Whether you’re preparing your house for sale, or simply freshening it up, renovating can be overwhelming. To make it a little easier, we’ve asked Caro and Kingi to share their tips and tricks, so you can replicate their phenomenal Block journey for yourselves.
Saving money during the build
“The best way to save money during a renovation or build is to do as much as you can yourself,” Caro tells The Block Shop.
“Like demo work,” Kingi adds. “Anyone can do demo work.”
It’s a reality of renovation that if you don’t do something, you’ll have to pay someone to do it for you. Obviously, there are some things that should be left to the skilled professionals, but if there’s something you can do safely, and you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you can save some serious money by doing it yourself.
“Everyone sort of thinks Kingi is a tradesman on The Block, but he’s not,” Caro says. “He’s a labourer, because he does a lot of the work himself. He’s cleaning up and preparing, and getting everything ready for our builders. That little bit of hard work and elbow grease saves us a lot.”
Don’t be afraid to DIY
Building on that, you don’t have to be a tradie to do-it-yourself. Kingi reckons, “Anyone can use a sander and a paintbrush,” and we agree. Blockaholics will know he’s a big fan of render, and if you keep it simple, all you need is a hawk and trowel to render your own feature wall, and add some wow-factor to a room that might need it.
And before you think about replacing your furniture, consider ways you can revitalise the pieces you already own.
“I don’t know what Australian doesn’t have an old wooden chest of drawers in their house,” Caro says. “Sand it back, and repaint it if you want. These days, that sanded back look is actually in. You can up-style a lot of old furniture and make it new and interesting.”
Over the years, we’ve seen Blockheads with different working styles. Some choose their art first and build a room around it. For others, art is the last thing on their minds. Caro’s done a bit of both this season, it all comes down to whether or not she has any other hero spaces in the room.
“When you want your art to be a statement, everything around it has to be quite simple,” Caro says.
In their master bedroom, the graffiti hero piece almost took up the whole wall. Taking it down, the rest of the room is actually quite simple, just whites and greys. Comparatively, in their study, the Nelson Mandela quote is quite subdued on its creamy brown canvas, so as to not overpower or clash with the room’s green walls, the industrial shelves and the orange chested filing cabinet.
“I think the art needs to be the hero or it needs to be subtle. It just depends on what you’re going to put around it,” Caro says.
“If you’re going to put big pieces of furniture and you’ve got a loud piece of artwork, sometimes it can be a little too much.”
Styling (with Darren Palmer)
For Block judge Darren Palmer, styling a room is a high-wire act – there’s a thin line between styling too much and too little. It’s all about balance and interest.
“You need to allow areas where there is nothing to balance out the areas that draw your eye,” he reveals. “You need a hierarchy of impact so that you notice one thing, then the next, then the next, not have a whole bunch of things screaming for your attention.”
If there’s too much going on, it can make a room feel unsettling. When he’s making a decision, Darren listens to his gut.
“When I style, I put things in, stand back, look at it, change view, look at it again, take it out and repeat this process until I feel like it’s right,” he says.
“If I don’t love it, it’s not right. When I love it, I know it’s done.”
Renovating for buyers
According to Caro, the number one rule for preparing your house for sale is: Use neutral colours.
“Keep to your whites and greys, nothing too bold or over the top,” she says.
“If you stick to those basic colours, people can come in and add their personality into the house when they buy it. You’re giving them a blank canvas, and they can visualise their own furniture in there, instead of being blinded by a purple wall or something like that.”
Tell a story (with Shaynna Blaze)
The most common styling mistake Shaynna Blaze sees in a house being prepared for sale is trying to make it look like a magazine picture.
“We’ve gone past that clinical look of formulised interiors,” she says. “One of those things you need to do with a home, even if you’re trying to sell it, is make it look like a home. It can’t just look like a carbon copy of something else.”
She recommends renovators create little vignettes to give their spaces that homely vibe. That is, create little areas that have things you’d use on a daily basis, arranged as you would use them.
“Have a display on your coffee table that isn’t just a stack of books, but actually a little trinket box that has some candles, a set of flowers, to create a sense of mood,” Shaynna suggests. “Display something that shows how you’d use that room.”
Caro and Kingi stress the importance of research and planning. Research the trends, research the best price, and plan your project. Here at The Block Shop, we offer the best products at competitive prices, and on our blog, we ask the experts for advice, to make sure your next renovation project is your best.