Series 4 ~ Episode 5 ~ Beach Chalets……
……or rather ‘Beach Shall-laze’ as Head Judge Michelle Ogundehin inexplicably kept calling them. We’re used to her sometimes odd pronunciation (Exhibit A: ‘foliage’ as ‘foilage’) but this was a welcome new addition for our collection.
This week’s task was for the five remaining designers to each re-design a 1930s brick built beach chalet on the coast at Eastbourne. The terraced beach chalets had a small interior (2.5 square metres) that featured an original 1930s corner sink, an outdoor porch, plus a further outdoor communal area. Each designer had a client with a different brief, and Michelle would judge who had not only best fulfilled the design brief, but had also made a space that could be used for eating/socialising/relaxing/storage. Those of us who still hadn’t got over Ry’s removal from the process on the previous episode also suspected that Michelle was quite capable of adding another criteria if it suited her purposes.
As usual, each designer had the services of a small team of decorators/carpenters and a budget of £1000 to complete the transformation, plus the added complication of the extreme heat that was a feature of most of last summer. Suddenly Jack’s decision to sport a bandana at all times didn’t seem quite so deranged. Alan tried to emulate Daniel Craig by swimming onto the set, and despite replacing 007’s pale blue swimmers with a wetsuit, mask and flippers you could hardly tell the difference.
I suspect that Monika had been hoping that this episode would have been Crypts Week, as Monika doesn’t like the beach. Monika also doesn’t like warm weather. As we’ve previously seen during this series, Monika also doesn’t like reading paint instructions, keeping to time, or checking she has brought all her gear with her. ‘Reading the brief properly’ would soon be added to that ever-growing list.
To her delight, Monika’s brief was to create a ‘Gin Club’ capable of seating eight people, with an art deco theme. Deciding to risk the wrath of Michelle, Monika decided to ignore the sea front location, and design a space that was more East London than Eastbourne – would this pay off?
Monika gets that sinking feeling
Despite the heat meaning that she had to ditch her usual black ensemble for a pale pink t-shirt and shorts, she gamely got stuck in and was the only one of the designers to make the bold decision to remove the original sink (an odd choice when trying to embrace art deco?) and replace it with a camping sink sunk into the top of a 1930s-style sideboard. She upcycled the sideboard to make it worthy of an episode of Jeeves & Wooster, added a gold ceiling, a vinyl floor with a tile pattern, painted the walls a deep blue, and added Blockbuster-esque hexagonal gold tiles over the sink.
Deep into Day 2 she realised that she had not realised that she should include the communal area in her design plan (cue the weekly shot of Monika in tears), so had to move some of her furniture outside to fill the space - a plan so fiendish that the judges didn’t notice.
Tom’s challenge was to design his beach chalet for a watersports enthusiast (no sniggering at the back, please) with lots of equipment to store, who wanted a Caribbean theme. Tom leapt out of his muted tones comfort zone and into the ‘bright colours’ page of the Dulux catalogue and chose vibrant blues and bright pinks for his hut. Rumours that he took Hot Carpenter’s signature orange t-shirt down to Homebase for paint matching cannot be confirmed, although many on Twitter spent a happy hour or so imagining Hot Carpenter wielding a drill whilst naked from the waist up.
Tom was impressed with his plan. Less impressed was his decorator – who answered the ‘does this remind you of the Caribbean?’ query from Tom with a decisive ‘No’.
These colours apparently look nothing like the Caribbean.
Stating that he wanted his hut to have a Dirty Dancing vibe, Tom then filled it with enough furniture for the owners to invite all the cast round for the time of their lives (and still have enough spare seats to ensure that no-one would stick Baby in the corner). The owner’s collection of wetsuits, surfboards, etc were to be housed in some clever storage solutions and a not-quite-so-clever large wardrobe. Tom was the only one of the group to erect some extra shade for his beach chalet in the form of an awning – which looked nice, but not sure how practical it would be in the breezy seaside weather.
Peter declared early into the episode that ‘I’ve earned my spot here’. Those of us who are still having nightmares about last week’s knitted chair may disagree with this statement, but luckily there were no knitting needles in evidence this week. Peter’s brief was to design a ‘multi-generational family party hub’ using flamboyant florals and bright colours.
Peter’s solution to this was to paint his hut peach (disclaimer: I hate the colour peach so any comments I make may be influenced by this prejudice), and then paint a tropical mural on top of the peach using a make-up brush. This led to a discussion as to whether ‘floral’ is the same as ‘tropical’ and whether peach was a butch colour or not. I think we can all agree that this is exactly what we pay our licence fee for.
Peter’s owners had some large Edwardian-style deckchairs which needed to be stored away when not in use, so Peter used some two large modular seats to join together to make a comfortable seat with storage underneath. The resulting sofa took up a lot of space, protruded beyond the doorway, and was so high that anyone sitting on it would end up dangling their feet in thin air….but it was undeniably comfortable.
Temi was feeling a little imposter syndrome this week. Having been a lawyer, she felt acutely aware that she had the least experience of the group – the others having all either studied interior design, or having had some practical experience. The confident, sassy Temi of last week seemed to have disappeared. She was also a little worried that her brief – an ‘Eco chalet escape’ for a GP and his family – had the danger of her repeating some ideas she had used in hotel week.
Using reclaimed wood, hemp rope, and with different shades of blue, Temi was the designer who most embraced the seaside location of her chalet. She used a hammock, a fishing net hung from the ceiling to keep flippers, beach balls etc off the floor, and (less successfully in my humble opinion) some spray painted mirrors. If someone can explain to me the point of a mirror in which you can’t see a reflection I’d be very grateful. I was also slightly worried about the implications of hanging a lantern below a rope net - just how combustible is hemp?
Series favourite Jack was given a beach chalet which is owned (or rented?) by Eastbourne’s A&E Department, and which can be used by the staff that work there. A slightly different brief (as the space would be used by lots of different people who would presumably bring their own beach stuff with them), Jack was simply told to design ‘an art deco space’.
Jack spent most of Day 1 on creating his Busby Berkeley-inspired ceiling
Jack explained that the NHS was close to his heart – as a sufferer of cystic fibrosis he has spent a lot of time in hospital – and so he was keen to make the chalet a space that stressed staff could use to relax. He chose NHS blue as his base colour (a nice nod to the owners, but would it remind users too much of work?), and added in more shades of blue, two types of panelling (Jack’s signature), and a bold ceiling design which incorporated a series of diving ladies which Jack would cut from wood and hand paint. Orange hints added to the colour scheme, and art deco touches added to the shelving he placed on the walls.
All in all, a week in which not much went wrong, nothing was dropped or broken, there were no arguments, no hissy fits, and only mild weeping. I think it was probably too hot for drama.
This week’s Guest Judge was the shy and retiring Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen. Whilst filming on the beach on one of the hottest days of the year, did Laurence wear (a) shorts, a vest top and a pair of flip flops, or (b) a bold (but dark) suit with buttoned up jacket? No prizes at all for guessing (b), but I’m not sure he made the right choice as he looked a little moist at times (wonder if Jack offered to lend him the bandana on condition he avoided the Sofa of Doom?). Michelle – having this season eschewed the statement sleeve in favour of the lovely frock – was also suffering in the heat (which may have explained her subsequent nit-pickery). I imagine that there were two poor runners on that particular shoot who had to fan both Michelle and Laurence between takes.
Tom: nice chairs, big wardrobe
Tom’s chalet gained points for the awning and the bright colours, but the judges were less impressed with the large wardrobe he had chosen for storage. Admittedly it could have been made to look nicer, but Tom had the toughest job when it came to storage – most of the others only needed to hide deckchairs rather than surfboards and inflatable kayaks. One thing Michelle did love however was his choice of seating ‘I love a bit of vintage deckchair action’.
Peter’s chalet was next for inspection, and although the judges liked the sink and worktop space, Michelle HATED the seating and the way it partly obscured the entrance. She was also unsure as to whether the space was ‘coherent’. Laurence was keen to join in the debate: ‘is tropical the same as floral?’, and to the surprise of no-one came down on the side of ‘I’d rather have seen some faded chintzes and cabbage roses’. Annoyingly he also used the word ‘foliage’ when we would all have much rather heard Michelle mangle it in her own inimitable way.
Is it floral, though?
Monika was next, and for the first time the judges were not in complete harmony. Laurence generally loved it – particularly the colours – and despite the removal of the sink he pronounced the upcycled sideboard-cum-cooking area ‘a hero piece’. Laurence loved the gold ceiling (Michelle didn’t), they both hated the plain wall mounted cupboard, and they both liked the floor. Michelle pronounced it ‘a little bitty’.
Jack next, and both judges were impressed with the attention to detail – from the diving ladies ceiling to the lighting and the panelling. However, Michelle felt that the shelves were both too small and had too much detail, and neither liked the vertical cladding along the kitchen unit which ‘told a different story’. They both agreed that there was perhaps too much art deco detail in such a small space, and I almost spat out my tea when Laurence said – with a straight face – ‘there’s a strength of knowing when to stop’. Has he ever watched Changing Rooms????
Jack's art deco overkill
Finally Temi, who was convinced before she had even finished that she would be on the sofa. However, after criticising the previous four chalets for putting too much detail into their spaces both judges loved the simplicity of Temi’s design. They both felt that she had done exactly enough to fill the brief and created a ‘proper beach chalet’ that felt ‘super spacious’. They loved the painted horizon, the changing screen, and the rustic shelf unit on castors that can become a table.
No-one mentioned the Christmas tree!
Interestingly, the views of the chalet owners were once again not taken into account – for all we know, a large wardrobe to hold their surfboards could have been exactly what the owners wanted – and it is a shame that we don’t get to hear from them. I have discovered that the owner of Monika’s Gin Club was delighted with the results – it was exactly what they asked for, ‘the new sink is much more practical as you can get a washing up bowl in it’, and they haven’t changed a thing.
One thing that has changed, however, is that all the chalet fronts have been re-painted white. As listed buildings that was always going to happen, and all the designers knew this.
It was a foregone conclusion that Temi would be deemed the judge’s favourite, with the remaining four designers forced to sit on the Sofa of Doom and explain their choices. It really came down to which was the worst crime: one too many types of panelling (Jack); not reflecting the beach location (Monika); too much clunky storage (Tom) or a seat that stuck out further than the doorway (Peter). Michelle plumped for the sticky out seating, and thus it was Peter’s turn to leave the competition – although Michelle did warn Tom that it was a close call and that it could easily have been him who would be crossing the Irish sea and going home.
Comments on social media were mostly in agreement that it should be Michelle who should leave the programme, and furthermore that there was no point in having a guest judge if Michelle’s decision rests on her prejudices alone. I have some sympathy with this view, but as I still haven’t forgiven Peter for last week’s knitted chair I was happy that his time was up.
What do you think? Should Peter have gone? Is Jack still the favourite, or has Temi overtaken him? Let us know what you think!