The Great Interior Design Challenge


Hello There !!

Have any of you been tuning into the new BBC Two series ?? It's kind of an update of the old Changing Rooms from yesteryear. Amateur Interior Designers are given single rooms to transform over three days with a budget of £1,000. Three compete in each show and the winner is judged and put through to the next stage.

If you haven't seen it, well I must say, I think it's excellent ...... very enjoyable viewing !!!

The sheer talent and hard work displayed by the competitors is amazing ..... I also like the fact that the show demonstrates how, first and foremost, they have to consult with and please the home owners ...... and having worked in this business for many years in various guises - I can honestly say that 'people skills' are almost as important as design skills !!!

Anyway, I found myself taking a little trip down memory lane which I thought you might enjoy  ....... now I should warn you that the images in this post couldnt be further away from our usual Natural Calico look !!!!! 

Many many years ago, I was commissioned by a very charming bachelor to design a fabulous penthouse which he'd just bought in Belfast. Spot the leaning tower of Belfast - otherwise known as the Albert Clock !!


We arranged to meet at the apartment during which time I tried to get a little bit of a feel for what his style might be .........

But in true bloke's form, he was able to tell me what he didn't like  "I hate purple " ..... but couldn't tell me what he did like .... sorry guys, but this tends to be true :)

So off I trundled and put together a mood board ....... my vision was kind of "New York chic" with loads of taupes, beiges, chocolate browns and blacks ...... furniture with clean contemporary lines, huge lamps and big statement pieces of modern art work.

Hmmmmmm - he looked at my mood board with a somewhat jaundiced air and eventually said .... "but it's brown Marie" ...... to which I replied "its not really brown Paul - there will be lots of depth and we can step up the accent colours with the artwork and accessories" ...... "well it looks brown to me" sez he !!!

And he continued ..... "oh and I hate those low slung modern sofas that you need a crane to get out of - I like nice big comfortable chunky sofas".

So back to the drawing board literally I went ......

I still wasn't any nearer to understanding what colours he liked - so next time we met up, I brought along loads of fabric books - including a couple by Andrew Martin - a very striking Design Company whose colours and themes you will no doubt have seen over the years ..... elephants, the Beatles etc etc

Sooooo, much to my amazement he swooped on an Andrew Martin Chinese fabric is strong reds and golds ......."I loooove that one" sez he.

It couldn't have been further away from my vision for the penthouse - but he was clearly happy - and that was what mattered.

So - a few months down the line my vision for "New York Chic" had been well and truly abandoned and looked like so ......


And so ...


And yes, the Albert Clock genuinely is that close to the window ..... at least he didn't need to buy a clock :)

I even had to get some furniture custom made to suit the Chinese theme ... those were the days when it wasnt so easy to buy furniture from every corner of the world.


I guess it was the ultimate fusion of East Meets West ...


At the end of the day, he was thrilled - and I was thrilled that he was thrilled - and to me that's what Interior Design and Styling is all about :)

Over and Out


Marie x



Coincidentally I was working at the same time with another Bachelor - we had eventually narrowed down the design for his home to weathered oak furniture, aged leather sofas and splashes of olive green and cherry (a kind of Ralph Lauren style) ........ one day when he was helping me carry stuff from the car, he spied the Andrew Martin Chinese fabric book - he looked at it and rather accusingly said - "I love that - you never showed me that one Marie" ..... so to all you budding Interior Designers out there - you now have the winning formula for Bachelor Design - give them bright reds, golds and a touch of the Orient and they'll be happy bunnies :)

Normal "neutral" service will resume shortly !!!!