With a tsunami of creatives’ tears, The Great Interior Design Challenge 2016 brushed itself off our screens last night. Lucy and Sarah had three rooms each to transform in an 18th century neo-gothic stately home in Surrey. They were furnished with £4,000, 2 builders, 2 decorators, 4 days and a friend each for the mammoth task. Sarah’s homeowner asked for an elegant design, inkeeping with the period of the building. So naturally what she got was what looked like a modern, oriental hotel on paper, full of dark green – again! There were objections, tears, hugs, negotiations and eventually a compromise was reached. Sarah has always played quite fast and loose with the briefs and this time she pushed the client too far. However, the room she had to finish by day two (a dastardly surprise sprung by the judges) seemed to embolden the homeowner. She had asked for country house hotel elegance and she got it. The room was beautiful anyway and lilac walls, black accents, dark florals and a suitably opulently dressed bed created something quite wonderful, with a French/oriental feel.
Lucy’s surpirse finsish room on the other hand – a dining rioom – was chaotic, the walls loaded with two different bird prints, stripes, crimson and grey.
The guest judge this time was Kelly Hoppen: a shot of her foot, clad in zeitgeist Versace, dangling out of the car testament to her taste and/or massive wealth. The guest judges have been interesting: the dynamic between louche, playful Daniel and warm, fastiduous Sohpie is so well worn that they seemed a bit nervous with the guests, eager to please. I found that quite sweet.
And so to the big final reveals which were… well, a little disappointing in all honesty. Lucy’s drawing room was clean and sprightly in greys with a zing of acid green; I liked the silver leaf on the chimney breast which added suitable splendour. It was ok, it was nice. The bedroom was not for me, there was more acid green and it was plain. A double chest of drawers had been split asunder to create two giant bedside tables which was… something to do. Lucy was industrious and enegetic but her finish was not quite there, shown on the bespoke drawing room lampshade. Bespoke? I think it should have kept its mouth shut.
But we knew that Lucy was the lesser designer – I was expecting more from Sarah. The drawing room I found a little sparse, with white and emerald green and myriad animal prints. I know that doesn’t sound sparse, but it was a very big room. Kelly found it “spectacular” but I just didn’t see it, I found it plain, not lavish enough. The dining room was tasteful but it just didn’t have that “wow” impact I had been expecting and the music was telling me to have. I think the compromises Sarah had had to make ultimately compromised her schemes. She won though, deservedly so. In this series there always seems to be acres of talent between the winner and runner up. Not to diminish Lucy, she was a talented amateur, but Sarah was a professional: bold, confident, exciting. She was the clear winner ever since the futuristic putty room. Though I would have liked to have seen what Frankie would have done with the rooms of the final, I think he could have done something truly special. There was an element of grandeur missing from the rooms.
I’ve been much more taken with previous finals – where was the 3D wallpaper, the orange baize for a pool table, the 60s inspired green and white child’s room? I still love this series though and feel inspired to get creative myself.