Being a contestant on The Block is no small feat, and working on The Block as a trade or behind the scenes isn’t much different either. Especially this year when filming was dramatically brought to a halt with the onset of Covid. Yet despite the challenges faced this year, contestants pushed on to create some of the best living spaces seen on The Block so far.
When it comes to fireplaces, these aren’t usually the type of appliances which can be chosen, designed and installed in under one week, but this year, Stoke was asked to do just that. Working alongside each of the The Block contestants and their friends at Escea Fireplaces, Stoke was brought on board to ensure their fireplace installations ran without a hitch.
Stoke Fireplace Studio Melbourne Owner, Corey Greenway, met with each couple at their Alphington showroom to understand more about the contestant’s homes and heating requirements. For this season’s series, each house originated from a different decade, so the challenge was to choose a fireplace that suited each particular era and style of home.
“Selecting a fireplace for each of the couples was pretty straight forward,” says Corey. “The flexible flue system and Zero Clearance rating of Escea fireplaces meant the contestants weren’t restricted when it came to designing their fireplace surround. Most materials can surround the fire, plus you can hang your TV or art right above. This allowed the contestant’s to get creative, like in House No.3 where they built their fireplace into a curved wall.”
Despite Covid threatening to derail the show’s filming schedule, when they were allowed to return to site Corey found trying to maintain social distancing the most challenging part. “With so many trades on site, the hardest part was trying to manoeuvre ourselves and the 200kg, 2m long fireplaces around without bumping in to each other!” he says.
With a team of five behind him on install day, Corey said the whole process was “surprisingly not stressful at all”. The key to it? Everything was planned and prepared prior to install day. This meant the gas, power and ethernet connections were already in place, and the surrounding structures had all been built to spec. This meant the fireplaces could simply get fitted straight into the opening and then run the flue. “It was the prep work that all trades had done beforehand that made the whole experience so much fun to be a part of,” says Corey.
Take a look at each of the living rooms and see what is involved with each type of fireplace install on The Block Australia 2020:
House #1 Harry & Tash
Harry and Tash’s 1940s home features the Escea DS1400 gas fire, and was the only house on The Block to have the flue run vertically out the roof (every other house had the flue exit horizontally out the wall). The fireplace surround was framed out of steel (timber can be used too) then covered in painted plasterboard. The frameless gas fire sits at eye level on a floating hearth and features LED strip lighting beneath for full effect.
Installations like this are really popular in Australia, and Escea’s Powered Direct Vent Technology makes them really easy to install – the flue can run up the ceiling, through walls or even under the floor, letting you install the fireplace in most places around the home, even in the middle of a room.
House #2 Sarah & George
Sarah and George created both a stylish and functional living room featuring Escea’s DS1400 frameless gas fireplace. The fireplace was installed into a brick-veneer chimney with a white paint finish to suit their Waterfall/Art Deco style home. Their fire sits upon a curved concrete hearth with a space for decoration on one side, and extra seating on the other.
Brick chimneys and fireplace surrounds like this are a popular choice for both new and renovated homes in Australia. In new homes, you can either build a double brick chimney (where the fire fits neatly into the brick fireplace opening) or it can be brick veneer – when a timber or steel structure is built for the fire to sit into, then is clad in bricks or a brick-veneer material.
For older renovated homes that already have a brick fireplace, look for a retrofittable fireplace like the Escea DF Series which are made especially to fit into existing chimney openings.
House #3 Daniel & Jade
Daniel and Jade’s 1930s home is a modern take on the popular Art Deco style with Spanish Influence. The Escea DS1150 gas fireplace was built into a unique curved wall with a Mediterranean- style rendered finish.
This wall-meets-window install creates a modern, seamless look that makes the fireplace look like it’s part of the wall – just like it’s always been there. That’s thanks to Escea’s Zero Clearance rating which means you don’t need a frame or fascia to surround the fire, and most materials can be installed right up to the edge of the fire without overheating. The technology also means that television cans be installed just a low 200mm above the fireplace too.
House #4 Luke & Jasmin
Luke and Jasmin chose the Escea DF960 for their Edwardian style 1920s home. Unlike most other living rooms on this year’s series, the couple chose to off-centre their fireplace rather than place it in the middle of the room. The surrounding fireplace structure was built out of steel and the flue was terminated out the side wall. In keeping with their style of home, they decided to keep the fireplace surround simple with a white painted plaster board finish with feature detailing under the hearth.
Off-centre installs like these are a great way to create smaller zones within larger, open plan living spaces, plus they tend to lengthen the look of a room too.
House #5 Jimmy & Tam
Jimmy and Tam used Escea’s DF960 gas fire for their Mid-Century Modern Living room, and like Luke and Jasmin, chose to position their fireplace off-centre. The feature surround was framed out of steel then clad in brick-veneer to create that classic 1950s look.
The DF960 is one of Escea’s most versatile fireplaces because it can be installed into both existing and new chimneys. Its sleek design and smaller dimensions makes it suitable for traditional, character homes but also fits in just as well to new homes too.
To find your local Stoke Fireplace Studio and see our full range in actions, click here.