The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - JEMMA GALVIN

It’s part ren­o­va­tion, part restora­tion and part in­no­va­tion, says co-host Shel­ley Craft of the 2016 in­stal­ment of Chan­nel Nine’s hit se­ries The Block. Sea­son 12 will see five cou­ples from around Aus­tralia take on a be­he­moth for­mer soap and can­dle fac­tory in the in­ner-city sub­urb of Port Mel­bourne. Built in the early 1920s, the build­ing is char­ac­terised by rare art deco ar­chi­tec­ture and de­tails, which back in its hey­day in­cluded doors made of pol­ished maple and an ex­quis­ite mo­saic-tiled foyer.

“From your arcs and cor­nices right through to what sort of tile you choose for your bath­room ... (the con­tes­tants) re­ally had to do a master­class in art deco ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign to im­press the judges this year,” Shel­ley says.

While pre­vi­ous sea­sons’ con­tes­tants have been heavy on min­i­mal, in­dus­trial and Scan­di­na­vian trends, things look set to be turned on their head this time around.

“This art deco in­flu­ence means a lot more glam­our and a lot more lux­ury than we’ve seen in the more mod­ern de­signs that con­tes­tants have done in the past,” Shel­ley says.

“It will be flash­backs to the Golden Era, whether it be in your vel­vets, a lot more colour than we’ve seen in the past.

“Hope­fully this will get new trends hap­pen­ing and see a move away from the Scandi.”

Larger floor­plans and higher ceil­ings than ever be­fore only add to the op­u­lence, not to men­tion a sprawl­ing rooftop gar­den with killer views of Mel­bourne.

Main­tain­ing the in­tegrity and hon­our of such a grand struc­ture will be no mean feat.

“I’ve al­ways said the best con­tes­tants on The Block will be great bud­geters,” Shel­ley says, adding that teams’ cash pools won’t be in­flated to ac­com­mo­date the grandiose scale of the project.

The cou­ples have been busily work­ing on their apart­ments for a cou­ple of months now, mean­ing they’ve bat­tled one of Mel­bourne’s cold­est win­ters in mem­ory.

“It was a shock for the Queens­lan­ders,” Shel­ley gig­gles, re­fer­ring to Lo­gan love­birds Will and Carly.

They are joined by four other pairs, in­clud­ing Dan and Car­leen Fo­ley from West­ern Aus­tralia. At 55 and 52 years old re­spec­tively, they’re the old­est team to ever com­pete on The Block. Also vy­ing for the top prize are Mel­bour­nites Ju­lia and Sasha – the show’s first les­bian cou­ple.

While the tal­ent pool has cer­tainly di­ver­si­fied this year, their shared pas­sion for the pro­gram re­mains the same.

“We’ve got some serial Block view­ers on the show this time, so to see them ac­tu­ally liv­ing their dream is pretty awe­some,” Shel­ley says. The Block, Sun­day, 7pm, Nine

Pic­ture: Pa­trick Hamil­ton

The Block co-host Shel­ley Craft at home in By­ron Bay.

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