WEEK 7: KITCHEN WEEK

Updated: Oct 24, 2021


Written by Steph Sandhoff



It’s kitchen week! Which is great because, well no more bedrooms and no more bathrooms… If you’ve been reading this blog for the past 6 weeks and can’t design a successful bedroom by now, you’re going to need to cough up and pay a professional or just hope we are already really good friends and I’ll give you tips for free. More importantly though, kitchens on The Block are when couples usually level up and bring us something new that we can actually be inspired by. For example, last year we had mint green cabinets, curved timber and CURVED STONE island benches. So let’s see what the 2021 contestants can come up with.



HOUSE ONE // Ronnie and Georgia


“Hello Kitchen Week” and what a way to begin. On entering House 1, the judges were wowed once again by the beautiful simplicity of the room. The abundance of stone in the space is absolutely stunning and definitely needed the simple vein detail Georgia chose, in order to avoid overwhelming the space. The stone, in combination with the perfectly soft grey cabinetry creates the layering of texture that House 1 is becoming known for. The choice of cabinetry profile, ‘skinny shaker’ was the perfect addition to the space and showcases Georgia’s ability to know exactly what leading design professionals are specifying in their own projects. Where the other couples went for the classic shaker style, currently popular with many, the skinny version is that next step ahead. The subtle and organic feel of this kitchen had Neale dubbing it “the new classic” or what I think of as a modern classic, a timeless yet on trend combination, which can be difficult to achieve.



Image Attribution: Nine



However, it wasn’t long before the judges moved on to functionality and Darren introduced his ‘5 Zone’ kitchen layout. Now most of you have probably heard of the ‘triangle rule’ used in kitchen design; a tool used to create successful traffic flow between the three major elements. These are the fridge, stove/oven and sink. Now, as houses are getting bigger and kitchens are evolving past being a simple food prep area, the ‘golden triangle’ must evolve too. This brings us to the 5 zones: cooking, cleaning, consumables, non-consumables and preparation. All 5 zones have certain requirements in order to create a successful kitchen design.



Image Attribution: Nine



Entering the butler’s pantry, disguised with ‘cabinetry look’ doors, Neale was stopped in his tracks, literally. All three judges thought the doors should open inwards in order to prevent a clash of cupboards in the kitchen. It also would provide better flow between the rooms and allow the doors to be left open if future residents preferred. Compared by the judges to their master walk-in robe, it was the butler’s pantry that let them down this week. Although Neale thought it was a perfectly good little space, he didn’t see any wow factor. Personally, I’m not sure the butler’s pantry is the place for wow factor and I actually love this design. With storage for crockery, a back splash window, a second sink and room to dump dirty dishes, I’m not sure what more they wanted; perhaps an extra 500mm in depth? A rubbish bin? Sure, but for someone who doesn’t currently have a butler’s pantry like myself, I much prefer this open style to the twin’s pantry, with it’s lack of natural light and boxed in feel. Although I can’t tell for sure, it appears the pantry will connect to both the outdoor area and potentially even the laundry. A super functional layout if you ask me.



Image Attribution: Nine



This room has managed to seamlessly combine every element I adore in a kitchen. I love the look of an open shelf in a kitchen but struggle with compromising storage. In this design, House 1 has said, ‘why can’t we have both’ and delivered the perfect compromise. Additionally, I will generally lean towards a stone splash back (budget permitting) but if the opportunity presents itself to have a window instead, I often can’t look past it. This kitchen has everything; the flow a stone splash back creates and what I’m guessing will be a servery window opening on to their outdoor area. What got me really excited however was the splash back window in their butler’s pantry. It is rare to be able to incorporate all three design details but this house really delivers. Finally, the kitchen stools and modern chandeliers are the perfect compliment to the finishes chosen for this room; tying every element of this space together and making the kitchen feel elegant and resolved. Overall the judges thought that looking past the beauty, this kitchen starts to slightly unravel which I think is a little harsh. It’s not a perfect space but it’s pretty damn close.



Image Attribution: Nine



DARREN: 9 SHAYNNA: 9 NEALE: 9 TOTAL: 27 PLACE: 2nd MY SCORE: 9




HOUSE TWO // Mitch and Mark


YES, YES, YES and more YES. They must have heard me whining about their lack of Queen Anne style details last week because Mitch and Mark have finally utilised an existing element from the original home. Fist pump. The stain glass panels above the window seat were removed, cleaned up and reset in new window frames. My prayers have been answered… and how good does it look? I love the addition of the traditional breakfast nook and agree with Shaynna that it softens the impact of such a long island bench. I do think a slightly larger table would have made more of the nook area, however. Styling wise, tables should never be dressed with crockery sets as if it’s waiting for imaginary dinner guests to arrive. It’s a dated trend, always looks cluttered and only hides the stylish table you’ve just picked to perfectly suit the room. The table itself, is not a great choice either. The style is way too busy for an area that already has four shutter panels and that air conditioning unit. Also, can I just point out, the art choices on this year's season of The Block have taken a real nosedive. What is with the abundance of generic, artist-less canvas style prints this year? I seriously hope the couples step it up for Living and Dining next week.



Image Attribution: Nine



Ok, now on to the actual kitchen and I can’t go past the brass M etched in that beautiful piece of stone. Why oh why? Did they think incorporating the kitchen version of Harry Potter’s scar would make them famous too? I mean surely that’s the only reasonable explanation for such a monstrosity (co-incidentally also starting with M). Other than this rather large detail, I really love the chosen finishes. The slightly beige tone veining in the bench top gives the white and light grey cabinetry a sense of warmth in comparison to the cold, sterile feeling white can sometimes create. However, because the above counter cabinets are set back, allowing a shadow to be cast on them, they have a slightly yellow hue, making them appear already old or dirty, a factor which will only increase as the cabinetry actually does age. A starker white paint colour may have been a better choice for this room. However, the use of different cabinet profiles; shaker style in white and v-groove in grey, have been combined successfully.



Image Attribution: Nine



The island bench itself, I love; the size is perfect functionality wise. It incorporates a large double sink, plenty of prep space on either side with room for four bar stools. I also like the addition of bench space against the back wall but don’t think the left hand side looks correctly finished. If you have a look (photo below) the cabinetry and splash back abruptly end leaving a large strip of wall. I would have either continued the cabinetry to the edge of the wall or alternatively designed a full-length cabinet to sit on the left hand side. This would have made the kitchen looks more resolved and we wouldn’t have to see the edge of the stone, which cheapens the overall look.



Image Attribution: Nine



Functionality wise, Mitch and Mark were slammed this week, due to their lack of pantry space. Although the pantry provides room for dry foods, the judges didn’t think this made up for the lack of food storage in the actual kitchen. While the boys argued storage drawers are more functional and what buyers are currently after, the judges considered it to be a major issue. Neale thought it was a dumb decision and deemed the room celebrated style over substance, especially considering it is a four-bedroom home.



Image Attribution: Nine



Now before we move on, is that wallpaper above the cabinetry on the back wall? If so, this is totally unnecessary as the pattern competes with the marble veins of the splash back and bench top. The oversized pendant lights were also not the best choice, they will be dusty in no time and don’t really add anything to the space. If they were going for a ‘cloud’ look, there are so many options to choose from that would would provide a more modern and sleek look, suited to this space. The barstools, I don’t love but they do suit this space perfectly. You don’t have to love the individual elements to love the overall effect. On impact alone, the judges deemed this room a 10 out of 10.



DARREN:SHAYNNA:NEALE:TOTAL: 22½ PLACE: LAST MY SCORE: 8




HOUSE THREE // Tanya and Vito


Tanya’s TRUTH is back and boy is it a doozy. You always know when producers have to prompt that hard for sound bites that the contestants are lying through their teeth. Hopefully watching the show back, Tanya now realises #mytruth is a clear sign she’s making shit up to look like a nicer person. NEWS FLASH, she’s not… and that’s #mytruth.



Image Attribution: Nine



Ok, so where to start with this mid-century kitchen? On entry, the judges had a lot to take in, with round skylights, curved windows and pink cabinetry but it was the huge slab of terrazzo that stole their attention. Neale thought it was a big commitment to terrazzo and a bold design statement. Now I love terrazzo, in almost all it’s forms. Fight me Shelley. But this terrazzo (custom ordered from New York) is not my favourite. To be honest, it is probably the only time I haven’t loved the trendy composite material. A bit of background information for everyone, terrazzo is made up of chips of stone, glass, shell etc and is combined using a binding material such as cement or an epoxy matrix, etc. Anyway, that’s as close to science as I get. I’m unsure whether the entire slab and it’s contents were designed by the couple but I don’t love the amount of black and the large size of the chips in the bench top. This combination would look more suitable in a commercial setting such as a shopping center floor or café’ table. To be successful in a residential space, they needed to go for something more subtle, with lighter tones and smaller chips.



Image Attribution: Nine



Architecturally, the judges thought the Gucci Gang were taking some risks and referring to the rounded corner window, deemed the risks were paying off. Now, rounded corners are definitely a staple of mid-century design and I love the way the window curves around the corner of the house and references the rounded corners of the island bench. However, the combination of this window, the round skylights and the pink cabinetry have me feeling like I’m in a retro caravan or pink submarine. Personally I would have made the skylights square to match the rest of the house and allowed that corner window to feature, referencing the arch shape of mirrored elements in previous rooms. I also wish they had extended the below bench cabinetry into the curtained area of the kitchen. Not only would this provide additional bench space and storage, but more importantly, it would create a better connection between the kitchen and pantry.



Image Attribution: Nine



When it came to functionality, Shaynna was the first to ‘pop the balloon’. The fridge should not be placed directly opposite the sink and cleaning zone and the island has little to no prep space. With both the sink and cook top placed in the kitchen island and space dedicated to seated guests, there is not a lot of space left. Not an easy fix with a custom bench from New York. There is also no bench space provided along the back row of cabinetry to make up for the lack of it upfront. If you think about how you use a kitchen, it is often handy to have benches on at least two sides of you for moving and placing dishes, equipment, etc. I also wish they had lifted the ovens to sit in line with the top doors of the fridge. If you’re going to forgo bench space for a sleek line of cabinetry, at least make sure they line up correctly.



Image Attribution: Nine



Walking into the Butler’s pantry, the judges all breathed a sigh of relief at the size of it; with plenty of storage for food, equipment and glassware, a second sink and I’m assuming another dishwasher. The styling of the open shelves was a little basic and childish, with the candy pink shelves looking like the family's latest DIY project. Talking pink cabinetry, I don't like the colour for a kitchen but I do like the way they’ve incorporated colour only in the pantry. This way you get a flash of it peaking out from the open doorway but don’t have to constantly endure a fully pink kitchen. I also like the choice of linear pendant light and textural bar stool but find this kitchen less successful than it’s mid-century mate from last year’s Jimmy and Tam. Overall the judges thought it was a risk but a very mid-century one. Darren thought it was a “modern interpretation of some of the best things from the mid century”; matching their house perfectly.



DARREN:SHAYNNA: 8 NEALE: 9 TOTAL: 25½ PLACE: 4th MY SCORE: 8




HOUSE FOUR // Josh and Luke


They got a lawyer. A LAWYER for three bathroom walls; walls that have been clad with paneling, paneling they can probably reuse because they are allowed to have screens. I’m sorry, if this isn’t all coming from Daddy Real Estate than I’ll eat my hat. Imagine paying $700 an hour for a lawyer that took one look at the plans and said… “this could be a problem”. WOW, what an insight, totally worth the money, especially since they spent $41, 980 on a bathroom that didn’t even win. Anyway, I’m checking the mailbox daily, waiting for my subpoena from the twins; not actually how subpoenas work (what, the twins said something outlandish, without knowing what they were talking about? Shocker). Maybe they should try a cease and desist letter instead.



Image Attribution: Nine



The twins had their entire family involved this week and look at that, some of their best styling to date, or at least since the last time 'Fiance Olivia' came to visit. Looking at their kitchen as a whole, I will admit they have done a pretty good job. Not great, but pretty good. Shaynna loved the contrast of the dark timber grain cabinetry and white marble bench top, however it was in dire need of the softening effect provided by that gorgeous piece of timber from Christian Cole. Even with this element of warmth, the room still feels cold to me, although the judges deemed it “sleek and sexy”. I think it is the floor finish that lets the rest of the room down for me. It looks like a cheap, commercial grade laminate you would specify for a café, because it hides dirt and stains. Something with a warmer tone and more of a raw texture would have really supported the main monochrome elements better.



Image Attribution: Nine



The amount of architectural windows has Darren thinking it would be window week in House 4. I do have to give it to the twins, the ceiling height, the windows mirroring the roofline and the amount of natural light is impressive. I also love a sink placed under a window, I just hope this one opens out as a servery to an outdoor area. As good as these more structural elements are, the kitchen itself has been seen before, many times; probably on each of the last 5 seasons of The Block. To create a successful room, with quite common finish choices, they really needed to elevate the kitchen with the finishing touches; bar stools and lighting. The bar stools look comfortable but are nothing special and the pendant lights were on trend about 10 years ago. Not to mention, they don’t actually function as task lighting; these should be replaced with something more practical and current, in terms of style.



Image Attribution: Nine



Before we move on, I also find it very hard to believe Josh and Luke have even heard of Christian Cole, let alone secured him to design that gorgeous timber bench for their kitchen. I know…you’re probably thinking “but he’s on the show almost every year, they probably found him that way”. Totally understand where you’re coming from but seriously, the boys didn’t realise their tradies couldn’t paint for them. They don’t watch the show. There is no way. So whom do we have to thank for the twin’s impressive piece(s) of wood? Fiance Olivia? Daddy Real Estate? I would love to know.



Image Attribution: Nine



Anyway, it was functionality that let the boys down too, with more of a ‘walk-in pantry’, rather than a ‘butler’s ‘ pantry. Apart from the fact you can’t access the pantry and the dishwasher at the same time, the pantry itself was found lacking. To be more than just a dumping ground, the judges thought it needed additional utility; an extra dishwasher, bins, etc. “Welcome to the rollercoaster that is Josh and Luke”. They seem to have the most success when surrounded by family so maybe they should keep them around long term. My favourite part of this room would have to be ‘Fiancé Oliva’s’ flower arrangement with that soft touch of yellow. I wonder if she’s annoyed at being overlooked as a possible Block partner for Luke. Better get used to it, pretty sure 'womb mates' come first, every time.



DARREN: 9 SHAYNNA: 9 NEALE:TOTAL: 26½ PLACE: 3rd MY SCORE:



HOUSE FIVE // Kirsty and Jesse


“I am home”, “I am dead”, “Nailed it”. These guys designed their dream kitchen this week and it turns out their dream is a winning one, sans an extra garbage bin (which Jesse will add in their own home). The writing was on the wall this week when the kinsman installer congratulated these guys on their great work. I mean, the ‘kinsman man’ doesn’t like anyone, if you can manage to get anything more than a grunt from that man you know you’re doing something right.



Image Attribution: Nine



This week, the country couple designed a kitchen and butler’s pantry that had the judges exclaiming it was everything they could have hoped for; an exquisite culmination of the past 6 weeks. The style was “a little bit country, a little bit Hamptons and a little bit contemporary” with almost perfect functionality. Their signature use of blue and brass evident yet again in the navy shaker style cabinetry and traditional brass handles. The crisp white marble didn’t look to have much of a vein allowing other elements, such as the brass edge detailing and butlers sink to really have an impact. The brass mesh cabinets, I am not a fan of but they do work well with their other finishes. However I am struggling with their off-centre positioning. If your layout doesn’t allow you to place your rangehood in the centre of the room, no problem but don’t bring attention to it. They needed to either ditch the brass mesh or continue it across to the other overhead cupboards.



Image Attribution: Nine



The linear, brass pendant light is the perfect addition to this room, however I do have a bit of an issue with the bar stools and I think they let the room down a little. They are very large for a kitchen of that size and big patches of that light grey fabric take away from the punchy blue and brass elements. The style itself it quite dated, with such a high back and studded details. A much simpler stool (I’m imagining in timber) to slide under the bench would allow us to actually see more of the room and appreciate it’s fine details. The fabric does provide a soft touch, however this could have been incorporated in the adjoining living and dining instead.



Image Attribution: Nine



Watching the show during the week, I was slightly unsure about the addition of the bar niche but have come to like it. My worry was that it would feel dated and ‘kitsch’ but I have done a complete, let’s say 150 (degrees). I put this down to it's scale, it is perfectly in proportion to the kitchen; big enough to hold it’s own but not take over. The simple white palette also stops it from drawing the eye, which is important with such a dark colour in the kitchen. However, I wish they had used the same bench top marble with brass edge details in the niche and removed the tiled splash back. The tiles bring those country, Hamptons vibes but in combination with the arch, they actually date this area. The arch by itself would have a more modern look and incorporating the tiles only in the kitchen splash back also gives the tile a more contemporary feel. I do love the idea that it could be used as a study nook, as many kitchens can end up being a dumping ground for the kind of paperwork that doesn’t belong anywhere else.



Image Attribution: Nine



Ultimately, it was the functionality that really won the judges over. Darren’s ‘five-zone checklist’ was complete, with a butler’s pantry that acted as an additional mini kitchen. The gingham wallpaper? I don’t know what to say… It makes no sense, the tone is too purple and wallpaper isn’t particularly practical in a kitchen, but I actually kind of like it. Please don’t hold this one against me; I wouldn’t put it in my home (or yours).



DARREN:SHAYNNA: 10 NEALE: 10 TOTAL: 29½ PLACE: 1st MY SCORE:




See you all next week for Living and Dining Rooms!



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