Julia Treuel competed with her partner Sasha Wright-Neville on The Block in 2016. They were tasked with renovating an apartment in the former J. Kitchen and Sons Soap and Candle Factory in Port Melbourne, Victoria. Since then, they’ve completed another renovation dubbed ‘Little Willow’ and Cabinetmaker’s Choice were thrilled to be part of it.

In this month’s post, Julia details her five hard-and-fast rules for nailing the joinery of your dreams.

There are so many decisions that need to be made during a renovation and it’s easy to become overwhelmed. How do I know? Because I’ve flipped three properties in four years and cried at every turn. Well, not quite every turn but there were meltdowns in the tile store and the paint shop and let’s not forget when I bawled for 12 weeks solid on national TV. As Alanis wisely sang however, ‘You Live, You Learn’, and I’ve banked a whole lot of knowledge in this sphere. Namely, how to design killer wardrobes and floating cabinets.

  • Knowing Your Style

This is hands-down the toughest thing to settle on but it’s oh-so-important. Are you into the classics or is modern your scene? Do you want to reflect your property’s location or opt for something left-of-the-middle? Is 2-pac your thing or do you prefer timber veneer? It’s all a minefield in the beginning but if you nail your theme from the outset, you’ll save yourself a lot of pain.

Before you select your door fronts, start a Pinterest board to garner inspiration then step back and take a look at the images as a whole. There’ll be common elements in those you were drawn to so pinpoint them and you’ll be off and away. We went with a classic meets contemporary theme at Little Willow and used Shaker joinery throughout. The panels blend the two styles beautifully and look as good with handles as they do without.

  • The Layout

Once you’ve locked in your theme, it’s time to work on your floorplan. A good layout is paramount to ensure you’re making the most of the space. Every bedroom should have custom robes and it’s always good to opt for a walk-in for the master. They add an element of luxury and can be styled like a department store, if our effort on The Block is anything to go by. #WelcomeToDavidJones

We always like to have a dress rehearsal once the frame is plastered. The smallest things will trip you up so measure out the zone and imagine using the joinery. Doing this will help you understand how the space works as a whole. Is there enough room to open every cabinet in full? Are they easily accessible or will you have to dodge and weave to get there? Do they open up the area or close things off? By asking these questions, you’ll iron out any kinks before it’s too late.

  • Storage, Storage, and More Storage

There’s no such thing as too much storage so pack in as much as your space allows. If you have lofty ceilings, consider taking the cabinetry sky-high like we did at Little Willow. It’s a great trick to implement if you have limited floor space but want to increase functionality and grandeur. Sure, you may not be able to reach the top shelves but they’re great for storing items you only use occasionally, like Christmas decorations and family heirlooms (or, if you’re a hoarder like Sash, copious amounts of ski gear from that one time at Falls in 1998).

Bespoke joinery in the living room is always a winner. At Little Willow, we installed two floating cabinets on either side of the fireplace. They balance the space beautifully and provide fabulous storage for the Foxtel unit and sound system. By installing infrared technology, doors never need to be opened when using the remote, keeping the space clean, clear, and free of messy cables. Genius!

  • Wardrobe Design

The internals of a wardrobe are integral and should always comprise of a mix of long-hanging and short-hanging rails, drawers, shelves, and shoe racks. Everyone’s needs are different so consider what your current wardrobe looks like and design accordingly. I’m mad for winter coats and have an impressive Ted Baker collection so long-hanging is my shtick. On the other hand, Sash is all about the blazer so ample short-hanging makes sense for her.

Of course, there’s much fun to be had in the wardrobe (no, not that kind of fun.) Strip lighting is a great way to add interest and rotating shoe racks are stunning and practical. If you’re feeling like Carrie Bradshaw, you can go all-out with a velvet-lined jewellery display and dedicated vanity. Go on, you deserve it.

  • Hiring the Right Supplier

This might seem obvious but there are tonnes of bad suppliers out there so ask around for recommendations. Joinery can have a lead time of 12 weeks so make contact as soon as possible. Decent suppliers will help design cabinetry from your plan, then attend site for a final check-measure once plastering’s complete.

We sure got lucky when meeting Cabinetmakers Choice on The Block. They came to our rescue in Week One of the Challenge Apartment and created the most stunning wardrobe for our kid’s bedroom. We had absolutely no hesitation when asking them to be part of Little Willow and we’re thrilled we did. The cabinetry they’ve provided is nothing short of quality and they’ll forever remain in our Little Black Book.

Julia Treuel

Little Willow Project

The Block 2016