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Interior Design Masters: S5/Episode 7 ~ Wembley Dressing Rooms

Interior Design Masters: S5/Episode 7: Wembley Dressing Rooms

Three left.  A florals fanatic with highly groomed eyebrows.  A Victoriana addict who loves eccentric headwear and a flouncy pinny.  A track-suited architectural enthusiast who may or may not be sporting a perm (what do you think?  I can’t decide).  Only two can make the final – but which two??


This week’s task saw Roisin, Matt, and Ben (who seemed to have borrowed a hat from Isambard Kingdom Brunel) off to Wemberlee.  Were the FA going to let Ben redecorate the England football team’s changing room in the style of the Moulin Rouge?  Of course not – it was Wembley Arena that had taken the plunge, with each designer taking one of Wembley’s nine dressing rooms to provide ‘5* spaces’, with areas for hair and make-up, changing, socialising, eating and drinking the food from their rider, and doing whatever rock stars do in the privacy of their ensuite toilet *sniff*.  The designers had two days, £3000, and the use of decorators, carpenters and an electrician.


The original dressing rooms looked very utilitarian, with plain furnishings and white walls.  Underwhelming, you may say, but in a previous life I used to work for a concert promoter who regularly used Wembley for A list acts.  Usually the rider of someone like Mariah Carey would include a full redecoration (including requests such as ‘the couch must not be upholstered in a busy pattern’), and on one memorable occasion ‘a basket of kittens for Mariah to play with’.  Acts who aren’t quite so crazy as Mariah would put up with whatever the venue provided – these are usually the savvy ones who realise that the cost of doing up the dressing room gets charged to the artist and eats into the tour profits.  Dressing rooms can be used by just one artist, or in the case of a staging of Aida with a cast of 50+ there might be lots of people sharing, with stage makeup being passed around and the floor littered with wigs and costumes. 


Five Finger Death Punch

I digress.  Still, it is worth having a look on the Wembley Arena website to see who is playing shows there this year.  The dressing rooms could conceivably be used by the likes of Michael McIntyre, Bear Grylls, Andre Rieu and his orchestra, Five Finger Death Punch, ZZ Top, UB40, Jimmy Carr or Torvill and Dean.  Finding a scheme that would be suitable for all these is extremely difficult, and it soon appeared that at least one of our final three designers decided not to bother and put all their eggs into Mariah’s kitten basket.


Chaise longue (or chazzy longay as Alan described it - I blame the teeth)

Guess what?  Roisin decided on a floral wallpaper for her scheme…..but in a shock departure from her usual style it WAS NOT GREEN.  Instead she picked out a teal shade from the wallpaper (which cost her £980 of her £3000 budget) and covered the walls and ceiling.  Roisin must have been very clever in sourcing her furniture, because with almost a third of her budget already spent she managed to find a collection of soft chairs and sofas, a large Victorian dresser to house drinks and food, some orange curtains, a chaise longue which she reupholstered in pink, some Hollywood style mirror lights, some orange paint for the bathroom, and a tile grout pen.  Roisin planned to make the dressing tables and coffee table from stained plywood, and to bring in quirky lamps to complete the look.  With fewer contestants to focus on, the production decided that now was the time for us to meet the friends and families of the designers, and we met Roisin’s sister and mother – who were shown looking at wallpaper samples in a local shop (who if the amount that Roisin spent on this wallpaper is reflective of her usual spending must LOVE her).  Much was made of the way that Roisin had redecorated her parents’ house, but little mention was made of her own home (or her husband come to that).  Maybe he has interiors hay fever and refuses to let her loose with her florals?


Matt appeared to have been watching a box set of Mad Men recently, as his scheme wouldn’t have looked out of place in 1960s Madison Avenue.  He was aiming for architectural luxury, with dark stained wood, deep green curtains, a gorgeous copper backed dressing table (the copper theme extended over the ceiling), his signature cement wall, some floor to ceiling mirrors in the dressing room, and a revamp of the bathroom in a green to match the (Don) drapes.  Matt was the only one of the three to keep the original black chesterfield sofas – justifying his decision on the basis that international visitors would love the ‘Britishness’ of the design.  Not quite sure how that fitted in with the ‘New Yorkness’ of the rest of it, but in a previous challenge Anthony had been praised for keeping the original furniture and maybe Matt thought the same might happen again – because of course Michelle is famously consistent with her judging.


Matt's Upmarket Hotel scheme

Matt’s family must have been camera-shy, because his ‘at home’ feature consisted of him, his girlfriend and his mates sitting in a pub garden.  We did not see if he had any floral wallpaper at home.


Ben's practical white scheme.

Ben just couldn’t help himself and instead of designing for the likes of UB40 decided to design for Judy Garland.  He chose a white scheme for the paint, carpets and furniture, a white and silver wallpaper, a white feathery lamp, a 1930s cocktail cabinet painted silver and white, a white daybed for napping, and a piano.  Guess what colour the piano was?  There was little budget left for the bathroom, so Ben bought some stick on tiles (white, of course) and hoped that Michelle would be so distracted by the ‘shoe fridge’ (yes, really) that she wouldn’t notice the lack of attention in the ensuite.  ‘Am I doing this for the artists, or am I doing this for me?’ he asked.  I think we all know the answer to that one.


Ben's idea was met with wild enthusiasm

Ben’s partner is a history professor called Daniel, and if we expected someone flamboyant and highly camp to waft onto to our screens we were in for a shock.  Daniel appeared so normal!  Not a beret or pinny in sight, he seemed to good-naturedly indulge in Ben’s love of Victoriana (although whoever has to dust their cramped and exceedingly crowded home has my deepest sympathy).


Ben & Daniel or Frank Spencer & Gladiator?

I was beginning to worry about Matt.  Both Roisin and Ben loved his scheme and thought he was the one to watch.  At the end of Day 1 he was seen ticking off all the jobs on his worksheet and professing that he was ‘on track’, whereas Ben had run out of both paint and wallpaper and couldn’t fit his sofas through the dressing room door; and Roisin needed to pinch some of Matt’s wood stain to finish her table.  The only stress that Matt seemed to have to cope with was making his lighting work properly (which I would have thought the electrician would have been able to solve), and some stuff about bathroom vanity unit doors.  I strained my ears for the dreaded klaxon – were the editors setting him for an Anthony-style fail?


With one hour to go, the production team couldn’t resist playing ‘The Final Countdown’ as Roisin dressed her room with teacups and a fringed standard lamp; Matt finally sorted his lights out; and Ben brought more and more white things into his room.  After Alan had tentatively suggested that so much white might attract the odd stain (I was disappointed that we didn’t get ‘Red Red Wine’ playing in the background at this point), Ben dismissed his concerns with ‘it can all be steam cleaned between artists’.  Yes, Ben.  Of course it can.


The shoe fridge

Guest Judge joining Head Judge Michelle Ogundehin this week was the queen of sequins and doyenne of kitchen disco: Sophie Ellis Bextor.  Sophie wanted a ‘wow’ dressing room, but was also keen that they work on a practical level, although whether what Sophie wants in a dressing room is the same as ZZ Top remains to be seen.



Do you think Roisin has ever stayed in an Easyhotel?

Roisin’s was the first to be judged, and both judges absolutely loved it (as I think we all anticipated that they would).  It was hard for either of them to find fault, with Sophie loving the jewel colours, the dual make up stations and the curtained dressing area.  I loved it too (I am a sucker for teal).


Matt’s wasn’t such an immediate hit, with Sophie feeling it a bit blank and echoey rather than the cosy space she would prefer.  She did, however, describe it as ‘handsome’ and compared it to a seriously upmarket hotel – but also found it a bit intimidating.  The dressing area was more of a hit – as was the bathroom – and on consideration after looking at the room from a different angle Sophie liked the copper ceiling and the make up area too.  The main criticism was for the black leather sofas that had been provided by the venue: both Michelle and Sophie found them harsh and uncomfortable, with ‘no heart’.  Oh dear…..was Matt in trouble? I liked it – it felt very Rat Pack to me and I had a distinct urge to sing ‘Fly Me To the Moon’ and watch Ocean’s Eleven.

Would Ben be playing 'The Winner Takes It All' or 'Bye Bye Baby' at the end of the show?



Ben’s space left both judges speechless.  But not necessarily in a good way.  The pure white scheme made Sophie think that she was in a ghost’s dressing room (the ghost of Liberace came to mind), and they both loved the theatricality of it…..but agreed that the colour was totally and utterly impractical.  The bathroom was also a disappointment, not reflecting the ‘romance of the room’.  I think Ben was probably past caring at this point, having said to camera that he was designing a ‘deranged gay man’s fantasy’.


Back to Design HQ, and to absolutely no-one’s surprise Roisin was voted Standout Space, leaving Matt and Ben on the Sofa of Doom.  We finally saw Roisin's missing husband (albeit via phone screen) as she phoned home with the good news.


Matt’s lack of softness and comfort earned him some constructive criticism from Michelle, but there was really only one conclusion she could draw and that was that Ben should leave the process after creating his supposedly steam cleanable room.  Do you agree?  Will you miss Ben?  Who will win the final next week – early favourite Matt, or the outsider Roisin?  Let us know what you think in either the comments or on our social media!





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