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the block 2018 kitchens norm and jess tan leather stools

There’s so Much to Say About The Block 2018 Kitchens

The Block 2018 kitchens have just been unveiled and I’m one confused judge. Yes, I consider myself the fourth, unpaid and unofficial judge of The Block. I might be judging from my sofa, in Cookie Monster pyjamas, with a glass of wine in hand and the cat in my lap, but I’m still the fourth judge. They just don’t know it yet.

I’m confused with the scores more than anything this week. They seem absolutely topsy-turvy to me. And it begs the question, what makes for an amazing kitchen design? Maybe I look at things differently to my three colleagues on the show, because I would have scored this week’s rooms very differently.

Functionality is important, of course, but what about the colours, the textures, the layout, the styling? Were all of these elements considered when scoring these kitchens? I’m not entirely sure.

Let’s explore more below. And don’t forget to scroll to the end of this post for your chance to WIN a $100 Block Shop voucher.

the block 2018 kitchens norm and jess grey kitchen cabinetry the block 2018 kitchens norm and jess marble benchtop the block 2018 kitchens norm and jess butlers pantry

Jess and Norm were the Clear Winners

After roasting Jorm’s design last week (Jorm is Jess and Norm’s celebrity couple name), they completely turned things around with their kitchen. It even made me like their other zones more. Although nobody can convince me that their living and dining rooms don’t need rugs. That you’ll never change my mind on.

The colour palette here is breathtaking though, don’t you think? Those gorgeous mushroom-coloured cabinets are all that and (two quote everyone in the nineties) a bag of potato chips. And they were made even more beautiful by the shaker style details on the profile of the doors. Add to that the crisp white benchtop, the black and gold handles, and the matt black tapware and I’m spent! Pass me a cigarette.

Every Detail was Spot On

I’m even obsessed with the minimal styling here. Those stunning tan leather stools connect the kitchen to the other spaces in this massive zone. And the pop of pink in those flowers was a nicely pared-back inclusion.

The butler’s pantry is also quite delightful and I’m smitten with Jess and Norm’s tile choices for this zone. It’s a shame they couldn’t have been incorporated into the kitchen design somewhere, but we can’t have everything.

Jorm were even smart enough to include timber shelving in the butler’s pantry that spoke to the furniture they have in the living room. Clever cookie award goes to you, Jorm! You deserved to win.

the block 2018 kitchens bianca and carla blue cabinetry the block 2018 kitchens bianca and carla kitchen pendants the block 2018 kitchens bianca and carla butlers pantry

Bianca and Carla, there’s a Lot to Appreciate here

My fave ladies produced a lovely kitchen this week. I’m by no means salivating over it the way I am Jess and Norm’s room, but there is a lot to admire.

I like that they’re staying true to their aesthetic. This kitchen ties in nicely with everything else they’re doing in the apartment. The floor to ceiling cabinets are great from a storage perspective, and I like that there was a mix of colour here. The study nook is probably my fave part of this kitchen, and the buyer is going to love it. No other teams included one, so the girls definitely set themselves apart there.

Kitchens are going in a darker direction for 2019 and beyond (as I showed you in this post) so this feels quite ahead of its time in that respect.

Here’s the issue I have though…

A kitchen needs a splashback. It’s an opportunity to have a mix of materials in the space. The problem I have with this kitchen, and a few others this week, is the fact that there’s a giant wall of cabinetry coming at you. It makes the zone feel quite unbalanced and heavy.

To have all of this cabinetry in a dark tone, and then three ovens built into that area, just feels quite dominant. I’m just not into this modern, stove-in-the-island approach to kitchen design. I like to see a splashback included so there’s some diversity of materials.

What I do bow down and pray to though, is that stellar set of pendant lights. I mean come on! Get a load of them. Bianca and Carla once again delivered a killer lighting moment and I am here for it.

the block 2018 kitchens hayden and sarah kitchen island the block 2018 kitchens hayden and sara kitchen with marble splashback the block 2018 kitchens hayden and sara butlers pantry

Hayden and Sara’s Kitchen has Mass Appeal

This is the kitchen a lot of buyers will feel quite connected to. It has a lot going for it in terms of look and feel, and I can see people losing their minds over that built-in seating area. It was a very clever idea from Hayden and Sara. Have a rabies shot at-the-ready for when I get to tour this space in a few weeks time. I reckon I’m going to froth at the mouth over this zone.

This kitchen is a close second for me this week after Jess and Norm’s. It also feels really in-keeping with the style and design of the living and dining rooms. All three spaces feel very cohesive. What this kitchen has, which many didn’t this week, is a mix of materials. That’s my fave part of this design; the balance of textures.

I’m in love with the giant marble splashback. The dark timber cabinetry doesn’t feel heavy and dominant because they were smart enough to include white moments in the space. I’m really fond of those gorgeous round pendant lights, and I also really love the gold handles on the cabinets in the butler’s pantry.

I Take Issue with the Island Though

The layout of the kitchen island throws me off a bit. It needed to be turned the other way so it faced the living room. I understand that they probably thought it best to have it face the built-in seating, but it looks odd as it is.

From a functional point of view it doesn’t work like this. If you have people over and some are sitting at the bench on those beautiful stools, anyone who sits on the seats behind them will be talking to their back. It doesn’t work.

the block 2018 kitchens kerrie and spence brown timber cabinets the block 2018 kitchens kerrie and spence white benchtop the block 2018 kitchens kerrie and spence butlers pantry

Get Out your Boxing Gloves Judges

I am ready to duke it out, fellow judges. There’s no way to say this delicately, so I’ll just cut to the chase: this is not a 30-point, winning kitchen. It’s not the best of the bunch this week. In fact, I consider it one of the weaker rooms of the lot.

Gadgets do not make for a winning kitchen. I think there was too much focus on all the bells and whistles and not enough on the look and feel of the elements in the space and how they impact the apartment.

A hidden rangehood, Sub-Zero fridges and big-brand appliances don’t make up for the fact that this space feels quite dark. It doesn’t change the fact that there’s too much brown timber and not enough of a mix of materials. It doesn’t take away from the fact that those stools are the devil’s work, or that the wine fridge is the focal point in the room when it shouldn’t be.

I Just Don’t Get it. Am I Wrong?

Talk to me, talk me through this. I need some explanation as to what makes this space a perfect score. I’m just not seeing what the judges are seeing here. It feels dark and gloomy. There’s no glam factor. There’s no balance. It feels quite heavy to me and there’s way too much stainless steel in the space.

I welcome your comments below because I need someone to make sense of it all.

the block 2018 kitchens hans and courtney black kitchen the block 2018 kitchens hans and courtney marble kitchen backsplash the block 2018 kitchens hans and courtney kitchen with beige cabinets

Courtney and Hans: Houston, we have a Problem

Ouch! This kitchen kinda hurts, doesn’t it? I can’t say there are many redeeming features here for me. The layout alone reminds me of kitchens in corporate offices. Pop in a water cooler, sandwiches covered in post-it-notes so nobody steals your lunch, and an IT department that tells you to restart your computer every time you raise an issue, and you have everyone’s Monday to Friday working life.

The choice to go bold with the metallic kitchen cabinets was a poor choice in my eyes. I just don’t get this as a trend. I don’t see it taking off. I’d like you to resist all urges to do this in your own home. Sorry Freedom Kitchens, but please take this out of production immediately if not sooner. I cannot. I just cannot.

The Butler doesn’t Want to Work in that Pantry

The butler’s pantry also feels like a bit of an apology; squeezed in behind the kitchen. It doesn’t feel grand enough and the layout is kinda sloppy. If the space wasn’t big enough for a grand butler’s pantry, don’t have one.

I know that sounds like blasphemy for kitchen week – to forgo a butler’s pantry – but this is a luxury Melbourne apartment. I assure you, the Brady Bunch won’t be living here. We aren’t catering for a family of nine. A large cabinet pantry will do. Or something similar to what Hayden and Sara went with, where it’s hidden away behind doors, would have worked.

The black cabinet handles also feel too large and heavy for the size of the doors, and that giant pylon/beam painted black is doing nothing to help the space either. This was not a good week for Cans (that’s Courtney and Hans’ celeb couple name).

the block 2018 kitchens norm and jess tan leather stools


Every Sunday night I’ll be giving you the chance to win a $100 voucher for The Block Shop. The winner will be announced in next week’s Block recap (right here on the blog), where you can then enter again to win. Repeat each week until the end of the season. How exciting!

LAST WEEK’S WINNER: Isabel Boniface


Simply pop a comment below telling me what you thought of The Block 2018 kitchens. It’s that easy!

Comp open to Aus residents only. Comp closes 7pm Sunday September 23.This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission (and you will help support TLC Interiors) if you click through and make a purchase.


Chris Carroll

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

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34 Responses

  1. Agree that Hayden and Sara’s island might look better turned facing the living room, and the window seating perhaps converted to include a study nook!

  2. Total agree with your judging and design comments again!!
    Love the colour palette of jorm’s kitchen! and integrated refrigerators are total luxe – does anyone like looking at large shiny refrigerators? Obviously the winners were winners due to expensive appliances provided to them – and shouldn’t a wine fridge be in the butlers pantry?

  3. Love the tan and timber brought into Jorms 😉 kitchen and the oak desk top in Barlas! Made a difference to bring some warmth in, as some of the other kitchens looked a bit sad. Extra bench space and therefore less dark cupboards out the front would have helped the heavy looks too. But yes, did love seeing Barlas lights – that’s a first.

  4. 30/30 simple win. I knew this would happen at the start of the week. Dont get me wrong those appliances are fabulous and id love that in my house but i believe this win was purely based on sponsorship. They want the sponsors back next year – they sinply had to give them the win. That was a lot of coin thrown to those contestants it would have been a kick in the teeth for the sponsors had they not been afforded the win.

  5. 30 out of 30…. yeah right! I’m with you, the fridges were overbearing and should NOT be the focal point, and the dark cabinetry and cool tones made it feel despressive and dark (like a bunker).The stools remind me of the Japanese dark wood ones that were big in the 90’s. (You’re probably too young to know what I’m talking about!) I would much rather Jorms kitchen. Putting a bin in is an easy fix! Their butlers pantry, breathtaking! And those tiles *swoon! Makes me want to build one now . That’s my whinge for the night!

  6. Jorms kitchen is so beautiful that “Calcutta” marble bench top with the gorgeous grey shaker cabinetry are now on my kitchen reno list. I personally think gold taps would look amazing.

  7. Jess and Norm’s was beautiful, hands down the best use of colour and and style. BUT, I’m a big cook, and what I have issue with in most of the kitchens, is the lack of bench space around you. The wall of cabinetry and fridges behind the island and sink is so wasteful.. storage is for the butlers pantry. Behind the island should be a cooktop and bench space! Once you start cooking and have stuff laid out over the island, then people sit down with a drink or snack, you start to loose space and the island is full of crap. Have a vase of flowers or fruit bowl on the island and again no space left. I just don’t find any of these kitchens actually practical. They just look nice. Sara and Hayden’s is actually the most practical kitchen, but even then there are heaps of flaws, like the coffee machine placement and doors. Sorry, rant over.

  8. A little from column A and a little from column B
    Still cannot work out what the colour of Jorm’s cabinetry but it seems rather boring to me and shaker style details ……who wants to clean them
    I get mixing materials for texture but get some consistency polished sinks with black taps is confusing then add some rose gold handles and mirror kickers too much. All the bench tops were amazing as was the stools. Where were the cookbooks so many open shelves and none Lighting seemed spot on in all areas
    Loved reading your judging again this week ✅

  9. After dropping the mike, throwing my toys and storming out the room…I couldn’t help myself. Especially after spending the whole weekend painting and decorating my own house – I was ready to be inspired…or have a good old bitching session!

    Sorry, Chris – I love the winning kitchen! A little dark…maybe, but I love the flow of it. As a matter of fact, I designed something very similar in my previous house and it worked a treat. A butler with an entry and exit. I love the appliances – If only I could afford them! And if you can – Flaunt them! Why not! You don’t drive a Mercedes and keep it in the garage. You enjoy it.

    Really don’t like Jorm’s cupboards! I find the design a little old fashioned and safe actually…Or maybe I am really out of touch! The colour is just more bland! I love the light from their beautiful windows, but the cupboards is just not appropriate for their audience. Sorry! I know you love them, Chris.

    I enjoyed the episode more than last week and I will be back based on the little preview they gave us on what’s to come! There might be hope.

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I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

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