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Reno Mistakes

We've learned from The Block

Lessons learned from 2019's The Block

Lesson 1: Convenience is king


The functionality of a space should always be the priority when renovating, particularly when it comes to task-based areas such as the kitchen and laundry.

That point was clear when BLOCKheads El’ise & Matt renovated their kitchen: while it was aesthetically pleasing, it wasn’t functional.

There wasn’t enough bench space to prepare food, the most-used kitchen appliances were above the washing machine in the laundry/butler’s pantry, and the island stovetop had a heavy rangehood which further crowded the space.

We learnt that before renovating a kitchen, you should ask yourself:

How much preparation bench space do you need? (Often more than you think!)

Where is the most convenient place for your sink, dishwasher and cupboards to be positioned? (Rinsing and stacking a dishwasher is a habit that means the sink and dishwasher should be neighbours! Plus unpacking the dishwasher with the cupboard close that everything lives in is just 10/10 planning!)

How many power points do you need and where should they be? Consider ALL your kitchen appliances, and where you use them. Many BLOCKheads added Clipsal power points with USB ports to their island benches to plug smart devices straight in to charge!

Will the above decisions be future-proof, or give you freedom to be adaptable? We saw Mitch and Mark changing out their Clipsal Iconic power point and switch skins because their electricians had installed Iconic grids, which means you can change the skin covers to suit your mood or the room’s current (or future) decor!


Well they say kitchens sell homes and when you get slammed for it you wonder where that leaves you at auction time?! Eeeeekkkk!!! . Before winning the amazing Gaggenau appliances we created the most practical dream kitchen and we were in love!!! We took the time to plan everything out having the rules of the golden triangle in mind for the kitchen! This kitchen was family friendly and extremely functional with an inverted cook top in the nook wall (meaning no range hood), sink to the far left of the island bench, ample cupboard and bench space, 2 ovens, a microwave oven and an inbuilt coffee machine! Not only that the new never been seen before Caesar stone, finger proof front door finishes and the best appliances - all for a winning room!!! . As you could image we were thrilled with winning the Gaggenau appliance package and we’re so honoured to have it as a part of our home but winning this meant we had to re design the kitchen again and we had to do it on the spot within a 30min time frame, so, that’s what we did! The range hood got added, the gas cook top made an appearance and then one of our ovens didn’t turn up 🤔🙄 frustration overload!!! so, on reveal we did our best to make the situation better, we took it in our stride and worked with it all. With the range hood we thought by adding the abstract light - it would create a softer and artistic edge by offsetting it all, did it work?! Well, we thought so but like a piece of art, everyone has a different opinion towards it. 🤷🏼‍♀️☺️ . Are there things in our kitchen we would change? Yes! Do the judges make valid points? Yes! Did we learn in this experience, yes, yes, yes! Don’t ever rush kitchens!!!! Make sure you triple check everything and ask one million questions before you sign off on anything no matter how many times you need to ask things or how silly you might feel as you’re the one that needs to live in that space at the end of the day! We take full responsibility and still love our space we created but isn’t hindsight an amazing thing 😂🤪🤣 fingers crossed at auction time someone will love it too 🥰🥰 Available at @theblockshop Picture 2 & 3 Bar Stools : Blake Velvet Bar Stool | Various Colours

A post shared by Elise and Matt (@eliseandmatt) on

Lesson 2: Bigger isn’t always better

While some say “go big, or go home”, scale is so easy to get wrong when renovating a home.

When Tess & Luke renovated their kitchen, they opted for a huge island bench. It looked beautiful and was practical for their kitchen’s needs – but left them fighting to find space to squeeze in a Living and Dining area.

Was the kitchen island a great feature? Yes. Could it have been smaller and just as effective? Also yes.

The Block Week 1 Ensuite. By Jesse & Mel

Lesson 3: Waterproofing? Best kept for the professionals

No matter your budget, there are some jobs that you need to pay a professional to do – waterproofing is one of them.

Not only does it have to be done by a certified water proofer, if a mistake is made, it can affect the whole building. Meaning there can be a lot of damage and costly repairs.

As it is a very particular job with specific requirements, there is a lot of room for error – leave it to the professionals and save costs elsewhere.

Lesson 4: Make big picture plans

Forward thinking and planning of the entire project is paramount – not just section-by-section, room-by-room or, in The Block’s case, week-by-week.

When Andy & Deb were paired up with All Star’s Josh & Jenna, they wanted to maximise natural light in their home – something the BLOCKheads hadn’t planned out just yet.

Together, they created the idea of a huge skylight and move the existing void – a game changer that welcomed in natural light. However, this structural change had to be quickly approved by the architect and engineer.

"The first thing you see when you walk in is the living, then the kitchen, living and dining, so I thought it was a bit silly that that was going to be the darkest in the house, because you wouldn't want to hang out there,” said Josh.

Luckily, they got approval in time – but this highlights the need to think ‘big picture’, beyond just the space or room you’re currently working on.

Lesson 5: Budget, Budget, Budget

Arguably the most important: THE budget. Before renos begin, map out your entire project and budget for everything – tradies, materials, furnishings, if-things-don’t-go-to-plan budget... everything!

Plan the costs of the bigger items and jobs first, then work your way down to more granular items.

One of the biggest issues on The Block this year is budgeting. Whether you’re on the side of the contestants or judges, the lesson is to keep the entire project in mind when making every financial decision.

Budget rules to live by:

  • Budget for the entire project before you start (Tough times for Tess & Luke!)
  • Always have a buffer – something is bound to go wrong, like water damage in El’ise & Matt’s ensuite!
  • Constantly review your budget (Jesse & Mel are our absolute goals here)
  • Don’t fall in love with ideas you can’t afford
Happy couple in their Clipsal product laden kitchen.

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