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The Block: If the boys had read this, they would have won last night.

Last night saw Steve and Chantelle finally win a room on The Block. They must have been listening to the judge’s tips. And so have we, so here are the five you need to know before you pick up that paintbrush. 

I hate everything there is to do with homewares. I hate furniture shops. Lighting shops. Fancy tra-la-la furniture shops. I cannot stand wandering through a shop, trying to figure out if I should buy the light brown or dark brown sofa. I hate it when the store person starts talking about the grain of wood on the table. It is wood, store person. That is all.

The thing is styling doesn’t come naturally to me. Just like handstands.

So you would be very surprised to know that I am an absolute The Block addict (unless you read my previous post). Yes, I know strange, right? I hate homewares and designing and styling, but I love The Block. Because I secretly hope that by simply immersing myself in everything to do with The Block, I will become a stylist. And hey, why not? It worked for Steve and Chantelle, at the beginning of The Block they had no idea – and after complete immersion, they have finally won a room.

But for me, immersion hasn’t worked (yet). My husband and I are starting to prepare for renovations, and I now hate Saturday mornings because they involve design or style decisions.

But there is hope. There are 5 very simple things I have learned while watching The Block. And by doing them, it can make you look like you know what you are doing. Even if you are like me and have no clue.

So here they are:

1. Timeless over trendy

When I was younger we lived in this house. It was a nice house. Except for the fact that the bathrooms had poo-brown tiles and vomit-green baths. Yes, those are official colours. Apparently, at some point in history, they were trendy colours.

Now we know things will eventually date. But what you want to do, is create a room that is timeless for as long as possible. So think simple designs and neutral colours (vomit-green is not a neutral colour). The Twins won Kitchen Week, because their kitchen was timeless. It still had spark, but it would last. Longer than, for example, Steve and Chantelle’s that was more trendy than timeless.

Alisa & Lysandra's Kitchen Timeless vs Chantelle & Steve's Kitchen Trendy

2. Your house is not a showroom

This next tip is super easy and likely to come very naturally to you, especially if you have kids. The rooms in your house need to look lived in. It is what sets them apart from going into a showroom where things can seem nice but sterile. While a room in a house needs to look inviting. Especially if you're selling it.

How do you do this? Add greenery to a room. Either fresh flowers (they can even be el-chepo from the supermarket) or a pot plant that will last. And books are another lived in feature. While we don't necessarily need to read them, having books in a room (whether they are coffee table books in the lounge, recipe books in the kitchen, children's book in the kids room) make the room more interesting.

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Kyal and Kara's 2nd Bedroom. Check out the books, plants, candles. It makes it look homely.

3. Pick one GREAT thing

When your eye sees lots of things in one place, they freak out and tell your brain "No, we don't like what we see". So you need to think about this when it comes to styling a room. Too many things just look like disorganised chaos. But too few, look like you don't like homeware shopping (yes, I mean me).

The rule: have ONE statement piece. One thing that makes you (or your impressed guests) say "Oh wow, I love this." It could be an amazing sofa, or an amazing TV cabinet. An awesome picture. A wallpapered/tiled/wooden feature wall. Anything. And then you can work around that with little trinkets.

As for the bedroom Darren Palmer said: you either have a painting above your bed, or lots of cushions. Both are a disaster.

Kyal and Kara's bathroom had a feature bath, Steve and Chantelle's bathroom had too many different features (black tiles, wooden feature, spa) and Dale and Brad's Terrace featured the wooden wall.

4. Storage, storage, storage

On The Block, Judge Shaynna Blaze is mad about storage. And she is completely and utterly right. Regardless of how many promises you will make yourself to not be a hoarder, you will need storage. Think about it. Where are you going to put the Christmas decorations? How about the spare linen. Or the spare towels. How about the beach towels? And all the kids toys? You need to think about where these things will go without spilling into your house and ruining your hard work.

So when you are designing, think of what will need to be stored in each room. And you can come up with creative ideas. The twins, Alisa and Lysandra wanted a study and cupboard in their first guest bedroom, so they did both. And it got them a win. Steve and Chantelle hid their laundry behind a cupboard so it could disappear when not needed.

Storage not only makes your room more functional, it also leaves space for the styling you WANT people to see.

5. It's not all about you. Wait, what?

A lot of people make a big mistake of designing their homes just for them. Sure, you are the one living in it. But what you design, is very hard to change. And one day you will want to sell. When that day comes you will either have to resdesign (forking out money you may not want to) or your buyer might offer a lower price because they have to fork out the cash to change.

So when designing permanent things (like walls, floors, layouts) go gentle. Trust me, only you like a purple kitchen. Instead go for gentle colours palettes. Colours that will work with lots of different styling. And if you want to add layers to your rooms (technical speak for making your room interesting) then add texture. Think tiles, wallpaper, floorboards, carpet, rugs, concrete, timber. Some of these materials can be in the same room, look fabulous without looking boring.

Alisa and Lysandra mix up exposed bricks with wood in their bedroom and Kyal and Kara use interesting tiles to create texture in their bathroom

There you have it. Told you it was easy.

If you are thinking of styling another good tool is Pinterest. Easy way to gather all your styling ideas.

And if you can't get enough of The Block and need more inspiration here are all the images of the final rooms. Click through and while you are at it, pin the images you like to your Pinterest board.

Do you have a styling tip you can share with everyone? Go for it.

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