As The Block fever grips the nation, we take a look back to 2014 when The Block Sky High Australia teams revealed their bold, brave apartment designs
Trixie & Johnno
Lucky winners of the penthouse in the first challenge, Queenslanders Trixie, 37, and Johnno, 40, have gutted and rebuilt a couple of homes and spruced up another, all on a budget, meaning they’re reno savvy. (Trixie’s two-year carpentry apprenticeship helped too.)
They describe their style as “eclectic and artistic”, matching vintage with new and retro with modern. “My inspiration came from wooden tiles,” says Trixie.
“I loved their organic look and pattern. The colour was beautiful – I decided to use blue throughout the home and to continue using timber and patterned shapes.” That’s apparent the minute you enter the foyer – the tapestry wallpaper, with its exotic Moroccan-inspired motif, is a standout and sets the tone for the apartment.
While the team operated like a well-oiled machine there was one difference of opinion. “I wanted to paint the ceiling the same colour (a pale grey) as the walls,” says Trixie. “Johnno wasn’t sure if it would work, but we did it and it looks amazing! The judges loved it too. I will never paint a ceiling white again!”
Alisa & Lysandra
They may have copped the bottom level and missed out on the rooms with a view, but police officers and twins Alisa and Lysandra, 28, from South Australia, didn’t miss a beat in this smart apartment. Each has a number of renovations under their belts, which is evident in these assured spaces.
“Our main priority for our kitchen was for it not only to look great, but to be fully functional,” says Alisa. “Our appliances and extras (like the pull-out sink mixer, concrete benchtops and island sink) set it apart from the rest.” The unusual inclusion of not just one sink or two, but three – two in the kitchen and one in the pantry beside it – means practicality certainly tops this team’s menu.
Elegant design, however, never takes a back seat to functionality – take a look at the retro dining chairs, the lamps and that sweeping sink mixer. Meanwhile, the colour palette is city-cool charcoal and white. Recycled-timber furniture and fittings add a warm earthiness as well as a rustic quality.
“Our look is natural, earthy and organic,” says Alisa. “We always try to add the Alisa/Lysandra touch to each room we design.”
Kim & Matt
Expect the unexpected with this out-there couple. Allocated the second floor following the first week playoff, West Australians Matt, 32, a plasterer and architecture student, and Kim, 31, a primary school teacher, had already renovated a house together, an experience that gave them the confidence to stretch a few boundaries.
They call themselves “quirky and fun-loving” – and that’s obvious from their rooms, which are full of funky surprises, such as the textured wall finish and the bold artwork.
“We like to combine soft with hard elements, high-end finishes with soft touches, to create a new visual experience,” says Matt. “We put polished concrete walls with vibrant art, a Scandinavian-style dining setting with porcelain pendants, solid timber walls with a softly painted room.”
“When you place two contrasting elements beside each other, if you do it properly, the space takes on an indescribable quality.” Says Matt: “This is the opportunity to experiment. I will try anything on The Block, except boring.”
Bec & George
The bold Orangina Light poster says it all – these are spaces that fizz, tickling the senses with their zest and freshness. Melburnians Bec, 26, a beauty therapist, and George, 28, a bricklayer, set to work with hammers and rollers on the third floor.
They perfectly complement each other in this project, with its light and airy rooms – white walls, mirrored finished and see-through sculptural pendants are used to good effect throughout their living areas. “We wanted to make sure it was a very open space,” says Bec.
“It was important to make it feel even bigger than it was and to capture those city views however we could.”
To that end, they turned one of the doors into a window so they could have wraparound couch, and included a mirror splashback in the kitchen.
Madi & Jarrod
Adding zap to the fourth floor, Sydneysiders Madi and Jarrod, both 24, may be young, but they aren’t newbies at the renovating game. They have converted a basement at Jarrod’s parents’ home into a stylish apartment, so they know how to turn a waste of space into something anyone would love to live in.
As with their previous project, they complemented each other stylistically. While Jarrod was busy making the recycled timber dining table and some ultra-handy floating shelves, Madi was nutting out the overall look for these inviting spaces. “We kept the kitchen spacious and light,” she says. “We wanted to have a social island bench, so family and friends can gather around. We also wanted to maximise bench space by including extra storage and hiding the fridge away in the pantry. The dining room then flowed naturally off the kitchen.”
You can see the couple’s “natural, raw, rustic, with a modern twist” design philosophy clearly in these living areas. And the biggest lesson? “Don’t always try to please the judges,” she says. “Trust your own style and judgement.”
Words by: Chris Pearson/acpsyndication.com.au; Photography by: Sharyn Cairns/acpsyndication.com.au; Styling by: Bree Flack and Ellie Britt/acpsyndication.com.au.