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the block 2020 harry and tash living room with grey armchairs and jewel tone cushions

Major Problem with The Block 2020 Living and Dining Rooms

The Block 2020 living and dining rooms have just been unveiled, and I have to say it’s revealed (another) major problem with the homes this year.

We’ll take a look at each space in a minute, but I want to address the elephant in the room; you know, the major issue with four out of five homes this season. And that is, plain and simply, tiny living and dining rooms.

As you know, I don’t watch the series throughout the week, so I’m not fully across how the teams get to choose their layout (or if the zones are decided for them). But whose idea was it to insist on enormous kitchens that could cater for an army, but then have the footprints of the living and dining so small that you can’t seat more than six people?

Considering these are million dollar homes in Brighton, I’m really baffled by these jumbo kitchens sat bedside tiny living and dining rooms. Harry and Tash are the only ones who got a property with a reasonable size living and dining space, but boy do I feel for the other teams. They’ve essentially been given zones the size of a phone booth and been asked to make them amazing.

Outside of the show itself revealing spaces that don’t really wow due to the size constraints, I’m sure a luxury Melbourne buyer wouldn’t really want a kitchen so huge, but then a living room that can’t fit anything larger than a three-seater sofa. How will these people entertain large groups (the kitchens have four ovens, for example), when there’s nowhere to seat them?

The kitchen footprint in all homes should have been reduced to allow for larger living and dining rooms. That’s my rant for the week, and now we’ll move onto each space on The Block 2020 and talk through what worked and what didn’t.

I’ll see you in the comments at the end of the post!

the block 2020 harry and dash dining room with black table and chairs near kitchen island the block 2020 harry and tash living room with white sheer curtains and mounted tv

Harry and Tash Came First, and Deserved it

The (comparatively) large footprint of this space gave Harry and Tash a huge advantage. Essentially it was a case of you’ve got the most space, don’t mess it up. And thankfully they didn’t. It’s still a bit of an awkward-shaped zone but they made the most of it. I’ve considered how else they could have laid the furniture out given that the kitchen is already in, and this really was the best configuration.

What Worked in the Living and Dining

You do walk into the space and it does feel quite light, bright and ethereal. That’s what you want as a potential buyer, right? It just oozed this kind of luxurious ambiance and I do think it would evoke some emotion in you.

The positioning of the living and dining furniture was successful. You couldn’t really flip them around and have it work, so the footprint is a good one. The flooring colour works well against the sheers too. Seeing the kitchen, living and dining together like this makes me think Harry and Tash are climbing up the ladder in terms of a win on auction day (if they change up the master bedroom and first guest ensuite).

The colour palette was carefully considered and rather lovely. Quite moody and subdued with just a few pops in accent pieces like cushions. I’ve also used that black entry table they sat under the art in my Bentleigh project, so that was clearly a winning piece.

What Let the Spaces Down

It was under-filled, that’s for sure. I know this is a home staging show at its core, but it was too minimal for my likings. It just needed more things in it. A large plant, a large lamp (as Neale pointed out), some kind of focal point. The space gives you the feel of luxury, but then there’s no wow moment that steals the show.

It’s missing depth and layers. I feel some wallpaper, or a slightly darker paint colour in the void area could have been nice. It just feels very white and bare. Also, I disagree with Darren on the dining table; it needs to be turned around to run the other way. I need a pendant light somewhere in this space too. 

Doesn’t it feel a little bare to you?

the block 2020 harry and tash living room with vaulted ceiling and grey armchairs the block 2020 daniel and jade living and dining room with curved beige wall the block 2020 daniel and jade living room with curved wall

Daniel and Jade Came Second

I have to come right out and say it: I don’t like this zone. It doesn’t feel successful for me in many ways, and we’ll of course delve into what they are. The space is larger than some of the others, so at least Daniel and Jade have that going for them. From a buyers perspective it doesn’t feel as cramped as Jimmy and Tam’s, for example, but there are still many reasons this feels disappointing. 

The Zones are Cohesive, I’ll Give Them That

If this is your vibe, then at least the living and dining rooms match the kitchen in this open-plan space. The colours and materials are all quite cohesive, so at least there’s nothing visually jarring. 

Where the furniture is positioned is good. I mean, there’s not really many options in terms of placement, so that’s nice.

Look, I’m clutching at straws here, so let’s move on to what didn’t work instead.

I Don’t Get Luxury from these Spaces

I applaud The Block this year for giving us some daring moments, and letting the contestants step outside of the usual suppliers. In years gone by everything felt a little cookie-cutter, so I love the sense of adventure this time around.

That said, the curved wall here feels like daring design just for the sake of it. Does it add anything? Does it evoke luxury? Does a buyer want a curved kitchen island and a matching curved wall? I feel this is just trying to win points from the judges.

If I spent time in this zone I think I’d take up cave painting. Honestly, that wall is giving me underground lair vibes. The treatment on it feels external, not internal. It does’t feel luxurious, and when paired with the other elements in this space the whole zone feels heavy and gloomy. I want a room to lift me up, not drag me down. It’s oppressive. 

This dark moody vibe might work in a high-end apartment building (still without the wall treatment) but I don’t get luxury family home from this space.

the block 2020 daniel and jade living room with grey sofa The Block 2020 Sarah and George living room with grey sofa round coffee table with round ottoman

Sarah and George Came Third

You know I love me some Sarah and George lately. I was frothing at the mouth over their kitchen last week (still thinking about it, still have objectophilia), so I was looking forward to seeing their living and dining room.

In particular, I was keen to see how they connected the spaces stylistically. I feel like their bathrooms and kitchen speak to one another. I feel like they got things right there in terms of cohesion. But then we hit this living and dining zone and things fell apart a little. Let me explain why.

It’s Actually Nice, it Really is

There’s a lot to love when the space is viewed from the kitchen. The furniture is divine. Those leather armchairs are delicious and I want them for my apartment. The coffee table is chic and I want it for my apartment too. Even the dining table is stellar and ready to be delivered to my apartment.

Do you see where I’m going here? It’s a masculine apartment vibe in a luxury Brighton family home. There’s a bit of a disconnect with the style they executed throughout the living and dining room. Every single piece is nice, and I want it all, but when you view it from the living room with the kitchen behind it, it doesn’t quite work. 

The orange accents are an odd choice too. They did pink tiles in their bathroom against a black and white foundation. The kitchen has this very chic black and white foundation too. Harry and Tash’s vibe could be lifted from their place and put into Sarah and George’s and it would be perfect.

It’s Just Not Refined Enough

That’s really the major issue. All of the furniture and decor is quite relaxed and moody. It doesn’t feel curated and refined enough to tie in with the kitchen.

The white brickwork was also a very random choice. It’s completely at odds with the vibe of the entire home. It gives the living room this retro vibe it doesn’t want or need. There are also two big blank walls beside the fireplace stack that need something (and not a leaning dog artwork).

Some wallpaper would have been nice here. Or, actually hang two really impactful chic artworks that could bring elements in from the kitchen. Or marble. The kitchen has this beautiful stone and the living and dining has none of it. There were so many options here to carry across that marvellous kitchen vibe, and none of them were executed.

The Block 2020 Sarah and George living and dining room with tan leather armchairs

The Block 2020 Sarah and George dining room with dark brown table and grey upholstered chairs The Block 2020 Luke and Jasmin Living and Dining Room with white sofa The Block 2020 Luke and Jasmin living room bohemian furniture

Luke and Jasmin Came Fourth

I’ve made no secret of the fact that my Block 2020 favourites are Luke and Jasmin. The cohesion of every space they create is brilliant. The fact that they keep the market that they’re selling to in mind is very smart. So they usually get it right.

Here though, there were a few issues. One major and a few minor. One that should be changed and won’t, and then a few easy tweaks to take the space next level.

Let’s Discuss that Bonkers Fireplace

I was sat at my computer earlier in the week watching the reveal episode and the first thing I thought when the judges walked into the room was WTF is with the fireplace in the corner???

I’m so glad Neale brought it up as a dealbreaker for a buyer, because it is. Truthfully, it’s not the first time I’ve been into a home and thought this. I’ve gone into new-build homes where the fireplace is off-centre toward one side of the room and it continues to baffle me.

If your fireplace is in the corner, it’s useless. If you can’t gather around it, it’s useless. If it’s in a position where one person gets a tan and is hotter than the sun but everyone else can’t enjoy it, it’s useless.

It’s also completely OK not to include a fireplace altogether. These are luxury Melbourne homes. I would assume they’d have heating throughout already. You’re better off having no fireplace than on in the corner like this. The fact they don’t plan on correcting it is also an issue.

The Overall Vibe was Almost There

It’s Luke and Jasmin’s vibe all over, so I don’t fault them for taking the design in the direction they did. The sofa was delicious, the two armchairs were divine, and the coffee table is everything. Looking at the kitchen from inside the living room, the two spaces are connected perfectly. So there’s plenty to appreciate.

There’s not a lot to change outside of the fireplace, because most of their furniture and decor choices were good.

The only things I’d replace is the art (odd colour choice), the chairs at the dining table (too much of the one material here) and I’d add in some more pattern to elevate it a bit and give the space some interest. Oh, and that halo light. Please nobody ever install a halo light. They have them in casinos. It’s not a good look for your home.

Luke and Jasmin, I love your guts so this comes from a good place: I beg you to rethink the fireplace.

The Block 2020 Luke and Jasmin dining room with halo light pendant above dining table the block 2020 jimmy and tam living room with retro wall art and mid century furniture the block 2020 jimmy and tam living room

Jimmy and Tam Came Last, and it Felt Right

I mean, what can I say that the judges haven’t already said about this living and dining room? Actually, a few things. My gurl Shaynna Blaze was the MVP this week for calling Jimmy and Tam out on that ridiculous campfire scene they tried to create by the fireplace. It was just one of the many problems in this space, and honestly there’s very little I can say about it that’s positive.

The Space is Tiny, I Get it

It looks like Jimmy and Tam have the smallest space of the lot, which is really unfortunate. It goes back to what I was saying at the start of the post about the kitchens being jumbo and not leaving room for much else in this open-plan zone.

But there’s always a solution, and sometimes you have to compromise. Clever planning could have saved this space.

Take a look at the image above. If they cut that island in half and removed the end on the left hand side, they could have had a dining table in that area. Sure it makes your kitchen a bit smaller, but overall you have a zone that will fit three functions in it.

They could have still had a lip on their kitchen island and sat a few stools at it, and then had that entire living and dining zone to use purely for living room furniture.

The Furniture was All Wrong

In a cosy space like this, they broke so many of my small living room design rules; chunky sofa, square coffee table, two rugs that are exactly the same, and too much visual chaos.

In a space this small I wouldn’t have installed a fireplace. It just backs you into a corner in terms of where you can position furniture in the room. Is a luxury buyer going to walk into this room and ask “Where’s the fireplace?”, or are they more likely to ask “Where does the dining table go?”.

Even if you put a dining table where the current campsite is, one person is going to get third degree burns while the rest of the table doesn’t get to experience the warmth. It’s just unnecessary to include it at all. 

the block 2020 jimmy and tam kitchen and dining room with green cabinets

The Block 2020 Living and Dining Rooms: What’s Your Take?

I’ve had my rant and rave, now it’s over to you. I always love to hear what you think about the space on The Block each week, so let me know which living and dining room was your fave in the comments below, as well as which space you thought had room for improvement.

Looking forward to what the Blockheads do next week upstairs. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot to talk about.

Oh and don’t forget to sign up to my Tuesday newsletter here so you never miss any of the blog posts I pump out each week.

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He's also spent time on TV, on Channel 10's Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7's Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you'd like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

COMMENTS
  • Christine wood

    REPLY

    I was waiting for you to comment.. how ridiculous. Living rooms the size of a small apartment with massive kichens, and a butlers pantry and four or five bedrooms. For the first time in the block ive been so unimpressed. Who would buy these houses? They keep talking about the beach, they are on New Street!

    11 October, 2020
  • Glenda Smith

    REPLY

    Thank goodness you mentioned the textured wall in Daniel and Jade house. I hated it. It’s up there with what the Americans call popcorn ceiling.
    I loved Luke and Jasmin’s dining chair & halo light. I can’t understand why all the contestants aren’t using more light fittings rather than down lights. Especially when Beacon are one of their sponsors.

    11 October, 2020
  • Ingrid

    REPLY

    Harry and Tash deserved the win this week. They had the most space and it made such a difference. The void really added something special that buyers will appreciate at auction time. The only thing I would change is the dining table placement; it would look better length ways in that space.
    Loved Daniel and Jade’s Christian Cole dining table, it just needed a statement centrepiece, instead of the small plant. The other living rooms were good not great. No dining table was a big mistake, the placement of the fireplaces in both Luke and Jasmine, and Jimmy and Tam’s rooms was just wrong.

    11 October, 2020
  • Bee

    REPLY

    Cave painting! The curved wall gave me the same feel… underground in Alice Springs.
    I agree kitchens far too big and tiny living spaces… I still loved Luke and Jasmin’s though.

    11 October, 2020
  • Kerry

    REPLY

    I feel the judge’s have their blinkers on when it comes to J & T. Their room was described as “a complete fail” (it didn’t even have a dining space for Gods sake which in itself should have resulted with a score of 5 or below) and yet they still pulled only 1/2 point less than house 2 from one of the judges. Yes, their space was smaller, but they needed to consider the proportions of the house/room and make a plan for it all rather than individually- even if it meant the kitchen wasn’t as big. (I would love to have a butler’s pantry in my house for example, but this would result in my daughter having to sleep in the fridge due to a lack of space so I have to do without. See..it’s not that difficult to work with what you have..)

    11 October, 2020
  • Kerry

    REPLY

    Come on. Really!!! If anyone has the money to buy one of these houses why would you need a kitchen that is so bloody huge. You’d be bringing in the food already prepared. You need a party space – unless of course you want your party guests dancing on the huge island bencges. These contestants don’t really have much of an idea how to choose comfort furniture. White in a family living room. Just so wrong!!

    12 October, 2020
  • Rebecca

    REPLY

    Fireplaces. To me it is just so unnecessary in a home that is temperature controlled with ducted heating and cooling. It’s not like any of them are wood burning where you can hear the crackle. I def would not have included it in J & L’s or J & T’s place. Could a circle dining table work in the space J&T have? It was a big mistake to not include a table, eating at a bench or eating outside are not daily options.
    I wish the contestants had thought ahead about their configurations in these spaces to make their living spaces larger, but they book in their kitchens in week 1 so it probably makes it a bit hard.

    12 October, 2020
  • Cathy

    REPLY

    Hi maybe an idea for house 5, was to make the kitchen bench into 2 peices of equal length. One side is movable, so when visitors are over you have the bench into a dining table. When not in use the bench can move back to create the long kitchen bench. We were planning this in our new house with tiny living area.

    12 October, 2020
  • Fiona

    REPLY

    Spot on – fireplaces unless you have the space are a complete waste in these rooms and dominate their space. House 2’s fireplace needed to be clad in beautiful stone to reflect the kitchen. What that room missed was elegance and a softer colour choice, and a larger dining table. I don’t really like the stippled curved wall in House 3, I appreciate their bravery but once again it is a dominant item that makes decisions for the whole space. Jimmy and Tam – awful. I actually dislike their kitchen so the living area just adds to that mess. The benchtop looks sharp and uninviting to it at – they did not even really try to style the benchtop to show proper dining at least. They should have planned better when they had the chance and not squeeze themselves into a tiny corridor and then complain about the size. The fireplace should have been centred if anything and the artwork is childish and too small. All that money and they cannot buy anything nicer? The scores they got were extremely generous. Harry & Tash – nice.

    12 October, 2020
  • Regan

    REPLY

    I would be losing a downstairs bedroom & be creating a snug for the tv.
    I try to be “if you have nothing nice to say – don’t say it” or my go to “can’t please all the people, all the time”
    This time though, I’m sorry I don’t see anything that makes me “want” .
    Spaces too small & all decorated so generic – where is the WOW.
    Rant over.

    13 October, 2020
  • Lristi

    REPLY

    Being about to renovate my kitchen & family space, I was interested to see what they do on The Block…..and I am very disappointed. For 2 adults & 1 teenager, I am very aware of living space versus kitchen space….and we have a huge productive garden. Last week I processed 25kgs of cumquats…without 4 ovens and a wonderful curved stone bench. You have to meet the needs of those who (will) live there…

    13 October, 2020
  • Mel Champion

    REPLY

    Agree with everyone thing you said this week….spot on!!!! The kitchens are all massive and warrant he dining and living zones!!! Not stamp sized ones!

    13 October, 2020
  • Ann Nicholson

    REPLY

    I think the trend for huge kitchens is way off the mark for most of us. They just take up too much space in homes that are getting smaller. If you have a four bedroom house, you may have at least 5 people living there. You need room for everyone to sit together, especially for dining and lounging. Planning and thinking ahead is the way to go.

    14 October, 2020
  • Lee

    REPLY

    I’m sorry to say that I don’t find much to love about this block series. I love some of the heritage features, but think the buyers should always be on their mind. Limiting the market is a dangerous risk come auction day.
    I’m all for neutrals, minimalism and pops of colour, but I’m finding this decoration dreary.
    My husband talked me into a RED lounge in our family room……..right, I know….!!! But I must say I love it… with a few carefully chosen accessories and loads of black, white and grey neutrals, it works.

    15 October, 2020
  • Lizzie

    REPLY

    I agree, in multi million dollar houses who even wants the kitchen in the living areas? Amazingly small living and dining areas, so out of context to the rest of the house. Also agree with another comment, people with this much money don’t do much cooking. Halve the kitchens, double the living areas.

    16 October, 2020
  • Carole

    REPLY

    The biggest problem with these houses is the size of the downstairs; they have no second sitting room and/or formal dining room. In most of the ‘statements of information’ on the agents’ websites the houses compared (for pricing) appear to have a larger floor plan, are on larger plots, further apart from their neighbours and are on quieter streets than ‘The Block’ houses.

    19 October, 2020
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