Great Interior Design Challenge – interview with Martin Holland

Great Interior Design Challenge – interview with Martin Holland

Hey hey hey my lovelies, how are you doing?

I’m so excited to FINALLY be able to share a little project with you I’ve been working on – most of us followed the Great Interior Design Challenge even if it meant watching it on catch-up once TBT had gone to bed at night and found it incredibly stressful not to be able to live-tweet with their chums all about it during the show. No? Just me then? Okay…

Anyway!

I’m utterly super-duper excited to share with you my new feature: interviews with the people on the show! Over the coming weeks and months you’ll be able to read interviews with the builders, decorators and – lest we forget – the contestants!

I suck at keeping secrets, so this has been nigh-on impossible for me to keep quiet, so here you are – hope you enjoy it!!


Martin Holland

Yes. You read that right. Martin. Holland.

GIDC winner

Oh, you know, only the winner of the challenge!

Each episode Martin seemed to just up his game more than before – his rendered drawings that he presented to the clients initially were such masterpieces in their own right, I’m sure he could’ve sold them off!

I really enjoyed seeing the edited process of all his work. As a viewer, I was never sure what he was up to during the episode, but in the grand reveal each time Husband and I would go “He’s done it AGAIN!

Martin truly pulled out all the stops, and in the final against Fiona you could see how much the pressure was getting to him, and his partner Mark was on hand to pick him up and support him through it.

They’ve now launched themselves as Martin Mark Design where on the portfolio you can see the work Martin did on the Great Interior Design Challenge.

I have no doubt in my mind that these guys are going to go FAR.

Anyway – it’s not me you want to read about, is it? Let’s get on with the interview!

What made you apply for the show in the first place – can you tell us the process you went through to apply?

The absolute truth is that I never saw the original series when it first went out.
I distinctly remember getting a phone call from my brother telling me to watch a new series on the BBC as it was something I would be interested in, but I never got around to it.
It was only when I was at a loose end that I decided I would sit down and watch repeats on BBC iplayer. I was instantly hooked!
I saw the advertisement for series two shortly afterwards and so made an enquiry with Studio Lambert as I thought it was something I might enjoy doing but not really taking it that seriously at the time. Little did I know…..

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How did you approach the brief and what process did you go through to come to your final scheme that you presented to the clients?

Having only 7 days to design a whole room and source the products in advance is a tall order for even the most well experienced designers let alone amateurs.
In real terms, you can only spend a maximum of 3 days designing a room as you then need to move onto sourcing products and making sure things are delivered in time for when you start.
When you talk to other designers, they all seem to have a different approach to developing a scheme. For me, my starting point was picking out key words and ideas from the brief. I would then interrogate these and start to look for inspirational images, products, finishes etc. that might spark an idea and something I could then run with.

It would sometimes take a lot longer than you originally thought as you just can’t always quite find the spark that leads you to the finished scheme as quickly as you would like. But once it does come, the rest just seems to flow from there.

What did you find was the biggest challenge when designing the brief?

It’s a surreal experience to design an entire room that you’ve never stepped foot in before nor met the people who use it on a daily basis.

I’m a self-confessed perfectionist (it’s the Virgo in me)  and so for me, I really struggled with the detail from the brief, measurements of the space etc.
I love to design bespoke pieces and these often rely upon specific measurements in a space so it was always critical to me that they were accurate and if they weren’t then this would cause problems when you finally get into the room for the first time.

Nothing a bit of thinking on your feet couldn’t resolve though!

How did you feel when you got to meet the clients for the first time?

Meeting the clients for the first time was always very nerve wracking as you’re so desperate for them to love what you’re going to do. You’re literally plonked in a room with them and told to present your ideas and it’s terrifying!
It’s the one thing that never got easier with each client as you’re so worried they’re going to hate it.

The one thing I will say is that all of the homeowners were so lovely and accommodating. Allowing a team of strangers into your home to completely transform a room without any prior knowledge of what they’re going to do must be as daunting for them as it was for us. But each and every one of them entered into the spirit of things and really made us feel at ease. This was a massive bonus.

Have you always been into interior design? If not, when did you realise you wanted to work in interior design?

From being young I loved the idea of transforming spaces and putting your own mark on a room. I watched on in envy as my parents would decorate their home and wished I could get involved. Being so young I rarely had the opportunity to do this but I always knew that doing that for a living would be a dream.

It transpired that whilst I would have loved to have done it professionally, I was never quite brave enough to go the whole mile. At university I toyed with the idea of studying Interior Design but plonked for an alternative degree called Design, Development and Regeneration, resulting in a job in the Civil Service working in economic development and regeneration.
I’ve always erred on the side of caution and gone for the safer route when it comes to career and life choices, opting for the reliable job and suppressing any notion that I might actually one day be an Interior Designer, let alone be good at it.

When the chance came up to be on the show, I think even then I’d convinced myself that I wouldn’t get any further than the telephone interview but before I knew it I was filming my first episode and then months later there I was at the final!

None of what I’m doing now would be possible without being on The Great Interior Design Challenge and I’m truly thankful that it’s enabled me to finally pursue something I actually want to do in life.

What makes your personal mark on a room – what’s your trademark style?

Taking part on the show really helped me to define my trademark style and look and I think one thing that really came out for me was my ability to provide practical but stylish solutions for clients and give them something that little bit special that you just can’t find in a shop.
It’s all about the details and once I had that bigger picture in my head, then I would focus on getting the smaller things just perfect as that’s what takes it from just being a room, to being a home and something that’s a well-considered, unique design. I particularly like designing rooms that are visually very interesting and really grab and intrigue you.

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What was the biggest challenge during the show?

The biggest challenge for me personally was the time constraints and being able to produce the best possible design within such a short timescale. Churning out finished designs with that amount of time was really testing.

As the show progresses and you get further and further along in the competition, you are constantly trying to come up with new and fresh ideas that will impress the judges and keep the home owners happy! That was no easy task and really tested your ability to be creative and original at all times, something I think Dan and Sophie didn’t always believe I lived up to. But hey, what’s a cliché stags head or bird cage between friends! Haha.
I think what that proved was that sometimes, irrespective of how “on trend” or fashionable something is, if you like it and you think it’s right then just go ahead and use it!

The worst that can happen is you realise it doesn’t quite work and you get rid of it and replace it with something else. I’m sure even Dan and Sophie will admit to the odd decorating faux pas when they first started out. We’re all human and constantly learning, especially when you’re first starting out.
And that’s what I had to keep reminding myself. That I’d never ever done this professionally before. So I was all the while learning. A few hiccups along the way were inevitable.

What was the best part about being on the show?

That has to be all of the amazing locations I got to visit and see inside some really special homes that were just stunning. Meeting so many different people and sharing stories with them. It was incredible and I have so many happy memories from each place.
I’d love to visit some of them again as when you’re there and in the midst of it all, you don’t really get the chance to appreciate them for how beautiful they really are.

Brixham and Edinburgh were particular highlights although travelling to and from them was a journey and a half.

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How did you get on with the design team behind you, what was your relationship like?

The design team are all fantastic and I couldn’t have asked for better people to work with. The builders are all so incredibly talented and they really push themselves so hard over those 3 days to help you deliver your what you want.

Off camera, you have an amazing team of people all beavering away helping you to source products, research ideas and generally help make the whole thing happen for you. With such a short timescale, it would be impossible to do it all entirely on your own. But ultimately, they’re all relying on you to take direction from and have the final say. It’s your design after all.

The final was a real test of this as with 3 rooms to deliver and such a short amount of time to prepare and then deliver the schemes, it was non-stop. I was told on more than once occasion by the team helping me that I worked them really hard and they even said that by the end of the 4 days, they were completely broken! I guess that’s just the way I work.

If you don’t put all the effort in you can muster and then some, you don’t get to reap the rewards at the end.

Did you find it difficult to delegate tasks to the design team, or did you find it easy?

A lot of what I do in my job is based around project management so for me, working with the team to realise what I’d wanted to achieve was second nature. They’re all such a fantastic bunch and can’t do enough for you.
The only time I really felt that pressure to delegate and manage things well was during the final as I had 3 rooms and lots of people all looking to me to make it work. That’s a tough one even for the most seasoned of designers!

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Did Daniel and/or Sophie say anything that caused you to deviate from your original design?

I don’t think there was anything that particularly made me change my designs (the house boat episode certainly proved that…..) but what their comments did make me do was focus on where I needed to improve and develop.
One thing you didn’t really see form the show was some of the direct feedback that Dan and Sophie would give us at the end of each episode, right before they told us who had got through to the next stage of the competition. It was invaluable as it made you work harder each time to show that you were a capable designer who could rise to the challenge.

What was it like watching yourself back on television, and hearing Sophie’s and Daniel’s comments?

I struggled watching myself for the first few times (be honest, nobody likes the sound of their own voice do they?!?) but after that it started to feel quite normal and by the 3rd or 4th episode I felt comfortable to watch and listen to myself and hear what Dan and Sophie had to say. Having been there and experienced everything that was said first hand which didn’t necessarily make it into the final cut, you really start to get a  feel for how much is edited out.

There were good and bad times and we all know that the general public love a bit of drama and tension so it was inevitable that the focus would often be on where things weren’t quite going to plan. My carpet tile disaster in Surrey certainly proved that.
What’s really nice is that I have a lot of great memories of the lovely things that were said off camera. Both of the judges are incredibly supportive and you learn a lot from them whilst you’re there.  Tom Dyckoff was also an amazing person to talk to. So knowledgeable and a real inspiration. What he doesn’t know about architectural history isn’t worth knowing about.

If you could design a room for a person of your choice, who would it be, and what room/scheme would you propose?

I had to think long and hard about this and I don’t think there’s any one but what I’d love to do is design a room for somebody incredibly well known to the general public but who is a very private individual when it comes to their personal life. Possibly royalty or somebody in the super leagues of fame! The sort of person that everybody knows and yet they know nothing about.

Interior Design is a very personal thing and, like the clothes that we wear, it says a lot about who and what we are. It would be so much fun to get a glimpse into the world of somebody who remains a closed book to society and get to know what makes them tick and how they live their life behind closed doors.
To see a side to somebody that very few other people have seen would be a real treat and to design something really special for them.
A very generous budget to do whatever you wanted with would be nice too!

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What has life been like for your since the show was recorded?

Things have been rather hectic but incredibly fun.

The launch of our new business coupled up with moving house which is a huge project in itself has really kept us busy. We’ve had some brilliant feedback from people and still get recognised in the streets, even months after the final aired. The support and kind comments of people have been a huge boost and really inspired me to keep up the hard work and make a success of this.

In the words of my mum the day after the final was shown ‘After all that, now the real hard work starts….It’s over to you!’. And she was absolutely spot on (as mums always are). Working on the TV show was tough stuff and incredibly hard work. The platform this has given me is fantastic but as soon as the last episode was shown, it was down to me to make the most of the chance I’d been given and really capitalise on this potentially life changing opportunity. So that’s exactly what I’ve been doing ever since.

Are you still wanting to work in interior design?

Absolutely! Having got as far as I did in the competition and then to win really confirmed to me that this is something I’m going to pursue and opportunities like that rarely come along so I grabbed it with both hands and haven’t let go since.

The enquiries I’ve received since winning have been amazing and there are some great projects I’ve started working on in 2015 so I’m really excited to finally be getting out there doing this for real! I’ve had client enquiries from as far afield as Japan believe it or not. And I have a meeting in Holland next month which I’m really excited about.
That’s one of the great things about this job.You never know where you might end up next and who you could end up designing for! There’s never a dull moment.

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to anyone who is interested in becoming an interior designer?

  1. Believe in yourself and don’t doubt your own abilities. Too many times I’ve talked myself out of doing something because I always think there’s somebody or something better than I am out there. You have to face that head on and be confident if you want to succeed. It’s easier said than done but if you are truly passionate about something and want it bad enough, then you will get there eventually but it all starts with you.
  2. Remember that you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with. So you can design the best room the world has ever seen, but if the finish isn’t up too much then you’ve wasted your time. You need the best team behind you that you can trust to deliver 100% all of the time and are as excited about achieving your vision as you are.
  3. Be prepared to work hard. I’ve never formally studied Interior Design and the fact that I won the TV show doesn’t automatically make me qualified. I recognise that this whole industry is a constant learning curve and you’re always having to research, meet new people and stay on top of the latest information in order to be the best you possibly can. This means investing a lot of your time in doing this and that’s something I’ve learnt in recent months.

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Have you any design heroes? If so who? and Why?

Hmmm that’s a tough one. I’d have to split it between 3 designers.

  • Tom Dixon for his industrial style design, bold materials and sleek simple shapes.
  • Jonathan Adler for his fun and often unusual approach to Interior design. His use of colour and pattern is fantastic and so eye catching. You can never fail to recognise one of his designs from a single object to a whole room.
  • Kelly Hoppen. She is the epitome of timeless elegance and contemporary classic interior design that oozes good taste and style. I’m a big believer in good design that lasts and detest the throw away culture we live in where rooms are redecorated every 12 months and accessorised with the latest offerings from well-known high street retailers in matching colours and pattern. Interior design should be about quality finishes and pieces that are well made and designed to last. Kelly Hoppen really seems to fit all of those qualities and for that reason I find her incredibly inspirational.

If you could live in any design era which would you choose? and why?

It would have to be the 1930’s Art Deco. Interiors were so stylish and refined with such elegance. I love the clean lines and subtle finishes with understated details. And the fashions were just stunning!

Do you have a favourite part of the design process and why?

I suppose that has to be the beginning and the end. When you first scope out a space and get a feel for what you are working with, the potential it holds and the initial thoughts that come to mind as to what it could eventually look like. And then there’s the moment that you reveal the finished space and you see for the first time that its everything you had envisaged and intended it would be. This also leads on to seeing your client happy and content with what you’ve delivered for them. It’s what makes this job so special and rewarding. Yes you’re having fun designing rooms but ultimately, you’re making people happy and giving them something that they get pleasure from every single day.

Anything else you would like to add or share?

I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who was part of the show. Every last single person was so lovely and made you feel at ease from day one.
It will soon be a year from when I filmed my first episode (I can’t believe how quickly that’s come around!) and I know that series 3 is soon to start filming. But I don’t think there is a day that goes by when I don’t remember the wonderful time I had last year, the ups and the downs and everything else in between.

I was so lucky to be able to experience the whole competition from start to finish and it’s an experience I will never, ever forget. There’s a part of me that’s very envious of those who are about to embark on that journey. But I also breathe a sigh of relief that my stress levels will hopefully be a lot less this summer! haha.

Good luck to everyone who’s applied to be on the next series and remember, if you do make it onto the show enjoy every last single second as, for all the hard work you have to put in,  it’s a once in a life time opportunity and you just can’t beat it!  

How can we find you online (and off?):

Martin Mark Design

Look out for our blog coming very soon! This will chart the highs and lows of our own personal renovation project that we’re about to embark upon. The link to this will feature on our website.

Great Interior Design Challenge – interview with Fiona Wilson

Great Interior Design Challenge – interview with Fiona Wilson

Hey hey hey my lovelies, how are you doing?

I’m so excited to FINALLY be able to share a little project with you I’ve been working on – most of us followed the Great Interior Design Challenge even if it meant watching it on catch-up once TBT had gone to bed at night and found it incredibly stressful not to be able to live-tweet with their chums all about it during the show. No? Just me then? Okay…

Anyway!

I’m utterly super-duper excited to share with you my new feature: interviews with the people on the show! Over the coming weeks and months you’ll be able to read interviews with the builders, decorators and – lest we forget – the contestants!

I suck at keeping secrets, so this has been nigh-on impossible for me to keep quiet, so here you are – hope you enjoy it!!


Fiona Wilson

Fiona eventually became the runner-up in the show – I loved her attitude! Always a massive grin on her face, always giggling. Such fab charisma, I think she did a wonderful job. I think it took her a couple of episodes into the show before we started to feel the Fiona Magic, but now I’m hooked!

Fiona Wilson profile pic

Without further ado, let’s find out what she’s got to say…

What made you apply for the show in the first place – can you tell us the process you went through to apply?

My son put me in for the show. I would not have had the confidence to put myself forward but he thought that I would be good at it, during the later stages, he said to me “I knew you would be good, but I didn’t think you were THAT good

Once I was through the first stage where you had to submit photos of rooms you had done,  you had to design a room scheme within a budget, stating the influencing factors and then generate a mood board.

After this had been accepted, a camera crew visited and took a short film back for approval. This was the point when I was sure I was going to be eliminated-why would anybody want to see my face on the TV??

How did you approach the brief and what process did you go through to come to your final scheme that you presented to the clients?

I approached the brief very methodically (after the initial panic of “I know nothing about anything!”).

My primary consideration was that the homeowners could have everything that they had asked for.
Obviously, the budget restricted this so you had to prioritise what the most important aspects were.
I made my schemes suitable for the families living in them and not rooms which made good room sets.

Fiona Wilson lounge

It was not about the winning for me!

Truly, I really wanted the homeowners to be happy with the schemes and to be able to live in them, not to change them as soon as the cameras left. I tried to be practical with all my decisions. I think my age and experience were a big advantage. I came to my final decision on the briefs by giving the homeowners what they wanted, not what I thought they should have.

What did you find was the biggest challenge when designing the brief?

The biggest challenge when designing the brief was the lack of places to shop! I live in creamy Devon, which is wonderful, but it suffers from a lack of interior shops or bigger well priced furniture and design warehouses.
There was never time to travel elsewhere to shop as there was only a week between getting the brief and arriving on set, often I lost a day to travelling.

I had to fit the designing in to my busy life with two jobs and a family to care for, so time was also a problem; I was not in a position to take annual holiday to do it so it was shoehorned in to everything else!

How did you feel when you got to meet the clients for the first time?

Meeting the clients for the first time was exciting! I had spent a week perusing their room and their ideas and imagined their life.
You aren’t given much information about the people who live in the house, just that it’s a young family or a single person or whatever, so you have to look at the photos you have been given of the room and try to work out what they are about.

I stretched the photos for clues such as cameras, computers, pictures, books etc, anything that would give clues as to what little things you could add to make it special for them. You are also give a tiny photo which helps so you have an idea of their age and their clothes can help too!

It was always funny when they said things like ‘I hate purple’ but they were wearing it!! Conversely, they were often wearing the colours they asked for in the scheme.

There’s nowt as funny as folk as we say up North!

Have you always been into interior design? If not, when did you realise you wanted to work in interior design?

Fiona Wilson sewing

I have had an interest in interior design since I bought my first house. I have only ever done projects for myself so I was never under any pressure.

I love just having a go and seeing what happens, generally it works.
I love property, I am always hunting out old unloved houses; I love their sense of history.

I particularly enjoy the Autumn when it goes dark early and people put their lights on but don’t close the curtains so I can walk around looking it at everyones home-nosey!

What makes your personal mark on a room – what’s your trademark style?

Fiona Wilson bathroom

I don’t have a trademark style. One thing I have learnt from the show, is the importance of giving people what they want. I am a confessed lover of pom poms but wouldn’t inflict them on everybody else!

What was the biggest challenge during the show?

The biggest challenge on the show was timing.

It was very important to get everything finished but you were constantly interrupted by the crew and the judges but this was quite deliberate in order to make good TV.

What was the best part about being on the show?

I absolutely loved being on the show-every aspect of it.
It was great to meet the other contestants; the crew and production were fantastic, the judges were lots of fun and supportive.

Wow what an experience, I was so lucky.

The best part though, was seeing the homeowners when their room was revealed; there were usually tears.
You don’t realise how emotional it is for people to see their home made into their dream.
It’s a great feeling to think that you have achieved that for them.

Fiona Wilson teal room

How did you get on with the design team behind you, what was your relationship like?

You were assigned a design team who were there for you every step of the way.

They were brilliant and would do anything you asked. Another thing I have learnt is that I am a control freak so I took most things with me; but if I asked for anything they were straight on it and phoned frequently to check if I needed anything.

We all got on so well throughout the show, everyone was very supportive and positive.

Did you find it difficult to delegate tasks to the design team, or did you find it easy?

I didn’t have a problem delegating tasks as its something I am used to in my job; again my age was an advantage.

Did Daniel and/or Sophie say anything that caused you to deviate from your original design?

The judges were a hoot! We had such a lot of fun; you could always hear them laughing especially Sophie! Dan knew how to make her laugh.
It was a great atmosphere to work in. I never veered off my plan, despite what feedback they gave me.

Before I went off for the first episode I promised my self to stick to my guns. I had to compromise a few times with the homeowners in order to get my way, but Dan and Sophie didn’t interfere much. I think they were most perplexed by the painted chair.

What was it like watching yourself back on television, and hearing Sophie’s and Daniel’s comments?

I was nervous about watching myself on TV as I didn’t know how they would edit it. They certainly captured my personality.
The strangest thing was hearing my voice but I was horrified how old I looked!! There wasn’t any time for hair or make up!

The judges comments weren’t always consistent so it was frustrating to hear what they said when you weren’t there.
However it was good to hear them discussing the design features and pointing things out to each other, so it felt like they were being fair.

If you could design a room for a person of your choice, who would it be, and what room/scheme would you propose?

Fiona Wilson console table

If I could design a room for anybody, I would choose an elderly person who spends a lot of time indoors so they could really enjoy the space I had designed just for them.
My main consideration with the design would be how to display all their treasures and memories.

I hope I don’t sound like someone from a beauty competition who is trying hard to win-I mean this, elderly people are often overlooked and wouldn’t it be wonderful to give them something special?

What has life been like for your since the show was recorded?

Since the show was aired my life has changed dramatically. I have a new business designing properties all over the place and I’ve already gone international!! It’s been fantastic!

The response has been really positive and I keep being stopped by people lavishing me with praise-its great for my ego! People keep telling me how creative I am -its hard to believe because I don’t think that I am.

Are you still wanting to work in interior design?

I love interior design so have a career in it is a joy! I never thought that people would actually pay me – bonus! it is very rewarding to see people so happy with their new rooms. Prior to the show, I would never have had the confidence to design for people, I had only ever done it for myself.

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to anyone who is interested in becoming an interior designer?

My advice for other people to become a designer is:

  1. To listen to the client and discover what it is that they want which can be quite tricky because they don’t always know.
  2. Stick to your guns and convince the client that they do want your design, if you compromise too much then the design is diluted and it doesn’t work as well as it could.
  3. Do your research both with the design, history and architecture of the building.

Anything else you would like to add or share?

I would always say to people, do what you enjoy, work hard and reap the rewards.

How can we find you online (and off?):

The best way to contact me is through my Facebook page Interiors by Fiona Wilson. I am also on Twitter Few63Fiona.

So there you have it, guys. How amazing is she?? Ahhh I just adore her!

Do you fancy being in the next show? If so – Sophie and Daniel are looking for applicants!

Maybe it’ll be you I interview at the end of Series 3…?

GIDC

What was your favourite project of Fiona’s? Share your comments below!

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Great Interior Design Challenge – Interview with Christine Boyle

Great Interior Design Challenge – Interview with Christine Boyle

Hey hey hey my lovelies, how are you doing?

I’m so excited to FINALLY be able to share a little project with you I’ve been working on – most of us followed the Great Interior Design Challenge even if it meant watching it on catch-up once TBT had gone to bed at night and found it incredibly stressful not to be able to live-tweet with their chums all about it during the show. No? Just me then? Okay…

Anyway!

I’m utterly super-duper excited to share with you my new feature: interviews with the people on the show! Over the coming weeks and months you’ll be able to read interviews with the builders, decorators and – lest we forget – the contestants!

I suck at keeping secrets, so this has been nigh-on impossible for me to keep quiet, so here you are – hope you enjoy it!!


Christine Boyle

Christine Boyle

Christine Boyle

Christine wowed us with her creative use of naturally dyed fabrics – using onion, turmeric and all kinds of goodies you’d find in a pantry! I loved her creative use of the fabrics, her “cool calm and collected” mentality despite her project being a building site!

Let’s see what she has to say…

Natural Dyes

Natural Dyes

First of all, massive congratulations on your feature on Great Interior Design Challenge, season 2! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview – I’m really excited that you’ve agreed, and I can’t wait to share your answers with the readers of my blog.

What made you apply for the show in the first place – can you tell us the process you went through to apply?

It was my cousin Lynne who told me about it, and I applied for season 1.  I had completely forgotten about it a year later and then I got a call about being on season 2. I was the only person from Northern Ireland to be on. After the initial ‘Yes I would love to!” things moved very quickly.
A friend of mine is a freelance camera man and he came to my house to shoot footage, and ask me a few questions.  This was to see how I came across on camera and if my house was interesting enough.  The final part of the selection process was to translate, cost and make mood boards for a mock brief.

Christine's room

Christine’s room

How did you approach the brief and what process did you go through to come to your final scheme that you presented to the clients?

I set up camp at the dining room table to go through the notes, brief and highlighted key words that the homeowners had used. It was great weather during my research and preparation week so I took everything to my local park, colouring pencils and a library of interior books.
The mood boards developed 3 dimensionally on my dining room floor, adding a fabric, tiles and different elements.  It was ever-changing, and became a little overwhelming.  When I culled the sprawling board onto an A3 foam board, everything began to come together as a picture. Once I knew what I needed, I was in constant contact with the team in London ordering wallpapers and rugs etc.  As I was travelling from Belfast, the majority of purchases had to be bought in London.

Colour and Cloth concept

Colour and Cloth concept

What did you find was the biggest challenge when designing the brief?

My biggest challenge was not having eyes in the back of my head and a 360 degrees neck rotation.  It was about the whole room coming together.   Also choosing products, wallpapers, rugs online instead of seeing them in reality and touching them.  I am a very sensory person.

Beautiful mood board

Beautiful mood board

How did you feel when you got to meet the clients for the first time?

I was filled with nervous excitement.  All the cameras were on us from that first moment. There were no retakes! It was great to meet them, and for a brief period of time get to know what they wanted and needed in person.

Have you always been into interior design? If not, when did you realise you wanted to work in interior design?

I have designed every room in my house and redesigned them at least twice in the last nine years. My home has evolved rather than been designed – it is an ever changing space. I am a very practical person learning DIY and decoration tips from my dad and home making sewing skills from my mum.

What makes your personal mark on a room – what’s your trademark style?

My trademark style, within my own home as am example is to make each room liveable in, and to give it a sense of home.  I do this with textures, and natural materials, I believe they make for the most comforting experiences.

What was the biggest challenge during the show?

Time was the biggest challenge as I had thought 48 was 4 x 12 hour days, not 48 actual hours! A close second was visualising the room as a whole and making sure it tied together.  It’s one of the things Daniel advised after the judges decision.

Another challenge was that my house was a building site and all my furniture was under dust sheets, and I had no personal possessions to use to dress the room. These were all in storage.

What was the best part about being on the show?

I loved every part of being on the show, it was a sugar rush from start to finish.  I don’t think I could single out a specific.  Perhaps the feeling on sitting down on the sofa after the judges had left the room, and I just couldn’t do anymore. A feeling of satisfaction.

How did you get on with the design team behind you, what was your relationship like?

I had a fantastic team. Both my builder and painter were true professionals in the quality of work and making my sketches and ideas come true.  It is very important to have everything working together for the goal and the finish line, and a good working atmosphere is more productive.  I learnt a few tricks of their trades throughout the 3 days.

Did you find it difficult to delegate tasks to the design team, or did you find it easy?

I found it easy to delegate, as we all had our own area of expertise.

Did Daniel and/or Sophie say anything that caused you to deviate from your original design?

No, I kept to my original design, although it looked slightly different from my mood boards.

What was it like watching yourself back on television, and hearing Sophie’s and Daniel’s comments?

After the initial, “Oh my word, that’s me!” exclamations to the TV, I relaxed into watching it and really enjoyed it.  I thought Daniel and Sophie were very positive in their comments and I totally agreed with their suggestions and advice.
Sophie’s advice on painting lining paper with the full tester pot was one I will definitely be using in the future.
Daniel’s on the blue used and the depth of the dip dye curtain were totally spot on!
I really did learn a lot from them both and it was inspiring just being around them.

If you could design a room for a person of your choice, who would it be, and what room/scheme would you propose?

Had Elvis still been alive, I would love to have designed his dressing room.  I doubt there would have been much of my own natural scheme in it though! I’m sure he would have afforded me a free rein and an extravagant budget so it would have been filled with only the best fabrics and furnishing.  In complete contrast to my own home where 99% is salvaged, homemade and done on a complete budget!

What has life been like for your since the show was recorded?

The night the show was aired was full on with social media, messages and phone calls, it took me a few days to get back to everyone.  It has settled down now and I am continuing my costume work.  I am making space over Christmas to set up my Etsy shop and keep up with the interior blog posts.

Christine Boyle GIDC Christine Boyle GIDC

Are you still wanting to work in interior design?

I will definitely continue to change my own home and have a 3 month project in Sydney next year which I am excited to get to work on! I still see myself focusing on costume and craft, it’s my true passion.

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to anyone who is interested in becoming an interior designer?

    1. Travel: explore, search and discover textures colours, patterns.
    2. Educate yourself in museums and galleries for what inspired the past, and also what will change the future of design.  Acknowledge the past and seek out the future.
    3. Learn some practical skills to have more understanding of possibilities.

Anything else you would like to add or share?

I am so glad I took up the Interior Design Challenge, it was an amazing experience.  For everyone who went on to further rounds, and on to win, it was an immense challenge and they deserve every success for their amazing achievements.

How can we find you online (and off?):

  • I can be found at my website Colour and Cloth which is a portfolio of my professional work to date.
  • My blog is where I share my creative life, with regular posts and inspirational ideas.
  • Instagram: colourandcloth
  • Twitter: @colourandcloth
  • Linkedin: Christine Boyle
  • Facebook: Colour Cloth and Craft
  • Etsy (not opening till Jan 1st 2015) ColourClothandCraft
  • Upcoming events: The Fine and Dandy market, Belfast Sunday 21st December
Great Interior Design Challenge – Interview with Lucy Pass

Great Interior Design Challenge – Interview with Lucy Pass

Hey hey hey my lovelies, how are you doing?

I’m so excited to FINALLY be able to share a little project with you I’ve been working on – most of us followed the Great Interior Design Challenge even if it meant watching it on catch-up once TBT had gone to bed at night and found it incredibly stressful not to be able to live-tweet with their chums all about it during the show. No? Just me then? Okay…

Anyway!

I’m utterly super-duper excited to share with you my new feature: interviews with the people on the show! Over the coming weeks and months you’ll be able to read interviews with the builders, decorators and – lest we forget – the contestants!

I suck at keeping secrets, so this has been nigh-on impossible for me to keep quiet, so here you are – hope you enjoy it!!


Lucy Pass

Lucy Pass

Lucy Pass

Ah, Lucy. Who could forget the loveable girl given the clients of THE EastEnd couple? They terrified me!

Lucy handled her brief incredibly well – I remember all her little accessories she brought out, and how hands-on she was with her creativity!
Although she didn’t make it past the first round she definitely left her mark on me! Let’s hear what she has to say..

First of all, massive congratulations on your feature on Great Interior Design Challenge, season 2! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview – I’m really excited that you’ve agreed, and I can’t wait to share your answers with the readers of the blog.

What made you apply for the show in the first place – can you tell us the process you went through to apply?

I got pretty addicted to the first series of the show and admittedly spent the majority of it shouting at the telly, desperate to get my hands on the rooms myself! It was a friend who pointed me in the direction of the application call and I thought ‘why not?!’.
The first part of the process is a pretty simple form to share a bit about yourself and your passion for interior design. If you’re successful, then it gets really fun! Phone interviews, mock design briefs and camera crews turning up in your house and then the long wait for that phone call!

How did you approach the brief and what process did you go through to come to your final scheme that you presented to the clients?

I usually just jump right in! From past experiences with my own homes, I tend to get a feel for a room immediately and go for it.
Once I have an overall look in my head, that’s when I begin to pin everything down from the layout of the room right down to the smallest details.

I also obsessively ‘window shop’ for my personal dream interiors so I’m well equipped with a knowledge of where to find the right furniture, fabrics, wallpapers, etc. for the job.

What did you find was the biggest challenge when designing the brief?

Not actually being able to see the room. The production team provide photos and a rough floor plan but it’s impossible to get a proper feel for the room. I spend most of my time working with colour so I know the importance of lighting and there’s just no way of really knowing the true colours or light you’re dealing with until you get in a space. The layout is also difficult to visualize – I had to keep thinking of measurements in terms of my own home, rearranging my furniture to make sure it would all work in situ!

How did you feel when you got to meet the clients for the first time?

I was so nervous – you really are thrown in at the deep end – The first meeting you have with the client is the one you seen on TV. You walk in and somebody just says ‘Right! Go for it!’! There’s no time to think or gather yourself! However, as soon as I walked over to sit down, Mary gave me one of her trademark winks and a cheeky little smile and I instantly felt at ease!

https://www.noddle.co.uk/Have you always been into interior design? If not, when did you realise you wanted to work in interior design?

It’s been a lifelong passion! Growing up, the family home was always a work in progress – a beautiful old barn which my parents began converting before I was born. It was a very slow labour of love and it seemed like there was always something to paint, wallpaper to choose and design decisions to be made. My brothers and I were always involved, which resulted in some pretty ‘out there’ schemes for our own rooms!

Ever since my fiancé and I moved into student digs together, I was keen to put our own stamp on our tiny campus studio – not only to make it feel homely, but to make it stand out from the rest! As renters (10 years on), we’ve moved around a few times and it’s always a challenge to make a space our own with the restrictions of not owning a property. I really enjoy the challenge of coming up with design solutions and I’ve developed a keen eye for spotting the potential of a space!

The cute couple

The cute couple

What makes your personal mark on a room – what’s your trademark style?

I like to clash styles and eras to create something new and unusual – I’ll never forget my mum walking into my current living room and saying ‘it really, really shouldn’t work, but it all goes together perfectly!!’. I particularly love the Scandinavian and Mid Century Modern styles with industrial hints. I like clean, strong lines and raw materials but always softened with eye catching textiles items in accent colours.

I also like to approach interior design with a dose of humour and playfulness, by grouping unusual objects, curiosities and artwork.

What was the biggest challenge during the show?

The time limit is obviously a big issue – Every minute matters, which can be particularly stressful when stuck in a cab in central London traffic! And of course, as soon as you begin to rush, mistakes are made!

Kevin and Mary’s house was an absolute treasure trove of all kinds of things, jam packed into every room, which was a dream come true but, at the same time, pretty overwhelming so the pressure was on to edit their amazing collection without losing their bold personality in the process.

What was the best part about being on the show?

Without a doubt, working with Kevin and Mary! They were so warm and welcoming, not to mention belly achingly funny – Seriously, somebody needs to give them their own show!

As for the design brief, we were totally on the same page from the word go and I couldn’t have wished for a better reaction when they saw their finished living room! That’s what it’s all about!
They even bought gifts for my team and myself which was just so lovely and generous of them and a true reflection of how much they loved the transformation!

How did you get on with the design team behind you, what was your relationship like?

The design team were total superstars – They’re the unsung heroes of the show! They were really rooting for me too, which was a real confidence boost and I ended up wanting to get through to the next round for them as much as myself!

Did you find it difficult to delegate tasks to the design team, or did you find it easy?

I definitely got better with time, but it didn’t come easily! As a freelance artist and designer, I’m used to working alone – I’m kind of forced to be a control freak and wear many different metaphorical hats, so it was a big challenge to hand some of those hats over to someone else!!

Did Daniel and/or Sophie say anything that caused you to deviate from your original design?

I’d developed such a great relationship with Kevin and Mary and worked through some minor changes at the outset so I knew that they were going to love the finished room. This gave me an extra sense of focus, so when taking to the judges, I was keen to show them my confidence and to fully explain and give reason for my design choices rather than be swayed.

What was it like watching yourself back on television, and hearing Sophie’s and Daniel’s comments?

I’ll admit, I had to hide behind a stiff gin and tonic to watch it, but it wasn’t nearly as cringe-worthy as I’d thought it was going to be!

It was very interesting to hear the judges’ reactions. I had a pretty good idea that Sophie would like my scheme, but Daniel was a much trickier customer – I certainly wasn’t expecting his reaction to the controversial ‘bug’ chair! For the record, part of my brief was to recover the chair – had I known the original fabric matched Daniel’s lovely trousers so nicely…. Well I’d still have recovered it! You can’t please everybody! And he did love my tea cup down lighters so that made up for it!

The lovable bugs!

The lovable bugs!

If you could design a room for a person of your choice, who would it be, and what room/scheme would you propose?

I’d really like the chance to design a kids bedroom! As I mentioned earlier, I like to add playful elements to my schemes, but you can really go all out silly for a little person! There are also a lot of problems to solve like coming up with clever storage ideas and multi-purpose furniture to keep both child and parent happy, which is something I’d really enjoy!

What has life been like for you since the show was recorded?

Since recording the show, I’m still working as a freelance portrait artist and fashion designer, but I’ve thrown myself even deeper into my design work and started yet another project, Ree-Doo, using all kinds of recycled materials to create hand printed textiles homewares, unique paper cuts and much more!
I’ve always loved the feeling of creating something beautiful and desirable from something plain or unwanted but it’s even better to create those things for other people and spread the joy a little!

Lucy Pass

Are you still wanting to work in interior design?

I would definitely still love to work in interior design! The experience of working with a real client was really valuable and so gratifying; I’d jump at the chance to do it again! I’d also really like the opportunity to take my textiles and homewares design further and design a full range of wallpapers, fabrics and accessories!

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to anyone who is interested in becoming an interior designer?

I’ve only had a small taste of the interior design world from appearing on The Great Interior Design Challenge, but drawing on experience from my work as a freelance artist and designer, working to all kinds of briefs; here’s my two cents!

  1. Communicate – I think good communication is the most important skill to have. Your ideas may be brilliant, if you can’t communicate them to your client, then you may as well go home! Explain yourself fully and listen to your client. The rest will follow much more smoothly!
  2. Do your research – Don’t turn up with half-baked ideas and plans. Know exactly what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it. There will inevitably be other problems that raise their ugly heads along the way, so you’ll thank yourself for having everything else planned out first, giving you the brain capacity to think on your feet!
  3. Be confident, but stay flexible – Confidence is key! If you are confident, then your client will be too! However, don’t let confidence slip into stubbornness. It’s okay to bend and compromise. Work as a team – After all, you want your client to be happy with the finished result!

How can we find you online (and off?):

I have various projects, businesses and fingers in pies, so bear with…

Lucy Pass – Freelance Portrait Artist
website: www.lucy-pass.com
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LucyPassArtist

Lucy Pass portrait painting

Little Lost Soul – Artisan clothing, accessories & homeware
website: www.littlelostsoul.com
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/littlelostsoul.uk
twitter: @_littlelostsoul

Ree-Doo – Recycled, reloved & reimagined homewares
website: www.ree-doo.co.uk
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/reedoostudio
twitter: @reedoostudio

I’m also one third of creative collaboration, The Make District
website: www.themakedistrict.co.uk
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheMakeDistrict
twitter: https://twitter.com/TheMakeDistrict

Well, there you have it.

What an inspirational and fun designer Lucy is! I wonder if there’s anything she can’t do? Go on, I dare you – take a look at any of the links above and try to not be amazed by what she can do. I reckon she’ll get snapped up for quirky kids’ rooms designs really soon!

Great Interior Design Challenge – Interview with Wayne Perrey

Great Interior Design Challenge – Interview with Wayne Perrey

Hey hey hey my lovelies, how are you doing?

I’m so excited to FINALLY be able to share a little project with you I’ve been working on – most of us followed the Great Interior Design Challenge even if it meant watching it on catch-up once TBT had gone to bed at night and found it incredibly stressful not to be able to live-tweet with their chums all about it during the show. No? Just me then? Okay…

Anyway!

I’m utterly super-duper excited to share with you my new feature: interviews with the people on the show! Over the coming weeks and months you’ll be able to read interviews with the builders, decorators and – lest we forget – the contestants!

I suck at keeping secrets, so this has been nigh-on impossible for me to keep quiet, so here you are – hope you enjoy it!!


 

Wayne Perrey

…was one of the builders from season 1 that re-joined the 2nd season, and really stood out to me as had such a “can do” attitude. Sure, the designers would try to push their luck, but Wayne always came across as though he was 100% supporting them. The designs the contestants had him build were phenomenal, too!

Wayne Perrey

Wayne Perrey

First of all, Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview – I’m really excited that you’ve agreed, and I can’t wait to share your answers with the readers of my blog. You were a massive part of the background work of the Great Interior Design Challenge, and I felt it important to celebrate your hard work as well as the designers’ on the show.

Can you tell us a little about yourself – your background, what you specialise in, and where you are based?

I’m originally from Leeds, moved to study in London when I was 18 and ended up staying. I live in South London with my beautiful wife Anna and little girl Eva. Originally I trained as an actor (performed leads in the West End and on TV), but when I hit 30, as with all actors, work thinned out (as you’re no longer the young romantic lead but don’t yet fit the dad roles). As a result, about 7 years ago, I started doing more carpentry/DIY jobs for friends.
Having a 6 year old  daughter and an actress wife this self-employment means I have the right work-life balance to be happy, and provide for my family. I’m still free to audition for jobs that I want to do rather than have to take.

What made you apply to become one of the building team for the show in the first place – can you tell us the process?

A friend of mine who I do a lot of carpentry for knew the producer of the show and knew they were looking for a carpenter/builder who didn’t mind being on TV.
After an interview (showing pictures of my work) I  was asked to cover holiday leave on the last 4 episodes of the first series.
The hardest part about joining the team of the first series (they had done 8 episodes already), was not letting on that I’m an actor as I wanted to prove myself as a carpenter first.
Thankfully everyone was so supportive of the new boy (me) and made me feel right at home! It wasn’t until the last day on the final of the first series that I told them about my acting career (as the next day I happened to be filming an episode of Emmerdale he he he).
Now it’s just a funny talking point as hopefully my carpentry speaks for itself.

How did you feel when you got to meet the designers you’d be working with for the first time?

Especially in the first round I always try and make them feel relaxed as possible, because we (the production team) know each other, and for them it’s like they’re the new kid at school.

What was the biggest challenge during the show?

Logistics are always a problem, balancing the time you have to complete the build for the room, with making a TV show.
Some locations, like the Oast houses for example, were 3 houses in a row and our work stations were in the gardens of those houses. At any one time the main camera crew are interviewing the designers with the wonderful Sophie and Dan nearby and we have to down tools due to noise issues.
With all the noise stopping due to filming you worry that you’re not going to get everything built, but if it wasn’t filmed, there would be no show (us builders call it “chicken and egg”).
On a whole we all have a laugh about it and get on the best we can.

What was the best part about being on the show?

I loved being part of the travelling circus- every week we would arrive at some amazing location, all check into a hotel and have fun with friends.
The thing that would make me smile the most was, whilst busy in my work station building something for my designer, I would hear the belly laughter of Sophie and Dan somewhere around! There’s not many jobs where the work atmosphere is such fun.
The whole team from the judges to runners are made to feel important, because we all know that without our individual input the show wouldn’t happen – everyone is needed to make the show a success.

How did you get on with the designers, what was your relationship like? 

I can honestly say I had great fun with my designers! I would like to think they knew I was always trying to achieve their vision, and if it wasn’t achievable (usually down to time) I would always be honest and upfront with them.
For those 3 days it really is a micro family whose main aim is to create fab room for the home owner.

If you could work for a designer of your choice, who would it be, and why?

That’s a tricky one because I had some great ones.
I find working with a designer who has a great plan of action the best, so Martin and Kelly were brilliant for that; they came with clear drawings of what they wanted to achieve, which means we can just crack on and build it.
I look back Martin’s artist studio in Brixham and Kelly’s Oast House kid’s bedroom and I can’t believe how much I managed to build for them in the time we had, but that’s because their plans were great.
But for pure joy of working with it has to be Fiona! She was so happy and never got stressed and was happy with whatever you built for her.
You didn’t see it on camera, but in the final she was needed for an interview and as she was walking down a steep grass bank she decided to lay sideways and roll down the hill instead, then stood up brushed herself down and started the interview!
Such a joyful lady to be around, and in her 50’s, too.

What has your business been like for your since the show was recorded?

I’m very lucky because people will always recommend a good builder, so I’m usually busy.
Also, because the show is so well respected I find that it has helped people see what can be created by using a good builder. It’s a good talking point when I’m pricing a job.

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to anyone who is interested in becoming a trader of any sort?

  1. I believe that ” people buy into people” so I try to be nice person to be around and that way people will want to work with me.
  2. Be a “Yes Man” – I always try and say “Yes” to solving a problem, or at least try and offer a positive alternative.
  3. Don’t be flaky (if you’re not available or have to change plans) let the right person know about it ASAP.

Anything else you would like to add or share? 

If you’re thinking of applying for the 3rd series (if it gets the green light) – DO IT! What have you got to lose?
What I love about working on the show is that the producers are not interested in making car crash TV – in fact they totally go the other way and celebrate the process of interior design and let the houses and the design be the focal point.
If you make it to the show next year, you will be treated with the upmost respect and I guarantee you will have a blast.

How can we find you online (and off?):

Wayne Perrey
South London
www.ManCaveCreations.co.uk

(I also know you can find him on Twitter here

Well, what a dream builder, eh? Can-Do attitude, “Yes man”, full of praise for the contestants, a family man who thinks it’s important to have the Perfect work-life balance we all so desperately strive for…What more could you want?

Which one of you reading will be applying for the show next year? If you’re interested, ping them a mail on designers@studiolambert.com! They haven’t got the show commissioned yet but, as Wayne said, what have you got to lose?!

Until next time,

Sx