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the block 2020 luke and jasmin studio with bed and banquette seating

The Block 2020 Studios Have Been Revealed, and it’s a Very Mixed Bag

I have to admit, this week’s judging on The Block 2020 was a tough one. It might be the most difficult of the season actually. Critiquing the studios was tricky for a few reasons and I’m keen to get your take on which you thought was best and why.

The main issue is around what the rules of judging are when it comes to these spaces. Are we judging on looks? Are we judging on functionality of the space? The flexibility? Or are we judging based on what a potential buyer would want to use the studio for? I guess the answer is: all of the above. Some teams did well on looks but failed on function. Some gave owner’s flexibility but delivered a disappointing aesthetic. So it’s not as easy to navigate scoring as you might think.

In considering the properties, their potential buyers, and what’s going on inside the home already, I’ve made a conclusion. The Blockheads needed to creates spaces that fully committed to a purpose, and gave the potential buyer everything, or they were best to leave the studios fairly bare; allowing a buyer to make it their own and not have to rip things out or make major structural changes. Some teams shone here, and other’s totally failed. So let’s take a closer look at how it all went down.

the block 2020 sarah and george studio with bed and office joinery the block 2020 sarah and george studio kitchen and dining table

Sarah and George Took Out The Win

I’m absolutely on-board with Sarah and George taking out the win this week. Like I said, you have to either fully commit to a purpose for the studio space, or you have to allow the buyer to make it their own. Whichever path you go down, you have to execute it one hundred percent. And here, Sarah and George (almost) did. 

They’ve stamped this as a fully self-contained granny flat and gave it everything it needed to operate as one; kitchen with dining table, bedroom with storage for hanging clothes, and a laundry in the hallway (which was a genius move). They’ve told the buyer what this zone is so there’s no confusion. And for a buyer with an elderly parent, it’s such an added bonus. 

The Only Thing that let me Down

They committed to making this space a granny flat, so the office zone is somewhat unnecessary. There’s quite a lot of study joinery here that I don’t believe it needed. An elderly person (or any person for that matter), would probably prefer a sofa to sit on in the space over a desk to sit and work at. Another look at the floorplan would have allowed them to work in a sofa, and then have a table beside one of the walls that could double as a work desk if needed.

In a studio like this, which is phenomenal in every other way, it’s a such a shame there’s not more bedroom storage. If my mother was going to live in there I know she’d want more space for clothes, and at least one armchair to sit on and watch TV. Not only has that been left out, but a buyer with little vision might not be able to see how one could fit. 

Outside of those small tweaks, I’m loving what Sarah and George delivered this week.

the block 2020 sarah and george studio bathroom the block 2020 jimmy and tam studio with tan leather sofa the block 2020 jimmy and tam studio galley kitchen

Jimmy and Tam Came Second

As the judges walked through all the other spaces this week I kept thinking, why didn’t any of the teams do a galley kitchen in the hallway? It’s such a good way to give a buyer what they need in the studio, but it also frees up so much space in the larger living zone. When they finally got to Jimmy and Tam’s studio I was so elated that they thought do to this. It’s the most versatile solution and doesn’t dominate the zone.

The gym they staged in the garage downstairs was also a timely reminder that I need to stop stuffing my face and exercise again now that lockdown is over. Honestly, I’ve been out of control the last four months. So I thank them for that.

It looks like Jimmy and Tam took the opposite strategy that Sarah and George did; they designed this space with more flexibility in mind. They opted not to include a bed, which is something everyone else did, and I’m not sure this was the right decision. I do like that a buyer can use this studio for whatever purpose they’d like. You just have to be careful with a zone like this though because potential buyers have no imagination. If you don’t show them a bed can fit, they won’t know if a bed can fit.

Overall I Enjoyed the Vibe Here

It’s looks nice. The main issue is around the office joinery. Inside the home they decided to put a media room in their upstairs nook instead of an office. So the pressure was on to include one in this studio. As it stands, the desk they included here is only big enough for one person, so you can’t really run a small home business with multiple people in this studio. And so that breaks the rule I was mentioning earlier of committing to a purpose fully and running with it.

If they didn’t want to commit to making this a full office zone, don’t include a built-in desk at all. Have the amazing kitchen as your one joinery moment and then stage the rest of the zone with a bed and sofa so a buyer can see how much they can fit in the space. They can then install their own joinery if they wish to.

The bathroom was delightful though right?

the block 2020 jimmy and tam studio studio bathroom the block 2020 daniel and jade studio with velux skylights the block 2020 daniel and jade studio kitchen

Daniel and Jade Tied for Third 

Daniel and Jade installing the powder room in the garage downstairs was pure genius. Trust and believe, when the kids are playing in the pool you do not want them running through the house to go to the toilet. So this was a huge positive right from the get-go for me. When we got upstairs to the studio though, I felt the same was as Neil did; there was no emotional connection for me.

The thing that bothers me the most is, once again, the lack of cohesion here. This studio in no way reflects anything going on inside Daniel and Jade’s home design-wise. They executed a coastal design here when everything else in the property has a… well… actually, it had 10 different designs inside, so I guess introducing an eleventh one is to be expected.

What I will give them points for is the empty shell vibe. While I feel no emotion pull here, perhaps the blank canvas approach gives a potential buyer the most flexibility. Outside of the kitchen you can make this zone anything you like. And they did fit in a desk, a bed, a table. So at least a buyer has a sense of the space and what could fit in there. I still would have enjoyed an armchair or sofa though.

This is why it’s so hard to judge this week. Are we awarding points for allowing a buyer flexibility or are we awarding points for showing them what it’s to be used for?

I will say that Daniel and Jade’s bathroom was my favourite of the lot. The tiles are delicious, the basin is divine, the tapware is sleek and sexy.

the block 2020 daniel and jade studio bathroom with concrete basin the block 2020 luke and jasmin studio with bed and banquette seating the block 2020 luke and jasmin studio bathroom

Luke and Jasmin Tied for Third

I have no issue claiming favourites on this show. And again, it has nothing to do with personalities because I only watch the reveal eps. Luke and Jasmin are my faves because they have the most cohesive, buyer-appropriate designs across the entire property, and they delivered this genius formula once again in their studio this week.

The bed and linen was heavenly, the bedside tables were stunners, the drawers under the TV were a dream. The list really goes on and on when it comes to the aesthetic. So light and ethereal and inviting. They get major points on the style-front. There’s nothing I don’t like the look of.

That’s not to say it was all good news though.

There Are Two Major Issues to Address

The first, of course, is the lack of bathroom door. Let’s think this out. The studio has been staged as a granny flat. Elderly Mum and Dad are living here, or guests are staying over for extended periods from time to time. So it stands to reason that someone is going to be sipping on their Chardy while someone else is spluttering and spurting in the bathroom after downing a St Kilda Beach kebab. 

There’s no scenario that exists where one wants to hear or smell the other. There’s just not. Even if I lived alone in here, I don’t want to release fury and then come out of the bathroom to eat dinner. 

The other issue is the banquette seat. It’s too large for a one or two-person granny flat. A potential buyer will be left with the task of ripping it all out to put in a sofa or armchair, which is honestly going to provide more comfort for someone who might be living in this studio.

the block 2020 luke and jasmin studio bathroom the block 2020 harry and tash studio kitchen the block 2020 harry and tash studio

Harry and Tash Came Last

It was not a good week for Harry and Tash, let’s be honest. I know there were budget issues, but you can’t blame a lack of cash on some of the dire design decisions they made in here. And there are a number of them to talk through.

First of all though, the positives. I adored all of the skylights. They create such an ambience in the space. The light pouring in is just beautiful, though I do hope you can cover them up when you want to. Imagine waking up to that blinding light in the morning after a few too many Savvy B’s the night before. Pure torture. 

Outside of the ambient light, I’m struggling to find nice things to say here. There are so many misses on the floorplant-front. 

Firstly, the kitchen is too big. They need to lose the island immediately. If this is a granny flat and someone is going to live here, they don’t need all of that bench space. And on that note, if someone is to live here (or even just stay for a long weekend) where are their clothes going? Are they expected to fold everything and put it in that tallboy squashed in beside the bed?

If this isn’t going to end up being used as a granny flat and you remove the bed to install an office, for example, why do you need such a huge kitchen? The entire layout of this zone needs a rework. It’s very unsuccessful. 

And those bathroom tiles. They came back to haunt my dreams one more time before season’s end. Why did they end up choosing those? They don’t seem like a Harry and Tash aesthetic at all. So polarising, and so garish. 

the block 2020 harry and tash studio bathroom

What Did you Make of The Block 2020 Studios?

Like I said at the start, quite a hard week for judging what the best plan of attack was for these studios. I still say that the all-or-nothing approach is the best one, and Sarah and George did deserve the win this week for giving a buyer everything they could ever want.

But what did you think of the remaining four zones? What would have been your scoring? I think we can agree that Sarah and George come first, and Harry and Tash come last. The three teams in the middle are all as good as each other I think. But let me know what you make of it all in the comments below.


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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7 Responses

  1. None of the granny flats had enough wardrobe space for a stay of more than a week
    I keep hearing the motor of the fridge kick in in the middle of the night when you are trying to sleep
    And stairs for a ‘granny flat’ …not thinking about safety ..no hand rails on some!
    what about the wind draft up the stairs if the garage was opened …did they have doors at the bottom?

  2. I loved Sarah & George – deserved win. I know you don’t watch the daily episodes Chris, but Sarah & George mentioned a few times through the week that their inspo was an au pair, so maybe they were thinking they needed to write a lot of letters home. 😉

    I love the idea of a multigenerational home, but as my parents get older, I dislike the idea of them walking up and down a flight of stairs daily.

  3. Try waking up in the summer under all these skylights in every house. Even in the areas where the tv’ are there are skylights. Who in the name of god would go and sit in front of there regular big unprotected window for hrs and hrs in the hot bright light. NOBODY! That’s why we put window treatments up in Aus.

  4. I would not like to be the granny climbing up all the stairs. Also I really wouldn’t find it necessary to have a cooking facility upstairs, except a toaster, kettle and perhaps a microwave in a closed in area like these..my guests/ family are expected to eat meals with us downstairs.
    I like your comments Chris.

  5. I think the judges were right this week. The one thing that I loved was Jimmy & Tams bathroom. It’s the first time they haven’t put in a gaudy colour. The neutral colour scheme was very refreshing

  6. ‘They committed to making this space a granny flat, so the office zone is somewhat unnecessary.’ What!!! As a granny, this is somewhat offensive.

    1. Hey Sue, what I was trying to convey was that the room is really mixed. They committed to make it a granny flat, so the focus should be on comfortable sleeping and lounging so it can be used as a living space. The office zone was too much in here. Not that people of all ages can’t need a desk to work at, just that the desk was too much in here for what they were doing.

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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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