Episode 1: Show Homes by Show Ponies?
I love interior design programmes. I was brought up on Changing Rooms and have been a sucker for anything involving painting walls, sewing cushions or making innovative lamps out of old microscopes ever since – so when the BBC launched it’s latest foray into the genre I was thrilled.
Interior Design Masters certainly ticks many of the reality show boxes. Amateur interior designers competing against each other? Very Great Interior Design Challenge. Split them into teams and film them bitching about each other? I assume the production team watch the Apprentice. Send one home each week? Well if it works for the Great British Bake Off…..
Format established, the BBC then obviously felt it was necessary to dip into it’s box of Radio 2 presenters to find a suitable host. Zoe Ball, Sara Cox and Claudia Winkelman had already been snapped up to front shows about dancing or pottery, so Fearne Cotton presumably had little competition from the likes of Steve Wright or Ken Bruce to get the gig.
We were introduced by Fearne to the ten aspiring Interior Designers, all competing for a major commercial contract at a top London hotel, and to the stern Head Judge – Michelle Ogundehin – who reminded us that design is ‘more than painting a few walls’. The contestants were then divided into two teams - ‘design is not a solo sport’ opined Michelle - and each given an Executive Four Bedroom Show Home on a new development near Newcastle on which to work their magic.
Trish's bedroom (about which judge Matthew said 'my mother could have done this')
They were advised that their designs should all work together to form a cohesive show home, and that they may have to let go some of their ideas in order to think of the bigger picture. Ju, a lively Brazilian with a fondness for bright colours but presumably a terrible memory, was asked by her team to tone down her choices of bright flowery and geometric wallpapers in her study in order to fit in with the rest of the house and immediately refused. No-one pushed the issue (I’ll be surprised if this entente cordiale lasts many more episodes) and instead chose to complain about her intransigence behind her back.
Ju's Floral Study
In the other house, Nicki “design for me is everything; it’s how I live, think and breathe” was the anti-Ju and wanted to paint the master bedroom black. None of her team thought this was odd, although if Twitter was anything to go by, the rest of the UK were screaming “Black? In a show home? Are you insane?”.
Nicki's Black Bedroom
Trish, who until recently was a social worker but was now re-launching herself as an interior designer (‘I love eclectic’), was worried about her paint too. She wanted duck egg blue, but thought it had turned out a bit ‘baby blue’. “Does it look baby blue to you?” she asked anyone who would listen.
Jerome (“my style is modern boho with a bouji sophistication”), decided that his child’s bedroom would look nice if the walls were pink. And the ceiling. And the carpet. And all the bedding. And the curtains. And his shirt.
Jerome's very pink bedroom
Jim, a Design Writer, thought that the large living room he’d been given to design was a boring blank canvas that would benefit from the addition of several pink archways nailed to one of the walls. “It gives the room elegance” he declared, although again Twitter wasn’t convinced.
Meanwhile Trish forlornly declared to the camera that she’d decided to re-paint her walls. “All I could see was baby blue” she declared, followed by “still, there’s no point in going on too much about it”. Too late, Trish. Much too late.
Cassie's study (the judges loved this)
In another room, solicitor Terion was weeping over her inability to stick vinyl circles onto a background without trapping air bubbles. Frank's advice: “don’t get upset babes” didn’t work, but in the end she stemmed the flow of tears by employing a technique apparently used by Barbara Windsor (squeeze your bum cheeks together hard and it will stop you crying, apparently).
After two days it was all over. Stern Michelle, accompanied by guest judge Matthew Williamson, gave all the rooms the once over. “It’s a bold ask for everyone coming into this room to love that paper” said Matthew of Ju’s floral study; but she survived to fight another day as it was Jim and his pink archways who were eliminated. The reason? “It just didn’t feel loungey”.
Interior Design Masters isn’t going to win any awards. It’s no Breaking Bad. But I’m completely hooked and I’ll be watching again next week. Care to join me?