Interior Design Masters Series 3 Episode 1: Manchester Flats
Those of us who were distinctly underwhelmed by Channel 5’s recent Changing Rooms revival were much cheered at the news that Interior Design Masters has returned for a third season. No tinkering with the format either – ten aspiring designers competing for a ‘life changing’ prize of a contract to revamp a Cornish hotel, Head Judge Michelle Ogundehin once again dispensing comments whilst rocking a statement sleeve, Lovely Builder was back (but criminally short of screen time this week), and presenter Alan Carr continues his mission to arrive on location in a variety of daft modes of transport. There was even the perennial ‘opening the paint tin to discover it was not quite the shade expected’ to make us feel at home.
Wrong shade of peach shocker
The scene was set in Michelle’s new ‘design hub’ – she has swapped gritty urban London for bohemian Brighton – where the contestants were paired up and given a brief to re-design the interiors in a block of luxury flats in the Cornbrook area of Manchester. I must admit to a loud sigh of frustration at this point: my daughter lives but a stone’s throw from the flats in question, and I didn’t get the chance to see Alan riding a scooter practically past her front door. An opportunity missed.
Each pair were given an apartment to work on. One had the main bedroom, the other the open plan lounge/kitchen/diner, with each pair then collaborating on a separate home office. Michelle STRESSED VERY POINTEDLY that she was looking to see how each pair collaborated on the joint space and wanted them to see VALUE IN TEAMWORK……something at least one of the contestants failed to register. This week’s guest judge was the lovely Matthew Williamson, who made the observation that as the flats were for the rental market the designers ‘can’t go mad’…..after which this aspect was completely ignored, with Matthew in particular praising designers who made the biggest changes.
Yet more peach paint
As always on the first week of the series, ten designers and a multitude of rooms meant that in the competition for airtime only some were able to stand out. Not always for the best of reasons.
The editorial team obviously favoured Banjo the likeable Kiwi goat farmer, who threw himself into the project by deciding to design his bedroom for an imaginary client named Trishelle, who ‘is fun, has a big personality, and owns LPs even though SHE DOESN’T HAVE A RECORD PLAYER!!’
Paul's wallpaper: teal or navy?
Visual merchandiser Paul was another who the editorial team decided was worthy of plenty of screen time – mostly as they rightly guessed that within two minutes of his introduction the majority of viewers would spend the rest of the show resisting an urge to punch him in the face. He described himself as a ‘creative genius’, but surely even to qualify as an entry level designer you would need to know the difference between navy and teal?
Richard carefully measures and cuts his curtains
And then there was Richard. Richard had only recently taken up interior design, following lockdown Instagram fame garnered for his fireplace murals. His enthusiasm extended to his attempt to beat his record for making a pair of green velvet curtains…..but would he (or they) come up short?
Amy bites her lip, whilst possibly plotting revenge
Quiet printmaker Amy had the misfortune to be paired with cocky Paul, who insisted on his choice of ‘teal’ wallpaper, ignored all her suggestions for the shared office, and when the teal wallpaper turned out to be navy batted away all her concerns with a condescending display of mansplaining. HIghlights included stating that as he is older than her he can see things ‘broader; the bigger picture’ and that she was not to worry as ‘I used to be like that, but now I have experience, I’m calmer’.
Conspiracy theorists began to twitch as each pairing started to paint the walls of their allocated apartment: had the BBC’s budget cuts forced the producers to buy gallons of peach and sage green paint in the last B&Q sale? Had the production team then insisted that most of the designers had to use it? It was everywhere. Suffice to say I am Not A Fan. At one point I felt like I was trapped in a 1980s bridesmaid’s dress, and Dean’s bedroom in particular looked like the occupant had used mushy peas as a dirty protest.
Peter’s bedroom transformation was another worthy of a paragraph of its own. He was aiming for ‘Ibiza meets the Bahamas’, but ended up with ‘Golden Girls meets Game of Thrones’ with his palm print wallpaper a spiky bamboo headboard that Alan worried was not contemporary enough for the young rental market. I too was worried – but less about the aesthetic and more about the possibility of losing an eye during a bout of insomnia. Peter did, however, pull off a neat design trick with his ‘Scooby Doo’ style revolving wardrobe door: mirror on one side, hangers on the other. Matthew and Michelle loved it.
The saga of Richard’s curtains continued throughout the show, with him being extremely pleased with them….despite them being about 10cm too short. Richard – bless him – saw this as a design statement, whereas Michelle thought that he had forgotten that the primary purpose of a pair of curtains is to block out the light.
Meanwhile, Amy and Paul were still at loggerheads over their shared office, with Amy quietly fuming, and Paul claiming he’d ‘nailed it’. Amy will need to become more assertive in future weeks or there is the very distinct possibility that Paul will be found mysteriously drowned in a vat of peach paint.
During the judging, Michelle and Matthew LOVED Peter and Fran’s combined designs (‘Perfect for the demographic!’), thought Green Dean needed to ‘learn more about colour’ and Molly needed to work on her ‘cohesion’. Molly and Richard’s office apparently committed the CARDINAL SIN of having the desk facing the wall (I type this whilst sitting at my desk……which faces the wall), Rochelle’s lounge was ‘too simple’, but Banjo hit bingo with his oversized headboard and clever use of colour.
Fran gets the first 'wow' of the series from Matthew
And so to the first Sofa of Doom of the series. Peter and Fran were easily the winners this week, and happily skipped out of Michelle’s ‘Design Hub’ and (presumably) straight into the amusement arcade on Brighton Pier. Rochelle and Banjo were saved next, followed by Green Dean and Peachy Abi. This left Cocky Paul and Fuming Amy, together with Green Velvet Richard and Eclectic Molly.
Michelle and Matthew agreed that Paul and Amy’s individual rooms were fine, but that there was little sign that they had worked together on the office space. To be honest even the combined efforts of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot would have trouble finding evidence of any collaboration. They also didn’t like Paul’s teal/navy wallpaper. Amy – shoulder bag clutched to her side – resisted the urge to take out what was almost certainly a loaded pistol hidden next to her tissues and spare lipstick, and instead insisted that she would speak up in future. With regard to Molly & Richard’s efforts, Michelle said that she didn’t understand Molly’s colour choices, but left most of her criticism for Richard – demanding to know what was on his mood board and giving him a lesson in window treatment priorities.
And so it was curtains for Richard, who was eliminated from the process – although most of the comments on Twitter felt it was a stitch up and that Paul should have gone.
What do you think? Who do you think is the early favourite? Who will be next to go?