Much like the kitchen, the living and dining room is the heart of the home, making this week’s challenge one of The Block‘s most anticipated reveals.
Whether yours is a cosy nook in an apartment or a sprawling space for the family, a beautifully planned living and dining room can elevate daily life.
We asked a host of industry insiders to unpack this week’s trends to inspire your dream space.
Skylights are ideal for illuminating any space naturally, casting a soft, ambient glow and making interiors feel open and bright. “They provide a unique connection with the outdoors too, allowing us to view treetops and the changing weather,” says designer Liz Hall from Studio Apercu. “Given recent times, this indoor-outdoor connectivity has significant appeal.”
From Tanya and Vito’s retro round openings to Mark and Mitch’s multiple skylights, it’s a functional feature that provides a focal point as an integral part of the home’s architecture and interior design.
“Whether it’s a large, central linear skylight or contemporary oculus, be aware of surrounding infrastructure,” Hall warns. “You don’t want to install your skylights only to find they’re in the shadow of surrounding buildings or your neighbours can spy you in the bath!”
Be aware of their solar impact throughout the seasons, too, she says. “You may happily live with its beautiful light and warmth during winter, but come summer it could be your worst nightmare.”
The sleek and sexy integrated fireplace was popular this week, and for good reason. Used as both a heat source and architectural design element, it can’t help but steal focus.
“It’s the perfect design centrepiece,” says designer Bea Lambos. “An integrated fireplace gives off designer vibes and always wins in the wow stakes.”
The judges agreed, applauding Tanya and Vito’s double-sided style linking two separate lounge areas.
“It’s a focal point, especially in a large space,” Lambos says. “It also brings in design elements from other rooms like stone, timber and colour, adding cohesiveness to your home.”
Consider functionality, ensuring the style you choose provides enough heat for the space. Practicality is also paramount. Are you prepared to put in the time and patience required for a traditional wood fire? “If not, gas or electric might be the preferred option,” she says. “Spend time getting your placement right too. Imagine how you want to use it and see it before you finalise its location.”
When Ronnie and Georgia covered their lounge in sumptuous cream bouclé, judge Shaynna Blaze fell deeply. “It’s the fabric of the moment!” she proclaimed. Designer Martine Cooper agrees.
“Bouclé’s current popularity is partly cyclical,” she says. “Bouclé made its debut in the 1930s in fashion [most notably in the classic Chanel suit]. In the following decades,it emerged as upholstery, and today, it provides a sense of comfort and ease that works beautifully in our current climate.”
Abundant in texture, bouclé, meaning curl in French, comprises of lengths of woollen loops of similar size.Adding luxury to a living space, it pairs beautifully with curvilinear shapes like seats, ottomans and decorative cushions.
“It’s important to keep bouclé simple,” says Cooper. “Add to one beautiful sofa or set of occasional chairs to allow space for the fabric to be properly appreciated.”
“I always wanted a sunken living room,” said Shaynna upon spying Tanya and Vito’s. Fun, playful yet intimate, the couple’s sunken lounge wowed the judges, who agreed the addition would “pull at the heartstrings of potential buyers”.
“It’s all about gathering in intimate settings now, and a sunken lounge provides just that,” agrees Cooper.
Originally known as a “conversation pit”, the sunken lounge was popular in the 1960s and ’70s as an intimate gathering area and solution for carving up an open-plan space.
Cooper says that planning the right shape and form for your space is crucial, whether designed as a place to sit around the fire, an oversized lounge room, or an area to entertain.
“Consider the room’s shape and size and how to make it feel enveloping,” she says. “Ensure there’s ample seating and fit it out with all the comforts, from storage andpower points to small tables and flat surfaces for drinks.”
Practical dining table
When Josh and Luke chose an earthy, circular Christian Cole table for their dining space, they almost hit the jackpot. “It’s the star!” cried Shaynna. Unfortunately for the boys and their poorly executed floor plan, it was also in the wrong place.
“A lot is riding on the perfect dining table, starting with how it fits in its space,” Lambos says. “It can be annoying to move, so before installing, measure it out with masking tape.Allow generous space to move around it and some room between chairs. It should seat everyone comfortably and cater for dining, gathering and as a place to work.”
Choosing the correct seating is also crucial. “Pairing a low chair with a high table, and vice versa, is a common mistake,” Lambos says. “Try before you buy, but if you can’t, experiment with a table and chair at home and use your measuring tape to find what fits and feels good.”