Things are picking up speed now as the semi-final of Masters in Interior Design saw only three contestants vying for the super stylish winner crown; Australian-born Banjo Beale from the Isle of Mull, London-based print designer and illustrator Amy Davies, and visual merchandiser Paul Andrews, also from London.
Unfortunately, someone had to say goodbye and go home. Chief Judge Michelle Ogundehin and her guest judge, interior designer and retailer Abigail Ahern, admitted they love something about all three schemes, transforming contemporary lakeside holiday rentals in the Cotswolds.
But after much deliberation, Michelle and Abigail have decided that next week’s grand finale will be played out between Banjo, whose citrusy bright yellow kitchen to match her “young family vacation home” record impressed the judges, and Amy, who has found new confidence in her practical skills. to create a funky black and pink retreat for a weekend group of friends, complete with an outdoor cocktail bar.
Which meant the floppy-haired Paul, who viewers had come to love for his blazing self-confidence, had to step down, extremely gracefully — of course — but with a few tears.
caught up with the self-proclaimed “creative genius” who is always positive about his time on the show and found out — among other things — how he learned to tie those proper sail knots in his coracle fixture.
Hi Paul, how did you feel watching the show last night?
I came to my family’s home in the village of Peatling Parva, Leicestershire, to watch the semi-final with my sister, Judith. There were only two of us, but we went to the pub first, so everyone was very excited. Since my mother and father passed away 10 or 15 years ago, Judith has been my closest family member. All my uncles and aunts live in the North West, as I am from Fleetwood.
Obviously, [filming] it was all done in the last year, and you know that all the experiences you had in the last year were kind of overtaken by everything that’s happened since. What this episode reminded me of was that we all got along so well.
We liked to learn a little more about you…
I felt like with this episode viewers were seeing a lot more of me. It included a really nice tribute to my mom and dad, and I really enjoyed that. I grew up in Fleetwood, a fishing town in Lancashire. My father was a fisherman and my mother was a very good seamstress. I think that’s where the use of my hands comes from – both. I was happy. I felt the program did justice to the design I had created. It was a nice ending.
And this coracle? You were very impressive fixing the ropes to hang it from the ceiling…
Ah yes, my father was a fisherman, I watched him. He could do all kinds of different things with rope, all the proper sail knots and everything. I picked it up from him. Living in central London, it’s not often that I get to do this. It was very pleasant for me because it revived the memory of childhood with my father. I was amazed that I could remember how to do it. It was all so moving. There was a real connection to my family and my upbringing, the fact that it was a lakeside retreat and I found a boat.
Did you think that Banjo also included a boat?
It was amazing that Banjo found a canoe. We both had the same idea. I think mine was more complicated, with marine blocks and lifting. I went to Plymouth for the pulleys. I drove hundreds of miles that week to buy all the parts I wanted. I wanted it to be authentic.
We discussed our boats when we were researching, and I actually considered doing a second option, an antler chandelier. But I couldn’t find enough wood to do it properly.
Are you really a creative genius?
Creative genius? There is irony when I say things like that. I also think I’m a genius at comedy. I don’t take myself seriously at all. If you’re creative, it’s about how you feel when you actually create something. It’s brilliant.
Were the couches the tipping point?
No. I did everything within budget [of £2,500] it was therefore impossible to replace them. I could never have had two huge new sofas in this budget – they would have cost two and a half grand each. It was impossible, so I chose to keep them. And they had the sleek shape of Chesterfield. What I wanted was two linen sofas, which is why I made the blankets. I’m not saying I was penalized for them, but I would say why should I get rid of amazing furniture and spend on changing it?
Where did you get your parts from?
Basically, Facebook Marketplace has become my best friend. The marine trunk I used for the coffee table, all the metal fittings, the marine pulleys, they were all from Facebook Marketplace. If you go to a store to get all this, it would be so expensive. And what’s great is that you meet some amazing people along the way. The problem is the time it takes. In the week you have to prepare, you can only afford two or three days on the road, which may mean getting up at 6 a.m. and not returning until 11 p.m.
So who do you want to win?
In my opinion, Banjo has always been my biggest competition. He’s very creative, he’s clearly a winner, but at the end of the day, you just don’t know. It’s like Come dance strictly – you’re as good as your last dance. And Amy, well in the semis, she completely pulled out all the stops to do this build, build bars, flip pieces, it was really impressive. So who knows?
What advice do you have for those considering applying for the show next time?
It’s a good idea to start playing around with the Pinterest boards and figure out what you like and dislike, what textures, what materials, how you want the room to feel and identify how you want to feel. feel when you’re in it.
It’s important to understand how a room and environment can change your mood. Some like bright, zesty colors and anything crazy. Or if you want to come in and feel really calm, or if you want something really moody, darker, you’re going to have to create that. My advice is to look at the color wheel first. You will find so many different combinations.
The other thing is understanding how coins flow. If you have a small home, you might want to create consistency through the color scheme. Or, create a different look in each room, so that you’re “wow!” when you open each door in a room.
But shouldn’t an interior designer work on specifications? Did you find it difficult?
For me, it was always about the customer. Because I had worked in fashion retail and for many different companies, I had learned to capture the essence of this brand. So for The White Company it would be neutrals. For Anthropologie, it has a lot to do with texture. As a designer, if you were to work for two different clients, each look would be completely different. You should always listen to what the customer wants.
So wWhat’s next for you?
Well, I’m going back to London tomorrow. I’m transitioning from the visual merchandising side of my job to full time interior design. I won’t ruin this whole experience and the good thing is that I don’t have to.
What are you working on at the moment?
I work on a Grade II listed cottage here in Leicestershire. I have met the property manager who is going to take care of the building work, electricity etc. This project was born thanks to the show. It is a complete refurbishment and as it is Grade II listed we are not touching any of the original features. I will focus on the living room, bedroom and bathroom. I’ve met Rachel, the lady who owns it, already – it’s a bit quirky and modern country style.
It’s a fairly small property, with low ceilings on the ground floor. But upstairs, the beams go up to the roof. So I chose a hydrangea wallpaper pattern, it’s quite delicate. I will also take the wallpaper between all the beams. The color palette is soft blues, soft putty colors, so everything will flow. Below I have chosen another very nice wallpaper. I have to order it from America, but it’s very English flora and fauna.
• Watch the latest episode of Masters in Interior Design Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on BBC One. Follow Paul on Instagram @paul.alfred.andrews.
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