House 3 Ju­lia and Ali

The twin sis­ters from Auck­land have pro­duced a contemporary family home which draws on their knowl­edge of mod­ern art and de­sign

Your Home and Garden - - Contents - Text by Sally Conor. Pho­tog­ra­phy by Tom Hol­low.

Iden­ti­cal twins Ju­lia and Alexan­dra (Ali) Heaney, 28, own a de­sign com­pany to­gether and Ali has an ar­chi­tec­ture de­gree, which made Team Blue seem pretty for­mi­da­ble go­ing into The Block NZ 2017. The sis­ters’ strong sense of de­sign and back­ground in light­ing de­sign have served them well, as has their love of fine art. But ul­ti­mately they have stuck to a for­mula of neu­tral tones, lux­u­ri­ous tex­tures and func­tion­al­ity first and fore­most.

“We wanted our house to be re­ally family-friendly at the same time as be­ing lux­u­ri­ous and on-trend,” says Ju­lia.


Kitchen week was a win­ner for the sis­ters who re­jigged their floor­plan so they could in­clude a small scullery. This de­ci­sion was pop­u­lar with the judges, who also liked their choice of cab­i­netry and the amount of stor­age. They said the beau­ti­ful stone bench­top and the wood fin­ish on the cup­boards worked well with the brass and the splash­back tiles.

Ber­nadette praised the twins’ de­ci­sion to add sky­lights to bring in more nat­u­ral light. Their custom neon light fea­ture was also well re­viewed and showed how im­por­tant art­work is to this team. “We wanted colours that went with our house for most of the pieces, but with the light art we wanted funky pops of colour,” says Ali.


The twins found the liv­ing room the most chal­leng­ing room. “It was such a big space and it was pretty hard to fig­ure out what to put in there,” says Ju­lia. The judges said the fin­ished room felt lux­u­ri­ous and co­or­di­nated but they wished Team Blue had cho­sen a bolder wall colour. How­ever, the hand-welded metal-and-glass cof­fee ta­ble was a hit, and Ja­son and Ber­nadette were im­pressed that the sis­ters had wielded the weld­ing tool them­selves.



In a funny way, Ju­lia and Ali were lucky to hit rock bot­tom in their very first week, scor­ing ter­ri­ble re­views from the judges for their young boy’s bed­room. Things could only im­prove from there, and the sis­ters showed they are gen­uine con­tenders for the top prize by re­deem­ing this room with an ap­peal­ing do-over. Ber­nadette said that, from a buyer’s point of view, chang­ing the kid’s room into a mul­ti­func­tional space was a great idea. The judges also praised the team’s choice of a warm but moody grey for their fea­ture wall.


Team Blue chose a bold con­cept for their mas­ter bed­room, opt­ing for a moody for­est back­drop for the bed. “We wanted scenery that we would like to be in,” says Ali. “It’s some­thing that Ju­lia and I would love to have on our own wall. We also wanted to get cre­ative with what Re­sene had to of­fer with their print­ing ser­vice.” Un­for­tu­nately, the judges weren’t fans of their choice of im­age, with Ja­son say­ing the foggy for­est scene made the room feel cold and not like a hide­away at all. How­ever, they liked the team’s en­suite, say­ing it felt so­phis­ti­cated, and they loved the tiles, tapware and lay­out. On the other hand, they felt like they had judged this de­sign be­fore in bath­room week.


The twins hit their stride in bath­room week, pro­duc­ing a mod­ern, lux­u­ri­ous room fea­tur­ing the now in­fa­mous “golden shub” aka shower over tub. Ali says they wanted the bath­room to be re­ally spa­cious and family-friendly and have lots of stor­age. “We wanted it to be lux­u­ri­ous, which is why we used the gold fit­tings and mar­ble.”

Both judges liked what they saw and said the bath­room felt lux­u­ri­ous, mod­ern and com­plete. They par­tic­u­larly loved the creativ­ity of the di­a­mond tile fea­ture wall. Ja­son said the back­lit mir­ror was clev­erly thought out, as was the light­ing un­der the van­ity, but he wished the team had con­sid­ered adding heated towel rails.

The sib­lings were re­warded with a win and a $5000 prize.


In ‘blank can­vas week’, when they could have done any­thing with their space, Team Blue chose to try to re­deem their first­week boy’s bed­room nightmare by again at­tempt­ing a kid’s room. This time they fo­cused on care­fully man­ag­ing their time and were “more con­sid­ered when us­ing colour”, says Ali.

The judges were happy with the re­sults, with Ber­nadette say­ing it would be easy to con­vert the room into a study, which is a plus for buy­ers. Ja­son thought the tex­tured wall­pa­per in the hall­way was a re­ally good choice as it gave the area some nice de­tail, and said us­ing LED light­ing to show­case this was clever.


A mix of colours and a cre­ative line-up of light boxes earned Ju­lia and Ali praise from the judges this week. “We wanted to cre­ate a moody kind of vibe, so we went for a darker colour,” says Ali. “We re­ally like our guest bed­room,” adds Ju­lia. “We love the light boxes, the colours, and that it’s so re­lax­ing to be in.”

The judges liked the lux­u­ri­ous bath­room, and said, “The mar­ble gives the room a real el­e­gance and the her­ring­bone fea­ture wall sup­plies some lovely tex­ture.” They also thought con­nect­ing the guest room to the bath­room was clever.


The twins threw caution to the wind by lin­ing their en­tire garage – in­clud­ing the ceil­ing – in ply­wood. Pre­dictably, Ja­son wasn’t the big­gest fan, but the judges agreed it was fin­ished to a high stan­dard. They were happy that stor­age was plen­ti­ful and the laun­dry was prac­ti­cal, but over­all felt “it was just not as mul­ti­func­tional as some of the other spa­ces”.

This was in­ten­tional, says Ali. “We re­ally wanted to keep as much space open as pos­si­ble, which meant we had to com­pro­mise on what we had in our garage, be­cause we wanted the buyer to be able to park two cars eas­ily and have space for sports equip­ment and other stuff.”

We never found out how this tac­tic would have played out in the scor­ing, though, as Andy and Nate in­voked their right to elim­i­nate one team for this round, and chose the twins.


With lit­tle budget re­main­ing, Ju­lia and Ali went for sim­ple but ef­fec­tive in their styling this week. “We wall­pa­pered the en­trance,” says Ali. “We thought that keep­ing a neu­tral colour but adding a bit of tex­ture would be in­ter­est­ing and in theme with the rest of the house.”

Ja­son agreed that the wall­pa­per gave the space tex­ture and tied in nicely with the rest of the house. He was also a big fan of the neon light fea­ture and the LED light­ing in the up­per stair­well. Ber­nadette said the pow­der room was small but ad­e­quate.

“There wasn’t much to get ex­cited about but it was def­i­nitely worth sac­ri­fic­ing some of the space for the scullery.”

Find the things you love from this home on page 174.


Up the pam­per fac­tor in your bath­room by adding be­spoke beauty prod­ucts, can­dles, plants and plump bath linen.

A mu­ral is a great al­ter­na­tive to wall­pa­per and gives you the freedom to fea­ture a favourite im­age full scale.


De­sign your en­trance­way like any other room − con­sider floor­ing, fur­ni­ture, light­ing, art and home­wares.

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