Lessons from The Block

The Block: Side x Side was an en­ter­tain­ing show, but it was not a mas­ter­class, writes Colleen Hawkes.

The Timaru Herald - - HOMED -

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.

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