Week 11: GARAGES, BASEMENTS & STAIRCASES

Written by Steph Sandhoff



It’s the second last week of The Block 2021 and there are so many rooms; I don’t even know how I’m going to get through them all. This week, all the couples were required to finish their garages, basements and staircases. I also thought Scotty requested all unfinished interior spaces, however this didn't seem to be followed. Whatever the plan, it probably means a huge week for most of the couples next week.



HOUSE ONE // Ronnie and Georgia


Ok, so these guys didn’t just reveal a garage, basement and staircase this week. After pulling the 'HiPages Leaver', they also added a mudroom, powder room, forth bedroom/study and mezzanine level study space... and as usual, all their spaces were WOW.


Garage


Let's start with the garage. Entering through a 'Colorbond' Tilt Door, which we didn't really see much of, the judges went straight to the photographic wall mural. Most of the couples went with a wallpaper mural in their garages this week; anything to minimise the amount of painting I'm guessing. Ronnie and Georgia went with a race track which the judges thought had an unexpected impact and loved the addition of the Ford Mustang (can someone please explain the point of these borrowed cars?). Personally, I liked the addition of the black and white photograph but I'm questioning the relevance. Yes, race track, cars, in a garage... I get it. But other than that, what's the connection? Surely something Melbourne based would have made more sense. Regardless, I do love the way it looks like people are running towards the interior door.


Image Attribution: Nine


Onto the storage and it was the best of all the houses this week in terms of form and function. Visually appealing to an organisational nutcase like myself but also practical. More importantly, it looks finished. The storage cupboards are built-in and the wall cladding makes the most of the room and the space they have. Also it was actually styled, unlike many of the other houses.


The garage floor was a bit of a let down but I'm guessing it was a timing issue. I'm hoping they don't just paint it but get it polished. Let's wait and see.


Mudroom


Walking through the garage and into the house, Shaynna Blaze thought this was the perfect location for a mudroom. Visually, the nook is stunning and continues the repetition of materials already used throughout the home, such as the wall cladding, shaker style cabinets, brass handles, etc. More importantly though, it's practical and definitely something you'd want in a multi-million dollar home.


Image Attribution: Nine


I loved Kirsty and Jesse’s mudroom and thought it was one of the things giving them an edge over House 1. However, as expected Ronnie and Georgia weren’t going to be outdone and managed to include a mudroom space in their much smaller home. Not only is it straight off the garage, so out of the way if it gets messy with kid’s backpacks, but it also opens on to a powder room. This space doesn’t really get more practical and with such a refined look it would be hard to walk past and not want in your own home.


Quick note, why wasn't the powder room judged? I mean all teams had unfinished elements this week but it was as if they didn't have to finish this one. I though the entire interior of the home was the goal this week?!


Fourth Bedroom


Right next door to the mudroom was the fourth bedroom come study. Another stunning space but the best part was it's orientation. The judges though it was a wonderful place 'to sit and work' and I have to agree. Unlike the twins, who used this area for a master bedroom, these guys opted for what I'm sure will become a fully functioning study or potentially a guest bedroom. Not only does it's location give the room a sense of separation and privacy from the rest of the home for study or even a home business but it also makes the most of the view.


Image Attribution: Nine


Most people would spend more time in a study than their bedroom, especially during the day when the view of their backyard is most visible. Imagine, adults would be able to watch their kids playing in the pool whilst they're working. I personally wouldn't mind doing work or study if I had a view like that to inspire me everyday.


Neale Whitaker wanted more 'office storage' for a room that could potentially be a work from home office. However, they seemed to completely ignore the abundant storage surrounding that king size bed/bench seat. That's more storage than I personally see in many offices. Also, as they are leaving the purpose of the room to the future residents. I see no problem.


Staircase


DAMN. All three judges were stopped in their tracks on seeing that spiral staircase. An architecturally beautiful piece of art is really the only way to describe what is now the biggest and most stunning feature in House 1 (which is saying something). Sculptural and geometric with the play of light and shade, the beautiful staircase is undoubtedly the centrepiece of this home. Design like this is why you buy a house. The structure and personality of a home; the things you can't change. Even if you want to change every other element in the home, you'd still buy it just for this feature.


Image Attribution: Nine


Mezzanine Level


Although, the judges said they weren't judging the mezzanine level this week, they described it as the perfect luxury. The use of brass, glass and lighting highlights the stunning design and use of what could have easily been undiscovered space. Very clever. These are things that set apart homes and show the inherent planning happening behind the scenes. There is nothing I love more than a house that has made the most out of every possible opportunity.


Image Attribution: Nine


Basement


Heading down the spiral staircase and the first thing you see it that herringbone brick face flooring. I'm drooling.


Image Attribution: Nine


Still drooling. It's design elements like this basement floor that reinforce for me that I'm in the right industry. It is simply, what dreams (my dreams, anyway) are made of. It transported Shaynna to 'Provence', which is in France if you didn't already know. The flooring also adds a sense of repetition, as the same brick facing was used in their backyard and the herringbone lay references their floorboards. Using the same material in only these two areas not only connects the two but also differentiates their basement and outdoor areas from the main part of the house.


With almost an entire second kitchen, these guys used their money for the important fixtures and finishes this week, opting for cheaper furniture that looks right at home in a rustic, contemporary style cellar room. Also, there is another powder room. Practically perfect. This room would have me happily living in a basement for the rest of my life. No questions asked.



DARREN: 9 SHAYNNA: 9 NEALE: 9 TOTAL: 27 PLACE: 1st MY SCORE:



HOUSE TWO // Mitch and Mark


Garage


Opening the garage door (simple grey Colorbond by the looks of it), reveals what the judges called 'the garage of colour'. Surely this is not meant as a compliment. Another borrowed car, this time in a yellow that clashed horrendously with that monstrosity of a wall. I'm literally shuddering right now trying to talk about it. I have no words but if I did, they wouldn't be very nice.


Image Attribution: Nine


Moving on from the cough... art... cough... and there is nothing else to look at. I mean unless you count the symbolic storage racks that scream "I drive around during council pickups and collect everyone's second hand storage racks, because it's only for my garage".


Study Area


Moving on, and up the (extra) stair case the judges go. Similarly to Ronnie and Georgia, these guys have utilised ceiling space in order to provide an additional loft style room. Accessed from behind their kitchen, these guys presented a study space for two people.


Image Attribution: Nine


A smart use of space, although nowhere near as exciting as Ronnie and Georgia's. The exciting part? They have four specified bedroom plus this study space. Reads well, real estate wise for sure. Although it's a bit of a weird space... with a step up to a tiny sitting room at best, claustrophobic kids playroom at worst.


Basement


Heading down their unfinished staircase and we reach their finished basement. The loft staircase must only have been completed because they used wallpaper. Again. Guys, put down the wallpaper. As subtle as it is, that's a skinny set of stairs for such a repetitive pattern.


Image Attribution: Nine


Described by the boys themselves as a media room/wine cellar/wet bar, here-in lies the problem. What is this room meant to be? Flexible. I get that. But it needs to be zoned to function correctly. This room is the clusterf*ck for me this week. I don't even know where to start. It looks like Mark had a panic attack in the middle of Freedom. These would have to be some of the worst furniture choices I have ever seen. It's hard to even pull apart what is wrong with this space but I think the overwhelming theme here is 'more is less' which is just not a successful concept.


Image Attribution: Nine


The layout, as Shaynna pointed out, is all wrong. Helpfully given, and taken well by Mitch and Mark (shock twist), were her suggestions for fixing this room. Consolidating the wine bar and kitchen joinery was the first and most obvious solution. By trying to make this room flexible they have simply made it confusing. Unlike the other houses who have a specified theatre room, Mitch and Mark opted for a (albeit week winning) steam room. This left them with one room to try and incorporate both a theatre and wine cellar, in order to compete with the other houses. I think the choice of steam room came back to bite them personally, which is why I was never a huge fan of it to begin with. Too much space was given to an idea that was not important enough to deserve it.



DARREN: 8 SHAYNNA: 8 NEALE: 7 TOTAL: 23 PLACE: 3rd MY SCORE: 7



HOUSE THREE // Tanya and Vito


Moving on to House 3 and Tanya and Vito are delivering the smallest number of spaces this week, revealing only their garage and basement. Shockingly but unsurprising (let's be honest) this is the first week the Gucci Gang is delivering more than one space. Eye roll.


Garage


Another car. Wow. As you can probably tell I'm not a massive car person but seriously? Did everyone hear about the dog in the twin's backyard and decide they needed a temporary 'dog' for their garage? Surely these were sponsored, otherwise what a waste of money.


Image Attribution: Nine


The garage door was the most interesting so far. An aqua green colour with port holes. Not my style but I can appreciate the style is in keeping with the house. The aqua colour though, I'm not sure about. Surely a neutral would make a more subtle feature of the port holes. Think less 'Airbnb you visit to take photos of ' and more multi-million dollar Hampton home you're not embarrassed to live in. Although I like the idea of a sliding garage door, it means once open, you have an entire wall wasted with the ugly interior of a door that is normally out of site above your head.


Image Attribution: Nine


The rest of the garage showcases absolutely nothing. Sorry, I'm wrong. They have a terrazzo covered fridge, straight out of a DIY Kmart Mum's Facebook group. We can't forget about the styling rack with rolled up spa towels. I mean seriously guys, come on. It's WEEK 11. I know they decided against a powder room to save money but they should have forgone polishing the concrete floor and put money into something that significantly increases the value of the home.


In order to compete, these guys need a fourth bedroom/study and this would have been the perfect space for it. Similarly to Ronnie and Georgia, it would have great access and an even better view of their backyard. Alternatively, if they can't afford to frame it up as an extra room, fill the space with some gym equipment. The judges complained they didn't make the most of the view as the space wasn't given a purpose. During Covid times, surely a home gym is up there with a home office in terms of added benefit. Even I could be persuaded to work out if I could look out at view like that. Jimmy and Tam had a home gym last year and guess who won?


Basement


What even is this room? Apparently it's meant to be a games room come wine cellar. Like a community games room in a country holiday lodge. An absolute waste of space and money. Remove the vintage crap (no offence) and put the money into the garage. Let the future residents finish the room and allow the kitchen and wine racks to shine. If you don't have the money to style the dream, give people the visual and mental space to imagine their own belongings in the room.


Image Attribution: Nine


I can't move on without mentioning that stair case. Not only do we have 3 different timbers all sitting side by side but they are all awful. As a rule, designers tend to avoid timber with yellow and pink undertones and here we have both. The stair case looks to be still raw and unfinished but the style is also awful. It has a super basic style handrail that looks clunky and old fashioned but the best bit? A lovely camper van style fridge squeezed awkwardly under the staircase. I mean, why?


Image Attribution: Nine



DARREN:SHAYNNA:NEALE:TOTAL: 19½ PLACE: 4th MY SCORE: 6



HOUSE FOUR // Josh and Luke


Here we go again, onto my favourite couple and surprisingly they started off well. I mean well for their standards. Don't get excited. They still don't deserve to be on the show and are probably the reason Channel Nine will never opt for cross promotional contestants ever again.


Garage


Love the garage door. Great job to the sales rep that decided Josh and Luke would be easiest people to sell product to. By accident I'm sure, they ended up with the what I predict will be the future of garage doors. Anybody else's dad get super excited by this and I quote "super clever", insulated, double entry, roller door? Anyway, heading inside to yet another wallpaper mural.


Image Attribution: Nine


I actually quite like this wall mural. Again on a car theme, this one was a minimal, stylised depiction of famous race tracks. Subtle, simple and surprisingly classy boys. Definitely a fluke.


Image Attribution: Nine


I'm not going to talk about the disaster of a lounge room because well, it's the wrong week but I have to say something. Can someone please tell me how these guys got through the interview rounds? Are they merely jokes contestants, planted for drama and an example of terrible design ability?


Fourth Bedroom


Ok, so we have a fourth bedroom and I use this term very loosely. Personally, I was under the impression the whole reason these idiots (oops auto correct) I meant twins swapped their garage and master suite was in order to have a four bedroom house. Isn't that what Daddy Real Estate told them to do?


Image Attribution: Nine


They have managed to turn what could have been a fourth bedroom or study into a Tetris like room that looks like a bad waiting room. There is no excuse, this isn't a money or trade problem. This is a planning issue and a massive one at that. I mean, what would make you think this was a successful layout? Even if the tiny, cramped study didn't scream "this way doesn't work", surely the awkward lounge nook does!?


Please tell me this house doesn't sell and is donated to charity. The boys don't deserve an element of credit for the design or completion of this home. Although unfinished, surely the boys recognise a (not to code) powder room isn't necessary for a lounge/study area. Who needs a shower beside their home office? They way they have sectioned off this area, means that even if future residents wanted to repurpose this space for a bedroom, you can't actually fit a bed anywhere. It's maddening.


Basement


Not to worry, we still have the other half of their basement to go. Who knew the already finished half of the basement could get even worse? Arguing that none of the judges would be able to finish four spaces in week, the boys offered Neale a brush before telling him to 'shut up'. I don't know if it's funny or distressing that the twins think the rooms are this bad because it was a big week. The issues are fundamental. For anyone with the same size brains as Josh and Luke, this means the problems were caused in the initial planning stages of the design. Nothing to do with the amount of work completed during the week. SOS.


Image Attribution: Nine


Aside from the fact that the entire space is super ugly, with carpet in a wet area, benches with storage for absolutely nothing because there is no fridge or running water and art that looks like it belongs in a tacky night club; it doesn't actually have any purpose. It stores some wine (that was given to them) and two people can sit against a wall looking at iron man. Yep, sign me up. Great work guys, here's 5 million dollars. The lack of imagination and vision is baffling.



DARREN: 3 SHAYNNA: 3 NEALE: 2 TOTAL: 8 PLACE: LAST MY SCORE: 3



HOUSE FIVE // Kirsty and Jesse


Finally, we're at house 5 and these guys have so many spaces left to deliver I'm worried they are going to run out of time.


Garage


Another great choice of garage door. The perfect coastal, barn style door for this particular home. One of the best choices out of all 5 houses, in my opinion. Although this was made easier with such a distinct style of house.


Image Attribution: Nine


Heading inside, and yet another mural. This one at least references Hampton, with a beach scene from their own suburb. Another 'contact crazy' fridge though. You don't have to put a stamp on literally every single thing in the house. I know it's black and white, and it's meant to camouflage into the mural background but it's got a bluer tone that doesn't match and stands out like a sore thumb. The fridge should be moved into their storage rack area or it needs some kind of built in storage connecting it to the rest of the garage. I'm assuming Grafico supplied both coverings, so why not use the exact same photograph in order to have a sense of continuity and successfully hide the fridge?


Image Attribution: Nine


The storage area is basic but the judges thought it massive and useful. Personally, it looks like they've run out of money, which they have, so I understand. At least, it's a useful space for future residents; potentially featuring as a mud room/storage area. Useful but ugly.


Image Attribution: Nine


Study


Similar to Houses 1 and 2, Kirsty and Jesse also have a study area off their garage. Fitted out with built in cabinetry, the room is skinny but adequate. They've smartly spent their money on the important fixtures such as the match shaker style joinery, with a clever (off the shelf, pun intended) shelving unit hung above the desk. Although big enough for one person, the under desk cabinetry limits the possibility of a multi-person work space.


Image Attribution: Nine


Heading downstairs to the basement, we seem to completely skip the staircase and move straight on to their wine cellar/wet area. Painted a dark charcoal, this room matches their previously completed theatre room perfectly. The colour also successfully camouflages an entire wall of Gaggenau fridges. However, dark coloured paint will show every flaw, and this room definitely needs another coat.


Image Attribution: Nine


Although I understand Kirsty and Jesse were going for a dark, moody vibe to compliment their theatre room; the room feels a little cold and unfriendly. They've done all the right things, like using timber floorboards and tan leather stools to add a sense of warmth but the room feels like a showroom to me. Nothing about this room encourages me to want to spend time in it. It's a nice looking utility room, the perfect kitchen room for a recording studio. This is great if someone want's to use it as such but it's not the perfect fit for the family home they've created upstairs.


Image Attribution: Nine


I have a problem with the guitars. I know it's a personal touch and it does reference the existing music posters, etc throughout their other spaces but it's not a particularly great use of their dwindling dollars. Where a piece of art would bring some personality and life, the cold, hard material of the guitars reinforces that idea of a showroom or trophy room.


I think the execution of the room is good and these guys definitely deserved to come second, however, it should not have scored nearly as high as it did. Looking at these spaces on their own, they are good, solid rooms. Put them side by side with Ronnie and Georgia's and they're not even comparable.



DARREN:SHAYNNA: 9 NEALE: 9 TOTAL: 26½ PLACE: 2nd MY SCORE: 8




That's it for me this week and for The Block 2021: Fans Vs Faves. To everyone who read my thoughts every week, thank you! I hope you enjoyed the experience as much as me. Next week we'll head back outside and so this will be my last Block Blog. Keep an eye on my Instagram stories for more Block content as we head into the last weeks, where the auction (and auction order) will determine the winner of The Block 2021. My bet's on Ronnie and Georgia or Kirsty and Jesse.


Who do you think will take out the win? Let me know in the comments below...

156 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All