BBC One's The Best House in Town - my house on the telly!
6 min read
Published 11 Mar 2019
|I was contacted in November by a lovely researcher looking for a home to feature on a new BBC programme, called The Best House in Town. They had found my website and wondered if I could put them in touch with anyone who had a house they were proud of in Cardiff, and would be willing to be part of the programme. I didn’t think that any of my clients would be suitable, as we’ve often just re-designed one room, and there were a couple of projects where I’d completed whole houses but they weren’t in Cardiff, so couldn’t be featured. I wanted to help out, so I suggested my house, but was worried that this might not be entirely fair because I’m an interior designer. The researcher said this was fine, as they’d featured other designers, so that was it - my house was going to be on the telly!|
I then, of course, started worrying about how my house was going to look - time to get those small jobs done that I’d been meaning to do for ages - touching up bits of paint and the like. I also decided (probably quite madly, as I had loads of work on too) to finally get around to revamping the cupboard in the hallway, which had been bugging me for a long time - I’d actually bought all the bits to do it, but just hadn’t found the time. So the weekend before the filming began, I did the hallway cupboard. You can read all about that project here.
The next thing I had to do was tidy up - no mean feat when you live with two teenage boys, and a husband who, when I met him, used the floor as his filing system, and hasn’t changed much since (I’m not joking). My poor boys had to put up with me getting them to clean, and then me going over their rooms with a fine-tooth comb and saying ‘you don’t really need that now do you’ about things like a certificate of attendance from primary school. It was a good opportunity (in my head anyway) for me to finally get their rooms looking presentable. I had designed their rooms several years ago when they went into ‘big beds’, and they had gradually added more and more stuff, whilst refusing to get rid of anything, so a good clear out was well overdue. This might sound a bit mean of me, but there’s only so much storage space available in any one house, and unless you keep moving house every time you need more space, you have to conduct an edit every now and again.
Another major outstanding job is that the room belonging to my youngest, who’s just turned 14, is well overdue a redesign. I’m planning to design a loft style bed with desks and storage underneath as his room is quite small and he needs more space. I’ve been meaning to do this as soon as I get time, but it’s been a promise for a while now, and he still has the cute camper vans I stencilled on his walls when he was six! I was just hoping the judges wouldn’t ask too many questions about his age...
Once the production team and I had agreed dates etc, the crew arrived for the first day of filming. They were all lovely, very tidy and respectful of the house. They did their best to make me feel at ease, but, stupidly, I’d just thought they would be filming the house, and wouldn’t be so interested in me! The first pieces I had to do in front of the camera were excruciatingly embarrassing, as I’m actually quite a shy person. I was so sure that I would come across really badly as I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself. I would have been far happier if I didn’t have to speak!
When the time came to do the first interview, I was a little more relaxed as I’d got used to the crew being around. I think this bit went okay - I talked about how I love living in a period property and couldn’t live in a new build. Now this is true, and I really have nothing against new builds and have designed schemes for lots of them, they’re just not my personal taste. I realised I could have upset half of my potential clients with that comment - way to go!
I was also asked if I was competitive, and I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t, so I told the truth, and said that as a designer it would look bad if I didn’t win. What was I thinking? However, when I spoke to the crew about the tone of the show, they reassured me that it wasn’t going to be a negative type of show, where the competitors would be pitted against each other. It was going to be a genuine celebration of the variety of homes in Britain, and all the interesting things people had done with them, so need to worry.
The street I live on has a lovely atmosphere, and the neighbours all look out for one another, so of course they noticed when a crew turned up to film the house. They all wanted to know what was going on, and I had to tell them it was connected to my work as an interior designer. For obvious reasons, the people taking part weren’t supposed to be telling anyone, and definitely not putting anything on social media. When I found out we’d won the first round, I found this really hard - I was so excited I wanted to tell everyone. I just had to sit on my hands and post other things instead.
The next stage was where the crew came back to announce who’d won the category. I really was expecting this to be a ‘sorry, you didn’t win, but good effort’ sort of thing, so was ready with my losers speech. When they told me the house had won the terraced category, I was really, truly shocked! I hadn’t seen any of the other houses in the category, but, like everyone, I’m really aware of all the things which aren’t right in my house - things I’d like to improve when I have the money and the time. So I was really amazed to think that some complete strangers had decided my house was good enough to be the best terraced house they’d seen in Cardiff. I didn’t know what any of their thoughts were at this stage, I didn’t even know who the judges were, so it was all a bit surreal.
I then started thinking about the possibility of winning the whole thing. I didn’t really think I was in with a chance, as there are so many beautiful homes in Cardiff, but then I didn’t think I would win the first category, so my mind did leap ahead. Who would win? What type of house would it be? I was really looking forward to seeing the show to have a chance to see all the other houses the judges had already seen. I did want to win, because it’s always nice to win something, but I also genuinely enjoyed the experience of filming the show, so didn’t feel too bad when I found out our house wasn’t the winner overall. Well done to the winner - Miffy with the gorgeous semi-detached house - it’s a great house with an innovative and creative mind behind it, and I love it!
Now that the show has aired, I’m so pleased that I agreed to take part, as the crew were so lovely and made each stage fun. The judges were very positive with all their comments, and even when they weren’t sure if they liked something they could see what the homeowners were trying to do with their homes and praised that. The show really is a genuine celebration of all the varied and creative things that people do to their houses, and it’s wonderful to see so many people sharing their passion for their homes with us. After all, that’s the reason I’m an interior designer - to help people to love the places they live in.
Welcome to the design blog, where you'll see posts about anything from the projects we are working on, to the latest fabric and wallpaper collections, and all things interiors related. We love colour, pattern, architecture and old buildings, and we love to share our finds with you.
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More pattern joy!
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New colours from Fenwick & Tilbrook
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A responsibly made lamp
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Corduroy is cool again
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Colourful, wonderful boucle fabric
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28 Apr 2022
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Morris & Co. X Ben Pentreath
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Little Greene and Bert & May join forces
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Dulux colour of the year - Bright Skies
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A new home collection from Paloma Faith
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It's all about soft yellows
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A beautiful new tile collection inspired by the National Trust
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Sought & Styled - Preloved items given new life
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Do kitchen worktops bore you?
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A Fresh Take - Cardiff Life feature
18 Dec 2020
|This month's issue of Cardiff Life Magazine is out today, and features an interiors special, because one thing this past year has made us do is take a new look at our homes and how we'd like to live in them. To see what I and other local interiors experts have to say on the subject, including a round up of the trends for 2021, have a flick through the digital mag here.|
An enchanting inaugural wallpaper collection from Tom Baker
26 Nov 2020
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A new shady collaboration between Matthew Williamson and Pooky
20 Oct 2020
|The humble lampshade is often overlooked, but with the new collaboration between Pooky and Matthew Williamson they won't be for much longer! Matthew Williamson has applied his talent to design a new range of Pooky lampshades. Whatever your taste, colour scheme or budget you will find the perfect lampshade for your home in this new collection which is now available. This spectacular new collection can be found here.|
Felt covered curtain poles
17 Sep 2020
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Please vote for my blog
11 Aug 2020
|I'm really thrilled to have been nominated for an Amara Interiors Blog Award this year! If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to vote for me, I'm nominated in the Best Interior Designer Blog category, and you can vote for me here.|
Upcoming interiors trends from Love Rugs
10 Jul 2020
|Love Rugs, the people who know about all things rugs have just published a feature on the upcoming interiors trends for 2020. They asked six of the UK's top interior designers (including me!) to tell them what the upcoming trends are, and in particular the changes we will be making to their homes. The article can be read here, and if you'd like to have a look at the huge range of rugs they offer, click here.|
A new fabric collection from Linwood Fabrics
15 Jun 2020
|I love Linwood fabrics - they have a fab way of mixing colour and pattern into something really special, producing fabrics and wallpapers that make me want to coo. This new collection, available at the end of June, is just as gorgeous. It's called Kami, with the pattern inspired by a 19th Century document. The collection is a range of printed velvets, so perfect for upholstery and accessories like cushions.|
An easy way to update your kitchen
16 Apr 2020
|If you are looking to update your existing Ikea kitchen rather than replace it, Stockholm based company Superfront are here to help. They sell a range of fronts, handles, legs and tops to fit not just the Faktum kitchen range but also the Besta, Metod and Pax ranges - so you can customise anything from your sideboard to your wardrobe. These super cute round handles are part of their new birch collection, and the whole range can be found here|
Move over boring taps - colour is the new black
13 Mar 2020
|Colour has been taking over our kitchens and bathrooms for a while now (yay!), and has slowly been creeping into sanitaryware and fittings. These perfectly coloured mint green and pastel pink taps from the new Miami Colour Pop Collection from amazing homeware brand Dowsing & Reynolds are spot on and would look gorgeous in any kitchen or bathroom to add a shot of colour without overwhelming with sugary sweetness. You can learn more about this new collection here.|
Who knew a door stop could look this good?
19 Feb 2020
|Door stops are one of those little annoying things that we all need, but are not the prettiest to look at. Now London based Buster & Punch have turned their attention to the problem and transformed the humble door stop into something cool and covetable. They might cost more than your average one from a DIY store, but as you're going to see it every day, why not look at something beautiful? here.|
Wallpaper made of cork?
29 Oct 2019
|Sustainability and concern for our environment are key in the interiors world right now (as they should be). So when I saw that Monkey Puzzle Tree (a brand I admire for their sense of style and creativity) had produced this wallpaper made of cork, I was blown away. Cork is great for so many reasons - it can be harvested every nine years without harming the tree, is grown without the need for pesticides or fertilisers, has excellent sound and heat insulation properties, and is naturally antimicrobial and antifungal. This wallpaper has an A+ rating for emissions so it creates a healthy environment wherever it is hung. Add to this that the design was produced in collaboration with the talented Drew Millward who lives in my home county of West Yorkshire, and that it's called 'Hit The North', I was bound to fall in love with it. You can buy the wallpaper here.|
I'm in Cardiff Life magazine - again!
17 Sep 2019
Now that the summer is officially over and our thoughts turn to cosying up our homes for winter, I'm here to help. If you're in need of some inspiration, you can read all about the interiors trends for Autumn and how to work them into your home in this month's Cardiff Life magazine. Hear what I and other interiors experts have to say on pages 18-22. You can read the digital version of the magazine here.
I've been nominated for an Amara Interiors blog award!
6 Sep 2019
|Exciting news! My little blog (Design Insider) has been nominated for an Amara Interiors Blog award! I'm so chuffed to be included at all, and not expecting to win, but if you enjoy reading my blog posts then please vote for me. I'm nominated for the Best Interior Designer blog category. Voting is open until the 11th of September and you can vote for me here.|
My kitchen project featured on the Artifact Lighting blog!
1 Aug 2019
When I designed the contemporary copper kitchen, I wanted to use some copper elements to add warmth and also to tone in with the pink walls and pale grey units. I found these pendant lights from a company called Artifact Lighting, and they are perfect because they add to the 'warm glow' I wanted to acheive. They also have a vintage look which contrasts nicely with the sleek look of the kitchen units. When the kitchen was finished I sent some pictures to Artifact Lighting, and they liked the kitchen so much they featured it on the blog page of their website.
You can read the blog page here
House of Hackney's first outdoor fabric
26 Jun 2019
One of my favourite interiors brands, House of Hackney, who are known for their daring and quirky prints, have just released a new fabric which is suitable for our door use. They took one of their designs, Palmeral, and reimagined it in a fresh colour palette of off white and green. This colour fast and water resistant fabric can be used for anything from outdoor cushions to furnishing yachts (if you are lucky enough to have one!)
My thoughts on the colour Living Coral in Cardiff Life Magazine
31 May 2019
|Hear what I and my fellow designers have got to say about Pantone's colour of the year, Living Coral, and how to use it, in this month's Cardiff Life magazine. The article is on pages 84-86, and you can read it here. Do you think you could use it in your home?|
Sustainability in furniture design
7 May 2019
|Sustainability is something that is becoming more and more important in interior design - not just where we buy items from and how far they've travelled to get to us, but also the materials that they are made from. Kartell, one of Italy's best known design brands, have just released the world's first piece of furniture made from a bioplastic called Bio-On. It's a fully sustainable version of one of their best selling items - the Componibili modular unit, and it comes in four delicious pastel shades. They may be 100% sustainable, but they are also super cute and bang on trend with this seasons colours. You can buy them here|
The latest trend in shutters
24 Feb 2019
Forget painted shutters - the new style direction for window shutters is bare wood. These full height shutters made from sustainably sourced ash are the newest product from California Shutters, and are set to be big this year.
My new favourite tile!
7 Feb 2019
I was searching for some tiles for a client's splashback recently and came across these beauties from Topps Tiles. There's long been a trend for patterned tiles, with lots of geometric shapes and bold colours going on, but I've begun to see more and more tiles with a pattern in the surface of the tile itself. These ones are a lovely example, and the deep blue colour is just stunning. To get a closer look at them, follow the link below.
Pantone announce their colour of the year 2019
11 Dec 2018
Leading colour experts Pantone have annouced the shade which they think will be the colour of the year for next year - Coral pink. It might look very bright and scary, but it's actually quite easy to use. I wouldn't suggest painting a whole room in it, as that might be a bit overwhelming, but I would use it in small doses, such as on cushions or in artwork, to liven up a shceme. Pantone say that the colour is meant to 'embrace us with warmth and nourishment and provide comfort and bouyancy in our continually shifting envirnoment', which basically means it's a happy, uplifting colour, and might just cheer us all up!
My work featured on Homify
8 Oct 2018
My work has been featured in an article on Homify - one of the leading online ideas platforms for all things interiors. My project is in an article on how to avoid common mistakes when designing a bedroom. The article mentions how important it is to block out light for a good nights sleep - something I addressed by adding blackout lining to the curtains and adding an extra layer of window dressing with the wooden Venetian blinds. To see the article, please use the link below.