Blazing a design path

There was a time, not that long ago actually, when there was little space for a woman over the age of 50 on Australian TV screens. They just seemed to disappear from our screens at the half century mark.

These days, that landscape has changed and there’s a wealth of women over the age of 50 making their mark. One such woman who is glad how much the rules of TV have changed is design guru Shaynna Blaze.

Blaze, best known for her hosting gigs on Selling Houses Australia and The Block, has seen her media career blossom over the past decade. Blaze believes there has been a significant shift in Australian’s attitude towards age.

“Things have changed, with a lot of women of our generation saying, ‘I won’t let you decide when I finish, especially when I have more to give’,” Blaze says.

Lifestyle Home _Shaynna Blaze _portrait _Gina Milicia -wyza

“When you have enough women operating with that kind of confidence, good changes happen. We have so much more to give as we get older – we’re far stronger and more competent.”

Blaze admits she is “blessed with natural energy”, and she needs to be with the schedule she keeps with her two TV gigs, as well as her design studio, blank canvas INTERIORS, in Melbourne. She is also married to personal trainer Steve Vaughan and mum to two adult children.

“I have the right support of the people around me, and it’s pretty hard to achieve what you want without them alongside you,” she adds.

Selling Houses Australia will be screening its 10th season over the coming weeks, featuring 13 new houses where Blaze, landscape designer Charlie Albone and real estate guru Andrew Winter work their magic, to transform ‘unsellable’ homes into hot properties.

Selling Houses Australia has ridden the wave of Australia’s property fascination, and the financial success that can be achieved. Yet for all the hints and tips that Blaze offers on-screen regarding everything from splashbacks to scatter cushions, she admits the most important lesson is the one that rarely appears on screen: project management.

“That’s the key, as you have so many people relying on you and it’s all about being able to make decisions and knowing what needs to be done,” she explains.

“A lot of people think they want to get into the property game and once they do, find it can turn into a nightmare. If you dive in without any knowledge or research beforehand or knowing where to turn for help, that’s when you get into trouble.”

Blaze adds the other essential is working the budget, of any size, so that it creates the maximum impact with the property.

“It’s about being savvy, and deciding what to spend the money on to create the biggest impact when selling,” she says. “The reality is you often can’t do everything, so you might end up giving the bedrooms a coat of paint and a tidy up, but spending all the dollars on the kitchen. That’s what we do on the show and how we get the results.”

Lifestyle Home _Shaynna -Blaze _2_Gina Milicia -wyza
Be savvy about how you spend your budget to make the biggest impact when selling, says Blaze

While Blaze has been in the design spotlight for the past decade, her roots in the trade go way back to when she studied design at college after she left school. She has worked consistently as a designer ever since, only taking a few years out to raise her children Carly, 28, and Jesse, 27. During that time, she also launched into another career, this time as a jazz singer.

Music and design went hand in hand for the versatile talent, but when the opportunity to add another string to her bow came up with TV presenting in 2008 with Selling Houses Australia, she jumped at it.

The burst of new career success proved to be a game changer in her life. She is loving the juggling act that is now her life.

“I believe we are now at a point where knowledge and age are seen as power,” she says. “It’s about learning you don’t need to have an end-date in mind, and knowing you have to remain versatile to remain relevant in your career.

“So I am a big believer that you can retire, or you can keep going. I hope I never retire, as why would I want to stop doing something I enjoy so much!”

Selling Houses Australia premieres Wednesday, March 1 at 8.30pm on The LifeStyle Channel on Foxtel. The Block returns later in the year.


A sneak peek of Selling Houses Australia

(Images: Photography © 2016 Gina Milicia)

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