The Block returned for a 15th season this year and this time featured five mansions renovated by five teams, including married couple from Perth, El’ise and Matt. El’ise Bothe was kind enough to speak to me about her time on the show as Reality Review looks back at all things Australian in December.
This December, all month long, I will be interviewing multiple Australian Reality TV participants, to celebrate Australian Reality TV and the competitors fighting for the title and ultimate grand prize on offer.
El’ise and Matt were selected to compete on the 2019 season of The Block after fulfilling a dream deemed perfect for the duo. El’ise, a fashion brand manager, and Matt, a carpenter, took ownership of House 4 and quickly became a strong presence in the competition. Across 15 Room Reveals, the pair managed to win three of their Rooms gaining extra money for their budget in the week and a Volkswagen Tiguan. They also scored the first 10 for the season. The team were prepared to take risks too, as they implemented a major shake up to their floor plan by swapping the bathroom with their study, and asking for $5,000 from another team after said team used a gnome advantage to remove El’ise and Matt as the room winners. In the end, they delivered a fantastic home that sold on Auction Day for $3.450 million, profiting $460,000 for them and their family. Ultimately, it couldn’t beat eventual champions Tess & Luke, but they did finish the show in a commendable 2nd place. El’ise is here now to answer some of those pivotal questions about her time on the show.
The Block wrapped only a short time ago, how are you doing since the auctions and what was it like watching everything back on screen?
Doing amazing since the auctions. It’s a bit of a strange feeling because you’ve obviously had such anticipation for this for the last year. And it happened, and even though it happened, you still can’t believe it happened. This is the one moment you’ve been waiting for, and it’s just done. Kind of like a wedding day, it’s such a build up and you can’t believe how quickly it’s over and done with in a matter of seconds. You know I’m sitting back here now thinking, “we’ve still got the auction to come and everything still hasn’t happened”. After it, it’s just disbelief because you still are in shock and I don’t think until the money hits our account that we won’t feel like that it was actually real and happened already. It’s been an interesting journey, there’s been that lull as well, because obviously you don’t have your publicist calling every five minutes and you haven’t got trolling you have to deal with every five minutes on the socials. It’s definitely a strange ending to finish.
A carpenter and a fashion brand manager, you and Matt are kind of a dream duo for a renovation show. Why did you decide to take on The Block?
Well that’s what we thought! It’s more because of Matty’s field and I knew how talented he was and I knew how determined he was. So putting a carpenter and a fashion manager into it; you know I understand colour and design and I was really lucky that the brand style worked out and there’s been a lot of European trends so even stuff that I’ve done on The Block, you probably won’t see a lot of trends until now starting to come out. Which is good. We applied for The Block because we thought we would have a good opportunity to showcase both of our skills but also it was definitely to try and get ahead with our family because it was going to be a financial gain, or we were hoping for a financial gain out of it.
In Week 2 we saw you and Matt score what was at that point the highest score for a room reveal, with your formal lounge scoring a massive 29/30. That has got to be one of those dream moments for anyone on the show, what did this do for you and Matt and your progression on the show, and was it some sort of validation for competing?
Yes definitely, that was one of the highlights to us. To get the first 10 on the show, it was a feeling that you couldn’t describe, kind of like winning Lotto on The Block. It was something everyone was chasing and we thankfully were the first ones to get to 10. You know we had two room reveals before that and everyone could see we would be a threat but that kind of consolidated that we were in the competition and we knew what we were trying to achieve and trying to do. I think it definitely did after that. For the first six weeks we were one of the ones to beat, we had consistent scores, we had high scores. It definitely did confirm to the other contestants that we were there for the real deal, we wanted to give it the best shot we could, and win.
There was a stretch of three weeks that saw you and Matt come short in 2nd place for the room reveals, is getting so close to clinching a victory just as frustrating as coming last?
(Laughing) Yep. Honestly, when you come 2nd every time, as much as it’s amazing to come 2nd – and I guess it’s even the same when we came 2nd at auction – you’re so close! But you’re so far! So for three weeks it was just hard, because you’re nearly there and you second guess what you could have done to take that 1st place. Coming 2nd definitely still was better than coming last for us, I know we were happy either way. But 1st definitely would have been a bit prettier I guess.
Now you and Matt made a massive decision to change the floor plan of your house by swapping the bathroom and study. It was a big project, Dan described it as, “near impossible”. It came at a cost as you needed to pull the emergency help lever, which prevented you from spending time with your kids later in the competition. How close were you to just leaving the floor plan intact and taking that time later to be with your children?
Oh look, the whole thing was weird when we looked at the plan but Matt thought we could actually do everything in timber frame and he still could have done that here and I think it came down to the sponsors like Truecore steel, that was what we were using so we had to continue using it. So when it came to changing the floor plan we knew exactly what we wanted to do because we knew that changing the floor plan would benefit our future and the sale of our home, which therefore later in life would give us more opportunities to spend time with our children. And we believe that the risk was worth the reward in the long run because as much as we didn’t get to spend time with the kids we literally had four hours quality time with them on the show in the 16 weeks we were there. We now have a family holiday that we get to spend a month in Hawaii with, we have so many available opportunities given to us after because of that risk. And we certainly believe that the risk then has definitely paid off now.
A common question Scott would ponder over was if this season was ‘too big’. In the end, all of the houses were finished, but how often did you and the other teams truly consider that there was just no way you could complete the house on time?
Honestly, every Saturday night. When ‘tools down’ happened, we thought, “how on earth did Scott believe that we could get there?” So that was a weekly thing that every single contestant felt because you had only 24 not even 12 hours until tools down. So it blew our minds weekly that he thought it was possible. But obviously they knew better, [show creators] Julian Cress and David Barbour knew better. He picked a strong cast this year and he knew that we could make it. I think that was a really important thing for us all, he picked us because of our strength and our determination and our abilities. So we had to believe in that. And we remembered that every Saturday night, we doubted ourselves, but that’s why we were picked. We all proved it. We nailed it.
There was even a moment half-way through the competition where Scott reprimanded you all about whinging behind his back. He asked you all if anyone wanted to quit, but you all stay. How intense was that moment and did you ever think anyone would walk out of the show?
It was really, really intense. Look, you’re living in The Block bubble and everything is extremely heightened and you are believing everything around you. People are saying when you don’t have money you’re not going to finish and I know a couple of the teams believed it in the end and they said, “what was the point of even being here?” I never once said I wanted to leave The Block because I knew how hard it was to get there for us but I did hear common conversations at that time that, that was it, there was no point because there was no money. There were a few people that were serious about leaving. Looking back now, it was the exhaustion that was talking it wasn’t actually them. It was never the contestants’ real feelings.
Now we can’t ignore the tears. Obviously The Block is a high pressure cooker of emotions. Did you ever expect it to be such an emotionally taxing experience?
No. I never in a million years thought it. It’s funny I’m not the one that cried the most on The Block, I have to tell you this, mine was the one that got caught on camera. It just cracked me up. I do giggle now, I’m a very, very strong woman. You ask anybody, I will fight to the death for my children… If I’ve got something to say I will say it but I’ve always taken everyone else’s feelings in consideration. The heighteness of The Block just brings out such a different side to you that you’ve never seen before. Yes, I’m emotional. But I never thought I would have cried as much as I did. And to be honest I don’t even remember crying half as much, because you’re so tired, you’re delusional! You don’t even know what your body is doing, it’s hilarious.
By the end of the competition, you walked away with three room wins, two of which were the final two areas. How do you reflect on those three victories now that the entire experience is over?
So blessed. Those three rooms are definitely highlighted rooms in our home. And the front, front yard, that’s the entry point to your home and that’s the beginning of your journey when you walk in and we were so proud to have [landscaper] Dave Franklin and his team with us on the job. To having that room, I felt like that was the biggest statement and Jesse [Raeburn] kept on repeating that in a lot of his interviews as well, that the front of your home is what sells your home. And I really believe that. So having that and then walking into our front formal living, another room win, it was just amazing in terms of fluency. All of those spaces in our home are very fluent and are major areas that we deserve to have a win for, so yeah we’re very proud of those moments.
The auction didn’t grant you and Matt the win but you did walk away with $460,000, selling your home for a massive $3.450 million. How often were you thinking about the impending auction result while watching the season back and what do you think about your overall performance on The Block?
Oh my god, I still can’t believe that. Because it still hasn’t hit our account yet, I still can’t believe that we’ve won that money. We’re still eating baked beans and toast here buddy, trying to save our pennies! Look it’s definitely mind blowing that it actually happened. We can’t believe we’ve won that family and watching with the other contestants, we just wanted to make sure that everybody came across the line, everyone walked away with a win. Because it’s technically a year of two wages every single one gave up. So the fact that we all crossed that $300,000 mark was phenomenal. And that’s all that matters to all of us at the end, that we all have cash, and that we all have something to walk with. It didn’t matter who won. We all won. I remember getting back into ur house where our friends and close family were, it was like we had won. Our friends and family lost it! It was amazing! Everybody felt it! Looking back on the season now, of course the biggest regret for us was the gnome, and you do silly things when you’re in this Block bubble. And one biggest things was that, and we believed the producers, Scott, everyone when they told us we had no money and we can’t get to the end. You’re in survival mode. I call it kind of like a Stockholm Syndrome, you’re in a base camp and you either die or stay alive, because you’re going out there to try and stay afloat and put food on the table. That’s what you’re doing on The Block every single day. So when people are telling you things like that and you’re so sleep deprived, you believe it. So definitely the gnome was the biggest regret. In terms of Matt and my relationship on The Block, any relationship is always going to have tension. It happens naturally when you’re passionate people and you’re all trying to achieve the same thing. Would I take some of it back? Of course. But I look at it and say we survived. We were proud of everything we produced and we put every bit of passion into that and that’s what made our home in the end. It probably wouldn’t have been as good if we just let anything happen around us. So we’re very, very proud of our home.
You’re now back home working and spending time with your kids. Is it great to be home? I know you’ve teased that there’s something coming so what’s next for El’ise and Matt?
It is phenomenal to be home! Just to have the kids jumping in bed with us. That’s the biggest thing we missed, just those annoying little 7am wake ups. It’s those annoying little things that you miss the most on The Block, it’s funny, that you yearn for. I have that now. And we have our baby that we get to take to school everyday, we’re back to school lunches. Matt went straight back on the tools as soon as we got home, he had two days off. I went back to work as well, but my job quietens down this time of year so I’m not physically at my work placement but I’m definitely working a lot on the future. Look, there’s been lots of conversations with Channel Nine in WA about what the future holds for us. And I can’t let it out, nothing’s confirmed. But there’s a lot of fun opportunities that are there for us and they’re working on it hard because they believe in us which is nice. It’s really exciting!– EL’ISE BOTHE, THE BLOCK CONTESTANT
After a long and tough journey, thank you to El’ise for chatting with me about her time on The Block. I can’t wait to see more from you and Matt.
You can watch El’ise’s season of The Block as well as all the rest on 9Now! The show does return in 2020 for another season with more ambitious teams making some stunning renovation transformations.
Reality Review continues to bring out more interviews with some of your favs from Australian Reality TV. The next one will be up soon, stay tuned!
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