THEY might have lived under there glare of dozens of television cameras for 12 weeks straight, but this couple from Sydney's northern suburbs say they'd do it all again "in a heartbeat".
Mitch Edwards and Mark McKie, of Newport, were the stylish grand-dad contestants known and "Mitch and Mark" in the 2019 series of The Block and they've just returned as special guests.
They lived in Bondi prior to filming the hit renovation reality TV show and they've also called inner-Sydney suburbs including Potts Point, Elizabeth Bay home, until now.
They originally bought their four-bedroom 'fixer upper' home high on the hill above Newport Beach in October 2018 and were keen to use it as a weekender.
"We bought it not intending to live there," Mitch said.
But, when they moved in for a few weeks break, and to plan a future renovation for the property, they were quickly hooked by the northern beaches lifestyle. They made the decision to move in late last year.
"This was supposed to be a once-we-retire type place," Mark said. "We never thought we'd like it so much."
This was supposed to be a once-we-retire type place. We never thought we'd like it so much.Mark McKie
Fresh from their stint as special guests on The Block this year, the couple were keen to reflect on their own time on the show during 2019.
Mitch and Mark had been a couple for 16 years and had renovated almost 20 homes when they signed up to The Block on a whim late one night on the final day that applications were open.
"There was alcohol involved and we'd been at the beach and we'd been planning our Bondi renovation," Mitch said.
"It was 9.30pm and I saw the ad saying applications closed at midnight and I said 'lets put in an entry'."
The application stipulated that it had to include a five minute video from the couple saying why they wanted to take part.
"We loaded it and we watched it go and it was seconds to midnight," Mark said.
Each year thousands of people apply to be contestants and Mitch and Mark said they never expected to hear anything following their application.
"Then they called and they said come in and 'bring a mood board'. I said 'what's a mood board'," Mitch said.
The couple might not be new to renovating homes, but their own process was less formal - Mark was the planner and Mitch did the styling.
"By the time we went on The Block we'd done 17 places in 14 years," Mark said.
"The Block is as much about project management as it is working with tradies."
They're the first to admit that being on the show was tough, but they worked out ways to cope, including getting up at 5.15am each day to get as much done as possible.
"You had to think of three hours of sleep as a lot of sleep. We did 20-hour days for 14 weeks," Mark said.
The couple are the first to admit that renovating under such tight deadlines and on a national stage could be stressful for some contestants.
"We were protective of each other on The Block, other couples got stressed and fought with each other," Mitch said.
"When you're sleep deprived and angry we'd recognise that in each other and give the other person a job to do to focus on.
"The most important thing is the relationship."
Mark agreed and said being on the show reinforced how much they care for and respect each other.
In their life off-camera, the couple are pros when it comes to renovating and agree that the first place they bought together was far from glamourous when they started.
"We said 'let's do five properties and see where we're at'," Mark said.
Mitch said the idea was simple: "To renovate and sell and upgrade our lives to a better property".
Having lived in their Newport home for a year and now with a firm feel for the seasons and the sunlight, they're keen to start renovating again.
New kitchen, living rooms, bathrooms and landscaping will be just the start for this home that they've labelled as "Austin Powers style" due to its 1970s design.
When they're not renovating Mitch and Mark both work - Mark is in finance with a psychology background, while Mitch has worked in marketing and communications with Australian Pork for years.
I'd do The Block All Stars in a heartbeat.Mitch Edwards
The couple have three grown up children and five grandchildren.
Asked if they'd ever take part in an edition of The Block All Stars, the answer is a resounding "yes" from both of them.
"I'd do The Block All Stars in a heartbeat," Mitch said.
Such is the couple's love of renovating and luxury homewares that they've launched Mitch and Mark Home; their first products are Australian made candles in a range of fragrances.
- The season finale of this year's The Block will go to air on Channel Nine this Sunday.
Mitch and Mark's renovation and style tips
Planning, planning, planning is absolutely vital, the couple say. Here's their other tips:
- Be decisive
- Treat each other with respect while you're renovating
- Be realistic about your budget
- Draw your designs up, even on a piece of paper, to work out how things go
- Think about the function of the room first
- Engage your tradies in your initial plans
- Treat your tradies with respect and work with them
- Decide whether you're doing a beautiful design or doing a property to flip
- If you're renovating to flip your home, your budget is even more important
- Don't forget to consider holding costs such as: mortgage repayments, council rates, land tax and utilities
- Develop an expert team around you
- Good finishes are vital
- Shop around
- Go direct to the wholesaler, especially for stone bench tops. You can often get good products at a lower cost
- Buy stuff that's last season
- If you're renovating your own home avoid buying stuff that's too 'on trend' as it'll date the house
- If you're flipping a house sage green and archways are on trend right now
- People can get caught up with buying 'on trend' items, don't forget trends can be created by just adding soft furnishings
- Dress a house like you dress a person, you don't want an ugly house
- If you don't want to renovate for another five years, just doing some painting can change the look of your house