For those of you who may have missed the memo, one of the most fun and addictive shows is back on our screens, Prime Time 8pm, every night of the week. Imagine... A few sad and ‘in need of inspiration’ houses, a stopwatch, a tight budget, some super skilled handymen, a few keen amateur Interior Design contestants, two very talented judges, some chalk paint, lots of shades of grey paint and some crazy upcycling. Loads of creativity and enthusiasm and some top design tips all wrapped in to an hour slot - I know, suddenly eating the spinach and ricotta ready meal lasagne on your lap while watching telly got a whole lot more exiting!
Each episode introduces a new location with distinctive architecture and contestants battle it out against each other in similar style properties to create the most imaginative and stylish interior. The twist that the design has to be delivered within budget and in keeping with the homeowner’s brief whilst completed in the strict time frame makes for great TV.
One of the things I think people love about the show is that it features family homes and the work is done on a realistic budget, anyone watching can be inspired and can pick up a few ideas that they too can try in their homes, the looks created are not aspirational but achievable. In fact each episode includes an upcycling challenge where contestants are given something to upcycle into something else that can be used within their design - some of them are genius… others add a comedy element to the show!!!
Some of you will be aware that I featured on the first series 4 years ago and I have to say not only did I love my time on the show in rainy Manchester with lots of round logs, but I am so grateful for the confidence and inspiration it gave me to venture further in to the world of interiors and upcycling. I was so lucky to be encouraged my both judges at the time Sophie Robinson and Dan Hopwood who not only gave great words of encouragement during the making of the show but have continued to do so afterwards, their advice and opinion is something that I really appreciate.
This series we have Dan Hopwood judging alongside Kelly Hoppen, Kelly is better known for designing plush pads like the Beckham’s, so hearing her comments and opinions on these more ‘ordinary’ houses is very interesting.
Well Dan is a super busy man at the moment, not only is he a Judge on the show but he also balances this with his work as president of the prestigious British Institute of Interior Design, BIID, and running his super successful interior design practice, Studio Hopwood, so I was delighted when he agreed to let me pick his brains about the new series and just generally enjoy some design chit chat, so grab your soya latte (or what ever form of caffeine kick that gets you through the day!) and enjoy!
Q: I Can’t believe that this is the 4th year of the show! Each series you feature so many different styles and era of houses and they all come with their own challenges. Was there a particular week on this series that sticks in your mind above the others as being particularly interesting and challenging for the contestants?
Four series in we must be doing something right. It’s a lot of hard work for contestants, many don't realise that it is not a walk in the park. It is pretty tough for the Judges too, as we are following the projects closely, looking for the stories whilst being followed by a very slow moving group of people called the crew. Despite that I have never bored of filming the series. I'm always fascinated to see what each amateur will come up with and I do love the reveals. When I first walk into the room once it’s finished, standing waiting to be "actioned" to enter, often with doubts how the room will look but then on entering being very surprised. That's a lovely feeling. I love that experience and know the viewers must be too.
The challenge as always is answering the brief. As with the professionals giving the client what they want is essential but the magic happens when the designer produces beyond what was expected. The biggest mistake for many of the amateur designers is being afraid to say no, they promise the world and then fail to deliver.
Q: On the show we have literally seen every shade of grey, what are your big colour predictions for 2017?
Our grey days are over. Watching this season you will see that the designers are confident with colour and love using it. Colour is back! My tip is that we will start to see a lot of teal in 2017. I know that our guest judge Michelle Ogundahin of Elle Decoration thinks that way too.
Q: We know you are not a cushion fan but are there any other major design bug bears or design no no’s that make you go a bit queasy?
Anything goes in my mind. However keep it relevant. As in this week's show seeing a designer give a young guy butterflies on his coffee table, floral cushions and a stuffed budgie lampshade is a step too far. Interior design should reflect the people living there. It is important for me that a home is kept alive, loved. Flowers or healthy plants and tidy is a good first step before even thinking about decoupage on the waste paper basket.
Q: What’s on your interiors lust list at the moment?
Luckily I have satisfied a lot of my lusts as I have just completed the refurbishment of my home. I waited and saved ten years before it happened, as you can imagine everything was considered in detail. My favourite thing though was a beautiful antique that I bought on a whim from Pamono website. A 19th century Italian bombe commode, a chest of drawers to you and I, it reminds me of Sophie Lauren but I daren't tell you why!
Q: The show empowers people with ideas and inspiration to tackle their own home projects but we hear that you and Sophie Robinson will be continuing to do your ‘Interior Design Masterclasses’. This sounds like a great idea, where should we all sign up and when is the next one?
We have two Masterclasses coming up, one on the 28th of January and the other on the 25th of March 2017. Both of us will impart our knowledge and tricks of the trade to inspire you to go home and create your own dream interior. We keep the group sizes very small with informal breaks, because we like everyoneto have an opportunity to ask questions and share ideas with each other and us. It’s a very relaxed, informal, creative and fun day! For more details of the day and how to book you can go to Dan and Sophie’s website
So folks, if you have a room that could do with a bit of an update it may be worth tuning in at 8pm on BBC2 to be inspired and if you really want to get serious and arm yourself with the tools to tackle your own project and also unlock your personal interior style then the masterclass sounds like it is a must. Or maybe you are sitting there brimming with ideas and creativity; perhaps we could see you on the next series in 2018. I can promise you it was one of the most fun and rewarding things I have ever done. If you would like to see my work on the show it features in the book ‘The Great Interior Design Challenge’ avalible on Amazon.