This week we had to prepare two briefs and prepare to install only one of them. Also note that there was a bank holiday weekend, so this week was a day shorter, adding to the drama of sourcing for a project on an already tight deadline and budget.
Brief 1: Refined, Elegant designs that evoke a sense of Subtle Glamour and Understated Luxury
Brief 2: Decadent Maximalist designs that evoke a sense of Drama and Opulence
My biggest bug bear with the room was the void above the bathroom pod - it looked so ill considered and made the room feel very boxed in. We couldn't remove this unfortunately and also I felt there was too much furniture in the room with a very bulky wardrobe and an odd coffee table. So my approach to this space (as with every space) is to find the appropriate functional solutions for the design dilemmas - i.e. the void above the ensuite and to reduce the quantity of furniture in the space.
I planned to enclose that space to make it seem more purposeful and create an arch that lead the eye from the bedroom space to the dressing room space towards the window.
My second plan was to create an open wardrobe as a closed wardrobe was not necessary, but to have some more storage within the dressing table. I was going to suspend the corner of this to the ceiling and make use of the blocked off dorway that adjoined my room with Barbara's next door.
I also hate televisions in bedrooms - I don't believe they help achieve a restful sleep, but as we were told we had to include them in the scheme, I opted to wall mount the one supplied, and have a screen in the room that could help hide it, but also close off the dressing area of the room so that when one is getting dressed they will have some privacy from the rest of the room.
I sourced an upholstered screen that needed recovering and a beautiful old gramophone table to use as the coffee and tea station. Here is a photo of these pieces hanging out in my dining room waiting to go down to sussex.
Working on a maximalist scheme that is decadent and opulent, which is striking and with elements of contemporary chinz on a budget is really hard! I would ideally have loved to source fabrics, lighting and patterns from brands such as House of Hackney, Rothschild and Bickers, Degournay, Mind-the-Gap etc... Which is what my initial mood board was about. Here are some more of the inspiration spaces and brands which inspired elements of my design.
This is my mood board that I presented to my cohort of designers.
Due to the brief specifying contemporary chintz, and us not having a client to discuss it with, I felt obliged to include some chinz element. So I went for an organic dark patterned wallpaper on the upper part of the room and a textured painted anaglypta wallpaper on the bottom half. I also chose to use a chinoiserie wallpaper on the headboard (as we couldn't afford the same type of fabric).
I had a very slow start on day 1. I had to buy and bring with me the materials I thought the joiner would need to use and on day 1 he wasn't sure how to build the arch from what I had bought. I would never usually do this. In real design projects I would have a feasibility meeting with the joiner on site prior to any work is agreed, discuss the vision and entrust the building team to supply and install to my specification. I am not a joiner, so cannot possibly know the full details of the joiners requirements. We also are not allowed to leave the site to re-source during filming (another little anomaly of filming). They did have a runner that could go out and buy things that we needed, despite my budget being already over stretched, I did ask for something on day 1, and only got it 20mins prior to the end of our time - not very helpful.
At the end of day 1, we had painted the ceiling, wallpapered the lower half of the rooms, built part of the headboard and had the chandelier hung.
A huge amount of work was required to be completed as you can see from the above photo. I was busy sewing the curtains (most of the other designers had pre-sewn all of these pre-arrival). Our trades were frequently interrupted for filming reasons too which really slows down momentum of the pace. By the end of day two, we had the lower half of the room wallpapered and painted, new carpet fitted, headboard wallpapered. As you can see the rest of the boxing off still had not yet been completed. Luckily I had finished the curtains, all soft furnishings and reupholstered the bed bases.
The last few hours of installation were mad. Here is what it looked like.
I'd love to hear what you think... Also tell me what other blog posts to do you want to see? Do you want to see my designs for the space if there wasn't a tight budget or timeline? Do you want to see next weeks briefs?
We were asked to design spaces for three offices/fictional companies within a building run by The Office Group which develop and operate beautiful flexible office space solutions for a vast array of buildings across the UK and Europe. All the common spaces are designed to an impeccable level with the use of high end brands and aesthetics that respond to the buildings that host them. Each open plan office is divided into three spaces and a designer is allocated one of those spaces. The three fictional companies were; a Media company, a Beauty company and a Tech company.
My space: Sustainable Beauty Brand - Breakout space
We were told that each designer will be judged on their individual spaces as well as their overall team design, and we needed to effectively partition the zones as each space had to feel distinct.
I did a lot of research into the aesthetics of TOG to ensure that the offices that we designed were aesthetically aligned with the buildings that we would be designing in and their brand identity. Below are some of the inspiring images I pulled from their website to illustrate the high level of design they deliver to their clients and users.
Designing a space for a fictional company is very abstract, and trying to communicate this vision effectively via three designers to a judge who don't see any of the design development phase is even harder. As I have said in my previous posts - I lean heavily into my clients to deliver their wishes and aesthetic to ensure that the design is representative and relevant for their company values.
I initially designed a draft mood board knowing that this would have to change once I discussed the overall vision with the other designers I was to be working with. I was told I would be working with Charlotte and Micaela and below is the mood board I presented to them during our initial meeting.
From this point we had only one week to finalise the design, source and prepare all items to be delivered to the location. We all had very different ideas of what the sustainable beauty brand office would look like. So I felt it was imperative to try and create a singular vision that we would work towards, but allow for artistic interpretation within each of our spaces.
We discussed at length the brand identity that we envisaged a sustainable beauty brand to have and how we would represent this. We agreed on the following:
With this in mind, I refined my mood board and updated my 3D model to represent the end vision for the space.
We had this bespoke pattern printed on fabric to make the screens which would form our partitions between the individual spaces. Micaela, with her soft furnishing skills, used these fabrics to make the screens to divide our spaces. We specifically opted for a non-permanent divide to allow the space to be flexible and open up fully for when the company would host launch parties.
As you can see on the video, and my mood board, I wanted to install an ombre curtain work pod in the centre of the space. I had to prepare these before arriving in London as creating an ombre curtain is messy and complex.
Here is what I did:
We started by painting all the pale blue/grey walls white. And then, in my area we started by marking out and painting the massive green stripe that divided the whole office in two, and helped to centre the curtain pod. I also upholstered four benches to go around my co-working space in skin tone faux leather. Tying into the idea of using skin tones. The co-working table is also varnished using different wood tones to tie into this similar aesthetic. I created a pattern of a table tennis top to allow the clients to use it as such for after-office social events or client launches. Hoping that this would answer the fun element described in the breakout space brief.
As part of our imaginary sustainable beauty brand ethos, we decided that sourcing vintage furniture would not only tie in with the brand ideals, but also fit in with the aesthetic that we decided to go for. I love incorporating vintage furniture into my schemes as this sustainable, gives a space a sense of heritage and permanence and also is less wasteful. I had access to quite a few antique and vintage warehouses nearby so I set a task to source for my space and also help out my fellow designers.
Day 2 we had to continue working on all the final details before installing the space ready for revealing to the judges. I had a lot of curtains to hang and with the pod space, you may be able to tell, I had to drop the curtain by an inch or so to get it closer to the floor, otherwise it would be too short. I had to hand tie each clip with invisible thread - what a pain! If I was doing this for a client the curtain would have been custom made with a ready made ombre fabric.
I also made a bespoke see-through art work to bo above the sideboard. This was inspired buy one of the other spaces featured on the TOG website, and I felt it helped to create another separation between the lounge and the co-working space, whilst not totally cutting off the space visually.
This week was so stressful with the lack of space and I wish I had more headspace to be able to stand back and re-assess it again. I think that one of the judges couldn't look past the co-working space as more than just a pingpong table, but overall I am really happy with the direction I decided to go for in this space and would love to have done this whole space within this aesthetic (with a realistic budget and time frame)
Lets start at the very beginning
1 million pound, contemporary new build show homes just outside Oxford city centre.
Showhomes can be either too safe and boring, or too dramatic and blingy. Im neither of those, and this was my opportunity to showcase what I can do, whilst still being true to my aesthetic. I remember a prominent property agent saying that the first 11 seconds of any home viewing is when it sells, after that its an upward battle. So I knew I had 11 seconds to prove my point.
My starting point with any project is the client and their wishes. But since I didn't have a client here, I had to lean on the keywords provided by the developer via the production company. I applied these key words by putting them into the context of the building we were designing in, and the setting, facing the lovely lake.
But then I saw the actual furniture which was being rented for the space, and the bed was distinctly mid century, so I had to make sure that the bed and the design of the room connected. I decided that the headboard idea was not going to work and had to focus on creating impact via the space behind the headboard. Below are some of the ideas I was looking at.
While writing this blog, I am laughing, as my design ambitions are clearly very high. To achieve the level of design seen in these homes, you would need 10 times the budget and time that we had - still I had to try and achieve great things. So then I saw this photo... that was the perfect solution for my space.
So next I set about making sure the scale and proportions fit well within the space. I built a 3D model on my laptop and started placing all the elements within the room.
We had approximately three weeks from the day we were given the brief till the day we had to install it in Oxford. Just to give you some context, most designers need a minimum 2 weeks just for design development, spatial planning, mood boarding, material selection and presentations. Let alone procurement and delivery.
I sourced a lot of items from Facebook marketplace, online retailers and big-box stores (ikea, supermarkets, Dunelm, B&Q etc). Anything to try and get the look I wanted to portray, within the insanely tight budget. I wanted this room to look so good! All in all I spent £1495.05 and it was HARD! My two favorite pieces were the massive plant/tree and vintage table lamps which were super cute. After the show went live I was contacted by a prominent architect about those table lamps, and he believed they were a limited edition lamp that he had produced back in the 90s for his furniture company! Wish I could have them back!
As you can see on the initial drawings the slatted panelling was meant to go across the whole wall, but I ran out of money! So I focused my resources on finding a solution, which was to condense the slatted wall to just above the bed.
If you have ever seen a renovation or interiors installation there is always a huge amount of stuff all over the place. Its mayhem, from boxes with tools, products, all the trades kit etc. - add a filming crew on top of that as well and space immediately becomes a premium! Adding to that, our show home had a granny flat at the back which was used to house the production team. So our house was even more of a walk through - in fact I found footprints on my artwork, curtains etc all the time! That was frustrating!
Check out some of the photos below and a video of the walk through before we started work, and at the end of day 1.
I painted a black stripe to delineate the end of the corridor and the beginning of the bedroom space, this gave me a natural stopping point for the wallpaper in the bedroom and also helped to create a dramatic entrance into the space.
I purposefully propped these pieces of art in the room, rather than hanging them, because I wanted to create a sensation of a fluid art collection which I believe to be aspirational. Eluding to the fact that these potential clients will have an evolving art collection and are constantly acquiring new pieces of art.
I have had some questions about my panelling so here is what I did.
If I was installing something similar in a clients space I would recommend using oak batons for the slatted wall and an oak veneer on the lower half. I would also hard wire the LED lights and either make them remote controlled, or integrate them into a smart lighting system.
Day 2 was super intense, and really hot too boot! I worked on my curtains for most of the day. I knew I wanted more than just plain curtains but didn't know how to sew or couldn't afford a cutainmaker! So I wanted to improvise and create my own embellishment on the plain curtains I had bought. I am really inspired byJewel Marlowe who does the most incredible things with her soft furnishings. I wanted to create a simple border like the inspiration photo below, but with paint. How hard could that be?
I also replicated this feathered look on the edge of the white blind I installed at the other end of the room.
If you are hoping to do this properly here are a few pointers:
There are so many details to discuss, so I thought it would be better to just show you. Here is a walk around tour of the space finished and styled. I am so proud of this room and what I achieved!
Let me know if you have any questions by commenting below.
This was the first time I have ever taken part on a TV game show like this. So I thought I would share some of my insights, and highlight some things that might not be completely obvious to viewers.
The contestants are all volunteers.
We do not get paid for our time on the show. This means that we are incredibly privileged to be on the show, and be able to take time away from paid work for upto 16 weeks to be able to commit to the show. I have spoken to so many people who told me they had applied to be on the show, but couldn't get the time off, or afford the no-wage time.
The budgets are unrealistic.
The budgets do not represent what it would cost to replicate the room that you finally see. In Episode 1 the budget for the showhome makeover is £1500. This does not include the cost for the decorator or the joiner, or indeed the designers fee. If each of the rooms/spaces were to be fitted out properly to a high standard, the budget would need to MUCH higher.
The TV show is filmed over a number of days with hundreds of hours of reel. Each designer is constantly being interviewed, especially when things are going wrong. We are asked the same question numerous times and ways for them to get the content they need to make a show. The editors and producers use all of this content to create a storyline, which might not be a balanced representation of reality - it is afterall a TV show made for entertainment purposes.
As designers we also do not hear any feedback or get any interaction/mentoring from the judges, unless you are on the sofa, and even then, we don't know what was said in our rooms until we see the final show on TV.
Again, due to this being a TV show, the process that we as designers took is totally different to what normal interior design process looks like. If you want to know more about what a real process looks like - head to my full service design blog post here.
Also the show emphasises on the interior designers doing manual/trade labour, such painting walls, hanging wallpaper and upholstering furniture. This is not what an interior designer does. We design, source, coordinate, project manage and style.
Are you surprised by any of the above? I know I hadn't fully appreciated some of these details until I was on the show. Feel free to comment below.
Hello! Thank you for all your support and coming to my page to have a deeper dive into the the world behind the screens! I am so happy you are here! In this blog post I wanted to show you a little bit more about the process of getting onto the show.
It all started in 2019, when I met some of the contestants of Season 1 and guest judge Sophie Robinson at an event I was invited to in London.
From the blurry photos, massive smiles and funny poses you can tell it was a great night! We had a great time talking about their experiences on the show, their intentions and general gossip. It was so interesting to hear their experiences which is why I wanted to share mine.
So what was the process of applying like?
So I sent an email to the production company when I saw them advertising on their instagram page. There were a number of questionnaires and forms to fill in, followed by zoom calls and we were also asked to do a mock brief.
We had to re-design a living and dining room for £2000. We are given one decorator and access to one joiner. We also had to re-vamp a tired wing-backed chair which I put into the dining space as a little reading nook.
After this stage, there was a lot of silence. I imagine the production team were filtering through all the applicants and determining who would be best for the TV show. Also COVID happened and there was a lot of uncertainty around that.
In the end it went ahead and I was told that I was chosen to be part of the 10 designers on the show! It was a pretty surreal moment, mixed emotions of excitement and fear. Like that sensation of standing on a precipice not knowing what lies ahead, but eager and driven.
Check out my next post on Episode 1!