WEEK 2: PICK A BATHROOM, ANY BATHROOM

Written by Steph Sandhoff



Welcome to Week 2 on the block and let’s get ready to talk bathrooms. The question is can a bathroom be a bathroom if it doesn’t have a bath? If it only has a shower, should we be calling it a shower room? Makes me think of an American high school football locker, so I’m going to pass on that idea. The point of those meaningless few sentences is that all houses are taking on a different type of bathroom this week. How many can there be? Actually quite a few... Let’s delve in house by house, couple by couple.




HOUSE ONE // Ronnie and Georgia



This week Ronnie and Georgia completed their master bathroom, placed next door to their previously completed winning bedroom, located in the original part of their home. For their master bathroom, they went with a wet room style shower and freestanding bath, toilet and single vanity.


Image Attribution: Nine



Entering the finished bathroom, the judges continue to be enamoured with the couple’s soaring ceilings and perfectly placed skylight, drenching the bath in natural light. These are the things you buy houses for, the architectural features you can’t change. However, there was even more to like from Ronnie and Georgia, with their tilers deemed the real heroes this week. With three and half walls of white mosaic finger tiles and a feature marble look tile slab behind the bath, these guys really went with current but also timeless finishes. “Taking neutral to a whole new level”, Neale Whitaker thought the bathroom was the perfect complement to their completed bedroom from last week.



Image Attribution: Nine



Darren Palmer agreed, describing their colour palette as calming and loving their simplified materials palette of white, grey and oak. The oak timber vanity provided a touch of warmth that referenced the brass accents perfectly. Personally, with so many light walls and a light floor, I would have selected a slightly darker vanity to add some depth to the room. This would have referenced the darker veins in the marble look tile and enhanced its affect. I feel the light oak vanity actually competes with the marble and dims the overall impact.


Shaynna Blaze seemed generally in favour of the simple yet luxurious bathroom, praising the lighting plan including spot lighting on the wall and strip lighting along the skylight. Darren also loved the directional can lights in the ceiling; which I think are going to give the pendant light trend a run for its money over the next year or so.


Neale believes the fine degree of execution and delivery are the key to that luxe, neutral vibe the couple seems to be going for. However, all judges agreed that it was the details that let them down this week. Although choosing the correct basin to match the bath, a matte finish should have been chosen for both these fixtures and I’m surprised Georgia wasn’t all over it. So far, her rooms are all about layering the low key rather than using elements with shine.



Image Attribution: Nine



Shaynna also argued the shower tapware was incorrectly placed, though if positioned where she wanted it, under the shower head, they surely would have complained about the potential to get wet. Maybe two sets were needed? Personally, I struggled the most with the offset lines of the nib wall, shower niche and mirrored cabinet. Overall, Neale thought the room was very successful, in it’s ability to be simple, minimalist and contemporary. A very hard combination to achieve, that will last well into the future.



DARREN: 9 SHAYNNA: 8 ½ NEALE: 9 TOTAL: 26 ½ PLACE: 2nd MY SCORE: 8 ½





HOUSE TWO // Mitch and Mark



Next we have House 2, with Mitch and Mark, who bounced back after a rough day at the judges office last week. Continuing to “build a story through their home”, these two trusted their style whilst adding a little flair. Undoubtedly, the winning combination as the boys took out the first bathroom win this year.



Image Attribution: Nine



The additional flair this week would have to be the wall of Norwegian Rose Mosaic tiles behind the vanity and maybe the gold ducks (which are super tacky, just saying). Although I love the tiles, and trust me I do. I mean, it’s pink marble – who wouldn’t? But… they will definitely date and potentially quite quickly.



Image Attribution: Nine



Shaynna was quick to compliment the tiles, describing them as superb and stunning, something she says she wouldn’t have liked 5 years ago. I love a blush tone as much as the next person, but I personally use it in smaller and more removable touches, such as a piece of art or side table, in order to avoid dated interiors. Anyway, as much as I would love to visit this bathroom and go crazy taking photos, they would all be of the one wall. Imagine you're in their bathroom, would you bother taking a photo of the opposite wall? (See below).



Image Attribution: Nine



Clad in cheap, generic white tiles, this whole side of the bathroom feels completely forgotten and makes the entire room feel unbalanced. With all the interest and impact coming from the blush tiles and gorgeous oak vanity, it feel visually cluttered with them layered on the same wall. Having these elements on opposing walls would have been an easy way to balance the room and draw the eye from one feature to the other.


Darren thought the layout was better than Ronnie and Georgia’s, as the toilet was hidden behind the door, the shower is wider and the bath was set back closer to the back wall. They also managed to accommodate a double vanity and the room sold itself as a functional family bathroom. I am confused as to why Ronnie and Georgia didn’t hide their toilet, either behind the door like Mitch and Mark or at least between the vanity and shower; but anyway, back to the boys. Neale thought their room was sophisticated, “it’s a jewel” and Darren thought it was “punchy as hell’. Overall the judges believed the boys had listened to their previous feedback and have taken things up a notch, "they’re back in the game".



DARREN:SHAYNNA: 9 NEALE:TOTAL: 28 PLACE: 1st MY SCORE:





HOUSE THREE // Tanya and Vito



In House Three, we have Tanya and Vito, who struggled to complete their Master bathroom this week. After reshuffling the floor plan in their head (first mistake) and ditching unnecessary curved walls (smart move), these guys headed off to Reece, with the idea that selected fixtures would help determine their layout (wow, talk about risky). Risk aside, their bathroom included a shower behind a ceiling height nib wall, freestanding bath and double vanity. No, you aren’t mistaken, I didn’t mention a toilet and that is because they don’t have one. “You don’t shit where you shower”. Totally agree and that’s why you have a toilet. Surely now the shower is their best option?


Talking selections, the couple went with a terrazzo tile floor, with small individual handmade tiles on the surrounding walls; white on three and terracotta on the interior and back wall. Their first choice of feature tile was a sheet mosaic that wasn’t in stock, luckily for them because I wasn’t sold on it. Although more time consuming to lay with 1500+ tiles, I think they ended up with a much nicer product.


Image Attribution: Nine



On entering the room, the judges were wowed; with both the size of the room and the amount of personality in the design. They all loved the tiles, and though I’m not normally a nib wall fan (I will argue against them in 99.9% of cases) I actually don’t mind this one. The room is big enough for it to be effective, without it visually cluttering the room. It’s also perfectly positioned to frame the skylight poking out the right hand side of the shower. Combined with the funky, peach concrete basins and the walnut vanity, the colour palette in the room is enticingly warm and transports me to a Tuscan villa. Wishful thinking, I know.



Image Attribution: Nine



Although many of the elements of this room go against my design instincts and usual opinions, there is definitely something about the space that works. However, there are a number of details which have been overlooked and need to be fixed before sale.


The biggest issue would have to be the vast amount of space and their lack of toilet. I’m all for a powder room but a main bathroom needs a toilet regardless, and considering the size of the houses this year, leaving a toilet out is not a decision I would have made. The judges agreed, stating the footprint of the house is just not big enough to incorporate an additional powder room.



Image Attribution: Nine



Darren couldn’t look past the oak surrounds on the switch plates, while Shaynna was more worried about them being in the wrong position, above the hand towel hook. Talking of towel hooks, don’t get Shaynna started… She argued against the crazy number of hooks in the room and couldn’t understand why they didn’t utilise the wall space with a towel rail. Definitely an oversight that limits the functionality of the room. The bathmat, contemporary light sconces and choice of pot plant continued to muddy the overall ambience and sense of luxury with Shaynna summing up the room as “a lot to love, but a lot to unravel”.



DARREN:SHAYNNA: 8 NEALE: 8 TOTAL: 24½ PLACE: 3rd MY SCORE: 8





HOUSE FOUR // Josh and Luke



The twins in House Four have egos the size of their new master suite. Probably another thing they think The Block has never seen before. News flash, we have. Please stop talking until you’ve actually watched the show. I know I give these guys a hard time, but far out, they are infuriating.


Shock twist, these guys also have the biggest bathroom this week. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a spacious room but when you’re designing a house, the room sizes need to make sense in relation to each other. If I had a catch phrase as a designer, it would have to be “consistency is key”. Do you have an ugly house? I’m totally okay with that, as long as it’s consistently bad... like all the rooms need to be the same kind of soul crushingly horrible. You picking up what I’m putting down?


Anyway, my point is, if the boys can have consistently large rooms, good on them. My worry is that they will get to the last few rooms of the home and have run out of space. Nobody wants a massive master suite or bathroom if their kitchen, living, etc is comparatively small. Hopefully they’ve thought this through and put it down on paper (for someone else to check).



Image Attribution: Nine



Their bathroom this week is designed in a Jack and Jill style, meaning two doors opening onto two separate bedrooms. In addition to an extra interior door, the boys have large grey tiles on the floor and halfway up the walls, with a Venetian plaster feature wall and ceiling, another element "we’ve never seen before on The Block”. There’s a reason we’ve never seen a Venetian plaster ceiling on The Block before, it sounds like a terrible idea… and the judges agreed. They liked the feature wall but thought the ceiling looked shiny and was a waste of money that didn’t add anything to the room. I love when we agree.



Image Attribution: Nine



Darren noticed the room has a similar masculine feel to their bedroom last week and again enjoyed the ‘moodiness’ of it, while Neale had issues with almost every element. Describing it as cold and dated, he never wants to see the 'fifty shades of grey' palette again. Not to worry boys, your tradies love it, so one of them will buy your house for sure.



Image Attribution: Nine



Personally, I think the room feels very unresolved and cheap. Considering how much money they spent on it, this is a worry. It’s both the big and little things that went wrong for the boys this week. The shower and glass panel is too big, the niche too small and in the wrong spot; the lighting plan highlights the floor waste and Shaynna described the styling as atrocious. Come on, who doesn’t love a sweaty piece of cheese in the bath? Also, art in the bathroom? Not a thing. If you have art in your bathroom, please take it down. It screams rookie. Sorry if that was harsh, but now you know.



DARREN: 7 SHAYNNA: 7 NEALE:TOTAL: 20½ PLACE: LAST MY SCORE: 6





HOUSE FIVE // Kirsty and Jesse



Lastly we have Kirsty and Jesse in House Five, with the smallest bathroom of the week, their guest ensuite. Size isn’t everything (sorry boys) but I do wonder why they didn’t sacrifice some space from the guest bedroom to give to the bathroom. I think it would have helped both spaces feel more sophisticated. With a little too much unused space in the bedroom and a bathroom that could easily have accommodated an extra metre or so, this would seem to be a solid solution.



Image Attribution: Nine



On entry, the judges immediately commented on the ‘tight squeeze’ but thought it was appropriate for the connected bedroom and walk-in robe. The nib wall was deemed unnecessary by the judges (and myself.) A simple glass panel would have provided extra visual and literal space. It would also allow your eye to be drawn to the gorgeous blue tiles on the back wall and provide a much more open look. I do like the layout of their coastal ensuite however, with a functional shower, spacious vanity and toilet hidden from the door, they utilised the space they had (or decided to have) well.


Image Attribution: Nine



When it comes to the choice of finishes, I’m with Shaynna all the way. I love the assorted blue tiles and the stunningly soft, powder blue sink. Personally I would have included a double vanity but I do like the panelled style they chose. The judges all agreed when it came to the kitsch, coastal styling, telling the couple to get rid of the shells. They need to up their styling game and take the room from “coastal, theme park to luxury, beach house”. I totally agree, and lucky for the country couple, all the major finishes and fixtures were chosen well and they can easily remove the abundance of shells and other cringe pieces. As always, the room was executed to a high standard and proved that good things can definitely come in small packages.



DARREN: 8 SHAYNNA: 8 NEALE: 8 TOTAL: 24 PLACE: 4th MY SCORE: 8




See you next week for Master Bedrooms and Robes!


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