The story of the (Duck Egg) Blues.....
With the audience still reeling from last week's shock non-eviction, the fab four remaining designers gathered in Michelle's studio to be briefed on the penultimate task in this year's competition.
This was to be another 'team task', in which two teams would be formed in order to re-design two restaurants in the very pretty town of Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire. Hmmmm.....a task requiring two teams of two? How would that have worked if one designer had left the competition last week and left three remaining competitors? The more cynical amongst us might be forgiven for believing that this was a complete fix and that four people were always going to be needed for this challenge.....
Siobhan's cafe 'before' photo
The two restaurants in search of a makeover both had two floors - so each designer had their own floor to work on, but Michelle wanted to see some COHESION between the two spaces. I can't emphasise enough how often this particular c-word was used. Each team had two days, £3,000, a small team of decorators/carpenters, and a chance for a zoom briefing meeting with the restaurant owners.
Lynsey's upstairs 'fine dining' restaurant (brings back too many memories of school for me!)
Lynsey and Siobhan - a.k.a. Team Yorkshire listened to the owner of their restaurant describe how the ground floor was a busy space for casual cafe dining, and that the upstairs was used more in the evening for fine dining. Both spaces were currently very bare and bland, and the owners were keen for Lynsey and Siobhan to inject some softness into the building. Lynsey asked if the bare floors, walls, seating and open window spaces created a noise problem, and it turned out that the owners were already receiving comments about the 'echoey' nature of the space and were keen to remedy this.
Alan in 'Debbie Downer' mode wondering if Michelle will understand the wall art
Lynsey and Siobhan - who are both from Yorkshire and might have mentioned this once or twice - must both know that Hebden Bridge is famous for two things. It's a vibrant artistic community, and also known as the 'lesbian capital of the UK'. Only one of these was mentioned on camera, however, as Team Yorkshire concentrated on incorporating local artists into their design - Lynsey by commissioning a large heathland mural of earthy browns, plums and purples for the upstairs room, and Siobhan by asking a local artist to paint 'Ey Up!' on the wall downstairs. The programme was on a couple of days ago and I still can't decide if I liked it or not. I did wonder if the restaurant had been in Edinburgh she would have asked a local artist to paint 'och aye tha noo' on the wall in tartan paint.
Siobhan's copper counter
Another idea of Siobhan's that I instantly loved, however, was her decision to copper leaf the counter top of the cafe - covering it with a resin to seal the copper. Siobhan knew that this would work as she stated that she'd used the same technique on her bar at home....cue a pre-prepared package showing Siobhan's muted home decor style. I'm not sure I could live in a house like that, but I'd love an invitation to one of her parties.
Siobhan at home
Upstairs, Lynsey went with darker, more muted tones to match her mural (whilst also giving us an update on her pregnancy - IT'S A GIRL!). Lynsey paired the muted wall tones with noise-reducing curtains, fabric covered chair seats, and a floral fabric on her Ebay bargain banquette seating. With Siobhan also using the same floral fabric in the cafe downstairs they thus achieving the much desired COHESION.
Lynsey's muted mural
We also got a chance to see Lynsey in her own home (not quite as bonkers as Siobhan's surprise, surprise).
Lynsey at home
Whilst Lynsey and Siobhan had taken great pains to listen to the owner's wishes and had tailored their design to meet the brief, Paul and Micaela might as well have saved themselves the bother of their zoom briefing as they ignored more or less everything their owners said. After being told that duck egg blue was an integral part of the restaurant's branding, both Micaela and Paul declared that they hated the colour and weren't going to include it. Micaela even went so far as to declare that 'if the owners like our colour choices, they could always take it as an opportunity to re-brand'.
Downstairs at Paul & Micaela's cafe/restaurant
The owner was keen to keep some duck egg blue in the new scheme
The restaurant owners also favoured a geological theme, and were keen for an earthy toned scheme that incorporated their collection of rocks. Paul and Micaela were quite sniffy about these, with Micaela stating that she wasn't going to use them (presumably this would also be part of the re-branding exercise that the restaurant owners would be forced to undertake).
Paul was not keen on including the owner's rock collection.....but relented and they re-appeared in the final scheme
Micaela and Paul's confrontational bent didn't just include ignoring the brief, but also apparently ignoring each other during the planning phase. Each did their own thing - 'we've just got to go for it' declared Micaela - with little or no COHESION in their scheme. Unfortunately this mean that there was an issue with the stairs - should they tie in with Paul's earthy, muted, olive and brown tones or with Micaela's green/peach/lilac/burnt orange colour palette? Paul was worried about 'being sent home over a lilac staircase', and in the end they reached a compromise that had the effect of pleasing nobody.
Paul, typically, was not afraid to use colour and wallpaper in the downstairs of his small cafe. Six colours and four wallpapers to be precise. Every surface was painted, papered, or clad in reclaimed wood; he painted the original lighting after his replacement order failed to arrive; and he even declared himself to be going macho after organising the building of a bench seating area at the front of the cafe. Alan's reaction to this statement involved a lot of giggling.
Paul feeling macho
To further cement Paul's macho credentials, we were then treated by a short clip of his mother taking a moody photo of him in Belfast for his social media feeds.
Paul's poses for his mum
Upstairs Micaela's unusual colour combinations didn't really fit the 'warm' brief, but I'm probably biased as I hate peach (I think I went to too many weddings in the 1980s). Her layout, however, worked really well - she even managed to make the tables by the toilets look attractive.
Micaela's colour combo
Micaela at home
Michelle's guest judge for this week was Nisha Katona, the driving force behind the successful Mowgli restaurant chain. They met up before visiting the restaurants to discuss that 'every table needs to be a destination' and that lighting was very important as (a) Michelle wants to look good and (b) Nisha wants to be able to read the menu.
Guest judge Nisha Katona
Team Yorkshire was first for inspection. They loved Siobhan's copper bar, were divided on her decision to paint the ceiling burgundy (Nisha thought it looked to dark for a daytime cafe; Michelle quite liked it), didn't think she had paid enough attention to good lighting for each table, and decidedly unsure about the 'Ey Up!' on the wall.
Siobhan's finished cafe
Upstairs to Lynsey's and I think it's fair to say that they were both blown away by the transformation. Nisha declared that 'I get such a good feeling when I walk in here', followed by 'It's making me hungry', and finally 'I'm scraping the barrel for criticism here; I love this room!' Michelle was very impressed with the use of the floral fabric on both floors; thereby achieving ULTIMATE COHESION. My opinion is probably not quite as important as the judges, but I loved it too.
Upstairs for fine dining with Lynsey
Round the corner, the judges next visited Micaela and Paul's newly designed eaterie. I think they were a little overwhelmed by Paul's collection of colours, patterns, and textures - with one long wallpapered wall being singled out as 'too much'.
Michelle liked this part of Paul's design....
...but wasn't so keen on this
Upstairs, Micaela's colour scheme - and lack of duck egg blue - caused consternation, with Nisha likening it to a 'teenager's bedroom'. She did, however, declare 'I like it - but I'm embarrassed!'. They loved the layout of Micaela's space, but in a move that suprised Absolutely No-one there was criticism that the two spaces looked too different - Nisha pointed out that the upstairs looked like a pop-up run by a separate owner. There was 'no flow' from downstairs: COHESION FAIL.
Micaela in 'spot the duck egg blue' shocker
The sofa of doom (featuring Paul's cravat)
Back to London and the Sofa of Doom, and Michelle wasted no time at all in praising Lynsey and declaring her through to the final. The remaining three were quizzed by Michelle and Nisha - having to answer questions such as 'what was the story you hung your design on?' or having to defend their lack of COHESION. Despite Paul wearing his lucky cravat (but not wanting to weep into it; having to borrow a tissue instead), the judges chose to put Siobhan through to the final and to wish both Micaela and Paul farewell.
Micaela and Siobhan lent him a tissue due to fears of tears on the cravat
I was surprised - I've liked Lynsey from the start, but had always had a sneaking suspicion that the judges favoured the bolder designs of Siobhan and Paul. I was less surprised to see Micaela leave; Michelle has given her plenty of second chances (whereas Barbara was sent home after one bad week).
It would have been nice to see the owner's reactions (but at least I now have an excuse to go to Hebden Bridge and see for myself if there have been any changes).
The Downing St Press Room (cost £2.6m). What could Siobhan do with this?
So....next week is the final! What will their mission be? I do think that there was been a missed opportunity: the government have just spent £2.6m on a new press briefing room for Downing Street that doesn't exactly have the wow factor. Imagine what Siobhan could do for a tiny fraction of that figure! She's already shown her money-savvy potential by appearing this week in a repeat of Bargain Hunt.
Pre-wig Siobhan in an old episode of Bargain Hunt!