Interior Design Masters 2021, Episode 1: Curtainlessness

I love how this shirt is simultaneously incredibly eye-catching and yet the perfect camouflage.

It’s back and there have been some changes!

Of course Michelle Ogundehin remains as our main judge – we wouldn’t have it any other way. But they’ve done away with Fearne Cotton and brought in Alan Carr and Alan Carr’s Teeth to co-host the proceedings!

And of course, we have to meet our new batch if Interior Designers who are competing for a contract with a hotel in the Lake District.


The bravery to go on an interior design show and have your talking head bit done in front of a piece of text wall art should must be commended. Braver still is the fact it’s a sign that can easily be misread as “Wanking is a dream”.


I am instantly obsessed with Barbara purely because she naturally gives off the vibe of a woman on a telenovela who is planning on killing her husband – and if that’s not worth stanning I don’t know what is.


You have to admire someone who is seemingly determined to burn every bridge she possibly can within the first episode of a TV show. If nothing else Charlotte is certainly going to make for some top tier TV carnage.


Say hello to the cinnamon bun of the competition and who me must protect at all costs – mostly from himself as he sends to be permanently on the cusp of making an unGodly brainfart and painting something in neon pink glow in the dark paint.


I can’t say this episode told me a lot about Lynsey other than the fact she was an architect and that she has good taste, which is hell of a lot more than some people had.


A total design newbie or hasn’t ever done a full room on her own and is a bit of a wildcard when it comes to the competition. Her use of colours is first rate, her ability to arrange furniture? It’s a little bit Sims 1-y.


At absolutely every chance she would get, Mona would let you know she was a film production designer and it certainly worked as an intimidation technique. However, she didn’t succeed in keeping her Achilles’ heel a secret – an irrational fear of curtains.


It’s hard to get a gage of Paul because just as you think you’ve worked out the hair, you’re then distracted by the neckwear and then it’s back to the enigmatic hair – it’s a vicious circle of aesthetics.


HOT DOCTOR KLAXON! Or at least Hot Ex-Doctor Klaxon! Curious to see the rest of his dungaree collection.


The absolute best part of the show was everyone saying how much they love playing with colour right before the moment that Siobhan walked through the room looking like a very fabulous deck chair. I cannot wait for them to allow her to unleash her full maximalist insanity upon some unsuspecting home owner.

Tired Ass Show Home

The first challenge that the designers will face is to be split into pairs and decorate a room within a show home – one will get the bedroom and the other the living room. It doesn’t strike me as a great first challenge purely because I feel it’s incredibly limiting on your own personal style – I’d much rather have seen them just decorate a set space just so we can see who they are in the first episode. But alas, off to Oxford to decorate the rooms of a £1,000,000 home it is!
Michelle is particularly after an air of sophistication and aspiration, but not enough to shock a potential buyer so you’d think everyone would opt for a neutral, off white colour scheme – the sort of thing that shows you don’t care about spilling things on a carpet, just a buy a new one! (That’s my idea of luxury at least).

The teams are:
& Micaela
& Charlotte
& Paul
& Lynsey
& Siobhan

Each of the designers has a budget of £1500 on which they can buy new furniture or use the furniture that the show homes have come with.

Amy and Micaela

We’ll start off with a fairly neutral duo shall we? Just to ease our toes into less chaotic waters. Amy is in charge of the Bedroom and from her moodboard she was going for a “Sophisticated Scandi” style,

Which I’m not entirely sure is the aesthetic she ended up achieving, which looked a lot more Moroccan

But Moroccan in a way that somebody who hasn’t actually been to Morocco thinks Morocco looks like. That’s not to say I don’t like it, I think it looks incredibly warm and inviting – she was definitely right to spend so much time lightening her originally quite salmon-y pink paint

And her black accenting worked will with the concept, I disagree with Michelle about the two panels either side of the bed, I think had they been a full headboard it might have been a little too much and intimidating in what was quite a soft room

While Amy was punching her her up with black, Micaela was choosing to use a rather galumphing chaise lounge as her focal point, almost entirely because it got to show off her upholstery skills, and I did like her choice of fabric for it

Her placement of it is questionable, I just think it would look better pushed up against the wall rather that sitting in the middle of the walkway looking like a grazing zebra. In fact Micaela’s entire room was an aesthetic joy – that sage-y green and rabbit fur grey? Delicious. The sofa arranged like you’re in a couple’s therapy sessions?

Less delicious.
I, like Michelle, was similarly baffled by her choice of two very different light fixtures

The superior of the two is the one closer to Laurence, the other one looks like an angelic pretzel.

Barbara and Charlotte Go To Hell and Back

Well, after that gentle dip into design serenity it’s time for the rough streets of CHAOS CITY.
Things did not bode well for these two the moment Charlotte suggested that Barbara was doing too much by wanting to have the workmen make her a coffee table and a room divider and Barbara responded with a very unconvincing “Yeah”

and things very much only got worse because inevitably Barbara did need the workmen more than Barbara purely because she seemed to be doing more in her room, as far as I could tell Charlotte’s main use for them was help her put up the wall motif she had bought that looked like something out of the 2006 Big Brother house

She did at least have the common sense to paint it to make it look a little bit more chic

I personally think it looks a little bit gimmicky and plastic which doesn’t really strike me as luxurious but it at least looked better than it did in its blue and white state.
Charlotte did then keep asking the workmen to do very little, slightly inconsequential things for her that could easily have waited, and I’m sure she wasn’t doing it to be petty and to try and show that Barbara was doing too much but it very much came across as being incredibly petty and seemed to even have the workmen turning against her

And she wasted no time in throwing Barbara under any speeding bus she could

I for one salute the fact Charlotte managed to make herself a villain on a show about interior design, an icon is born – may she ever reign from her plasticky throne

In Charlotte’s defence is that Barbara absolutely shouldn’t have made the frame, it just looked far to industrial in what was an otherwise quite soothing spa-like room

But Barbara’s design skills are phenomenal, that colour blocked, Cubist looking corner is so interesting and playful, yet elegant

it reminds me of a Juan Gris painting.

Charlotte went for a similar feel in her bedroom, which just failed to really come alive and if I’m honest looked a bit like it came straight out of the Argos catalogue

I just don’t love it and think it’s a little bog standard – I would however like to know where she got the throw pillow in the middle of the bed,

that’s a beautiful throw pillow.

Peter and Paul

These two had by far the easiest working relationship in that their aesthetics weren’t entirely removed from one another and both were pretty happy to just let each other get on with their stuff without any drama or panic. The closest they ever got to drama was when Alan Carr tried to convince us that Peter was making a risky choice by hand painting his curtains as though hand painted fabric isn’t a whole industry of its own. The curtains turned out great by the way

Peter’s whole room was quite fabulous really, his handling and control of textures made for a quite beachy feeling bedroom

I’m not sure quite what the Hell Michelle was talking about when she said “I love it when a designer starts a design from what I call ‘The Envelope'” but it’s exactly the kind of nonsense, pretentious jargon I wanted to hear. My one issue with his room was the massive piece of art that he just had leaning against the wall which didn’t look purposeful and looked more like he had run out of time

While Peter went for the softness of natural fibres, Paul’s room had a much harder aesthetic

It’s not unappealing, it kind of looks like a modern take on the hunting lodge aesthetic with it’s sort of autumn-y colour and the almost tweed-like texture to the wallpaper. His wallpaper was a bit of a contentious issue – Laurence walked in and immediately loved it and yet the moment Michelle expressed any sort of misgivings about it being on all four of the walls, Laurence just completely changed tact and decided he hated it. SPINELESS TRAITOR!
I think the wallpaper is a little too much on all four of the walls and Michelle saying it shouldn’t have been on the far wall is a very valid opinion. I might have preferred it if he had only done the top or the bottom half of the wall in the wallpaper – but I get that some people can see that as quite a dated trend.

I did love him adding the framed photo of Laurence and himself to the room in what was clearly a joke that I think was a little lost on Michelle

But Michelle wasn’t a fan of any of his acceorising because none of the metals matched, I personally just hated the mirrors because they looked like some sort of optical illusion

and I grew up on the internet in 2007 in the age of Screamer Videos so forgive me for not trusting them.

Jon and Lynsey

It was a fairly uneventful episode for these two who, much like Peter and Paul, had no conflicts or drama and kind of just got on with the job at hand without interfering with one another too much.

I did worry for Jon after halfway through his design he decided to go and scope out the competition and ended up just scaring himself into adding extra last minute details to his room, which at this point was mostly just a magnolia pink wallpaper with gold accents

which he had some sort of spiritual epiphany over

and because he saw what everyone else was doing he decided to add a painted green canopy above the bed which on paper sounded like a panicked brainfart and I thought this was going to be the end of sweet cinnamon bun. Alas it actually payed off very well

I do think it looks a little bit like a motel room, but a nice motel room, like the ones where someone gets murdered in a Netflix crime drama. It has a strong, visually engaging aesthetic is what I’m trying to say. Green and pink is a difficult combination to coordinate and I think he did it remarkably well.

While Jon when light and frothy with his bedroom, Lynsey was going a slightly more sombre, dark route with a rich royal blue paint and kind of a smoky jazz bar vibe

My main issue with this is the fact our local gastro pub recently had a makeover and it no looks very similar to this with it’s dark walls and gold accents that I can’t help but associate it with that. What really saves the day is the fabric she chose for the ottoman and some of the cushions

I’m a sucker for any sort of chinoiserie fabric and this is a particularly good example of one.

I wasn’t as keen on the transition from the wooden wall panel into the curtains

I think it looked a little bit too much like you ran out of wood and panicked, but it doesn’t at all surprise me that Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen liked it.

I think over all Lynsey and Jon were the clear winners of the episode – they out of everyone just managed to consider the functionality of the rooms as well as their own personal styles.

Siobhan and Mona

Never have two people been on such polar opposite ends of the spectrum: Siobhan a self-confessed maximalist and Mona, such a minimalist she doesn’t even believe in curtains! Bless her heart, Siobhan tried her best to get Mona to overcome this kourtiphobia of hers. And she was on the right track, she had even put the curtains up and everything but at the last minute decided to rip them down like some sort of wild cat, and maybe she should have eased herself in with a net curtain

I don’t actually hate the room? Something about it reminds me of the bedrooms from Studio Ghibli films, it has a fresh cartooniness to it, that while sure the curtainlessness is undesirable and potentially risque, the actual style of the room as a whimsical charm. I’m less uncomfortable with having no curtains than I am having an abundance of houseplants sitting only in brown paper bags though

I don’t understand the reasoning behind this, it’s like a student decided to grow weed in their third year of university.

Mona’s pride and joy though was her wicker cane headboard that she spent ages making because she had bought the wrong wood and wasted a significant amount of time having to treat it just so it could be painted the desired dark brown colour

In the end it proved more a hinderance and kind of made both the bed and the room as a whole look much smaller than they actually were. It did at least give her time to work on her paintings of Alan and Michelle which are both highly accurate and almost offensive

Alan’s skews delightfully towards Nigel Thornberry.

Meanwhile downstairs and Siobhan had managed to cram every single knick-knack she could afford with the £1500 budget into this poor living room like someone force feeding a goose for foie gras

It’s particularly unfortunate for Siobhan that she and Lynsey went for quite similar aesthetics and Siobhan kind of came off second best and looked a bit like someone had tried to copy Lynsey’s after seeing it in a magazine. But I am excited to see what Siobhan can do when she is less restricted by the formality of a show home.

A Show Home Room Ranking

  1. Jon’s Murder Motel
  2. Lynsey’s Smokey Jazz Bar Living Room
  3. Micaela’s Million Pound Therapy Office
  4. Peter’s Fibrous Bedroom
  5. Paul’s Futuristic Hunting Lodge
  6. Barbara’s Cubist Lounge
  7. Siobhan’s Lesser Spotted Smokey Jazz Bar Living Room
  8. Amy’s Scandinavian Moroccan Bedroom
  9. Mona’s Greenhouse Bedroom
  10. Charlotte, Please Come To The Diary Room

The judges have to decide who is safe and who faces potential elimination and gets the privilege of begging and pleading on the sofa in what might be one of the most undignified elimination processes on television – I adore it.

Charlotte immediately comes under fire for the fact she committed a cardinal sin and had the side of a chest drawers facing the door

and provides one of the all time best excuses on a reality TV show ever in that she got very hot and made a bad decision – if you haven’t realised that Charlotte is television gold dust I feel sorry for you.

In the end it’s Mona who must face her curtain call despite promising that she would get over the whole curtain thing – bless her for thinking this would be an adequate advancing storyline when you have the likes of Charlotte who is on the verge of starting a Handyman Civil War within the next two episodes.

And so, 9 Masters of Interior Design remain

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