Interior Design Masters ~ Series 3 / Episode 5 ~ Shepherd’s Huts
The five plucky designers left to battle it out for this year’s title were in feisty mood as they gathered to chat to host Alan Carr at Design HQ. “I’m a survivor” they all trilled, although Paul – not for the first time – appeared to be singing a different tune to the others. What would Michelle have up her (statement) sleeve for them today?
First shock of the show: Michelle was sleeveless!! Second shock of the show: who would have guessed that Michelle spends her spare time helping out with her local Cub Scout group? She must have been practising her knots backstage before appearing on camera, but only Michelle could style out what looked like a piece of tow rope tied in a perfect reef around her waist.
But I digress. This week it was back to solo projects. No longer could anyone blame/hide behind their partner…..for the design brief they were given was to design the interiors of four brand new Shepherd’s Huts on a glamping site on the North Wales coast. Each designer was given a slightly different theme to interpret on a budget of £1000; and also strict instructions from Akela that they were to ‘reflect the landscape, to include bespoke pieces, with less buying and more making’.
The obligatory 'before' photo
Amy – keen to prove that she can win a task when not part of a team – was given the brief of ‘rustic chic’. She decided to push herself by painting a mural of the surrounding mountains, include an outdoor tin bath, and line the shower walls in corrugated iron….but then retreated into her comfort zone by designing a signature bespoke wallpaper. Quelle surprise.
Fran was told last week that she hadn’t been bold enough in her design choices, so this week decided to interpret her ‘bohemian’ brief by turning her hut into a circus caravan. In words that could possibly come back to haunt her, she declared that she would ‘forget about the brief and go my own way’…..because that’s always worked out well on this show, hasn’t it? Don’t answer that.
Dean was tasked with turning his hut into a ‘romantic’ getaway. I’m not sure what is Dean's usual kind of romantic weekend away, but his plan to paint everything in his signature black ‘because black is sexy’ made me wonder if he perhaps often pops to Amsterdam for a short break?
Banjo was given a ‘coastal’ theme, and upon learning that this week’s Guest Judge was 90s icon Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen decided that his imaginary client was Laurence’s twin sister Florence: ‘a rough fisherwoman with sailor tats who loves a sea shanty’. I love Banjo’s imaginary clients and am now wondering who might read this blog. I think my reader is a stylish woman with maverick fashion choices and an acerbic wit who drinks a glass of red while watching Channel 4 news (even though she misses Jon Snow).
Alan's mode of transport this week? A VW camper van
Lastly Cocky Paul – who seems to have quickly shed the slight sprinkling of humility he showed at the end of last week’s show – was given a ‘heritage’ theme for his hut. He had therefore scoured every salvage yard in the UK in his efforts to decorate using entirely vintage, second-hand, and reclaimed materials.
The Welsh location seems to have messed with the heads of three of the designers, with all three attempting some Bonnie Tiling, despite having zero experience of what can be a tricky DIY task. Fran (who I am beginning to think is not much of a forward planner), decided that the best course of action was to watch a ‘How to Tile’ Youtube video before starting the job…at which point she realised that she perhaps should have bought some spacers along with her tiles and grout. Dean was also learning on the job, and it didn’t take long before he began to regret buying small tiles that took ages to attach to the wall (guess what colour they were?). Banjo was another virgin tiler, and we were treated to an emotional segment in which he declared that his father would have been proud of his new-found DIY skills. But which would be awarded the prestigious Tiling Badge from Akela Michelle?
Lovely Builder takes Paul to task
Meanwhile Amy and Paul – freed from the terror of tiling – had more time to spend on other tasks. Whether this time was spent wisely is a point of debate. Paul got to grips with an angle grinder and merrily chopped up bricks for his bespoke fireplace, whilst declaring to an astonished audience that ‘I’m naturally modest; no-one loves an egomaniac’. His modesty didn’t quite stretch to reading the fire safety instructions properly, however, and Lovely Builder had to step in when it was discovered that his fireplace hadn’t got the fire boards in the correct place. No Fire Safety Badge for Paul. Amy was the only one not starring in some kind of DIY disaster, but instead was going down the horror route with the inclusion of a large stuffed magpie as a centrepiece of her rustic chic scheme. It was horrible: even naming it Malcolm didn’t make it any more appealing, and the addition of sensor-activated birdsong just added to the general Alfred Hitchcock vibe.
Malcolm the Magpie
As the hours began to disappear, Dean began to panic: he had spent so long tiling that there was no way he was going to finish all his other projects. Fran offered to lend him some paintbrushes, and would perhaps have been wiser to lend him her time too: instead she attempted to win her Craft Badge by stirring a bucket of what looked like porridge but was actually Plaster of Paris, and tried to make a ‘bespoke centrepiece’ by dipping foliage (or what Michelle would have called foilage) into the plaster, letting it set, and then sticking it messily onto a board to hang from the ceiling.
But time was up. With only a few moments for Paul to declare his hut ‘beautiful – I’m chuffed to bits’, it was time for Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen and Michelle to appear. The sunny weather had given way to blustery showers as they walked onto site – at one point I feared that Michelle’s voluminous sleeves would cause her to take flight – and did anyone else notice a hole in the sleeve of Laurence’s striped jacket? I’m beginning to think I may have some sort of sleeve obsession.
Let's play a game of 'spot Laurence's hole'.
Michelle and Laurence discussed what they were looking for. Michelle wanted something that was ‘practical, but with escapism - somewhere you can feel the landscape’. Laurence wanted something that would attract wealthy urbanites and was hoping that there would be no Welsh cliches.
Paul’s Heritage Hut was first to be judged. LLB said it was ‘powerfully textured’, but felt it lacked colour. Michelle was more impressed, and felt that Paul had hit the brief and produced a commercial scheme. I liked it. It didn’t have a wow factor, but it also didn’t have anything that could possibly offend a glamper (no stuffed magpie, for a start).
Paul's heritage interior
Fran’s Bohemian Hut was next. Fran was confident - ‘I don’t think I’ll be on the sofa’ - Michelle and Laurence less so. Laurence liked the colours but hated the plastered plants; Michelle didn’t feel that Fran had understood the bohemian brief and felt it was over-styled.
Dean’s Romantic Hut was the next port of call. Michelle was disappointed as she had hoped that he wouldn’t use black; she dismissed the fluffy cushions and rug as ‘impractical’, criticised the level of finishing, and wondered why there was nowhere to eat. Laurence liked the ‘Bond villain’ air of the hut, but felt that Dean didn’t know the difference between romantic and sexy.
Banjo’s Coastal Hut was declared ‘very jolly’ by Laurence, who felt that Banjo had instinctively known the precise amount of nautical touches to use without straying into cliché. Both judges praised the design element, the materials, and felt it would be very easy to use. I liked it too.
Finally Amy’s Rustic Chic homage to The Birds was inspected. Laurence loved the outside tin bath (‘terribly amusing’), but didn’t find Malcolm the Magpie at all funny. Michelle complained that Amy’s bed was too high, and Laurence complained that it was facing the wrong way. I think it is fair to say that neither of them liked the bed At All.
Rustic bespoke wallpaper with less-than-rustic lighting
And so to Brighton’s Design HQ for the debrief by Alan, who announced that Paul and Banjo’s designs had stood out and that both were through to next week. Fran, Amy and Dean were then quizzed on the Sofa of Doom, with Dean criticised for producing a sex den with no table, Amy for missing both ‘rustic’ and ‘chic’, and Fran for designing a gypsy caravan and not a bohemian shepherd’s hut. Which would be the more heinous crime against design?
It was Dean. Michelle couldn’t forgive him for staying in his black comfort zone, and so he duly left the process. He is still keen to forge a career in interior design, but I’m not sure there is a big enough market for a designer who will interpret any brief as ‘paint it black’. It might work for the Rolling Stones, but will it provide a new career for Dean?
Incidentally, I did my usual thorough research (Google and Twitter), and checked with the glamping site to see what had happened to each of the huts. According to the owners ‘It took a lot of work to rescue that [Dean’s] hut, and we spent three months bringing them all up to a proper spec after filming’. Ouch. The huts designed by Paul, Amy, Fran and Banjo are still basically the same (although all the tiling has been re-done, and the corrugated iron and tin bath are absent), but there is absolutely no trace of Dean’s Slut Hut.
So.....four left in the competition for the coveted Interior Design Badge. Who do you think will win?