – the room has to work – your side table must be close and low enough so you can reach your glass of wine, your book, your phone etc.
Steve presents his savvy styling tips to guests at Domayne Castle Hill - the stunning 'Hugh' Leather Lounge features in the background

Steve presents his savvy styling tips to guests at Domayne Castle Hill – the stunning ‘Hugh’ Leather Lounge features in the background

Can you share the fabulous styling tips that you presented at our Domayne at Home event?

STEVE: Think about scale and proportion and how to create balance in the space. A neutral palette creates a great base to layer with some more interchangeable elements such as cushions, throws and accessories.

TANYA: We showed how to style a room using the ‘Hugh’ Leather Sofa (shown above) as our anchor and matched it with a leather trunk as a coffee table, some side tables, a console and a collection of accessories and cushions. We demonstrated how quick and simple it was to give the room warmth and texture by layering. We also showed how to position your rug, your artwork and how to style the coffee and side tables.


Tanya shares her styling expertise at our Domayne at Home event

Tanya shares her styling expertise at our Domayne at Home event

What are your top picks from our new collection of homewares ?

STEVE: There are some great hurricane lanterns, perfect for outdoor entertaining in summer. The new collection of rugs is great, with a mix of patterns and prints. I love layering with a tray and leather pieces are great for any coffee table or console. Simple vases are always best for spring blooms.

TANYA: ‘Palace’ Handmade Kelim Rug, ‘Hugh’ Leather Sofa, ‘Sadler’ Stool in white, Mirrored Lamp Table, Floral Ginger Jars. These pieces are all really versatile and could be moved around. There are lots more things I would put on my list!

The chic Scandi-look 'Calibra' Queen Bed and 6-Drawer Dressing Table.

The chic Scandi-look ‘Calibra’ Queen Bed and 6-Drawer Dressing Table.

What’s on your wish list from our new season range of furniture and bedding?

STEVE: A simple linen upholstered bedhead with some poppy KAS linen and bedside accessories.

TANYA: I really like the ‘Calibra’ Bed, Six-Drawer Dressing Table (both pictured above) and Bedside Table.


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