I think if we’ve learned anything, it’s that Laurence Llewelyn Bowen can never be predicted.
These florals are futch.
For their annual Small Space Week we were returning to the beach but unlike the 2021 series in which they designed for the beach huts of the common folk, this year they were going high end with the brick built 1930s beach chalets of Eastbourne
but the challenge of creating a space to eat, socialise and relax in a single room that an Andean condor wouldn’t even be able to flap its wings in being the same
what? Don’t you measure all of your rooms in Andean Condor wingspans?
Each of the beach huts were of course also individually tenanted so came with different briefs whether it be for a family, the emergency services, a water sports enthusiast (not like that) or a group of friends who definitely sound like a swingers club
not that we ever hear from the owners or get their opinions on the chalets for reasons that come across as slightly suspicious – I think that’s something the show needs to show more of because it becomes very apparent that Michelle can very easily manipulate an outcome by saying whatever she wants, this episode being WILD for it. And I think it would just be more validating for the designers.
Life’s a Beach
Unlike the 2021 series in which the designers had to spend most of their time on the beach running around looking like they were in an episode of The Deadliest Catch
in a case of serendipity this year’s beachside visit fell on the hottest days of the year so at least they didn’t have to worry about their paint not drying, but it was a race of time to get everything painted before you passed out from a combination of heatstroke and paint fumes
we’ll just skip over the fact the people who decided to go for an ice cream on the beach during the perfect day for it had their day thoroughly ruined by the abundance of gazebos and the constant sound of handsaws going on
I do hope the production team had a Mr. Whippy Budget.
Not everyone was enjoying the sunshine though, as unsurprisingly Monika, who turned up fo the initial briefing looking like the world’s premier vampire hunter was not thrilled to be going to the beach
but my God she was going to try and fit in, with all the success of an undercover cop at a festival
and her disdain for the seaside was very much seeping into her design – but as a card carrying member of the anti-beach association, I am fully Team Monika on this and would very much prefer to spend my time pretending I’m a gin swilling socialite of the 1930s living it large in the Biltmore Hotel bar than acknowledge I was anywhere near a beach – I’m more Zelda than Zante
the problem was Michelle had literally said this right before they cut to Monika laying out her plans
it wasn’t completely lost on Monika though, and her one acknowledgment of the location were these small art-deco pictures that worked as doors to a series of small cabinets
and they are cute, but then you immediately pan marginally left to the larger cupboard that’s kind of just hanging around looking like the proverbial elephant in the room
which does take away from the fantasy a little bit, but I think she might have hoped you’d spend more time looking at the fully gold tin tin style ceiling
I’m so glad she fully embraced the camp of the art deco style as much as the sophistication – I think sometimes people take it far too seriously as a style that was really just quite ridiculous. I’m also glad that they gave her her flowers for the cabinet that she’d upcycled into a sink/kitchen counter installation
it’s one of the most successful bits of upcycling we’ve seen on the show and it was mostly just nice to watch an episode in which nothing went wrong for Monika and she didn’t have a 10 second doom spiral.
Jack was also embracing the art deco origins of the chalets – the centrepiece of which was a sort of Busby Berkeley synchronised swimming ceiling rose which I am kind of obsessed with
whereas Monika’s felt like a much more New York take on art deco, Jack’s feels much more British-European with the lido-esque colours and influences of Erté illustrations and Chiparus sculptures. I wish I could say I loved the rest of the chalet as much as I do the ceiling
I know orange and blue are complementary colours, there’s a reason every action movie poster is some combination of them, I’m just not sure on that orange – I feel like those shelves are shouting at me and Michelle had it out for them too: they were both too small and too art deco for her
I think it became apparent that Michelle was suffering in the heat and had decided these shelves were her punching bags – never has anyone looked in more desperate need of some paracetamol and a Calippo (and I say that after watching Monika flit from shady spot to shady spot like a heliophobic moth)
she was going through it. Meanwhile Laurence Llewelyn Bowen had barely broken a sweat despite looking like Badger from The Wind in the Willows
and I was kind of on Michelle and Laurence’s side about the chalet up until the moment that they complaining about the mix of panelled and slatted wood finishes
which I hadn’t even vaguely registered and now I’m having a mental crisis about whether that is an issue or if I now just think it’s an issue because people with my interior design clout than me have told me it’s an issue – I cave to peer pressure VERY easily. Then I really felt like I was taking crazy pills over what I shall now call The Floral Mural Injustice of 2023
Peter’s brief specified florals and in what I thought was a very compassionate design choice had decided to go down a more gender neutral approach because it was going to be used by a multi-generational family and I think he nailed, as is illustrated by the Futch Scale of Floral Pokemon
Unfortunately for him Laurence was the guest judge
and he just decreed that apparently the the bird of paradise doesn’t count as a floral
at least the mural had a holiday feel to it, I can’t imagine it would have been easy to make the expected “faded chintzes and cabbage roses” feel particularly beachy
can you IMAGINE what would have happened on Changing Rooms with this brief? MDF surf boards covered in rose-print wallpaper, a wall covered in Party City lei garlands and some sort of water-filled seating arrangement described as ~funky~ for the kids.
There was a bit of an issue with some of the furniture in Peter’s chalet though, namely the indoor bench that was just that little bit too big and did stick out from the door
and because of the storage space underneath it, it was also a bit of a booster seat – although I thought Peter’s legs dangling over the edge and barely skimming the floor was quite adorable
but it did seem a little bit cumbersome in an otherwise, at least I thought, very good chalet
Like, it’s REALLY cute!
Peter wasn’t the only one to have issues with the size of their furniture as Tom’s wardrobe-shaped wardrobe didn’t go down particularly well
it did make his chalet look small and then Laurence and Michelle hanging around in it looking like a couple who just realised they want a divorce halfway through a disastrous vacation only made it feel smaller
he probably should have gone down the same route as Temi with her Spiderman storage solution
but Tom had a tough brief with his watersports enthusiast (not like that) having a lot of gear and equipment to store and the fact Tom had rocked up with a van that looked like he’d just burgled every second-hand furniture shop along the East Coast wasn’t helping matters
the inspiration for his design apparently coming from Dirty Dancing
it did take me a second to click that the Baby he was talking about was Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing and not the dancing baby from Ally McBeal
not that the decorative side of Tom’s brief was romance films of the 1980s, his water sports enthusiast (not like that) wanted a Caribbean Shack – the nods to the Caribbean being locked firmly outside and what is now my new kink (yes, like that), Tom’s paint choice was being questioned
despite the Caribbean vibes going AWOL, I did actually quite like the outside of Tom’s chalet – I thought it was the most comfortable looking by virtue of not only being garnished with a pair of deck chairs
as for the inside, it was small looking and there was just a slight feeling that I was looking at the Before Shot and waiting for it to fade in with the redesign
it’s very clean and I like the panelling but it’s just lacking that clever little twist that Tom usually has in his designs that make his spaces feel special and bespoke. I think much like his hotel room, this design maybe didn’t have his whole heart, but at least he had a shelf to take his frustrations out on
Jack’s shelves got off lightly.
Lastly we have Temi who had a somewhat limiting brief with her eco-conscious client , I say “limiting” because it always stretches a budget, however apparently Temi has mastered the art of the hard stare at a car boot sale
she’ll mind trick her way into the final if she has to! But things seem to be going swimmingly for her because Laurence and Michelle loved her chalet
I wish some of the piping and wiring had been slightly better hidden because I think it’s making it read messier to me than it actually is – also slightly mystified by the miniature Christmas tree in what I believe was the middle of July, unless this is where Flossie, Fenella, Molly and little baby Beabop spend their Christmases
I have a very clear impression in my mind of what the owner of this chalet looks like and I think they would love Temi’s design because I imagine the also exclusively wear clothes from Magnolia Pearl.
Nobody’s design was a complete disaster and really I think they could have justified declaring any of the designers the winner, for Michelle and Laurence though it was Temi who thus becomes the front runner of the series – not that I have a league table going or anything…
and so everyone else was on the sofa
I don’t think Jack was in any particular danger in this situation – slightly small shelves and a panelling aggrievance weren’t good enough reasons to eliminate someone in this brief.
As for the others, I think Tom was incredibly lucky because I think his chalet was probably the weakest and his track record did a lot to save him – prior to this episode he was the frontrunner (not that I have a league table going or anything…) so ultimately it came down to Peter and Monika and whether you decided that 2 inches of chair or pretending your beach-side location isn’t a beach-side location were the bigger sin – ultimately it was Peter who was eliminated
I don’t really agree – I think his design, door-eclipsing chair and all, was my favourite but what do I know? I would mix slats and panels without a second thought.
And so, we have our quarterfinalists
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