Interior Design Masters 2023, The Final: Authenticating Diplodocus

This is my favourite rock band.

At least Tom was still technically in the final?

The final is finally upon us and for their last big design challenge, Jack and Monika were making over a pair of Brighton pubs, each with their own very different briefs and number of floors… And because it was the final, they were being given their biggest budget yet with £3000 to spend and Alan Carr was doing Laurence Llewelyn Bowen cosplay

They were also being given an extra day and their choice of previous contestant to serve as their dogsbody, with Tom playing the Iceman to Monika’s Maverick

I assume there’s a deleted scene of Val Kilmer giving Top Cruise a foot massage.

And being brought back all the way from her banishment to the Flintstones themed oubliette in Week 2 was Queen of Cement, Buse

Jack however was not embracing cement and she would spend most of her time upholstering things in the basement like Cinderella with considerably less mice to help her.

Fountains of North Laine

Monika’s pub was The Fountain Head which was desperately looking for a rebranding to appeal to a younger clientele and look less intimidating to anyone over 5ft6″

her solution to the height issue was to paint the ceiling and walls one colour, opting for a very dark slate-y blue – a job that thrilled the decorators after several weeks of having to struggle against designs involving geometric colour blocking

their delight would not last long because despite the room being an easy paint job, Monika was also going to have them paint all of the chairs a shade of dirty pink and seemingly overlooking the fact that in order to do so they would have to prime the chairs first

and despite their best attempts to get her to PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, RECONSIDER! Monika could not be budged – but to be fair, brave was anyone who tried to complain to her about a tedious task of Herculean proportions as she sat there spending just about three days copper leafing a bar like she was being punished by Dionysus himself

to be fair, the pub owner wanted the the bar counter to be a focal point for a better reason than the fact it was the size of a London apartment and Monika certainly succeeded

it’s stunning – pitch perfect design, the copper works so well with the floral wallpaper and the distressed mirror wall at the back makes it look all the more grand, Tom being in charge of tiling it because Monika tiled the corner of a sink one time and has sworn off it forever

and the self-distressed mirror earned her a lot of praise from Michelle and this week’s guest judges Abigail Ahern and Nisha Katona – and I think that was Monika’s greatest strength in the finale, there were a lot of elements in her pub that showcased her ability to witchcraft, having distressed the mirrors herself. With her handy skull-shaped spritz bottle because of course

someone somewhere on Twitter is trying to work out of it’s a male or female skull, I just know it.

The bar area was a big task and it did take up a good portion of everyone’s time getting all the different elements ready so things weren’t looking good for Monika as she and Tom surveyed her to-do list which looked like the conspiratorial scribblings of a mad woman

but it did come together in the end, I’m not entirely sure the rest of the pub was as successful the bar area – the tables and chairs kind of take you out of the glamour because they do look like chairs from a farmhouse kitchen

but I think that was her attempt to stick to the brief in terms of making it a space that transitioned from day to night, in which case I’m then not sure the blue being that dark fully works? Michelle however was more concerned about the size of the tables and where she was going to put the fictional extra fries she ordered

she has never ordered a plate of chips – Michelle orders three glasses of wine and smokes a cigarette for lunch and calls it French chic, I see how you dress Ogundehin, I know you. I think Monika had purposefully used quite small tables though because her plan was to have them be easily moveable to make room for dancing, with the pub even coming with a DJ table that looked like the lectern a vampire priest might use


I did worry for Monika the moment I saw her hanging up more ivy though

but I suspect Michelle nibbled every single plant either Monika or Jack put in their pubs to make sure they were real, like an authenticating diplodocus and they certainly must have passed the taste test.

Zodiac Attack

For his pub, Jack had Earth and Stars, which I think is a terrible name for a pub but that’s besides the point. The owner of the pub was also in need of a rebrand and style upgrade because the whole thing looked like it had been designed in 2012 and never touched upon again

the other thing Jack had to take into consideration is that as well as the “relaxed bar area” the pub also had a gastro-pub restaurant that looked like it had been dragged out of Only Fools and Horses via your grandmother’s living room

and yes, this did mean that Jack had two floors to take into consideration, and when Tom found out he did look like he wanted to go and pat Jack on the back and congratulate him on having a good run

Jack however was determined to not let history repeat itself and forged ahead with his idea for the rebranding of Earth and Stars, decking the whole thing out in a Zodiac theme, which I did think he was taking a little far the moment the 3D design model came in and the restaurant appeared to have gone completely ceilingless for maximum stargazing potential

the editors were just being slick and holding the fact Jack was going to paint the ceiling with gold leaf stars close to their chest

I did worry that with that as well as the fantastical zodiac illustrations and upholstery he was using that it could potentially come off a little bit like a child’s bedroom, however I do think he managed to land on the right side of sophistication

it’s really pretty, and the lynx-print fabric is absolutely divine

it’s by Emma Shipley – a fact I only know because I complimented it on Twitter and a lot of people agreed it was a beautiful print and Emma herself then spent the next 12 hours linking everyone to her website. I’m not mad, to quote the famed philosopher and poet Jasmine Kennedie, “This is your moment, HAVE IT!”

the issue Michelle had with Jack’s design was that it felt like the two spaces had been reversed with the restaurant feeling too relaxed and the bar space feeling too glamorous, which if anything felt like a read on the poor owner

I was very confused by the emphasis the judges put on the restaurant being about “farm to fork” and therefore not being rustic enough anymore because that never came up in the conversation between Jack and the owner, or at least the parts we saw, so it did feel a little weird as a viewer for that to suddenly come out of the blue and be a big issue, but I suppose it does explain the ho-humness of the original design. And the bar was certainly glamorous – decked out in gold and velvet in a very neo-Gatsby style

the shelf was a really clever and considerate addition to the bar counter and makes it that little bit more theatrical, and I did enjoy that he finally got to do the gilded step design he had tried to do in Week 4 with PVA and a prayer

Buse had a few concerns about some of Jack’s trademark elements, particularly the paneling which he was painting, to quote directly, “Rugged Olive” – she thought that going purely with the blue would make it all look a bit more high end, so clearly someone spent their time since being eliminated graduating from the College of Colour Theorists

Jack stuck with his guns though and it didn’t prove to be much of an issue especially considering that the space was so packed with extra decorations and dressing that you didn’t really notice the paneling all that much

the blue and green just weren’t all that different in colour, which was good, and certainly made the very brought yellow alcove stand out more

I love this, it’s the sort of area in a restaurant or pub that you ask to be seated in when you make a reservation.
As a whole, I really liked Jack’s design but it was a little bit damning when the pub owner came in and said Jack had gone off brief

he still liked it though and as per their website have kept the design in its entirety

as have Monika’s – small tables and all, so a job well done to both of them really.


And now for the controversial decision. I think a lot of people, myself included, were rooting for Jack because he’s been consistently very good throughout the competition whereas Monika kind of got off lightly for things that got other designers eliminated and kept making mistakes that she had been previously called up on. However, and this is kind of the issue with how the show works, the prize is incredibly specific – this year’s prize being the opportunity to design the interior for a central London cocktail bar and if you asked me to pick out from the line up of this year’s designers who would make the most interesting design for a cocktail bar, it’s going to be Monika. Had it been a contract for a hotel, it would be Jack or Tom.

So while it has felt a little bit like the series has pushed Monika to the end and not done much in the way of creating an edit that gives us the impression that she’s gone on a big ~design journey~ to find her design sensibility, I can’t say that she didn’t deserve to win based on the pub she designed – so well done to Monika, the Interior Design Master of 2023

The reaction to her win, on Twitter at least, has been rather unkind with a lot of people focusing on how emotional she got on a few occasions, which is the shittiest reason you could possibly find to invalidate someone winning something, and even more so someone who has been very open about their ADHD and how it’s made certain aspects of the show particularly stressful and anxiety inducing for them.

Plus, if your fav didn’t win, they’re doing just fine now – the nice thing about a show like Interior Design Masters is that everyone from it usually goes on to have a great career and looking at the Instagram accounts for this year’s cast – they’re all excelling. And thanks to all of them for seeing the humour in these recaps, I love the show, I love talking about the show – it’s been a fun series to recap!

and so, We have our champion!

TOP: Buse, Charlotte, Jack, Joanne
BOT: Peter, Ry, Temi, Tom

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