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
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 & DINING ROOM
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.
(DO-OVER OF KID’S BEDROOM)
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.
MAIN BEDROOM & ENSUITE
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.
KID’S BEDROOM & HALLWAY
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.
GUEST BEDROOM & SECOND BATHROOM
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.
GARAGE & LAUNDRY
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.
ENTRY & POWDER ROOM
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.
E T L I
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.