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

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents -

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.

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