5 things we learned from this year’s finals - House Rules

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1. Being from Tasmania will not give you the luckiest of starts

Just like last year when we saw Jane and Plinio fall at the first hurdle, our TAS couple this year, Brooke and Grant were also first to say goodbye. And it was a shame really, because the standout house renovation of the round was this couple's country retreat. Maybe it was the fact that their home was so full of design opportunity that the other teams all got a little boost. Although, maybe it was also because Brooke and Grant's House Rules lead to some of the best designed rooms of the series. The mix of rustic charm and olive tones was the highlight of the preliminary rounds, used to notable effectiveness by Carole and Russell, the soon to be finalists, in the living room and bedroom. So maybe the Tasmanian couple had more of an eye for design than they eventually got credit for.

2. Citrus trim can be over cooked

We've been saying throughout the whole of this series that splashes of colour are a simple way to liven up otherwise neutral designs. Almost every round has featured some lemon, lime or orange to brighten up a room without overpowering it. It’s a sure fire way to get by with a reasonable design; keeping the decor in shades of grey (which equates to both tasteful and safe) while jazzing things up without offending anyone. Over the series, there have been examples of this too numerous to count, even Carole and Russell have had a good go at it. But, for the charity house final the couple went lime crazy in every room they entered. Things looked fresh, things looked sharp and things looked clean, but with a living room, bathroom and bedroom saturated with citrus, the originality of their design was instantly sour: a series nadir for the otherwise excellent design feature. The judges didn't mind it though, we don’t deny the design value of the fruity approach, but playing things so by the book was just too disappointing, especially in the finals.


3. Taking big risks can still pay off

As audacious as it was, Carole and Russell's huge gold-bar wall seemed to do the trick on their final secret room design. It was a huge risk to go for something so bold, but that's what final rounds should all be about. Their task was to create a James Bond style, so going gold wasn’t a great leap of imagination, but blowing up trompe-l’oeil gold bars for a full wall mural was possible the biggest statement piece of the whole series. Apart from this, big risks were certainly not the flavour of the show this year. The rather dull unit makeover rounds, for instance, proved that the teams just wanted to make it through. While from a style perspective big designs really don't need big statements, this show is as much about getting noticed as it is about getting the look just right. So it's good to see that, in the end, the teams were willing to take a bit of a gamble.

4. Exteriors are not quite as easy as they seem

Adam and Lisa won the first round of exteriors by a rather large margin. At first the thing that separated them from the others seemed just to be the sheer amount of work that went into clearing Carole and Russell's front garden. But the real difference was that they had a multi-level garden to work with from the word go, meaning that they had natural depth and layering before they'd even started. This is an undeniable advantage when it comes to garden design. While their final exterior was exemplified by a rather intense amount of rock, landslide warnings aside, the team transformed a very untidy garden with load of potential without really needing to think too much about design. The other teams didn't fare so well with their approaches. Maddi and Lloyd went wood-crazy, Carole and Russell creeped us out with dodgy conceptual art and Candy and Ryan didn't even get the job finished. It was a lesson learnt: gardening is hard; you need both nature and nurture, and sometimes a good eye for design won’t even make a difference.

5. In the end, your personality will win through

The judges went all in for James Bond in the grand finale. Carole and Russell's room impressed them most of all, there was nothing really between the two couples, but Wendy awarding the WA couple a 10 showed us all who she thought should take the crown. But design isn’t everything when it comes to House Rules and the public got their own back. If you're not going to win it nice, you're probably not going to win it, as Carole and Russell found when the public decided that they were just to mean to take the top spot. Not that Adam and Lisa were any consolation prize of course: While being widely adored as a cute young couple, they proved their worth by leading the way in some of the final rounds. But personality no doubt worked in their favour. And as every good designer knows, the customer is the only critic that really matters.

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