WEEK 5: MASTER ENSUITE WEEK

Written by Steph Sandhoff



It's Master Ensuite week, which is great because my computer doesn’t recognise ensuite as a word so from now on I will have to hyphenate; en-suite. Just kidding, I know I can fix my settings but I needed something to talk about in the introduction this week because The Block was kind of boring and didn’t produce much worth discussing. I didn’t think there was enough focus on the actual design of the rooms this week, rather the rush to get them finished with two public holidays. So, I’m going to make up for the lack of design talk right now. Starting with House 1.



HOUSE ONE // Ronnie and Georgia



Image Attribution: Nine



Ronnie and Georgia were after a 10 this week and I don’t blame them, especially after both House 2 and House 5 each received one last week (undeservedly in my opinion). They got the 10 they were after, completing their master suite with the perfect ensuite to complement their perfect master bedroom. They’ve used a coordinating palette that picks up tones of green from their feature wall in the master bedroom. The elements of sage in the styling but more importantly the subtle green-grey tones in those stunning finger tiles, link the rooms together seamlessly. Both feature walls hold their own without competing with each other. When looking through to the bedroom from the ensuite however, they haven't fully tiled the entry wall. I don't think the small amount of money they would have saved is worth the room looking unfinished. (See below).



Image Attribution: Nine



Now I can’t talk about Ronnie and Georgia without using the word neutral and as Shaynna Blaze said, “they do neutral calm, so beautifully”. Why is this important? Neale explained it’s because it appeals to the broadest, possible demographic. Is it the most exciting every week? Not necessarily. But it is the most consistent and that personally gets me very excited. Add to the fact that none of their choices will be quick to date and I’m sold. Now I just need the money. The textures in the room are abundant and the use of colour subtle, plus the layout and architectural elements are modern. For example, the niche in the shower is a ‘shelf style’ rather than a square inset in the middle of the wall. This creates longer lines that appear to be part of the rooms existing structure rather than a last minute decorative addition.



Image Attribution: Nine



Now, just to prove I’m not biased, I will admit there are some problems. Shaynna pointed out the low height of the glass shower panel and like the judges, I can’t un-see it. Sounds like it was a timing issue and will be replaced asap so let’s move on. Questionably placed exhaust fan? Sure. But I can’t imagine another placement that would have assuaged the judges, aesthetically. Perhaps on the lower side of the ceiling, near the shower head? But it would be visually distracting.



Image Attribution: Nine



Finally, I do think the room looks a little skinny. The high ceilings would normally provide a feeling of spaciousness but when a room is long and skinny, a high ceiling can often make the room feel even smaller by comparison. This could have been avoided by using rectangular format tiles on the wall and laying them horizontally rather than vertically. (See Kirsty and Jesse's room). This would make the space feel larger, while the feature tile would still draw your eye up and highlight the soaring ceilings. However, Darren Palmer thought it was an appropriate size for the master bedroom and I agree. I also think the modern layout (with hidden toilet, much improved from their last bathroom) is completely functional and the shower panel and shower opening look to be correct widths. All in all, I seriously enjoyed watching these guys steal the win tonight with their gnome. It’s called Karma, boys. Look it up.



DARREN: 9 SHAYNNA: 9 NEALE: 10 TOTAL: 28 (+1) PLACE: 1st MY SCORE: 9




HOUSE TWO // Mitch and Mark



Mitch and Mark have gone for another glamorous, 'Hollywood' style bathroom this week but before we rip in, let take a quick look at the boy’s house so far. We have one pink bedroom, one pink bathroom, one blue bedroom and two blue bathrooms… It seems like no attempt has been made to celebrate or even merely incorporate any Queen Anne style features in the home. Instead, the house presents more like a gender reveal for ‘quintuplets’. Pick a door, any door and… IT’S A BOY! Again. What a surprise. Not that I agree with stereotyping colours, before anyone comes for me in the comments.



Image Attribution: Nine



Form over function. That’s all there is to it this week and personally I don’t think the room rates particularly well ‘looks’ wise either. After Darren headed straight to the shower with a tape measure (obviously noting the issue on his previous walk around with Scotty) all three judges agreed there were major issues with the layout and shower proportions, artificial lighting plan and positioning of natural light.




Image Attribution: Nine



The shower itself is all-wrong, it’s like they got the proportions back to front. I’m guessing they were trying to line up the glass shower screen with the grout line between those large tile slabs but they left only 850mm space in front of the vanity. To give you an idea of how small this is, the width of a standard door is 820mm. Have you ever been caught trying to squeeze through a doorway at the same time as another person? It’s not comfortable, and being potentially pushed into glass that could eventually shatter? Dangerous. What I found the most surprising was the fact that the boys WERE surprised by the feedback. Even if they didn’t catch the issue in the planning stage, surely they noticed it once the bathroom was complete?



Image Attribution: Nine



Moving on to the elements the judges did like: the fixtures and finishes. Shaynna thought it was really, really beautiful but I think it was really, really busy and really, really tacky. Don’t get me wrong. I love most of the element in the bathroom… but please, not all together. If I asked you guys which was the ‘feature’ in that room, I would get at least 5 different answers and that’s my problem. The stunning blue fish-scale tiles are not only competing with the vanity, basin and tapware but they’re also competing with the marble slabs. Just because they’re big and white, doesn’t mean they aren’t a feature. They draw the eye just as much, if not more than the fish scale tiles. Also, every element appears to have a shiny finish, which makes the room appear cheap and almost gaudy. Also, that toilet looks a tad tight, but it is hard to tell from a photo.



Image Attribution: Nine



Also, I have to talk about the shower niche… I don't love square, inset niches but I hate niches with inlaid feature tiles even more. Is naff still a word? If so, thats what they are… or I’m also happy to go with daggy, obvious, cringe and dated. They were dated the minute they designed them. When designing a bathroom, especially in an already existing house it isn’t always possible to create a wall length shelf but if this is the case, don’t highlight your less than ideal, square niche by using an inset feature tile, it’s completely unnecessary. If it’s not an architectural element, it needs to be concealed by using the same tile that’s on the surrounding wall, whether it be big, small, plain or a feature. Please, if you only pick one thing to listen to from this blog, I beg you. Pick this one.



DARREN:SHAYNNA: 7 NEALE:TOTAL: 22 PLACE: LAST MY SCORE: 6




HOUSE THREE // Tanya and Vito



Image Attribution: Nine



So this is an interesting one, as is usual in House 5 and the judges were also confused. Is the room Art Deco? Retro? Or just plain 70’s? Nobody knows, so I think we’ll go with eclectic. Eclectic is often what I say when I think a room is an ugly mess, but in this case I don’t actually mind it. Do I like it? No. But do I hate it? Also no. They definitely got some things right. But not the wall tiles. I wasn't sure why the judges didn't like them until I looked closely at the photos. They have a stylised leaf pattern that does not make sense with any other part of that bathroom. (See below).



Image Attribution: Nine



I think the thing that I do like about this room is it’s simplicity in comparison to Tanya and Vito’s other rooms. Except for the triple arch glass shower panel, which was much too busy for the small room, everything else is relatively simple. A single glass screen with an arched top would have been much more effective, but this would need to be included in all their bathrooms for consistency. The colour palette is a nice change from the blues and greens we are used to seeing but I think Tanya took her inspiration a little too literally. The vintage lamp didn’t need to be there and feature tile needed to take the warm, earthy and tonal aspects of the lamp rather than the literal brown colour. This could have achieved a modern take on vintage rather than a 70’s motel or old fashioned pubic toilet vibe.



Image Attribution: Nine



The clash of contemporary and retro didn’t impress the judges and Neale Whitaker described their styling as borderline kitsch. I have more of an issue with the lack of Moroccan style evident in their last bathroom. Although their house doesn’t appeal to me on a personal taste level, the one thing it had going for it was consistency. It was bright with modern touches of colour, Morrocan elements and the use of terrazzo. Apart from the use of terrazzo floor tiles (which I actually liked) they definitely went down a different path this week, which confused their overall vision. Where their other rooms were bright and layered, this week was such a stark contrast between light and dark elements that it was quite uncomfortable to look at. There needed to be a sense of gradation, linking the elements together.



Image Attribution: Nine



Finally, if you’re going to specify a black toilet, it needs to be in every bathroom. For separate rooms, in the same house to feel connected, there needs to be a continuation of elements. This doesn’t mean you can’t branch out or that you need to completely replicate rooms. You just need to pick a few elements to continue. I’ll use the Block contestants as an example. Both the 'fave' couples have used the same tiles in their bathrooms in different colours or sizes, while Kirsty and Jesse have used the same style concrete basins and rectangular subway feature tiles, just in different tones of blue. This is why Mitch and Mark were so far ahead in ordering from Reece this week, because they used the same toilet, tapware and similar tiles. They didn’t need to reinvent the wheel, just slightly adjust it.



DARREN:SHAYNNA:NEALE:TOTAL: 22½ PLACE: 4th MY SCORE: 7




HOUSE FOUR // Josh and Luke



When the judges entered my favourite couple’s (joking, obviously) master ensuite this week, the twins got the WOW they were hoping for. Which was well deserved. You’re shocked. I know. But I had to judge the room and the teams separately this week. From the very beginning, House 4 has had a great focus on architectural aspects and whether you agree with their previous choices or not, this indoor/outdoor bathroom does give House 4 a point of difference. A visually appealing point of difference, that Shaynna noted will look very good in real estate photos.



Image Attribution: Nine



Darren compared walking through their walk-in robe to find their master ensuite like finding something better than Narnia. I mean, there will be an ice queen in that bath eventually, considering they’ve just designed an outdoor bathroom in Melbourne. If there was no indoor shower this would definitely be a problem, however considering there is also a large double shower and some ensuites don’t even have a bath, I think the outdoor bath is a luxurious and resort vibe addition.



Image Attribution: Nine



The shower itself though, I don’t like. I think it would have looked and functioned better as an open, glass panel. The closed in style looks boxy and leaves an odd, blocked off corner. The position of the shower door and it’s proximity to the heated towel rail is also a problem as it doesn’t allow it to function properly or safely with the glass becoming heated.



Image Attribution: Nine



The judges thought this room reached the levels of sophistication they had been asking for. It has a sense of maturity that was lacking last week and the boys even improved their styling. It’s still not great, but it was a pretty low bar to begin with and I think they actually did a better job than Mitch and Mark. I also thought they made solid choices in terms of fixtures and finishes. The tiles are simple and textural and allow the timber features and that big round bath to draw the eye. The linear timber cladding on the exterior wall references the vanity and mirror surrounds, which ultimately allow the room to feel considered and cohesive. If someone were to ask, why did you pick that... (for example: vanity) the boys would have good answers this week. If you can’t explain why you chose something, you should probably think again. Every choice should have a reasoning or basis behind it and for me, every element in this room makes sense.



Image Attribution: Nine



Except... that odd mirrored cabinet to the left of the vanity. It distracts visually from the mirrors and vanity and I have so many questions. The biggest one, why? I'm guessing storage. Seeing as you literally walk through their massive robe to get to the bathroom, I'm not sure it was necessary. I love the idea of a linen cupboard but it needed to be incorporated in the existing robe cabinetry. It doesn't even have to move, if you bring that bathroom entry wall in by, (I'm guessing here, 400mm) to allow for built in cabinetry, it would have been seamless. Alternatively they could have gone for a wider vanity, kept the double basins and added additional hidden and bench top storage.



DARREN: 9 SHAYNNA:NEALE: 10 TOTAL: 28½ PLACE: 2nd MY SCORE: 9




HOUSE FIVE // Kirsty and Jesse



So, we’re up to the last couple for the last bathroom week on The Block, officially anyway. Unofficially, it sounds like Kirsty and Jesse have a few more to go, virtually ruling them out as winners this year. Why? Because no one wants to clean that many bathrooms… Just saying. I’m not even joking, downsizing is a trend that is taking the design industry by storm. I don’t just mean caravan style 'tiny houses', but the concept of living with as little as possible. For many reasons: environmental, financial, quality of time, etc. Look into it; it’s actually pretty interesting.



Image Attribution: Nine



Kirsty and Jesse got a POW this week from the judges, who thought the room felt fresh and grown up. It’s definitely the older sibling to their previous bathroom. With a slightly darker blue palette, two tone ‘Nood Co’ concrete basins and brass highlights, the judges deemed this room the pinnacle; stating that they’ve found their style; a modern and subtle mix of contemporary, Hamptons and Colonial style.



Image Attribution: Nine



I definitely agree and would argue this is their most successful room yet. However, there were still a few vital issues which let them down score wise. Darren had an issue with the door; the shaker style profile follows the square shape of the door and doesn’t sit well with the curved top of the frame. He also noted the brass accents didn’t match, with the tapware, shower frame and vanity handles all a slightly different colour. The floor mount tap was also loose which Shaynna showcased like a boss (Summer bod inspo right there) and continued to act out how to have a shower in order to convince us the mixer was placed incorrectly.



Image Attribution: Nine



The shower frame is my biggest issue in the room. The panel itself is the wrong height but I also think the gold frame appears cheap and visually complicates the room. The room would feel much bigger without it, allowing your eye to pan to the back feature wall and allow the smaller and less tacky brass elements to shine in a more subtle way. Shaynna also found issue with the proximity of the shower and bath, deeming that they were too close, and the residents would be stuck wiping down the bath everyday. This is the problem most people have with this ‘wet room’ style of bathroom. Designers love it because it looks good and functions well but clients are most often hesitant, which is totally understandable. However, if you get the design and proportions right, it can be a great a layout.



DARREN:SHAYNNA:NEALE: 9 TOTAL: 26 PLACE: 3rd MY SCORE: 8




Overall the best thing to come out of this week is Kirsty’s comparison of her fellow block contestants to her brittle tiles; “Every now and then you get a bad batch, like when it comes to block contestants I guess”. And on that note, I’ll see you next week for final bedrooms and re-do rooms. Not sure the twins have enough money to fix all their bad rooms but I will enjoy watching them fail.

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