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Interior Design Masters - Series 3 / Episode 6 ~ Margate Cafes



Four designers left.  Two cafes in Margate to make over.  Three of the designers held their breath.  Who would draw the short straw and be paired with Cocky Paul?  Amy had packed a variety of sharp implements just in case it was her, and breathed an almost audible sigh of relief when Michelle (in a disappointing sleeve this week) announced that Amy and Fran would be working together.  Smiling Banjo – who has yet to work with Paul – had no idea what he was letting himself in for.


Charlie's Cafe, featuring lovely mosaic walls and stylish red padded chairs

Amy’s good fortune soon evaporated when the two café premises were allocated.  Banjo and Paul had a lovely, bright, airy space that required little more than a lick of paint before the designer fairy dust could be sprinkled; whereas poor Fran and Amy were given a far more difficult space covered in mosaic tiles, populated by nasty red chairs (which had to stay), and a toilet door that was the first thing that greeted customers as they entered the room. 


Olby's Cafe - a much easier challenge?

Michelle had decreed that the space should be divided between the designers, but that they should collaborate on a cohesive whole.  Both cafes wanted a multi-functional design that would work for daytime café customers, but could also transform into an evening drinks and dinner destination; and also had to appeal to a huge potential customer base: art-lovers visiting the nearby Turner Contemporary gallery; locals who would pop in all year round; and holiday-makers and day-trippers in the warmer months.


The first thing that greets visitors to Charlie's cafe is the toilet door

Banjo and Paul’s café was Olby’s – a Caribbean café described by its Jamaican owners as having a ‘soulful, jazz vibe with a Caribbean twist’.  Paul (who I suspect spent his research time watching endless episodes of Guadeloupe-based ‘Death in Paradise’), interpreted this brief as ‘French Caribbean’ and wanted a bistro-style interior with a curtained entrance to greet visitors and half-curtains at the windows.  Banjo seemed unconvinced by this, but being a non-confrontational type, smiled and added that his area of control would feature shutters, coconuts, and lots of colour.

Fran & Amy’s café was Charlie’s – an eatery the owner described as providing everything from ‘beans on toast to a steak’ at good prices.  As well as specifying that no tables could be painted and that the padded red chairs had to stay, they also stipulated that they didn’t want any seaside cliches.  Fran’s idea was to go down an Art Deco route; while Amy wanted her seating area to look like a Speakeasy, with colour inspiration from a Turner painting.  This appeared to involve all the peach paint left over from Week 1, which I Did Not Like At All. 


Paul shows off his bespoke French Caribbean curtain fabric

Collaboration is not a word that is in Cocky Paul’s vocabulary, and so from the first morning Banjo was struggling to get access to the carpenters needed for his design.  It did not help that Paul had unilaterally decided that it was much better for them to complete all his woodwork first, whilst simultaneously declaring to camera that ‘neither Banjo or I are about ego’.  You could almost hear the crew laughing, and I admired greatly the cameraman’s ability to keep a steady shot. 

Paul agreeing that Banjo could have sole use of the long as they had finished Paul's jobs first.  Very big of him.

Fran & Amy, meanwhile had to contend with a paint spillage of epic proportions in the van before they could start unloading (sadly it wasn’t the peach emulsion).  Despite the two designers declaring themselves best friends, the paint was not the only thing spilt during the two day challenge, with Fran in tears on more than one occasion.

No use crying over spilt paint.....there'll be several other opportunities later

Last week Fran tried tiling for the first time – with limited success.  This week, having learned nothing from the experience, she decided to attempt upholstery.  How difficult could it be: ‘It’s just like wrapping a Christmas present’.  Turns out much more difficult than she thought, leading her to spend almost all of the first day re-covering the banquettes and leaving Amy to pick up the slack.


Fran begins the Great Upholstery Challenge

Alan arrived in a Ford Capri – I’m not exactly sure why – and first visited Paul and Banjo to view progress.  Paul explained his ‘French Caribbean’ vision whilst sitting at the sewing machine making his statement curtains from fabric he had designed himself, while Banjo spent time building up his nerve to ask Paul if he could possibly have the use of any of the carpentry team.  Paul magnanimously agreed to this humble request, and said that now almost all of his woodwork was finished, he would relinquish the artisans to do Banjo’s bidding.  It was a very moving scene.


Alan's carr (see what I did there?)

Alan’s visit to Charlie’s café found Amy frantically covering the legs of the horrible red padded chairs in black paint in an attempt to make them look slightly less horrible.  Fran was still complaining about upholstery taking a long time, and Alan was trying to be polite about their choice of colours.


Meanwhile, Paul showed us the design for his rope lighting (was I the only one who wondered if his inspiration had arrived while playing a game of hangman?). 


Those of us old enough to remember Ottowan’s ‘D.I.S.C.O’ (I must confess I think I’ve got a copy somewhere) were treated to Alan's rendition in the DJ booth at Charlie’s; leading to one wag on Twitter tweeting ‘P – he’s pretentious; A- an arsehole; U – so useless; L – a liability….’


Fran and Amy, meanwhile had lost so much time that they were madly compromising and ditching jobs in order to finish.  Amy had spent much of the first day working on communal areas while Fran was upholstering; so was less then sympathetic when Fran asked for more help to finish the bar.  Cue an argument, tears, a reconciliation and a big hug.  No such drama at Paul & Banjo’s café; with Paul hanging his much-vaunted curtains around the entrance and declaring them ‘just genius’.  I begged to differ: seaside places are notoriously windy, and I would worry that each time the door opened on a windy day there was a chance that the curtains would blow straight into the soup of whoever had the misfortune of sitting at the adjacent table.  I also thought that they would probably get filthy very quickly and constantly need to be washed…..but ease of cleaning has never really been a priority on Interior Design Masters.


Tearful Fran

Time was up.  Paul and Banjo were finished, and in his usual understated way Paul confidently stated that ‘Every single thing in the brief has been articulated’; and Banjo that ‘my heart and soul is in this place’.  Things (other than the paint) weren’t quite so peachy with Fran and Amy, who had run out of time and had to cut several items from their scheme.


Paul's entrance (and exit) curtains

First café to be visited by Michelle and Guest Judge Ross Bailey was Olby’s.  The initial reactions were great: Michelle loved the signage, Ross thought the shutters were fantastic, and they both loved the colours and the lighting.  What they were not so keen on were Paul’s ‘genius’ curtains, and the ‘French Bistro’ style that they felt jarred with the Caribbean theme.  Paul’s artwork (which consisted of library photos of cafes in the Caribbean) was criticised as lazy, with Michelle stating that she would have preferred pictures of the owners instead.  This seems to be a ‘thing’ with Michelle as she has said this at least once before. I beg to differ and don’t really feel that my experience of a place is enhanced with a picture of the owner looking down at me……but maybe that’s just me.


Off to Charlie’s next to judge Fran and Amy’s work.  This again started well: they liked the exterior, the screening of the toilet door, and agreed that this was a more challenging brief in a more difficult space.  That being said, they hated the colours and didn’t feel they really screamed ‘Turner’, thought it wasn’t well finished, and then gave us a comedy moment when they sat at the bar to discover that the bar stools were far too low.


The café owners were then given a tour of their new premises.  The owners at Charlie’s – who looked like they could be the Margate Mafiosa – loved their new gaff; and the owners at Olby’s were so overcome they burst into tears.  I think in a good way.


Margate Mafia Don Charlie loves his new cafe

Back to the Studio…..and despite Paul ‘I have no ego’ proclaiming that ‘personally I’ve smashed it’, it was Banjo that was declared to have produced the best interior and he was sent off to try and beat his record on the Brighton amusement arcade’s Space Invaders machine (apologies; my references in this regard may be slightly out of date).


The owners of Olby's were overcome with emulsion (sorry).

Paul was criticised for turning a Caribbean theme into ‘French Bistro’, at which point he looked puzzled and said “I didn’t think it could be interpreted as French”, causing the nation to shout ‘you big fat liar’ at the tv (or maybe again that was just me).  However, his crime against design wasn’t as heinous as those committed by Fran and Amy and he was also declared to be safe.

Michelle couldn’t decide who was the best (or worst) of the two remaining in danger, and asked both Fran and Amy to justify staying in the competition.  There were tears.  Fran said that the colours that Michelle had hated weren’t just Amy’s idea - it was a joint collaboration – and so in a heap of mixed metaphors fell on her sword and sealed her fate.  Amy was saved, and Fran was sent back ‘to real life’.


A touching moment

Do you agree?  Do you think the Final Three are the best of the bunch?  It will definitely be worth watching next week, if only to see Paul hit his head on a cupboard door (I've seen the trailer).

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