Kara from The Block: Fans v Faves, Chats About her Winning Guest Bedroom

It was a clear victory for ‘Fans’ Kyal and Kara this week, and they added a tidy $10,000 to their bank balance, which is already bulging because they have won every weekly challenge so far. They are definitely the envy of fellow Fans Steve and Chantelle, who are slowly but surely climbing in the ‘room reveal’ placings, but are yet to secure themselves a win in either a challenge (apart from the first challenge they won with Kyal and Kara) or a ‘room reveal’.

Steve and Chantelle’s feature parquetry wall was a topic of conversation on The Block all week, with Keith, at one point, even suggesting they remove it. The judges however, didn’t share Keith’s opinion with each of them announcing ‘wow’ as they walked into the room. It’s really great to see the least experienced of the four couples improving so much and I’m excited to see where they’ll go with their apartment.

While all teams’ rooms were generally well-received by the judges, Alisa and Lysandra’s room was a little controversial as the judges failed to agree on how they felt about it. Both Darren and Neale liked the room but Shaynna explained that she felt ‘uncomfortable’ in it and was definitely not a fan.

Brad and Dale surprised everyone again, with a well-styled room that had the judges marvelling; ‘there are no boys in here’. Neale however, did voice concerns about the colour palette and Shaynna explained that the room felt too closed-in because of the dark sheer curtains on one side of the room and dark cabinetry on the other.

With her first ‘room reveal’ victory, I had a chat with Kara about the room, how she and Kyal are feeling at this point in the competition and if they feel pressure to raise the bar with their next bathroom.

Has The Block been what you thought it would be?
In some regards; yes. We applied because we love renovating and thought it would be a fun experience – and it has definitely been fun. I didn’t realise how intense the planning side of things would be though – especially with this build, having to give Keith our plans for the whole apartment in the first week!
Its multitasking to the max!! I thought there would be more to do physically, but a big difference between this Block and others was that there was no demo work; we were building from scratch. I was expecting the ’all nighters’ up painting, but nothing can prepare you for how draining it can be. Some days we were exhausted.

And before I ask you about the room, I just have to say, you guys are on fire with the challenges and I LOVED the table you produced during the Mark Tuckey industrial furniture challenge. Where are you planning on using the table? 
Thank you. Yeah we are so stoked with our table, we love it. We plan on using it on our rooftop terrace with some bench seats.

In the episode you mentioned that you wanted a job there. Have you guys always loved making your own furniture?
Yeah we really enjoy making or ’doing up’ furniture, and Mark Tuckey’swarehouse is a carpenters dream. You can put a whole tabletop through the sander! We had such a fun day there, imaging what it would be like to have a set up like that in your back shed!.

Well done on your first room win, it’s always exciting to get at least one under your belt in any given series. Are you feeling more confident now? 
Yes, definitely feeling more confident. It’s so nice to finish a room, and have time to step back and say ‘I’m happy with that’ – we definitely didn’t feel like that the week before.

The room looked pretty spot-on in terms of execution and finishes. Do you consider this one of the most important aspects when delivering a room?
Yes quality finishes are so important as, at the end of the day, it’s a ‘selling’ competition.  If that means more labour and time spent on the finishes and less shopping – then that’s the way it is.

Can you talk me through your design process this week? Where did you start and how did you go about setting out this particular room in terms of your entire floor plan? 
This bedroom is one of the few bedrooms on The Block with an amazing city view. We felt we needed to capitalise on that. Storage is a ‘must’ in any bedroom so frameless-mirror-built-in cupboards made sense. There were several things that governed the layout of the room: there was a structural steel beam running a little lower than the full window height. To deal with that, we stepped up the ceiling height and created a recessed bulkhead for the curtains to fall from. I feel that keeping the height above the window created a high-end feel in the room.
We wanted to create an inviting room, but still stay true to the building’s history with that industrial feel. The artwork sets that tone. The styling was really inspired by the art.

I loved your Lindsay Blamey artwork. How important do you feel it is to have a focal point like artwork in a room? 
So important! We discussed having a TV on the wall but felt the room would be lacking character. When I saw the Lindsay Blamey artwork I knew it was the perfect piece for the space. We used the art to pull out colours for the room, and set the ‘mood’ of the styling.

The judges commented that you had ‘colour with restraint’ in your styling this week and I felt it was all very well put together and considered. Do you spend much time planning your styling pieces each week, or are you a bit of an ‘in-the-moment’ type shopper? 
I don’t feel like you can be too ’considered’ on The Block, as you never have enough time. Although at the start of the week we were determined to create a room we were happy with (as opposed to our terrace the week before) so we did spend a bit more time planning layout and making big decisions (like the oak/ carpet/ curtains).
In terms of the styling; it really did come together in the last shopping trip after I’d found the art. So in that regards I’m an ’in-the-moment’ shopper. Not being from Melbourne, I struggled in the first couple of weeks with where to go for things I needed, so really did grab things as I saw them just in case I couldn’t find an alternative elsewhere.

Neale made commented that you got the ‘balance just right’ in terms of styling this week. Do you feel the styling session with Darren Palmer helped with this?
The styling session with Darren was so good and definitely helped in the room this week. He talked about creating vignettes and creating a room that felt ‘lived-in’. Kyal and I felt that the session got us excited about the weeks to come and the potential of using different textures.

You seemed very organised this week. How much better do you feel about the room when you have finished the room the night before and there is no rushing around that morning? 
Soooo much better! You actually have time to step back and ’edit’ the space… which is another thing that Darren talked about. Our first bedroom literally came together with minutes to spare and we never got to stand back, take it in, and then ‘edit’ as needed. This week we really got to enjoy the experience of really taking in the week’s hard work. As well as that; being able sleep on a ‘room reveal’ night and have a coffee break in the morning is a luxury that doesn’t happen very often.

Do you have a favourite element?
My favourite elements are the curtains (with recessed bulkhead), the artwork and the ‘Like Paper’ concrete pendant lights from Germany.  Kyal’s favourite elements are the oak timber feature walls and the layout.

The judges commented that you have a ‘strong understanding of the buyer’. Do you have a target market firmly in mind? 
We feel that it’s important not to limit the buyer by creating rooms that only appeal to a certain market. Having said that, we feel the apartment would be suited to a professional couple.

Who do you feel will be your biggest competition on Auction day? 
I feel our biggest competition on auction day will be Brad and Dale. Their apartment is bigger, with higher ceilings in the living area and they are doing a great job in terms of fit-out and execution.

You both seem like very cool, calm and collected people in stressful situations. That said, three weeks in is where you really start to feel the pressure. Are you secretly screaming inside or are you still travelling okay? 
The hardest part is definitely having a camera in your face all the time. I am a quiet person (until I get to know you), and generally do internalise stress. So it was then hard to have to talk to producers all day – especially when they are trying to pull these emotions out in a way that I would not normally do. I would say we are generally pretty chilled out – but Kyal is more so Kyal’s normal way of dealing with stress is to go for a surf, which obviously didn’t happen.  We did fight, but mostly at 3 or 4am when we’d been up all night painting and were completely irrational and moody.

How are you feeling about the week ahead and delivering another bathroom in seven days?
Nervous! We want to prove to the judges that we can do a bathroom well. Delivering a bathroom is a massive job, let alone with only seven days.

With the couples’ main bathroom being revealed this coming Sunday night, I’m excited to see to see how they have all evolved from their first bathroom reveal and if the ‘Super K’s’ pull off the amazing bathroom they are hoping for.

The Home Journal is an Interior design and Lifestyle blog by Dani Wales, fomer contestant on The Block.  Check out her blog for more inspiring articles.