People & Places

Look back at Australia’s The Block 2014 apartment designs

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

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.)

The kitchen features a Caesarstone ‘Frosty Carrina’ benchtop, a tiled splashback and a hint of greenery with a living wall by Urbio.

The kitchen features a Caesarstone ‘Frosty Carrina’ benchtop, a tiled splashback and a hint of greenery with a living wall by Urbio.

 

They describe their style as “eclectic and artistic”, matching vintage with new and retro with modern. “My inspiration came from wooden tiles,” says Trixie.

Quercus & Co ‘Tapestry’ wallpaper in Prussian Blue.

Quercus & Co ‘Tapestry’ wallpaper in Prussian Blue.

 

“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.

The lounge is comfortable and welcoming, with a cosy mix of textures and openess.

The lounge is comfortable and welcoming, with a cosy mix of textures and openess.

 

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 and Lysandra, both police officers.

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.

The planters in the kitchen have mirrors behind them to double the foliage effect. The concrete benchtop adds to the earthiness of this space.

Mirrors in the kitchen double the foliage effect. The concrete benchtop adds to the earthiness of this space.

 

“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.

Alisa says it’s important that the dining and living spaces flow together. “And never forget that homely feel,” she says. The ‘Love At First Sight’ artwork is by Designer Boys.

Alisa says it’s important that the dining and living spaces flow together.

 

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.

A pair of Villeroy & Boch vases sit atop a timber shelf.

A pair of Villeroy & Boch vases sit atop a timber shelf.

 

“Our look is natural, earthy and organic,” says Alisa. “We always try to add the Alisa/Lysandra touch to each room we design.”

Kim and Matt.

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.

 In the kitchen large backlit cupboards provide plenty of storage and create an X-ray style artwork installation.

In the kitchen large backlit cupboards provide plenty of storage and create an X-ray style artwork installation.

 

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.

“Our dining area has a blend of modern, masculine features, combined with feminine, textural features,” says Matt. Coupled with the bold painting, the sinuous ceramic pendants add whimsy, while the rendered walls lend an industrial touch.

Coupled with the bold painting, the sinuous ceramic pendants add whimsy, while the rendered walls lend an industrial touch.

 

“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.”

Kim and Matt created this bookshelf themselves using Tasmanian ash.

Kim and Matt created this bookshelf themselves using Tasmanian ash.

 

“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 and George.

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.

Slick surfaces combine in the kitchen, with grey open shelves and a Caesarstone ‘Frosty Carrina’ benchtop. The ‘Factory’ stools are by Sean Dix.

Slick surfaces combine in the kitchen, with grey open shelves and a Caesarstone ‘Frosty Carrina’ benchtop. The ‘Factory’ stools are by Sean Dix.

 

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.

“Experimenting with colours to define spaces is good, but having one accent colour that can tie all the spaces together makes everything flow,” says Bec.

“Experimenting with colours to define spaces is good, but having one accent colour that can tie all the spaces together makes everything flow,” says Bec.

 

“It was important to make it feel even bigger than it was and to capture those city views however we could.”

The specially commissioned Sarah Jenkins-Carter print from which the couple drew their colour palette, with its rich ruby-red highlights.

The specially commissioned Sarah Jenkins-Carter print from which the couple drew their colour palette, with its rich ruby-red highlights.

 

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.

“Our look is quite contemporary and almost a little quirky, but we also incorporate industrial elements,” says Madi. Jarrod made the dining table himself; the chairs are by HK Living.

“Our look is quite contemporary and almost a little quirky, but we also incorporate industrial elements,” says Madi. Jarrod made the dining table; the chairs are by HK Living.

 

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.”

 The living room is a laidback space with versatile furniture and a verdant outlook thanks to the green walls.

The living room is a laidback space with versatile furniture and a verdant outlook thanks to the green walls.

 

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.

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