with Neale Whitaker.
Even the “boring” shades can ﬂourish if you’re clever enough to oﬀset them with the right accents when renovating a room
Ilove grey, but a little goes a long way. That’s really what I was trying to say on The Block a few weeks ago when I described Jesse and Mel’s guest ensuite as a “grey tomb”. Perhaps
I could have chosen my words better, but to me it felt cold and oppressive – as will any room that relies solely on a grey palette. Fifty Shades Of Grey might have been a steamy novel, but in interior design, grey needs contrast to make it seductive. That’s something The Block contestants Tess and Luke understood last Sunday with their winning main bathroom. Against a grey base of concrete ﬂoor tiles and twin circular basins, the young Queenslanders introduced vertical mosaic tiles and contemporary details, such as brushed steel tapware, curved rectangular mirrors, horizontal pendants and dark timber cabinetry to create a bathroom that felt glamorous, and – yes, I’ll admit it – on trend. It was a bathroom that any potential buyer, whatever their personal style, might relate to and, to my mind, a perfect example of the balance between commercial and aspirational that all The Block contestants seek.
Mind you, Tess and Luke had a secret weapon in their builder, hipages ambassador Matthew Menichelli of
“While Fifty Shades was steamy, in design grey needs contrast to make it seductive”
Elevate Building Group (hipages.com.au). “Easy on the eye and very good at what he does,” is how Tess described him. Luke opted for “half-man, half-god”, but either way it’s a pretty good rap. And Matt himself conceded that Tess, Luke and he “got along like a house on ﬁre. I have so much respect for them and that’s a really important factor in an environment like The Block.”
Matt admits that, as with every space on The Block, the key is “to tick all the function and design boxes”. He advises anyone intending a bathroom renovation to “always have a plan”, adding that “a clear scope of works eliminates any grey areas” (no pun intended) or confusion between client and trades.
“You really see the best and the worst on The Block,” he says with a laugh. “I can’t think of another job where I’ve been sanding plaster at 4am, yet still laughing and joking with my clients. If you can come out of that as mates – and having built a home you can be proud of – then it’s a success.” Not to mention winning rooms.
Neale Whitaker is co-host of Foxtel’s Love It Or List It Australia on Lifestyle, and a judge on Nine Network’s The Block.