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The Best Lessons from The Block that Everyone can Learn From

Over the many years of judging the rooms on The Block, there are a few solid lessons that stand out as appropriate for anyone intending to work on their own home. Irrespective of the scale or budget, there are a few considerations and pitfalls to consider to weave your way through to a positive renovation result.


Always start with the end in mind. Know what you’re trying to achieve, what the style you are emulating is, what fits into that style and what you need to leave out for a coherent result. It’s by trying to do a little bit of this and a little bit of that, that people and results come unstuck. Get clear upfront what your project will look like complete, in as much detail as possible and stick to it.


Know how long you have and how long it realistically takes to complete your project. Work out when tradespeople need to be on site and how much time you need to allow between them. Factor in time for weather restrictions and delays on materials or inclusions and be realistic with yourself, your suppliers and builders to make sure your relationships stay solid through to and past the end of your renovation. By planning a realistic timeline in consultation with every provider involved in bringing your project to life, you can also save strain on your finances and personal life by knowing not only what you need to spend, but also how long you’ll need to find alternate living arrangements, if and when works force you out of home.


Know your budget, what you are allocating to each space and each item, and follow through with precision and discipline. If you have a budget for $50 tiles, choose $50 tiles. If you are briefing your builder, brief them once, clearly, concisely and completely and don’t change your mind throughout as this will cost you time and money. Know what to spend your money on by focusing on what will give you the biggest result. Allocate your funds around those big ticket items and manage what you can afford within your budget for the rest of the items to complete your project.


Don’t bite off more than you can chew. It’s good to have lofty goals and it’s great to stretch yourself to meet them, but don’t expect, no matter how much you bite off, you’ll be able to chew like hell to get through it by sheer will and determination. There are realities of building and renovating that can’t be denied. Yes, anything is possible but anything possible also comes at a cost. You can take your time and do things more cost effectively, or you can come out all guns blazing and get lots done super swiftly, but the more you take on and/ or the quicker you have to complete something, the more it is going to cost, physically, emotionally and financially. Having a rational and considered approach to what you want and need to achieve and making sure the scope of works aligns with your budget and timeline is the best way to moderate if the amount of work required to realise your dream is appropriate.


Even if design isn’t your strong point, you can find plenty of great references on the internet and on Pinterest to help you form your own ideas. That is the important point to observe however, reference should be there only to inform your own point of view, not to simply replicate verbatim the work and creative thought of others. You can lick and stick your design approach by tracing over someone else’s, but the best and most fulfilling results are the ones that bare your style and your experience to match your life and the people living in your home. That means looking at what others have done, finding reference to get clear on what makes up a certain look or style but then interpreting those elements and reference points through your own experiences and desires to create your own individual result.

Take note of all the above and carefully plan, budget and design your project and you have the best possible chance of creating a project with a positive outcome for all involved. Just be careful to not bite off more than you can chew.

Darren PalmerDarren has a broad portfolio, having studied fine art & graphic design, originally working in advertising and owning his own graphic design company. After succumbing to his true passion, Darren now operates his own interior design studio and has been a judge on numerous seasons of The Block.