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.
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 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.
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 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.
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!
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?
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 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…
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.
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.