The Great Interior Design Challenge

I’m in hea…ven, I’m in hea….ven
and my heart beats so that I can hardly speeeak,
and I seem to find the happiness I seek,
watching cosy, domestic stuff on the Beeb

I’ve only just discovered the delights of the GIDC but it’s been going three years apparently.  As if the Bake Off, Sew Off and Pot Off weren’t enough, in terms of giving me my housewifely, nest feathering hit, the Beeb (not content with throwing cake, cloth and clay at us) is now throwing a  splash of Dulux paint and several rolls of wallpaper at our screens.

This Great Interior Design Challenge couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, being that I’m currently occupied in doing up my Sylvanian Family houses, and last night’s episode featured 700 year old medieval houses (doesn’t get much better than that) which kind of looked like one of my Sylvanian abodes.

The GIDC is presented by a bloke going by the unfortunate moniker of Tom Dyckhoff.  I’m not sure how you pronounce that but it’d have gone down a treat in your average Carry On.  I have a soft spot for Mr Dyckhoff however, since he looks a bit like our family doctor (talks like him too) who retired a few years ago.  The husband is adamant that our old family doctor (as opposed to the new one) looked more like Mr Bean (he didn’t.)  Trust me…..I’m a patient – he looked like this Dyckhoff bloke.

It’s noticeable that the two GIDC experts are very posh, whilst the contestants aren’t;  hinting at the fact that interior design, as an actual job, might be a bit of a useless and rarefied one.   The male expert (Daniel Hopwood) sported a fetching pair of 1940’ style braces last night, with the haircut to go with it.  His 40’s throwback, rather camp, sometimes bordering on the snide style, immediately marks him out as an interior design enthusiast, being that your average male of the species doesn’t go in much for chintz curtains, lampshades or the wearing of braces.  The female one (Sophie Robinson) comes over all business-like and bottle blonde (the hair colour of choice amongst career woman) as I’ve mentioned before on the CMB.

Last night’s competitors featured Rob, a young northern bloke resplendent with a massive beard, looking like he’d be more at home on Mountain Men or Alaskan Bush People, which goes to show that actually the more rugged male type of the species does go in for a bit of tasteful decor (the husband, by the way, cannot get enough of MM or ABP)  –  and Lucy a woman possibly hovering around my age but definitely menopausal, if the frequent tears are anything to go by.

Early on in last night’s episode Mr Hopwood declared that Rob, in design terms, was “more of a maker than an integrator.”  This was delivered in the measured, dramatic tones usually reserved for your average cinematic epic.  What is a decorative ‘integrator’ I asked myself, being as the husband had disappeared.  Is it something like The Equalizer, the husband’s absolutely fave film at the moment,  watched approximately 20 times and counting – whilst Sophie declared Lucy to be a ‘whirling dervish of creativity.’    Lucy looked to be a lot of things last night but whirling dervish wasn’t one of them.  But you’ve got to come up with something to heighten dramatic tension haven’t you, when what you’re basically dealing with is a bit of domestic painting and decorating.

The competitors are given a week to work on their ‘briefs.’   This is nothing to do with bunging a bunch of your not so fragrant knickers in the wash followed by a spot of ironing, but is everything to do with something called a ‘design brief.’   The brief is where the client tells you how they want their currently rubbishy room to look and the designer draws up plans, sketches and finds material swatches and suchlike.

As soon as I saw menopausal Lucy’s Scandinavian, fairy tale-like vision I was a goner, in interior design terms. It was just perfect for my Sylvanian bears.  I’m sure I could knock up a hand painted, hand carved, Scandinavian box bed for Mr and Mrs Bear, was my first toy-based DIY thought……bit of balsa wood, super glue, acrylic paint and Bob’s your uncle.  (The origin of this weird saying is unknown, the best bet being a music hall number (1931) called Follow your Uncle Bob, including the lyrics “Bob’s your uncle, he knows what to do, he’ll look after you.)   Northern, and spectacularly bearded, Rob’s Batman based vision, however, did nothing for this traditional, muted colours, floral prints viewer.

About half way in and Mr Dyckhoff informed us that “how well they transform their junk” is a key part of the competitive shenanigans.  I’m afraid I entered Carry On territory here yet again as, thanks to countless crude and rude American ‘comedies’ (not a fan), I now know that ‘junk’ is a States wide euphemism for your private parts.  I sincerely wish I didn’t know this but, still, it didn’t stop me falling about when Rob and Lucy set about turning their junk into something unusual but very nice.

Mr Dyckhoff, wearing an alarmingly checked shirt, occasionally took time out, in between the design mayhem, to impart his architectural historian’s knowledge re: wattle and daub (mud, cow dung and straw) – should I perhaps chuck some wattle and daub on my Sylvanian houses and really go with some authenticity, since nobody knows which era the Sylvanian Families live in.  Most not-quite-right-in-the-head fans go with the supposed idyll of the 1950’s (in which case the Sylvanians luckily know nothing about atomic bomb tests, the Korean War or the violence of the Civil Rights Movement judging by their carefree existence.)  Maybe I could engineer a tiny nuclear explosion right outside their door and bring them into the not so nice real world.

Mr Dyckhoff also informed us  that 14th century houses were very hi-tech for their day, turning up in ‘medieval flat packs’ ready to build, before introducing us to the wonders of medieval central heating (basically a massive fireplace.)  I don’t want to question Mr Dyckhoff’s academic authority here, but since when does a bit of wood on a hearth constitute central heating?   This is, however, the kind of fascinating historical background stuff that makes these shows really work – if you’re me that is.  The husband can’t be doing with it – preferring the kind of show where things get blown up a lot, knocked down or shot.

Rob’s blue and black Batman nightmarish bedroom (to be fair it was designed for a 7 year old kid) rightly lost out to Lucy’s pale blue, floral and Disneyesque Frozen dream of a bedroom.

Our male expert advised Lucy that ‘less is more’ and that with her Frozen bedroom she had finally reigned in her usually over the top, busy design schemes and created room-based perfection.

I’d advise the frazzled and tearful Lucy to ignore the expert advice.  Just let it go, don’t hold it back anymore and next time throw everything at them.

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