Interior Design Masters 2021, Episode 4: A One Woman Anti-deer Crusade

Not now Barbara, we’re in the midst of a pandemic.

The designers are let loose on a trio of independent shops and we have to contend with the conundrum that is “What is the journey for the dog?”. We may never know.

After the brutality of last week’s (unnecessary if you ask me) double elimination we return to the regularly scheduled single eliminations as the interior designers take on independent shops in Royal Tunbridge Wells, or according to the show “Royal Tonbridge Wells”

That’s going to rile up the #DefundTheBBC crowd.
The designers will also have an even more exacting relationship with the owners of said shops. They will be working in pairs and each designer will pitch their idea for the space and the owners will then choose one and then also choose 1 element from the losing pitch because the producers told them to.
The shops and their respective teams are:

Camera Shop: Barbara and Lynsey
Cook Shop: Micaela and Paul
Pet Shop: Charlotte and Siobhan

The audacity to split up the dream team that is Paul and Siobhan is an insult to me specifically.

Lights! Camera! Action!

The first shop is the camera shop owned by David who rasps his way through the meeting while Barbara tries her best not to laugh

is in desperate need of a more comfortable shop because he can spend upwards of an hour with his customers as he talks them through every element of their possible purchases, while they eye the door I’m sure.
Barbara is straight in and trying to build up a familiarity by letting him know her dad is a camera enthusiast and that her design is focused around pulling elements from vintage cameras. While Lynsey offers him a design inspired by travel photography – which maybe didn’t go down so well because we’re in the midst of a pandemic and can’t travel anywhere. GOD LYNSEY, rub it in why don’t you?

David ends up choosing Barbara’s design but is curious about Lynsey’s travel photography idea, and just as a spoiler, the implementing of Lynsey’s travel idea into the final design is literally just these posters behind the counter

Because Barbara is 100% committed to her very woody design, and boy is there a lot of wood as an entire forest of planks turns up in the back of a van

Not only is Barbara planning on making entirely new shelving areas and a new counter but she’s also hellbent on creating a slatted wood effect on parts of the wall, an idea that Lynsey very quickly points out that she had nothing to do with

In interior design there is no such thing as an innocent bystander.
I’m not entirely sure what possessed Barbara to want to do the slatted wood wall because it doesn’t seem to have a relationship to her vintage camera inspiration, nor is it a particularly neutral effect and let’s face it, slatted wood will always look like a Swedish sauna.

Of course they almost immediately begin falling behind time because on top of all the carpentry they also have to paint every single piece of wood and very quickly run out of space to put them for drying and the space starts to look like the local hangout for rectangular ghosts

But also the wood is at least 1cm out in some places and this is only adding to my theory that this particular workman is a mole that is deliberately sabotaging the designers


By the time the final work day comes around the workmen are on the verge of starting a strike and Barbara has now made it all Lynsey’s problem to sort out while she paints signs out in the gazebo

While Lynsey tries to lift the morale in the shop the signs of stress are beginning to show as Barbara’s mind completely turns to mush as this is how describes the window display she is putting up

I could not be a bigger Barbara stan.
But not everyone is as big a fan as the shop even turns against her

You can’t please everyone.

Despite Lynsey’s one woman cheer squad it becomes glaringly obvious that the workmen are never going to finish the shelving on time and so Barbara and Lynsey are forced to make a concession and use the glass shelving that David had in his shop before – at least it’s a neutral shelving and doesn’t exactly clash with anything in the room

I don’t really understand Barbara’s choice of colours for the shop – that misty ocean blue and that pallid lemon yellow will always just read as a classroom to me. Also, what is happening at the end of the counter with the lightbox, what purpose is that serving?
It’s a very cold space, which isn’t uncommon in tech stores but when you’re a small independent shop in somewhere like Tunbridge Wells you want something that could be slightly more familiar and welcoming – even changing the tables, that look like something out of an industrial kitchen, to a softer wood might have helped.
As for the seating area that David was so eager about…

My dentist’s waiting room looks more comfortable and inviting and it has a giant set of slightly yellowing dentures on the windowsill!
The back of the shop is the best part, but it might also be that I’m just glamoured by the warmth of the lighting

I did love that guest judge Ross Bailey praised it as offering an experience that no other camera shop can as though most camera shops don’t have a little passport photo studio at the back of them.

The design was clearly ambitious but I’m not even sure if they had finished it to Barbara’s ideal standard that it would have worked – this would have been a great space to implement her geometric colour blocking that we saw in her show home design and I’m surprised she wasn’t braver with her design after the success of her hotel room last week.
As for Lynsey, she was just desperately working out the best method of throwing Barbara under the bus the moment Alan Carr asked her whose fault this all was

I had not expected Lynsey, who has thus far been a fairly quiet and competent designer to pull such a cutthroat act. Perhaps my stanning affiliations are changing. UNLEASH THE BEAST!

Cooking Up A Storm

I think Micaela and Paul had the hardest job of the bunch, after all they were having to design around a shop that had 15,000 different items – can someone please introduce them to Mary Portas? Because that is ridiculous and they need an intervention.
The owners are rather desperate for more space and better displays, and who could blame them when their shop looks like the MasterChef kitchen on steroids

Micaela being dwarfed by the sheer amount of frying pans <3
Before realising they were going to have to hack back a veritable forest of cookware Micaela’s idea was for muted blue tones and a series of undulating shelves inspired by the Grand Canyon – I really want to know how she leapt from cook shop to Grand Canyon because it sounds like a delightful journey.

Paul on the other hand is going for brighter pops of colours as well as something quirky on the ceiling so they can make this tiny cook shop in Royal Tunbridge Wells an Instagram destination, which I would make fun of but I visited the The Yorkshire Soap Company in York every Wednesday afternoon to look at their taxidermy stork during my university days. Sadly this quirky idea doesn’t turn out to be this pot with legs

I was also worried about his colours because when they’re all put together like that they do look a bit Noddy in Toyland.
The cook shop owners pick Paul’s design because they hate pastel shades but they do like Micaela’s undulating shelves – which she is fine with because the shelves were 80% of her design.

Big fan of the fact that Paul arrived in Royal Tunbridge Wells to decorate a cook shop dressed in a little safari romper

It is an iconic fashion moment.

The most contentious issue in the shop (other than the potentially hazardous frying pan avalanche) is the placement of the counter as Micaela and Paul are determined to move it from one side of the shop to the other to create a kidney-shaped counter to work as both the till area and a demonstration counter. The owners are very resistant to this idea because the new placement would mean they couldn’t see two of their display bays and they’ll become a haven of people stealing… tagines and egg timers?
I’m glad that Paul and Micaela stuck to their guns with the counter because in the end it looked really good despite it having the potential to go incredibly wrong considering that Micaela came up with the idea to resin the top of it and neither of them had ever used resin before

We can write this one off as a successful resining.
It was also a genius bit of design to use the same tile effect wallpaper to cover the counter and one of the walls of the shop.

The kidney-shaped counter also at least helped them distract the owners from the fact that the quirky thing on the ceiling turned out to be a 200 spoon chandelier that absolutely looked like the sort of thing you’d see in the cool cafe that the 12 year olds from a Nickelodeon show hang out in

Which I, as someone who grew up watching the likes of Rocket Power and Drake & Josh can appreciate. I just don’t know if it in all its brash glory quite belongs next to the more polite whimsy of the upside down Alice and Wonderland-esque table?

But also let’s just be glad there wasn’t a reprise of the infamous Changing Rooms Teapot Disaster of days gone by.

Spoons and a whole table weren’t the only things going up on the ceiling though as Paul was threatening to be consumed by the sand trap that was gimmickry and turning the massive industrial sized colanders into a set of lights

Bless his heart, this has all the energy of me being dragged to a friend’s birthday party to watch the FA Cup final between West Ham and Liverpool in 2006 and me having no way to relate to any of the boys who were all HEAVILY invested in the match so I sat there waiting to cheer occasionally when they did. This was followed by a bike ride through the Yorkshire countryside in torrential rain. Why are teenage boys like that?
While I relive that traumatic childhood experience, Paul’s colander lighting was actually very good and didn’t look as contrived as I had thought it might

He’s proving himself to be much more than just The Wallpaper King.
And Micaela also pushed herself out of her comfort zone considering there is not a single piece of upholstery anywhere to be seen but still her attention to detail could be seen in the frames dotted around the shelves to help draw your attention to certain pieces

The two of them clearly worked together the best of either of the teams and both clearly worked themselves to the bones considering that by the end of it the plates weren’t the only thing breaking as Paul himself had clearly reached the breaking point

but they really managed to achieve that comfortable looking shop that felt like it was easy to browse through

Or you know, steal a couple of cheese graters from.

Dog Days

The last shop is the pet shop owned by Catherine who almost immediately turned on Siobhan the moment she asked if she could shorten it to “Cat” because she owned a pet shop and it was from that moment that you knew she wasn’t going to choose Siobhan’s idea of dog kennel shaped storage and display units

And was instead going to go for Charlotte’s idea of high wall storage, statement wallpapers and the all important ~bone table~. But she does also like Siobhan’s idea of a curved till come display piece – not that this would be the only piece that Siobhan would be sneaking into the shop as she wheels a giant pink Afghan Hound into the display window that she had clearly bought in advance was going to get into this room come hell or high water while Charlotte has a bit of a meltdown outside

I’m so pleased that Siobhan got to go ahead with it because it’s exactly the sort of thing a display window needs – I cannot tell you how many times I have stopped to photograph window displays because of things like this and I will need to know where she got it IMMEDIATELY.

The sheer scale of Charlotte’s storage idea cause a few problems, especially the top of it which is intended to be a cupboard disguised as a pelmet that both Siobhan and the workmen take a vehement dislike towards and gently try and tell her to just scrap the cupboard idea that she is apparently betrothed to and unable to call off.
It inevitably results in them falling behind time and before Charlotte can start another war with the workmen she and Siobhan come to the decision to scrap ~the bone table~ – a decision so hard and taxing that Charlotte then had to go and forlornly paint some MDF to calm down

Her storage wasn’t the only thing getting her a few side eyes as she was going for some statement wallpapers, one being this fun mustardy cat print

and the other being a similar style of print in black and white that unfortunately had deer on it because Charlotte couldn’t afford the £400 deer-free version and she took it upon herself to go on a one woman anti-deer crusade and graffiti them all out like someone stubbing out the faces of disgraced family members on a family tree

It looks delightfully unhinged.

Their final design was so nearly there

But because they didn’t have enough time to finalise the till point or put in ~the bone table~ and were left with only the original little pokey one it looks very sparse and empty despite the extensive range of items.
In this week’s Delightful Interior Design Nonsense, guest judge Ross Bailey, pondered what the dog’s journey through the store was going to be like as though Marley the Labrador is going to go and give them a 1 star rating on TripAdvisor.

While the front room of the store had been made into the main merchandising area the back had been turned into a selfie station, which is a really cute idea, I just don’t know how many people are rushing to have a photo of their dog taken in front of a duck egg blue fireplace and a Victorian era kitchen range

It’s all a little bit undercooked except for the display window which is an absolute joy to behold

And hey, that alone will probably get them some decent traffic through the shop, ~bone table~ or none.
I’m really hung up on how casually everyone said “bone table” as though it wasn’t the most sinister sounding thing in the world – very Ed Gein.


It’s elimination day and clearly cats were a theme, both Siobhan and Micaela opting for leopard print

Would we expect anything less from Siobhan?
And then Paul came dressed as Fancy Garfield

It’s nothing short of a delight and must have taken Alan Carr a substantial effort not to crack his 5th Paul-is-orange-joke. And he did well to not sing The Simpsons theme tune when he saw Charlotte

It’s revealed that even though all the shops had room for improvement the winners of the episode were Micaela and Paul – I’m mostly just thrilled for Micaela and hope this gives her the confidence boost she needs but also Paul put in some stellar work this week.

This does mean that Lynsey will be making her Sofa Debut – not that she’s really in the running for elimination and the only vague threat is that she didn’t intervene in Barbara’s wooden downfall. While Barbara takes the brunt of the blame for the design being her baby and the fact she may have nailed the functionality of the room but forgot that actual living people would be using it.

While Michelle let Barbara have it, she was also aghast that neither Charlotte or Siobhan had placed a bowl of water on the floor for this imaginary dog of hers as though the owner couldn’t literally do that herself considering she had more than enough bowls on hand in the shop.

But she eventually focused on the fact that Charlotte’s priorities were wrong and that maybe her anti-deer crusade was the wrong thing to spend her time doing when they could have been making the storage or ~the bone table~.

Because the camera shop was by far the weaker of the two designs it is unfortunately Barbara who is sent home, a brave decision considering she came to this sofa meeting dressed as a Manhattan dwelling assassin

Keep one eye open when you sleep Michelle.

And so, 5 interior designers remain

3 thoughts on “Interior Design Masters 2021, Episode 4: A One Woman Anti-deer Crusade

    1. Ariadne Griffin

      Honestly! I’d be too afraid to go in!
      According to some of the fellow shop owners on The Pantiles, the cook shop essentially had two store spaces of which they only made over one and all the excess stock is currently sitting in the other shop space!

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