Lessons from The Block
The Block: Side x Side was an entertaining show, but it was not a masterclass, writes Colleen Hawkes.
It’s easy to be critical of The Block room reveals when you’re sitting back on your sofa. But all the teams says it’s a totally different story when you have to make big decisions, often with very little time to plan. And that’s precisely why things don’t always turn out exactly as they envisioned.
So there are some key lessons to be learned from The Block. Many of these relate to one very simple tip: Always carry a measuring tape, or an electronic app equivalent so that you know exactly how much or how little space an item will occupy. It’s a bit like the decorating equivalent of the builder’s homily, ‘‘Measure twice, cut once’’.
In no particular order, here is our list:
1. Wardrobes matter
Buyers will NOT be impressed by a single wardrobe that will hardly hold one person’s summer clothes, let alone all the clothes needing to be stored by two people in a master suite. Where are the clothes supposed to go? In contestants Ling and Zing’s master bedroom there wasn’t even a spare wall that could accommodate a chest of drawers, unless you put a chest up against the windows.
2. Ditto linen cupboards
You don’t want to have to climb down two flights of stairs to the garage to pull a towel out of the linen cupboard when you emerge wet and dripping from the shower. But that’s what the new owners of Stace and Yanta’s house will be doing. A linen cupboard belongs on the same floor as the bedrooms and family bathroom.
3. Don’t cramp your style
Some spaces on The Block were seriously small – far too small to function as planned. Twins Julia and Ali’s pantry was a miniscule dog-leg area at one end of the kitchen where you could hardly squeeze into. It looked like a bit of leftover space they didn’t know what to do with. Items were difficult, if not impossible to access.
Stace and Yanita had a media room that was just a bit of free space in the middle of the top floor. It would have better not to add sliding doors because the room works quite well as part of the hallway space. But the second the doors are pulled, it becomes an internal space that’s too claustrophobic to be of any use.
4. Bedside furniture is essential
You don’t actually need little cabinets, but you do need some small piece of furniture beside the bed for that book, maybe glasses, a phone and a lamp. Several Block suites had none of these. And it’s not a good idea to go too rustic. A crate bed in the Twin’s boy’s room was a huge fail.
5. Somewhere to hang my towel
And a master bathroom needs at least two places to hang a wet towel. Andy and Nate’s master bathroom had one of those new heated stainless steel poles that can be used to drape and dry a towel. It was very cool, but there was only one of them and there was nowhere else you could hang a towel rail, unless you wanted it right beside the toilet.
These first five mistakes could be lumped together under ‘‘Layout is vital’’. All the teams made compromises on the layouts on their top floor. They sacrificed space in some areas to give it other areas and they all failed to get it exactly right.
Stace and Yanita had a tiny master bedroom, but a simply enormous double-sided master bathroom. While we all love a large bathroom, the proportions in this suite were out of whack, and left no room for bedside furniture.
A little more time spent planning the layout of that floor would have paid dividends for every team.
6. Colour blocking is polarising
Those colour-blocked walls are already looking dated, and it will be a pain painting over some of those dark colours. It is such a bold look, it’s never going to appeal to the masses, unless you restrict it to light or neutral shades. The pale pink and white version in Andy and Nate’s girl’s bedroom is the only example that will endure.
7. Avoid a room of two halves
When you have a great big openplan living area, it will suddenly seem to shrink in size if you have two different types of flooring. Andy and Nate used a mix of carpet and timber, cutting the floor across at an angle. However, it was very 80s and it didn’t work. Keeping it all timber would have been better.
8. Hire a professional
The lack of professional expertise was most noticeable in both the design and the painting of The Block townhouses. If you are going to colour block, at least know how to cut in. And do allow time for plaster to dry before you attempt to paint it.
Colour blocking is all very well, till you are tired of it. This is Andy and Nate’s guest room.
At a glance, Julia and Ali’s kitchen is beautiful, but just out of sight on the left is a tiny narrow space that goes nowhere.
Stace and Yanita took two attempts to get the layout right in the living room, and it was all about maximising the space.
Ling and Zing pretty much nailed their living room.