Since hitting TV screens back in 2003, The Block has become such a mainstay of Australian television that it’s hard to remember a time when it wasn’t on the tube. It’s a natural fit for Australians, given our historical love of DIY and mucking in.
Last July, Roy Morgan noted that The Block was among the country’s top 20 best-loved shows, and that fact still applies to its most recent season. According to FreeTV Australia’s TV Ratings Report, The Block: Triple Threat winner announcement drew in a combined national audience of nearly 2.9 million viewers.
Of course, it’s not all about the drama and entertainment value; the fights, the judges and the competition. The Block also has plenty of lessons to teach anyone who has refinanced a home loan for renovations.
1. Natural is in
Where once the finest properties were characterised by sleek designs aimed at disguising the home’s true materials, The Block: Triple Threat has taught us the value of letting it all hang out. It also taught Sydneysiders Josh and Charlotte, who wowed judges early on with a lime-washed timber wall in their bedroom and another made from exposed brick in their living room. Queensland couple Jess and Ayden similarly impressed with their copious use of natural wood in the lounge.
The use of unadorned, natural materials can add a cosy, rustic feel to a home. Not only do they lend greater authenticity and aesthetic appeal to the property, but they could also raise the value of your home, if you’re planning to eventually sell and put the profit into your savings account.
2. Don’t go overboard
The hunt for that one, perfect feature can drive you crazy, particularly if you’re something of a perfectionist. Often, it’s those small, barely consciously observed details that can make one room pop and another flop. Unfortunately, this can also lead you on wild goose chases in the hunt for the ideal material, as Jess and Ayden found out during their bathroom renovation.
The couple spent an unbelievable $20,000 on marble tiles, with Jess failing to realise the couple had an actual set budget to work from. Hopefully, you won’t make the same mistake with your reno — check your budget and make sure you’re not overdoing it with the credit card on any one particular feature.
3. Aim for harmony
Two good design features don’t necessarily add up to create a pleasing overall design. Adelaiders Tim and Anastasia were slammed by the judges for this type of thinking, in their second lounge and dining area reno, The couple couldn’t seem to decide between styles, and appeared to choose them all — industrial pendant lights, wooden table, fabric chairs, pink flowers and a candle.
Though they were going for “high end luxury” and “boutique hotel”, the combination of disparate elements hurt the rooms as a whole. Your home renovation will likely end up being pricey — make sure you think about the overall design when you’re spending money on features.
4. Be practical
In all the hubbub about design, aesthetics and visual harmony, it can easy to forget the practical side of things. This is a space you — or at least somebody — will have to eventually live in, so you have to make it, well, liveable!
Contestants on The Block are constantly being pinged by judges for not taking into account practical considerations. All-stars Darren and Dea, for instance, took some heat for their re-worked bathroom because of its failure to provide adequate splash protection in the shower, the lack of anywhere safe to place plugged-in electric instruments and a towel rack that was much too far from the shower. Josh and Charlotte’s bathroom, meanwhile, was criticised for lacking sufficient light, ventilation and room around the basin.
Remember that the judge of your reno project won’t be someone that gives you a score at the end of the week like in The Block, they could be a home buyer, so make sure the property you’ve designed is easy to live in.