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Interior Design Masters: Series 5 Finale!

INTERIOR DESIGN MASTERS: S5/Episode 8 ~ The Final!!

Two left.  Two aspiring designers who couldn’t be more different in terms of their design styles.  Who would win – self-confessed ‘refined maximalist’ Roisin, or ‘elegant brutalist’ Matt?   Who would win the quite frankly underwhelming prize of designing a range of homeware for La Redoute?  Would Michelle choose the designer who followed the brief and had a track record of good work during the series, or (like last year) would she choose a designer that had the most tv-friendly ‘journey’ and who was prone to tears?  The nation held its breath.


Blenheim Palace

The final challenge of the series was also a little underwhelming (in my humble opinion).  Blenheim Palace - not far from us in leafy Oxfordshire and somewhere I have visited regularly - is without doubt jolly impressive…..but the holiday lodges placed in the grounds quite some distance away from the Palace have a more Hoseasons aesthetic. What would in previous years have been a mid-series task was elevated to the Grand Final – although at least both lodges were identical and there could be no accusations of one finalist being given a much more difficult building/brief.


Not Blenheim Palace

The show began with Alan persuading Michelle to rifle through the IDM dressing up box, and a quick chat with both finalists.  Roisin admitted to being ‘scared, but there’s a fire in me’, and Matt confessed that ‘the nerves are kicking in’.  With both finalists being able to choose an eliminated designer to help them realise their schemes, it would be the jobs of Jess and Anthony respectively to stop designer wobbles, keep up the collective spirits, and pitch in with upholstery or gold leafing.


The new cast of Bridgerton

The wooden holiday lodges had two bedrooms, an entrance hall, a kitchen/lounge/diner, and an outside space for the designers to weave their magic (presumably Blenheim had drawn the line at letting them loose in the bathrooms).  Armed with a team of decorators, carpenters, and £6,000 their brief was to design a lodge that reflected 'an aspect of Blenheim'.  The finished lodges would be judged by US interior designer (and potter) Jonathan Adler……which did make me wonder what had happened to Laurence Llewellyn Bowen this year?  Anyone seen him in their local Home Bargains muttering about the unfairness of life?


Obligatory 'before' photo

Roisin decided on a countryside theme for her lodge.  I imagine that this was mostly because it gave her a great excuse to get out the green paint and the floral wallpapers that she had used in almost every design she has done thus far.  Roisin felt that she didn’t want to go too grand, as it wasn’t appropriate for the lodges, so instead opted for leafy wallpapers over the walls and ceiling of the lounge, green tiles in the kitchen, a bright yellow dining area, and more floral wallpapers in the bedrooms.  Tying all the various colours and patterns together would be a scallop edge motif, which would feature in all the rooms in her lodge.


Roisin's scallop motif or Alan's spare set of teeth?

Guess what Matt decided to do?  That’s right, he felt that he needed to make the lodges ‘grand, with a contemporary twist’.   This involved filling in the grooves between the horizontal wooden planks that formed the walls of the lodge so that he could make vertical panelling and fluted columns, paint the kitchen cupboard doors black, gold leaf the kitchen island, and then extend that black paintwork to the bedroom and the hall.  Too much black?  Matt felt that the colour scheme worked in places where people are only likely to stay a few days – but conceded that he wouldn’t use such a scheme in a home.


Getting into the groove

With only two people to focus on, the producers fell back on the tried and tested ‘meet the family’ formula to fill a few minutes.  We met Matt’s mum – who described him as ‘dyslexic, but always a bit arty’; followed by the hitherto elusive Ollie – Roisin’s husband - who described her style as like ‘putting her smile into a room’.  True love.  Or maybe not:  Roisin told us later that getting to the final was ‘the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I got married last year!’.  Poor Ollie.


Interior Design Masters answer to Take That

Meanwhile, Matt’s plans to replace the wall cladding were soon scrapped, when it was discovered that the wall underneath was unsuitable for painting.  More hardboard was ordered to cover it instead, and in the meantime the team concentrated on filling in the grooves.  This was really time consuming – would it be worthwhile, or would it be Matt’s downfall?  Just in case the viewers were still feeling confident, Anthony came on screen to warn us that Matt was being ‘a bit ambitious and could have problems with time management’.


Erm....Mel & Sue?  Cheeky Girls?

Roisin was shown painting her scalloped edging – must say I was not a fan (thought it a bit twee), although we later learned that it’s bang on trend, so what do I know?  Jess was busy upholstering headboards, Roisin was changing her mind about the curtains, the decorators were looking for antihistamines after too much exposure to the various floral wallpapers, and Roisin was changing her mind again about the colour of the kitchen cupboards (changing from cream to pink).  Was this a sign of being able to make decisions quickly, or was it sign of a loss of confidence?


Matt's revamped kitchen/lounge/diner.  Very swish.

Matt, meanwhile, was happy with his design (‘sick’ was his actual description), with his only hiccup coming when he noticed that the colour of the base of his columns was wrong and needed re-painting with an hour to go.  Was it his fault or the decorators?  Matt seemed sure of the answer, but managed to stifle (most) of his inner diva to keep the peace.  In service of this blog I rewound and he was right - he DID give clear instructions regarding the column paint colour.

Finally, all were ready.  Roisin had a weepy episode when the pressure got too much, with Matt keeping a more even keel when realising that he wasn’t going to have time to clad both bedrooms.  It was time for the judging.


I like to think that Michelle dresses like this to go to Sainsbury's

Guest Judge Jonathan Adler pitched up to assist Michelle in choosing the winner (but how much notice do you think she takes??), and declared that he was looking for something that was ‘mesmerising but relaxing’.  As usual, neither judge mentioned words like ‘cleaning’, ‘hardwearing’ or ‘low maintenance’, all of which I would imagine would be high on the wish list of whoever has to manage the lodges once the designers depart.


Too droopy!

Matt’s lodge was first for inspection, with the dark hall described by Jonathan as ‘dark, moody and cocoony’.  The judges thought that the panelling and the columns created a sense of grandeur, and they liked that Matt had installed modern versions of the chandeliers on display in the palace.  Neither of them commented on the really ugly droopy lamp cables that were a prominent feature of the tv wall – the first thing I noticed – but instead chose to criticise the size of the lounge furniture that Matt had chosen.  Matt still has a way to go before he nails ‘cosy’, but his selection showed a distinct improvement on the gentleman’s club sofas he had used in his Wembley dressing room the week before.


Both judges loved Matt’s black and gold kitchen, both enjoyed the outdoor space, and also thought that the black bedrooms were a success.  One caveat from Jonathan was that the time spent filling in the grooved walls – and then not having the time to properly replace them with something better – might prove to be Matt’s achilles heel.


On to Roisin and her floral fantasy.  Both judges liked her fresh colour palette (although what they consider ‘fresh’ many on social media considered ‘migraine inducing’).  They felt that the scheme was the work of a confident designer, they loved the scallops, the colours, the wallpapers, and praised the ‘generosity of seating’.  The only query was when Michelle finally said what many watching had been shouting at the tv: is it Blenheim?


I think many of us could see which way the wind was blowing when the judges used phrases like ‘Roisin has a sense of clarity of design’ and ‘she makes joyful spaces that people feel special in’.  Jonathan felt that he understood Roisin as a designer – which to be honest I think goes for all of us watching.  If you gave Roisin the job of decorating your home you know exactly what you are going to get (hay fever), whereas with Matt I feel he would work harder to come up with a scheme that suited your taste and needs.


All the eliminated designers were invited back to view the lodges…..and all turned up, apart from Domnall who is either still sulking or who has some sort of restraining order against Francesca.  Ben didn’t disappoint those of us who had missed his dress sense, with his black lace ensemble looking like Nanny McPhee goes to Downton Abbey.


Michelle then wafted into view wearing a dress that could have been dipped in Roisin’s yellow paint, ready to crown the winner.  After first saying that she wanted to merge them together so that they could both win, she decided that the designer who had least kept to the brief should triumph: Roisin! 


If I’m perfectly honest I didn’t truly love either of the lodges (although did really like Matt's black and gold kitchen), and feel that this series hasn’t produced as many great (or truly terrible) designs as in the past – although there have still been some memorable characters.  I liked Roisin, but felt she was a bit of a one trick pony (that trick being ‘explosion in Laura Ashley’), and I also liked Matt – who also has much to learn but I feel would be easier to collaborate with. 



I’ve since read an interview with Roisin regarding life post-Interior Design Masters, and asking about her experience with La Redoute.  I think my initial thoughts about the prize being underwhelming were justified, with Roisin saying that she spent just two days with La Redoute coming up with ideas for a new homeware collection – here’s the link to the twenty pieces she came up with:  The prize certainly suits Roisin’s strengths far more than Matt, who is more architectural and less about pattern and print……which makes me wonder if that played a part in picking the winner?

I’ve also since found out that Roisin’s father was in hospital being treated for cancer during the filming of the series (so I’ll forgive her the odd weep), and that winning the show has given her back the confidence that was dented when she applied to study interior design at Uni a couple of years ago but was turned down.

Catching up with Matt, I’ve discovered that he’s still working at his old job but hoping to move into full time interior design soon.  He’s apparently been approached by a music producer who wants him to design his house in Portugal, so is hoping this will be the kick start he needs.  

Finally, catching up with Blenheim Palace lodges.....and both designs feature on their website with hardly any changes - you can specify if you want to stay in either of them when you book!

As always I’d love to hear from you as to whether you think Roisin was a worthy winner – and your thoughts on the series as a whole.  Until next year....... 

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