Episode Four ~ Student Studios
The potential Masters were back at college this week, having been dispatched to the University of Leicester and tasked with re-vamping six studio flats and two communal kitchens in the halls of residence.
The key to this week’s task was explained by Head Judge Michelle Ogundehin as a challenge to design functional solutions for small space, with clever storage and multi-functional furniture being the key to avoiding the Dreaded Sofa of Doom.
Head Judge Michelle Ogundehin with Guest Judge Sophie Robinson
Kyle ‘the only one who hasn’t been on the sofa’ was grouped with Jerome and Nicki; whilst Frank ‘I’m going to be nice, compromising and less opinionated Frank this week’ was teamed with Ju and Cassie. Each was given their own flat to design (with a budget of £1500), with each team collaborating over how to spend the £500 budget allocated for their communal kitchen.
There were different approaches to the task. Jerome headed off to Ikea and did what he does best – shop. He bought flat pack drawers, wardrobes and desk and decided to paint his room black and white, leaving the layout more or less as it was before.
Jerome's black 'sophisticated' re-vamp
At the other end of the scheme, Kyle decided to completely re-design the layout and incorporate a bespoke folding desk, a raised bed with storage underneath, and with so much fiendishly hidden storage that it might take a student the whole of their first year to find it all.
Kyle's ambitious plans included lots of wood. Too much wood.
Ju, Cassie, Nicki and Frank also had grand plans, including magnetic paint on the wall to replace the ubiquitous student pinboard (Ju); laying cork tiles on the floor (Cassie); designing a modular storage system that fitted together neatly under the bed (Nicki); and wallpapering the ceiling (Frank, of course).
Frank and his wallpapered ceiling. Suitable for a student flat?
Priorities in the communal kitchens were different too – Ju, Cassie and Frank went for some new lino and bright paint on the cupboards and walls; Nicki, Jerome and Kyle had plans for tile stickers, a breakfast bar, and a Kyle-designed coffee table.
Kyle, Nicki and Jerome's blue kitchen
To say that there were mixed results would be an understatement. Kyle bit off far more than he could chew and left his room as a sea of unpainted plywood. He also didn’t have time to make the kitchen coffee table, leaving Jerome to search local skips to something suitable. Nicki mis-measured her modular storage and it wouldn’t fit under the bed (plus she moved the desk but didn’t think to move all the power points). Jerome installed a double wardrobe with one clothes rail and no shelves (‘only good for ballgowns’ opined Guest Judge Sophie Robinson), and Cassie and Ju failed spectacularly to dye the kitchen curtains and ended up throwing them away.
Frank, Ju and Cassie's brightly coloured kitchen
Frank, meanwhile, was in full martyr-mode and bleating that his team-mates were not pulling their weight in the kitchen design. Still, he did have time to declare that although he wasn’t overly keen on the finished result (‘a bit like an easyjet crew room’), he did love the lino. Guess who chose the lino?
The judges loved Ju's room
The verdicts from the judges was fairly easy to predict. Kyle and Cassie were chastised for not finishing properly (Kyle could feel his first visit to the Dreaded Sofa of Doom was imminent); Frank’s design was praised but it was felt it wasn’t particularly suitable for a student; they loved Ju’s magnetic paint wall but hated the tiled desk; Jerome’s was ‘too black’ (even the stationery was black); and Nicki was criticised for trying to pack a thousand ideas into a small room. As for the kitchens, the brightly coloured kitchen was favoured over the breakfast bar (‘too blue’).
Ju didn't get away scot-free; the judges hated her tiled desk ('impractical')
Once the judges had inspected the rooms, the contestants were allowed to look over the opposition’s efforts. 'Nice, less opinionated this week' Frank declared Kyle’s was ‘shoddy’ and that Jerome’s was ‘flat pack city’.
Many trees were sacrificed for Kyle's design
The Sofa of Doom was eventually occupied by Jerome, Kyle and Nicki (Ju having been declared this week’s winner). Jerome was eventually eliminated after Michelle complained that he’d not raised the bed to create more storage and also rumbled that he’d used the same colour scheme as in his own lounge at home and was therefore not really stretching himself. She also launched into a long monologue as to the difference between interior design and interior decoration but by that time I’d lost interest and was busy googling where to buy magnetic paint.