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the block 2021 kristy and jesse backyard pool area sun lounger

The Block 2021 Backyard Reveals Recap: Who Insisted On Installing All The Pools?

This week’s The Block 2021 backyard reveals are brought to you by Pools-R-Us. Whenever in doubt, just chuck in a pool!

In all seriousness though, do Melbourne property buyers want a pool? Do they want a pool instead of grass? And do they want a pool if it is indeed the size of a bath? When does a pool become a bath? These are all questions I don’t have the answers to, but desperately want to know. 

It must be said that I’m not filled with joy and rapture over the backyards this year, nor did I think the scores were correct. I have no doubts about who should have come first, second, third, fourth and fifth. And I’ve dropped all the truth bombs below for you.

Let’s get into each space and figure out what soared and what stunk. And as always, I’d love to know what you make of it all in the comments section at the end of the post.

the block 2021 kristy and jesse backyard wicker outdoor dining setting and bbq zone

Kirsty and Jesse Came First

Having a larger backyard to work with is often worse than a smaller one because you have to figure out how to zone it appropriately. Kirsty and Jesse had a big job on their hands. While it was nice overall (and very family appropriate), I do spot some glaring errors that prevent them from taking out the win for me.

The biggest issue to discuss straight off the bat is that this backyard doesn’t reflect the Hamptons style that’s so prevalent inside the home. If you took out the dining furniture and rolled up the rug, this zone is pretty much Ronnie and Georgia’s yard but with a copper oven.

I’m not seeing any exterior features that give this yard period charm. For me it needs some shaker cabinetry in the barbecue area. I would have appreciated the lower section of the covered zone to feature some white timber cladding to speak to the wainscoting inside. And how about palm trees? 

If you looked at this yard independently and asked someone to sum up its style, they certainly wouldn’t say it was Hamptons. And to me, that’s a major issue.

the block 2021 kristy and jesse backyard pool area the block 2021 kristy and jesse backyard cubby house

The Back Half of the Yard is Also Disappointing

I’m just not getting Hamptons vibes from this yard. And there was so much scope for that, particularly near the pool. Instead of a while and grey timber-clad cabana feel, we have rocks, dirt and gravel. It’s dryer than a dead dingo’s you-know-what, when it needs to be a lush, green oasis.

The grey pavers that lead you to down to a featureless glass pool gate are saved only by the black vertical fencing, which is indeed quite lovely. The pool, though a great feature and certainly appropriate given the size of the yard, feels too light and forgettable.

I would have gone for a darker blue pool here that (again) spoke to the internals of the home. You have that gorgeous deep blue kitchen just steps away from the back door, and then you walk out to this. I also need somewhere comfortable to sit and watch the kids swim. This yard lacks comfort.

I hate to say it, but I’ve gotta speak my truth: this is fourth place material. 

the block 2021 ronnie and georgia backyard swimming pool and decking

Ronnie and Georgia Came Joint Second

Ronnie and Georgia’s backyard is very reflective of what’s going on inside their home; a relatively blank canvas that a buyer can put their own stamp on. The issue is, the internals often have a wow moment that give you just a touch of personality (be it a tile, a feature light, or a wall treatment).

I’m not sure we’re getting that with the outside though. I love the colour palette and mix of materials here, but it’s very… clean and tidy. It’s taking itself a bit too seriously. And dare I say it, it feels soulless. I always think external zones have the opportunity to have a bit of fun. But here, it’s all business, no party. 

On a positive note, I do enjoy the decking, the brickwork, the fence colour, the barbecue area. The plant choices are also successful and feel in-keeping with the overall design scheme of the home. So we do have a lovely yard here, it’s just a bit bland.

the block 2021 ronnie and georgia backyard fire pit and outdoor dining setting

the block 2021 ronnie and georgia backyard paved dining area

The Zone at the Back is Too Cramped

While Kirsty and Jesse had a whopper of a yard to carve up into zones, Ronnie and Georgia had the opposite conundrum; trying to get multiple zones into one small footprint. Sadly, like me at the Sizzler buffet back in the early 2000s, you can’t have it all. 

The dining zone and the seated fire pit area are too close for comfort, and one needs to go. Given you have a barbecue there, I say they need to abandon ship on the firepit idea. As it stands, you’d have to have a ripper core to sit on that bench seat. Start to slump and lean back and you’ll have third degree burns before entree comes out.

Overall I would sum up this yard by saying that it is visually delicious and feels good to be in. But the spatial planning is a bit off and it needs personality. I would have marked them third place.

the block 2021 mitch and mark backyard swimming pool and bbq area

Mitch and Mark Came Joint Second

Ignoring the fact that the pool looks like a swamp monster could crawl out of it at any given second, Mitch and Mark’s backyard deserved the win this week. There, I said it, and I welcome your feedback.

This yard and Kristy & Jesse’s were the only spaces ample enough to bother putting a pool into. Let’s start there. This is a good size pool for the footprint of the yard and doesn’t feel squished in, nor have you had to forgo furniture in other areas to install it. 

What’s most impressive about this yard is that it feels like it’s been there for years, in a good way. I’m impressed that Mitch & Mark created a new space with such old-world charm and character. It’s lush, it’s tropical, it feels a little unruly in pockets, and it makes for a really immersive experience.

The paving surrounded by grass, the choice of plants, the sun loungers by the pool; this is the only yard of the five with actual personality. And for me, that earns them the win hands-down!

the block 2021 mitch and mark backyard small round white outdoor table the block 2021 mitch and mark backyard swimming pool with grey outdoor tiles

There Were a Few Minor Issues Though

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, of course. There are a few small issues that I need to address. Thankfully they’re easy tweaks though.

The kid-size dining table by the pool is just no on. No adult is going to want to sit there. The whole setup looks cute, but cute for a kids sleepover. The yard is actually large enough to fit at least a six-seater dining table and chairs, so they needed to include this to show a buyer that it’s possible.

The only other issue I have is the lack of continuity from inside to out. The internals of the home have gorgeous pops of dusty pink here and there, so it would have been nice to see this reflected outside. A light pink umbrella, some light pink cushions; something to continue the vibe.

All in all though, this yard will sell the fantasy to a buyer. Who doesn’t want a party in this zone?

the block 2021 josh and luke backyard bbq zone with outdoor dining setting

Josh and Luke Came Joint Second

While a lot of the other teams struggled with zoning and spatial planning, Josh and Luke dominated here. The entire yard feels ample and spacious, with no one area feeling compromised by another. They may have struggled inside, but they delivered here.

The dining zone is really well done and gives buyers a clear idea of how they could live in the space. I love both the concrete dining table and the dining chairs. The only issue is that it’d be hotter than the sun in the peak of summer. The umbrella nearby isn’t going to cut it. I’d be redder than a British tourist on Bondi Beach within seconds sitting out there.

It would have pushed them toward first place if they had of installed a motorised awning. It would certainly wow me if I were a buyer. 

The only other issue I have in the dining and pool zone is a lack of greenery. I need more plants. A vertical garden would have been beautiful. As it stands the zone feels a little harsh. What I will add though is how good the colour of the pool is. Other teams take note: this is how it’s done.

the block 2021 josh and luke backyard pool area with sun loungers the block 2021 josh and luke backyard fire pit area with armchairs

The Fire Pit Area Was Brilliant Too

Mitch and Mark created a fantasy in their yard to emotionally connect to buyers, and Josh & Luke were the only other team to do it. The fire pit zone is selling me a fantasy I want to be a part of. Get the fire going and pour me a red wine immediately. I will drink the whole bottle and I will need paracetamol tomorrow morning.

The string lights added in over the fire pit zone touches on what was missing in Ronnie and Georgia’s space: personality. You can evoke some charm and fun without it feeling too whimsical, and Josh & Luke have proved it here. The addition of the dog kennel is a cute touch too. 

The boys truly deserved second place with this yard, with Mitch and Mark in first place, Ronnie and Georgia in third, Kirsty and Jesse in fourth and Tanya and Vito in fifth. And on that note, let’s discuss Tanya and Vito’s last-place backyard now…

the block 2021 tanya and vito backyard bbq area

Tanya and Vito Came Last

I feel like Tanya and Vito’s barbecue zone is brought to you by Gaviscon. Because after eating hunched over on that lounge suite, you’re going to need it. George Calombaris is the only person who’d feel at home eating under these conditions, and it does beg the obvious question: why no dining table?

This backyard from Tanya and Vito isn’t large, but there are a number of ways you could have gotten multiple zones in. The planning here is pretty wacky and makes little sense. 

If anything needed to go here it would be the pool. There’s a moment where a pool gets so small you have to question if it’s even worth putting in, and I’m sure Tanya and Vito had this moment. Were they pressured to include one? I can’t be sure, but it does feel excessive to have it if you have to lose a table in the process.

They could have turned the orientation of the pool and ran it along the back fence instead; more like a lap pool than a square one. It would have given you a tonne more space to play with.

the block 2021 tanya and vito backyard outdoor lounge suite

the block 2021 tanya and vito backyard clothes line area

There’s a Harshness to this Backyard, and No Charm

The other issue outside of spatial planning that bothers me is how hard the backyard feels. There’s so much decking and not enough grass or garden beds. Even at the back of the home, there’s an excess of tiles and timber. And when you do have a garden bed, it’s shoved in a corner near the clothes line.

This back area is so under-utilised. It’s where a lap pool could have gone, or at the very least a big patch of grass for kids to play on with some lounge chairs. A family looking at this yard is not only unable to eat outside, but there’s nowhere for the kids to play either. 

I know I keep going on about it, but I can’t help it: cohesion, cohesion, cohesion. The inside and out need to speak to one another. Tanya and Vito have the quirkiest interior of the lot, but that fun and whimsy is nowhere to be found here. Give me a wall mural, give me some bright colours, give me something to remember.

What did you make of The Block 2021 backyard reveals? Drop me a comment below and share your thoughts on what you think the order of scores should have been. I’d love to know if you agree or not.

See more goodness from The Block via The Block Shop and nine now.

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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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Comments

18 Responses

  1. Love love love your commentary!

    As a Melbournian I’m not sold the pools. So much cost and upkeep when it’s only warm enough for a dip a few days a year,

  2. Hi Chris, I agree especially with the assessment of Kirsty and Jesse’s place. Where are the extra sun loungers or white adirondack chairs, umbrellas, the stripes, hydrangeas, grass up to the edge of the pool or just more “formal gardens” in general? I think if they had kept the verandah areas more simple they had space to add in an open Hamptons style “pool house” next to the pool instead. Literally the back yard is bigger than the entire block of the house I currently live in. I feel a bit disappointed about this as I was looking forward to it.

    I don’t particularly like Mitch and Marks yard this week, it’s not really my style, and I thought the bar facing away from the pool as well as the smaller table we’re very impractical.

    I like Josh and Luke’s and Ronnie and Georgia’s. I think R & G did the best with the space they had and it looked good. I liked J & L’s but the smoker is the first thing I noticed when they showed that space. They could have put a bit more thought into the view from the master given the large layout but other than that I liked them both on their own merits for the space available.

  3. Mitch and Mark’s pool area felt will be a nightmare to clean no low maintenance at all. Leaves continuously in the pool specially after a Melbourne storm.

  4. I would agree 1st to the jungle yard, second to the twins, third place to the couple who came first, Ronnie and Georgia fourth and the couple who came fifth leave them there. I don’t understand the first place choice it’s dull and empty for that kind of budget and help they had it is an anti climax

  5. I missed the episode – but the photography of these reveals raises some questions? Were they finished well before and has no one been maintaining the yards? Why are all the pools murky – chemicals seem well out of balance. The finish of the fences is horrible – the lattice isn’t even square.

    I’ve been spending a lot of time on Instagram research a Landscape Architect and compared to those these look like amateur hour in terms of finish.

    Was Dave Franklin invovled this year? If so, it’s a huge step down from him in terms of quality.

  6. None of the backyards really blew me away. There were elements I liked in each, but nothing that blew me away. Kirsty & Jesse’s yard felt a bit disconnected. The pool should have been a much deeper blue, Adirondack chairs would have been amazing in the pool area and the chook house was a bit of an eyesore – a cubby would have been much better. Like with everything that Georgia & Ronnie do, it was beautiful but a bit bland. Mark & Mitch’s had plenty of character but it just seemed a bit too squished. The boys dis a great job, but just needed more established planting. Loved the dog house! Tanya & Vito’s yard just totally missed the mark for me. There was no dining area, a big missed opportunity with the pantry window to be an open servery. In saying that, they all did an amazing job to get them finished. There is no way I would be able to achieve anything close on those timeframes!

  7. I agree, not everyone wants a pool , particularly in Melbourne!
    I thought Mitch and Marks was the best overall, a true haven, private and lush! Beautiful!

  8. I definitely thought these backyards were not the best ever, i do think the 2 boys was the best thought out with allmost the least of ammount of money spent, well done boys,

  9. Once again, love your whimsical comments Chris. J&L should have won this week. Their layout excellent & loved how it showcased that gorgeous tree. Sorry Chris, disagree with you about M&M, no need for that much greenery, looked overcrowded & who gets the job to maintain that garden around the pool? Will be a balancing act for someone! R&G again is just plain nice, nice isn’t good enough for TV watching.

  10. Definitely agree with your comments and placings.
    In an area like that in Melbourne would you honestly want a small ridiculous chicken coup. As a neighbour i would not want hens beside me and if correct the council will quickly close it down. They are typical country folk to put one in a million dollar backyard.
    Pools I believe are a personal choice, a beautiful lawn with structured tree shapes, a beautiful rock fountain and tumbling water by a covered all weather pergola over the outdoor furniture would make more sense, who really wants to eat and drink with rain or sun beating down.

  11. I totally agree with you. I’ll be honest though, not one of the back yards do anything for me. However I like the twins fire pit area.

  12. I feel Mitch and Mark’s pool area was very unsafe for families with small children. All the cooking and entertaining was behind the safety of the pool fence and small children could easily fall into the pool while adults were distracted whilst cooking etc.

  13. Sorry can’t agree with you. The correct couple won the prize. House 3 and 4 should have come equally last. Did not like either, house 3 had safety issues and house 4 was just plain ugly. Who would want to look out of your bedroom window onto a BBQ?
    The dog area was too small for such a big dog and the neighbours would hate the smell and noise.
    House 2 should have come outright second with R and G 3rd as it was just boring.
    If Kirsty had selected the swimming pool tiles the pool may have looked different but due to the family needs Dave Franklin selected them. You would think he would know as he is the specialist in this area..

  14. It’s Melbourne, not everyone wants a pool. I’d prefer a larger lawn area for kids and pets. Agree with your comments and placings. Both Mitch and Mark and Josh and Luke had the best backyards. Mitch and Mark had the best plantings, but their tiny table needs to be ditched. Josh and Luke needed some shade over their dining area. Their fire pit and garden area was fabulous.
    The dining area in Kirsty and Jesse’s yard was well done, but it didn’t relate to the house at all. Ronnie and Georgia spent a lot for a good result, but it had no real wow factor.
    Tanya and Vito’s lack of budget showed. They didn’t have room for a pool, but had to compete with the other teams.

  15. Respect your views, just thought that the functionality of M&M’s was off, who in Melbourne would want to walk more than 10m in the rain or cold winter months to that bbq area? That was a big fail for me.

  16. Agree with all your comments. We loved Mitch and Mark’s yard best (for empty nesters or couples without kids). Being in Sydney – we can’t imagine why limited space for kids and dogs to move about has been sacrificed for pools and decking in a Melbourne climate. Where does the Springfree trampoline go? Not really family friendly landscape designs.

  17. Did house 5 finish the side area? It looks half finished but they glossed over that fact I thought. Also how much did they spend on the area as I didn’t see it on the screen like every other house. It looks like the block are favouring them to help them get over the line.

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