It’s back! The ‘Changing Rooms meets Bake Off’ Interior Design Masters returned to our screens this week with ten aspiring new interior designers vying for the ‘life-changing’ prize of a commission to redesign a room in a Lake District hotel.
The format remains the same as Series 1. Judge Michelle Ogundehin returns (now with added fringe); an aspiring designer is eliminated each week; and Lovely Builder has also returned to assist with the heavy lifting….this may or may not be due to the thousands of women-of-a-certain-age emailing the BBC. The main difference this time, however, is that earnest and supportive Fearne Cotton has been replaced by not so quite earnest and supportive Alan Carr (‘Painting curtains? I’ve never seen the like!’). Perhaps the BBC took a leaf from Michael ‘we’ve all had enough of experts’ Gove and decided we’ve all had enough of blonde female presenters? I still think that Interior Design Challenge presenter Tom Dyckhoff was robbed and is by far the best choice, but I’m (mostly) over that now and am prepared to give Alan a chance.
Our ten aspiring designers were despatched to the outskirts of Oxford to decorate a bedroom and a living room in five new show homes that were (and still are, I checked!) on the market at over £1m each. One assumes that people spending that kind of money won’t be wowed by a lot of painted MDF, but that didn’t stop Barbara, who used exactly that to divide a room that wasn’t exactly palatial to start with (the living rooms in the show homes screamed less ‘£1m house’ than ‘Center Parcs Lodge’ to me).
Siobhan's living room - judged 'too urban' for the rural location. I know the area, and beg to differ re the 'rural location' as it's right next to the Oxford ring road, and adjacent to the part of Oxford you are most likely to find your car after it's been stolen.
The brief was ‘sophisticated’ and ‘aspirational’, so I guess that Siobhan (a devotee of the Zandra Rhodes ‘let’s dress as a paint chart’ school of fashion) hoped that whoever bought her house aspired to be a 1920s flapper girl, as that’s how she decorated the room. Mona, Sibohan’s team mate, doesn’t like curtains so decided to be ‘true to myself’ and not put any in her bedroom – thus the aspirational flapper girl should also not mind flashing the neighbours as she dashes to the sanctity of the ensuite.
Mona's curtain-free bedroom
Charlotte was the director’s favourite for this episode. Not short of confidence, ‘I’m a good designer because I know what I like’ was her opening declaration (on that basis I would be an excellent artist and a chart-topping singer). Charlotte was paired with ‘room divider’ Barbara, and spent most of her time arguing over Lovely Builder, who was at one point protesting that he was constantly ‘being pulled into Charlotte’s bedroom’. Lucky Charlotte, thought rather a lot of women on Twitter.
Barbara's scheme divided the room (and the opinions) of the viewers
Mona thought that caricatures of Michelle and Alan would make great pieces of art for her bedroom, and I’m not sure about you but I don’t think Alan was overly flattered by his. To be fair, I’m not sure that waking up to the Carr teeth would be my preferred way to start the day – but at least it might frighten off any potential burglars who happened to be looking through her curtain-less windows.
I made notes to remember who was who and for Jon I have: ‘tattoos, football shorts, bit weepy, favourite design style: drag culture'. Jon was chosen to do one of pretend surprise peeks into the opposition’s rooms and immediately had a bout of insecurity about his bedroom. Sensible team-mate Lynsey told him to not worry as all designers are different – subtext: ‘pull yourself together Jon, if you go to pot you’ll take me down with you’. He needn’t have worried – both of their rooms were never in danger of consigning them to the dreaded Sofa of Doom.
Jon's bedroom: Laurence thought that we'd all be copying his 'paint the wall and a bit of the ceiling' idea, and that "who would guess that under Jon's exterior beats the heart of Joan Collins?'
Lynsey's living room (one of my favourites)
The final four contestants were Amy & Micaela and Peter & Paul, who all got on so well that the editors didn’t really bother to show them very much at all. Micaela is an upholsterer and ‘handy with a power tool’, and Amy, despite spending quite a lot of time getting just the right shade of pink for her room, thought the whole process was a doddle compared with looking after three children (I can’t wait to see her paired with Jon). My notes for Peter include ‘qualified doctor, left medicine after eight years to pursue interior design, not sure he suits dungaree shorts, painted his curtains’, and for Paul ‘quiff’ and ‘confident’ – he included a photograph of himself and Laurence Llewellyn Bowen in his room scheme.
Paul's living room
Ah yes – did I mention that the floppy haired and floppy cuffed Laurence Llewellyn Bowen was the guest judge on this opening episode? Always good value, Laurence wasn’t quite as overpowering as his appearance in the first series, and made some really good points when touring the rooms.
Laurence and the uncreasable Michelle
He and Michelle broadly agreed that they mostly loved the work of Lynsey, Jon, Peter, Paul, Micaela and Amy, and that the other four had made serious mistakes. Barbara was criticised for trying to do too much, Siobhan for not thinking about who she was designing for, Mona for not putting any curtains at the windows, and Charlotte for the combination of being (a) lazy and (b) the heinous crime of presenting the side of a chest of drawers to a potential buyer as they walked into the bedroom. Charlotte was asked why she didn’t turn it round, to which she replied that she was ‘too hot’. Still - possibly because the producers thought that she was going to make good tv – lazy Charlotte was spared, and it was curtains for Mona. Or not, as the case may be.
Interior Design Masters - BBC2 every Tuesday. I'll try to blog each week (but make no promises!).