The Block: bathrooms where the ‘wow factor’ replaced practicality and common sense

by Chris Lang on March 4, 2013

The Block All Stars

If you watched “The Block All Stars” during the “bathroom week”, you’ll know what I’m talking about. For those unfamiliar with “The Block”, it’s a television show about home renovation where people compete for the best-looking reno project. They are given an unbelievable amount of work and unrealistic time constraints and have to do their best to impress the judges.

I love looking at beautiful transformations where old run down houses are given makeovers, all those ugly-duckling-becoming-a-beautiful-swan kind of changes.

But I also know that many pretty household fittings can be… not very practical, less than comfortable, and often can drive a person mad!

So here’s what would drive me mad if I were to live in one of “The Block” homes.


Phil and Amity’s bathroom

In their own words, this bathroom was “spacious”. These two small vanity units is ALL the storage you get. How is that supposed to be enough for a family bathroom? Where will you keep your towels, toilet paper, creams, medicines, makeup, etc? Where are the drawers?

Fireplace, on the other hand, is overkill. You can’t see this on the photo, but the bathroom has floor heating, which is more than enough to keep the room warm – even in Alpine areas, not to mention Bondi with its mild climate. Why let a luxurious but ridiculously unnecessary fireplace take storage space?

Now, let’s talk about the bath for a moment. Imagine you fill it with nice soapy water and you soak for as long as you like while watching TV. Then you get a stiff neck (no wonder, ’cause you’d have to lift your head and turn it 90 degrees to the right to actually see the TV), so you want to get out. All covered with thick white foam you raise, but there’s no showerhead for you to rinse it, and you have to march all the way to the shower cabin, leaving a white slippery trail behind you. Irritating? Yes. Messy? Yes.
Safe and convenient? No.

Marc and Duncan’s bathroom

Marc and Duncan have done a bit better in terms of storage – in addition to this tiny vanity unit you see on the photo they also have 2 shelves (not seen on this photo) where you can store enough towels for a family. But again, where do all the things go you don’t necessary want on display? Do they all pile up in that vanity unit, making you curse every time you reach for something at the bottom of the pile?

Josh and Jenna’s bathroom

The stone is marvellous. One thing that would make this whole setting convenient, is a hand-held shower next to the bathtub, to rinse the soap when you get out.

Why on Earth in such a modern bathroom would you install two taps and not a mixer? Why bring a 19th century concept into 2013? Mixer taps, invented way back in the 20th century, are so much more convenient, they save time, they save water, and I see absolutely no reason not to use them.

You’re looking at the ONLY towel rail in this whole bathroom. Imagine you’ve just washed your hands. Water drips all over the floor as you walk from the sink to the opposite wall for the towel. The vanity units are so small there’s no space to even put a towel next to the sink. You’d have to mop the floor every day in this bathroom. Now THAT could drive anyone nuts.

Dan and Dani’s bathroom

Look at this shower. The shower head is huge – but this is all you get. There’s no hand-held shower, so as a woman, if I were to get into this shower, I’d have to get my hair wet every time. May not be a problem for a man, but all the ladies in the audience – you know that wet hair can be an issue!

A worrying trend

Now you may think I’ve been pretty hard on the contenders with their creations, but this is not the main topic of this post. What I really think is that these four couples were pushed to achieve the “wow factor” at the expense of practicality. They are being pushed to create rooms that look great on TV, but try living in them… and you may get disappointed.

I understand very well that if you want to sell a house for a lot more than it’s worth, you need to pack it with features. This is an old technique, they do it to all expensive consumption items such as cars, and now houses are no different. But it’s us, the consumers, who have to pay for this all. If this trend continues, and all the sellers will follow it, we end up with no choice but to pay EXTRA for more than we want, more than we need. And then our future may turn out similar to what happened in the US. We can’t afford the price tag, so we borrow more money, we get deeper in debts to pay for things that aren’t worth it… and then the credit bubble bursts.

Do we really want this in Australia?

What do you think? Do we want to pay extra for oversized houses packed with impractical luxury items?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian March 11, 2013 at 8:50 am

The thing that got me was the putting a free standing bath next to a wall !

Just how are you going to clean the bit of floor between the bath and the wall……It will just be a home for spiders


Chris March 11, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Good point! I hate all these dust-catching areas.


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