Interior Design Masters 2023, Episode 1: The Horse Girl That Never Was


Please mind the sharp corners.

It’s back and so am I! I’m sorry I didn’t recap the last series because I’ve been thinking about the fact one of the designers last year plastered furry art all over a high school’s common room and I had NOWHERE to fully unpack that

those kids are all chronically online, THEY KNEW.

Of course, we return with 10 new designers, feel free to choose which one you think is going to needlessly become the villain of an interior design competition in about 2 episodes time

Given that she almost made the carpenter panel an entire room, Buse is the strongest contender, followed shortly by Joanne if Michelle uses “Instagram” as a derogatory word again.

As is customary, for their first challenge the designers were being paired up to decorate the bedrooms and living spaces of some new-build show homes – this year’s offerings being flats in Elephant and Castle – with each set of designer being given a different brief ranging from mature couples to post-graduates who can somehow afford to rent a two bedroom flat with premium views of the London skyline. As an extra specification, the designers had to incorporate an element of sustainability into their design, and it had to be a significant item, you couldn’t raid a recycling bin and Tracy Emin yourself a piece of sculpture.

Jack & Buse: Maturity Beyond Their Years

For their brief, Jack and Buse were designer for a “mature couple” which apparently means people in their 40s and next week they’ll be decorating mausoleums for anyone in their 50s – perfect for Jack who describes his preferred aesthetic as “historic opulence” and lives in a converted chapel. This did make him a little nervous about doing a London flat, but he was willing to take on the fight, which might explain the Son of Rambow headband

but he did really, really well with his living space – a big struggle amongst the designers doing the living spaces was making a space that felt like it would easily transition between our 2 weeks of intense summer and 50 weeks of unrelenting miserable darkness but his mix of natural elements and plush fabrics felt both snug and breezy at the same time

Buse was a little more hit and miss, coming in with grand ambitions of wood panelling an entire room, an element which she conceded to one (1) wall by the second day, much to the relief of her carpenter

I imagine she found out that the carpentry team had been spitting in her tea.
In order to bring a bit of London into the apartment, she was creating a concrete-legged table, which required an industrial sized egg beater to mix up

and doing this inside a London apartment with barely enough room to swing a cat, went precisely as you might expect it to

and upon walking into Concrete Hell, Jack looked as though he was watching his chances of success sink like, well, a pair of concrete table legs

and Alan didn’t have much faith either, watching the grand unveiling of the legs that Buse was trying to convince him were “just like Sicilian Terrazo tiles” clearly not knowing that Alan had just befriended a local Sicilian tilemaker for his and Amanda’s Italian renovation project

I can practically smell the Sicilian lemons.

Buse’s bedroom received a mixed response – the initial one being oohs and aahs about how tactile and inviting the panelled wall was – can you imagine if the entire room was done in that? You’d feel like you were trapped in a sauna

and then the other angles of the bedroom just felt a little bit uninspired, even if I do REALLY love those lamps

and we need to have a serious chat about usable bedside tables, designers – where am I meant to keep my 2 glasses of 3 day old tap water and 5 unread books?
It did just feel like she had come into the project having designed 1 bedroom and then found out that she actually had to design two rooms so she just split the design elements as evenly as possible

it’s not bad, it’s a very livable space, but it doesn’t feel exciting enough for a show home.

Ry & Monika: And They Were Roommates.

This team was made up of Ry, who has the most brushable hair on television right now – it’s the same texture and look as a vintage My Little Pony figurine

and little Ariadne, the horse girl that never was, just REALLY wants to put a tiny little comb through it.

His partner was Monika who is not like the other not-like-the-other-girls girls

A brave thing to say when you’re sitting in a room that looks a little bit like every faux-goth high street knick knack shop called The Imaginarium

I’m not a hater, I used to go and stand in The Imaginarium in York when I was feeling stressed while I was at University. Which was just about every Thursday afternoon after our TV Production practicals.

Their 25 to 35 year olds friends brief seemed to cause a little confusion when it came to the bedrooms with Monika apparently creating a friends with benefits shag pad by making one of the bedrooms a sort of boudoir-cum-bedroom with the bed being a daybed that you had to pull out

that fold out bed looks like the sort of thing you dread sleeping on when you go and stay with someone else, there’s no way anyone is choosing it as their permanent bed. And yet, it’s still not the most uncomfortable piece of furniture featured in this episode.
Her main bedroom was much more successful

it was really good that she could come in and not IMMEDIATELY crack out a reclaimed guillotine from the French Revolution for the bed but still keep an aspect of her ~dark and moody~ design with that deep greeny-black on some of the walls. I do hope she makes it far enough in the competition to go full Wednesday Addams though. I need Michelle to come face to face with more portraits of animals wearing Victorian clothing just to see if it unlocks her ability to evaporate someone with her mind.

While Monika was trapped in a reclaimed daybed prison of her own design

Ry was attempting his first tiling job

but hey, he’s a natural because his tiled breakfast bar was the perfect centrepiece for the room

we’ll just ignore the lamp that clearly wasn’t anywhere near a plug socket, shall we?

The only real issue that Michelle had with the room was the lack of any accents, which would be fine if someone was moving in because it gives room for personalisation but this was a show home so it probably could have used some punches of colour whether it be gold or electric pink. But I really liked the sofa arrangement

that orange could probably have afforded to be put throughout the room a little more and not just an artfully arranged jug of orange juice on the counter.

Karl and Temi: The Circus Comes To Town

These two probably had the most difficult time with their young family brief meaning they had to take child-friendliness into account – Temi taking on the perilous child’s bedroom challenge and Karl having to create a communal space that looked good and was able to store at least 6 Christmases’ worth of toys.

Temi was jumping headfirst into it with a vintage circus themed bedroom

at risk of sounding a little bit like Susan “Are the French very fond of their children?” Ma – are children these days even aware of what a circus is? I feel like they’re so not a thing anymore, even despite The Greatest Showman. Other than being a potential cultural blind spot for the average 5 year old, anything circus themed has a strong possibility to either look really goofy or completely and utterly cursed. Temi however navigated the theme pretty well, relying on stripes to do most of the heavy lifting

and then handing everything else over to the set of plush dumbbells which are cute and I need them

I do think the room is very cleverly designed because when the child inevitably grows out of the trappings of the circus within about 4 weeks – you can take out the bedding and the picture that Pennywise’s art therapist made him paint to process is emotions

and you could dress it up as a sort of nautical theme because what child doesn’t love a maritime museum?

While most of the room was well received, there were issues with some of the child-friendliness of it – mostly the height of the trapeze swing and Temi’s Sexy, Sexy Pegboard

and if you thought the bedroom swing and pegging were unchild-friendly, Karl was hoping to add as many sharp, jagged corners to his living space as he possibly could because how many eyes could a toddler possibly need?

his only attempt to not being a complete toddler deathtrap being the rounded, pebble-shaped table

fortunately for any potential victims, there were issues with Karl’s wood supply as he had 12mm and they needed 18mm (SIZE QUEEN) and with the delay in getting the appropriately thicc wood, Karl did have to lose the shelving portion of his sofa

there’s no way around it – that sofa is HORRIBLE, it’s like DFS’s brutalist range and somehow looks more like concrete than Buse’s concrete table and more uncomfortable than a second-hand wrought iron framed daybed – and I’m not sure it would have looked better with the additional storage.

Joanne and Peter: We’re Going To Ibiza

Joanne and Peter were creating their spaces with a pair of post-grad students in mind which Peter was particularly excited about as it let him unleash his full Ibiza Potential

it’s an aesthetic that works for the Iberian Peninsula, once transported to London, especially as literally as this, it does begin to feel a little bit contrived and quite cold. (Where are the curtains?)
His other room was completely the opposite, with its electric and neon features

I do love that piece of artwork he made, but it does also look exactly like the sort of thing you say “Oh, that’s nice!” when you see it hanging in a Nando’s – which I think is a compliment because I will die on the hill that is Nando’s being one of the best example of interior design in a restaurant space – every location is different, yet they all manage to be cohesive. And Post-grads love Nando’s, I’m sure.

As for Joanne’s living space, as Michelle said, it didn’t really marry very well with Peter’s trip through Ibiza and International Portuguese Grilled Chicken Restaurants

that shade of green is VERY heavy and because of that, the amount of little decorative pieces she added begin to feel less like ornamentation and more like clutter – and a bit like you’ve decorated the room for your friend’s 19th birthday

it’s a bit £7 from Paperchase, which is a shame, because I do love Joanne’s art-style and the pieces she created

even if they did feel a little bit like a last minute attempt to marry the two themes together, I’d like to see her getting to do more of it in a space that felt a little more authentic, and when she doesn’t have a reclaimed sewage pipe lingering at the back of her mind

sometimes styles don’t mesh and that’s ok.

Charlotte and Tom: What’s Youth Got To Do With It?

Good news: 25 to 35 is still young! I do think there’s quite a stark difference between the wants and needs of a 25 year old versus someone confronting their own mortality in their early 30s but these two got on with it very well by not overthinking it too much: Charlotte going with something that was easy to open up and make sociable in the living space

there’s a lot to like – that mural is lovely and as clichéd as it is, it does open up the space a lot – it does drive me insane that it’s about 3 inches too short. There are however things I hate with a burning passion and it’s mostly that magician’s box in the middle of the room that looks like the final resting place of a cursed ventriloquist doll. Also, that might be a hammock seat at the back there which has such potent Changing Rooms energy [derogatory.] I did love that Michelle took particular time to talk about how much she loved the skirting board, because this poor man had to paint it twice after Charlotte decided her green needed to be darker (she was right)

it’s ok babe, Charlotte’s a lawyer, she can pay for your therapy.

Charlotte’s partner was Tom, who was drawing inspiration from India for his designs – which is usually a red flag because it has ended up looking like a boutique hotel’s culturally insensitive Taj Mahal room in the past but Tom did it just enough that it feels Indian-inspired and not Indian-themed – it’s a subtle but important difference that stops people from accusing you of hate crimes on Twitter

that green and ochre coloured room was the clear standout of the episode – the crescent panel genuinely felt like real, purposeful interior design – I’m not entirely keen on the full length bed with the shelf at the end but I think that’s more the problem with the fact the room is a shoebox. ~Luxury Apartments~.
The second room I was less keen on

I just don’t like the headboard, it’s leaning a little gravestone-y and the lumpiness, while a very good showcase of his upholstery skills, just feels a bit junior. The textures and textiles he used throughout the rest of the room are gorgeous though.

An Unofficial Design Ranking
1. Of Crescents and Gravestones
2. Look Ma, I’m Tiling!
3. The Son of Rambow
4. Socialising In The Forest
5. Friends With Benefits
6. Experiments in Concrete
7. Sexy Pegboards and Bedroom Swings
8. Cheeky Ibiza
9. Your Friends 19th Birthday Pre-drinks
10. Watch Your Eyes, Kids

The winning team this week were Charlotte and Tom

their prize is Michelle’s momentary respect and nothing more, not even a Farrow & Ball gift voucher – GIVE THEM SOMETHING!
Also finding themselves safe were Ry & Monika and Jack & Buse – meaning Peter & Joanne and Temi & Karl were in the trouble with things not boding well for Peter in the future because he’s already exhausted his one gimmick

she is going to eat this poor man alive if she even so much as smells a piece of terracotta pottery or whicker.
As for his teammate, Joanne hadn’t really accomplished what she’s set out to do, which was so show that she wasn’t just good at buying knick-knacks – Michelle did go a little bit Phi-Phi O’Hara on her about being “a buyer”

but ultimately Peter’s and Joanne’s sins weren’t quite as bad as Karl and Temi failing basic health and safety checks, with Temi showing at least a little bit of ~whimsy~ and flair with her circus-theme she was safe and Karl was the unfortunate first boot of the series

his anti-toddler campaign is just beginning though.

And so, 9 Interior Designers remain

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