Interior Design Masters S4 Episode 1: Show Homes (a.k.a. You're Harshing My Mellow)
Roll up your sleeves (statement or otherwise), grab your Interior Design Masters bingo card, and settle down on a Tuesday evening – it’s back!!
The format doesn’t deviate from the previous successful formula. Ten new aspiring designers agree to humiliate themselves for our viewing pleasure by competing against each other for the ultimate prize of a professional contract to redesign ‘a top cocktail bar’, with one designer eliminated each week by the endlessly stylish Michelle Ogundehin. As Chief Judge, Michelle is joined each week by a guest from the world of interior design (Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen always turns up at some point); and the whole show is held together by the excellent Alan Carr, who manages brilliantly to combine cutting comedy comments with supportive cheerleading.
The early episodes can be hard to re-cap, as there are so many new faces to get to know. In a handy guide, I am happy to share my notes:
Monika: there’s always one designer that likes using black paint, and in this series it is Monika, who describes herself as ‘alternative but not your average alternative’.
Jack: the youngest contestant, East Anglia-based Jack wears a neckerchief tied around his head in the style of Olivia Newton John’s ‘Physical’ video and despite his tender years lives in a converted chapel he bought with his boyfriend. I suspect most of us immediately wondered if (a) Jack’s parents were loaded; (b) Jack’s boyfriend was loaded; or (c) Jack had at one time secured a lucrative PPE contract via Matt Hancock.
Joanne: calls herself a ‘content creater’, loves maximalist style (cross off another square on Interior Design Masters bingo) and seems to base her look on Phillippa Perry.
Ry: with a head of flowing ginger hair worthy of a shampoo commercial, Ry lives at home in his parents’ loft. Unlike the loft in our house, the space is filled with pot plants and carefully placed furniture rather than boxes of Christmas decorations and my children’s old nursery school paintings.
Karl: originally from Kuala Lumpur, Karl is an architect who runs his own practice in Newcastle and labours under the misapprehension that he can do a Geordie accent. Also claims to ‘bring an edge’ to the competition (something which turns out to be literally true).
Charlotte: a lawyer by day, a singer/dancer by night, and an interior designer at all other times, I think what Charlotte really wants is to be noticed.
Peter: Peter likes white. Peter likes Ibiza. Peter likes Britney Spears.
Temi: Criminal defence lawyer Temi is hoping to bring some colour and ethnic touches to her designs, and threatens to don her wig and gown if Michelle starts cross-examining her.
Tom: Tom is an actor, a florist, a clown, a puppeteer…..but mostly a waiter.
Buse: Another architect, Buse hopes to out-sleeve Michelle. Doesn’t appear to think it worth tying her hair back when using power tools.
The first surprise of the series happened in the opening few minutes when Michelle appeared wearing a sparkly SLEEVELESS jumpsuit to introduce the first task to the designers. Looking like she was off out with the girls as soon as the camera stopped rolling, my money was on a few glasses of Prosecco followed by a night at Abba’s Voyage show.
Before her taxi arrived, however, she had time to set the contestants their first challenge. Split into pairs, the designers were asked to create living rooms and bedrooms in five show flats in a new development in London’s Elephant & Castle. Each team had a budget of £1800, and an imaginary client, ranging from ‘post-grad flat share’ to ‘mature over 40s couple’ (suspect this last one had many of us spluttering into our hot cocoa and throwing our slippers at the tv). The pairs had to ensure that their rooms worked together – I ticked off the word ‘cohesion’ from the bingo card at this point – and the brief also asked that sustainability be at the core of their schemes.
The designers all paired off to discuss their various schemes, and disappointingly it looks as if we have yet to uncover the Series Villain. There were lots of smiles, lots of high fives, and lots and lots of green paint.
Upon arriving at the flats, a huge sigh of relief was heard throughout the land (via the medium of twitter) at the return of the crew of painters and carpenters who are seconded to each team to help them turn their dreams into reality. Orange T-Shirt Guy is back!
So the work began. Pots and pots (and pots) of green paint were sloshed onto the walls; reclaimed wood was turned into breakfast bars; headboards were re-upholstered (another tick); and the sustainability part of the task was met in a number of ways ranging from second-hand wall hangings to a frankly manky drainpipe.
Buse tried to make legs for her table by mixing blue plastic shapes into concrete to create a ‘terrazo effect’ – it didn’t work, and all she created was an almighty mess when the mixer flicked concrete all over the walls. Viewers were also concerned that this would be her last week when Orange T-Shirt Guy’s reaction to her ambitious wood panelling idea was ‘I think you might have to be a bit more realistic’. Buse’s design partner Jack started to look very worried at this point as he could see the competition slipping from his grasp.
Peter, meanwhile, was constructing a ‘living cactus headboard’ in his Ibiza-themed room, Charlotte was waiting for the decorator to finish painting the skirting boards in her room before deciding that she didn’t really like the colour and it would be best to do it all again, Tom was making some home-made art (tick) using tester pots, Ry was learning to tile, and Monika was trying to work out how to put together her second-hand daybed. No major disasters to report…..
…..until Karl’s carpenter informed him that his HUGE built-in sofa/room divider/storage solution could not be started as the wrong thickness OSB board had been ordered. Cue Karl trying to track down the right size, while the rest of us were screaming ‘just do something else – the built-in sofa is a TERRIBLE IDEA’. Sadly he could not hear us.
Alan had arrived by this point to give us his verdict on what he’d seen so far. Peter’s £5 drainpipe? Grotty. Monika’s daybed in a flatshare? ‘Are you hoping that the ugly one of the pair gets this room so they never bring anyone back?’. Whoever thought of hiring Alan to present this show will never be paid enough.
Day Two, and Joanne was feeling confident. So confident, in fact, that she was emboldened to make references to Eric & Ernie and Terry & June to Peter (who clearly had no idea who she was talking about). Joanne – who felt her confidence may be HRT inspired – also decided that the occupants of her living room might need reminding that they were in London by the addition of some home-made London skyline art. This despite the fact that the real London skyline was available by looking out of the window.
Temi was also making art for her vintage circus themed bedroom, although I cannot for the life of me think of the link between red and yellow handprints and a big top. Temi also made a peg-board for her children’s bedroom which she described as ‘sexy’. I worry about Temi.
The time ticked down, the rooms were dressed, and the green paint had barely dried before Michelle (with a decent sleeve this time) and guest judge Jonathan Adler arrived to see the results. I’d not heard of Jonathan Adler before, but I won’t forget him in a hurry. The episode had been nice but not particularly memorable – I thought a lot of the rooms looked very much like Oliver Bonas room sets – but Jonathan’s descriptive phrases will live with me far longer than a tasteful headboard or a neon cocktail sign.
Ry & Monika
First mention of ‘on trend’ in the episode saw me place another tick on my sheet. What I didn’t have on my list, however, was ‘I’m missing the playful punctuation’, which is how Jonathan described Ry’s room. The judges liked Monika’s main bedroom – her painted canopy led Michelle to opine ‘that’s a clever way to denote bed’ – but they were less impressed with the practicality and décor of her second bedroom. The daybed was dismissed in a significantly shorter time than it had taken to construct.
Charlotte & Tom
The judges loved these rooms. Charlotte was praised by Jonathan for constructing a breakfast table that ‘could be moved for dance parties’, and he also noted that he could see ‘adulting in this space’. Tom’s rooms were a hit too – the curved wallpaper and the self-made art were singled out. I too really liked this room, but he lost points from me for the really annoying thing that designers do with books: putting them on shelves back to front. How are you supposed to find the latest Richard Osman in a hurry?
Joanne & Peter
These rooms were less impressive. Joanne’s living room was described as ‘bitty’, and it was felt that she needed to have used bigger and bolder accessories. Peter, who prior to judging had declared ‘I wouldn’t change a thing’ (another tick) was criticised for his Ibiza-themed rooms. Jonathan felt that they were so disjointed that it was ‘harshing my mellow’, which is a phrase I am determined to use on a regular basis. Also, it came as a surprise to no-one that Peter’s manky drainpipe was harshly judged (who knew that winding a snake light around it would make no difference whatsoever?).
Jack and Buse
Jonathan’s word salad became almost uncontrollable in Jack’s living room. Comments ranged from ‘the graciousness of scale makes it so inviting’ to ‘boucle is the new fabric du jour’ via ‘this is flumpy and delicious’. Without the benefit of Google Translate, I would hazard a guess that he liked it. The judges were not quite so effusive in Buse’s rooms, but they did like the wood panelling and the banquette (tick). Jonathan just couldn’t stop however, and declared ‘she had me at saffron!’ upon seeing Buse’s colour palette.
Karl & Temi
Oh dear. Karl’s half-finished built-in sofa/storage/room divider didn’t divide opinion: they all hated it. Unsurprisingly it was declared that the design wasn’t child friendly (‘too many corners and pointy bits’), and that the sofa looked seriously uncomfortable. Jonathan’s advice for all the designers was ‘never underestimate the power of upholstery’, which is something we can all learn from, I feel. Temi fared better, with the judges mostly liking her main bedroom and enjoying the vintage circus themed room, even though they noted that her sexy peg-board was far too high for a child to use.
Back in Brighton, Michelle – in a homage to designers having to have a cohesive scheme – chose a sparkly statement sleeve for her elimination outfit, which combined the best bits of her previous two outfits. I think I may be becoming obsessed.
Alan revealed to the contestants that the judges had decided that Tom & Charlotte’s makeover was the best (I agreed), and that Monika & Ry and Buse & Jack would also be safe from elimination. The remaining four designers were invited onto the Sofa of Doom, where Michelle gave some honest feedback.
Joanne was told to think more about design and less about styling; Temi was told to think more about the client she was designing for; and Peter was told to stop thinking ‘it’s all about you’ as this task was ‘not the moment for signature style’. Karl had the most to think about though, as his poor design choices and his inability to finish on time meant that it was fairly obvious he would be the one to leave the process. Declaring that he usually sat behind a computer and so didn’t know how long things took to make didn’t help his cause, and so he waved goodbye with a cheery ‘see you later’. Which of course he won’t.