The Great Interior Design Challenge

I’ve just sat through the first episode of The Great Interior Design Challenge… hmmmm.

The great British bake off meets changing rooms. Three aspiring interior designers compete against one another to both design and decorate three similarly sized rooms, the challenge is to meet a clients brief and come up with a scheme that works.

The three contestants seemed amiable enough, though as with most designers quite a few of the discussions with clients seemed to go in one ear and out the other. Scandinavian design – no you can have floral fabrics, Minimal contemporary – nope, you can have shabby chic (even though you expressly said you didn’t want it). Recycled white furniture – nope – you get painted grey mdf box and lime green floral wallpaper!

The DIY seemed more O-Y. As someone with a picky eye for detail you could see all the pinholes in the pelmet of James Galestow’s design, The keystone didn’t even look like it had gone up straight. The shabby chic room by Helen was always going to be a challenge with the massive task of removing possibly the most enormous wardrobes you’ve ever seen – but the job she did of the resulting hole where a fireplace used to be was frankly laughable – she didn’t even paint it completely. Sarah’s offering was to be fair significantly better than the other designs, but it just didn’t seem to be very Scandinavian, the walls seemed dark and oppressive, the upholstering of the ‘family heirloom’ was appalling.

I think what I found most galling was the fact that these people had a budget of £1000 to update these rooms, and looking at the end result most look like they haven’t had much more than a bit of a splash of paint here and there, and even that only seemed to be one coat on most walls, probably only acceptable as they can don’t show close-ups of the old colour coming through.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the concept of the show, I even liked the production, the presenter and ‘judges’ seemed knowledgeable enough, it just really pains me to see designers that really don’t listen to their clients. There has got to be a balance between knowing what works as a design and what the client actually wants as an end product. We can come up with anything we want, we can only advise and show examples of what we think does work, but ultimately the client pays – so listen to what they ask for.

There are 11 more episodes coming up, and I’m not very hopeful of seeing much in the way of improvements. I may blog again on the show – depending on how irate the rest of the shows make me! Thanks for reading!

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