The Block NZ winners Alex and Corban share a project close to their hearts – the makeover of their very own office and studio space
Alex Walls: “Last year, Corban and I took over the lease of an old Korean karaoke bar on Auckland’s North Shore, as a base to run our businesses from. When we moved in, it was incredibly hard to visualise what on earth we could do with the space! The full 90 square metres was divided into six separate karaoke booths with a hallway straight through the middle. Each room featured a disco light, Korean graffiti and huge holes in the walls that were covered up with sheets of wallpaper and one coat of white paint. Although we’re obviously quite confident with renovations after our success on The Block NZ, we thought we may have bitten off more than we could chew!”
Greenery is a must-have in this industrial space to offset all the concrete and blonde wood. Most of the decor is from Alex and Corban’s online store, but other pieces were sourced from Citta Design, Junk and Disorderly, Kmart and Shut the Front Door.
Best makeover moment?
“When our wall panelling arrived and we installed the first panels in the offices. The added light and texture made a world of difference, not to mention the relief we felt covering up the hideous walls that lay beneath!”
A team of four of us got straight to work with sledgehammers and pulled down a couple of walls that instantly revealed the natural light from two windows, and created a great open plan setup.
Painted plasterboard walls seemed a bit ordinary; instead we wanted to incorporate timber and rich textures to create warmth in what felt like a cold cave. We couldn’t afford timber however, so we used a combination of materials like plywood, unsanded stained-black Strandboard, and a CNC cut (computer-controlled cut) pegboard for functionality and a textural aesthetic. The warmth of the plywood contrasts with the white and black, softens the space and creates more light.
Once we lined the walls and ground the concrete flooring, we had the ideal canvas to accessorise. The pegboard walls have been particularly fun; I love the flexibility of being able to put a shelf anywhere. We got creative with materials and used brass pipe for the pegs that support the shelves, and to hang plants from.
We also made the bathrooms a real feature. We had a tight budget, so we got creative with paint. There’s a strong, monochromatic hallway to appeal to our male visitors, while a stencilled black and white grid floor and wall is a fun and interesting feature girls will love.
A lot needed to be done to get the space up to scratch, so budget was our first discussion point.
We started with a long wish-list then attributed costs to each stage. With that plan in place we eliminated ideas that were too costly, and instead got resourceful and creative to make our wish-list of furniture pieces a reality.
The biggest costs were the wall panelling and machining which cost approximately $200 per 2.4 x 1.2 metre panel. It was worth every penny, as it completely transformed the space.
Total cost: $10,000
Styling & text by: Alex Walls. Photography by: Coralee Stone.