Skip links

The Great Interior Design Challenge – my experience as a competitor.

When I first watched #GIDC last year, I LOVED it. It had me shouting in my seat, commenting on everything all the contestants put into their rooms. The only problem with the show, as I saw it, was that I wanted to go on it…and so I applied…

The application process was fairly straight forward, a small application form was sent off, and before I knew it I had a film crew in the house to film my ‘back story’ as they call it.

Gulp. I was going to be on the show. A friend of mine suggested getting in touch with Sarah Moore, last years winner, so I did, and she was amazingly generous with her time and advice. You can see her work here.

She is the Queen of craft and vintage, and everyone who has ever met her only has wonderful things to say about her.

I was given my brief, a bedroom in Ely, London, in a beautiful Art Deco building. They wanted a ‘simplistic Nordic style keepng functionality and form in mind with a mixture of bright natural textures.’ I was thinking this…

Image from

However, upon further reading the brief, the client was not supplying any furniture, besides 2 small chests of drawers (which were not remotely ‘Nordic’). He wanted a floating bed and bedside tables, and functional fitted furniture. I also HAD to provide a new floor, preferably wooden or laminate. I was not allowed to paint the floor boards, which is typical Nordic style! He wanted a natural material for the window dressing. Lastly he wanted modern, trendy lighting. I was also lucky enough that he had a beautful tapestry made by his Mother, that I was able to incorporate. However, I really struggled to see how, no matter what I upcycled I could provide all this, and paint etc. for £1000. When I went back to the producers after deciding what I wanted to do with the room, (they really do only give you 7 days and I had a bank holiday in the middle of that!), I told them I couldn’t supply everything in budget. The team at Studio Lambert who produce the show are lovely. They hold your hand every step of the way. They told me the brief was a bit ambitous and concentrate on the floor and the bed…so I did…

If you’ve watched the show, you will have seen how that went…The word wardrobe was not mentioned in my brief…I know the client wanted fitted furniture, but he also wanted a bed, lights, tables, paint etc. I decided to give him a short term solution, so that I could give him the other things he wanted. Copper was a material he listed on his wish list, so I welded this at 9pm the night before the show, with my mate Blacky who is a plumber.

Image from

Great I thought, that’s cheap, and now I can give my client what he wants on budget, because dear reader, they will NOT let you go a penny over budget.

Except, once I had nervously delivered my mood board, the client changed his mind, started mentioning things he wanted/ didn’t want that were never on my brief. He didn’t like my modern light suggestion…Our very own uber cool lightening bolt that is handmade by Dom Maria, we designed it together and he makes them to order through the shop.

MG_0331 MG_0338 MG_0340

I was gutted, as he had specified modern trendy lighting, but felt it was too industrial for his wife’s taste. I had lost a statement piece in my design. Gutted. As I understood it his wife (I only met her once for 5 minutes as she was busy working) only request for the room was the colour burgundy, which I incorporated happily. Did you like that strip on the door? I thought that was a cool subtle way to bring it in?

Shame they left the masking tape over the lock!

He hated the laminate flooring that I had been asked to supply, and said he was ripping it up next week as he was installing sound insulation, which was a plus in some ways, because that was taking up a quarter of my budget, but equally I now had 2.5 days to re-design/budget this room. It allowed me to have the cash to build the back up fully fitted wardrobe idea that he desperately wanted. Turns out that storage was the thing that was most important to him! If only I had known this! I would have spent a lot longer designing this feature for him. Hindsight hey!

Lastly he HATED pink, and had forgotten to mention this in the brief…I had chosen a warm chalky very light pink/lilac for the room, to tie in with the colours in the tapestry. I fought for the colour to stay, as if that went, well, what was the point of me designing the room!

At last we could start the project, I started with painting…LOTS of painting…The room had not been decorated for 40 years, it took us 6 coats of paint and stain block to remove the nicotine stains from the previous owner. I had asked for the room to be at least painted white before we arrived, so that like the other competitors I had a blank canvas but that seemed to get lost in translation. The room was re-plastered for our arrival, but the nicotine was that bad that it kept bleeding through!

By the end of day one, I started on one of the numerous craft projects I had. I was given the excellent advice from Sarah Moore, Queen of craft, to only do one or two creative projects, but due to budget, I had to make/upcycle everything! I started by copper leafing one of the small cupboards I was given. Even though it didnt quite fit the Nordic scheme, I had to use it as I had no money for anything else! I liked the idea of leafing small parts of the cupboard, but in the end settled for just the handles.

I like the contrast of the copper with the dark wood.

Day 2 started with optimism, yes I had a lot of changes to cope with, my floating chair idea had been removed by the clients. They didnt want a chair by the window to sit and read in/dump clothes on at the end of a long day. I was now making a statement light feature, and sourcing bed-side lights as my lightening bolt had been removed. I had to work with the wonderfully talented Dicky, my builder, to build a wardrobe, that I had no time to design. I had to paint the floor instead of laying laminate. I had a list a mile long of things to purchase, which I couldn’t choose myself, because I had so much physical work to do on site. My cheap floating bed, had arrived on site, but not my floating bed-side shelves. The producers were chasing where these were…

Anyway, I sucked it all up and I started work on my copper-pattina chest of drawers. I didn’t want to just paint it one colour, I wanted to try to give it a look of being copper that had discoloured over the years. I tried this at home on a small scale, and thought ‘yeah I can do this on national TV!’ It ended up being quite Jackson Pollack-esque and looking quite random, but I was working on a building site, with such a small amount of time/experience and I console myself at least I went out there and tried something new.


I also started on my test-tube light. This was something I saw on Pinterest, but couldn’t afford, so I thought, right, I’ll make one. Magda Jurek, an amazingly talented artist/designer from Pani Jurek makes the lights and they are truly stunning.


There are loads of options, from vases to coloured water in the test tubes. I decided to paint mine all turquoise, and used plastic test tubes, not glass (water and electric make me nervous!) but I had to choose one colour, as I couldn’t afford lots of different paint colours. If only I didn’t have to buy both a bed and a wardrobe. Such big ticket items! Oh well, I also started on my upcycling project…pillow cases, I had decided that turquoise was an accent colour, to balance out the pink, and compliment the tapestry and copper in the room. I had decided to make them into laundry bags, and put them onto copper pipe handles, that had previsouly been made for me as curtain tie-backs. (I was making blinds now, due to the angle of the window, more of that later.) I wanted to recycle them, plus did I mention, cash was tight!

My very wonderful blinds were made perfectly by Nicky Silk of I started trying to design curtains, as per my brief, but the wall had a large slope, so she made roman blinds, in next to no time, and they were reasonably priced and perfect. I cannot recommend Nicky highly enough, local Kent people contact Nicky for commissions, plus she now sells fabric.

By the end of day 2 I was worried, my list for day 3 was exhausting. I still had to copper leaf the whole bed, physically put the bed together, make the laundry bags (I cannot sew!), finish my test tube light, that I was making up as I went along! Oh and also, I wanted to leave a subconscious message in the bedroom. I decided on the phrase ‘The best is yet to come’ This is a quote from my pinterest page.  I felt that this quote is perfect for a marital bedroom, but also hinted that I could go on in the show to bigger and better things.

Day 3 started badly, my bedside tables were still missing, the laundry bags took longer than I thought and although my builder had worked sooooo hard on my wardrobe and test tube light, he was not going to have time to assemble the bed. When you buy a cheap bed, expect it to take hours to assemble! I assembled the bed single handedly, and copper leafed it in the most ridiculous of circumstances…I will do a blog on copper leafing soon, but needless to say, you need space and no wind from people walking past you. At one point that day there were 8 of us all charging around like lunatics, desperately trying to finish on time! I was really pleased with the bed in the end. It didn’t look like a cheap bed, it looked hand made and coppered. I had found some beautiful hammered copper effect wallpaper at a bootfair. I thought of painting the bed white, but I just wanted to grab this opportunity to create, and the client was willing to try it.

About an hour before my deadline, I was given the news that my bedside tables were not going to arrive. The producers had ordered them from ebay, a site that I always use as sellers are dependent on good feedback, to sell more items, so therefore normally super reliable! I was so upset by this. I had worked so hard, coped with so many changes, and now, a key feature of my design was missing. The bed-side table lights I had could only work if they had something to clip on to. I was given the option of choosing something from the local DIY store, but nothing fitted with my scheme, and as this was not my fault, I was told the judges would take this into account. I was well gutted though.

Anyway, our deadline arrived and we just about made it! I had nothing to dress the room with, (the client was a minimalist), no money for furnishings for the bed, and 30 seconds to style the room! I did the best I could and here are some images of it finished.


IMG_5083 IMG_5082

IMG_5080 IMG_5084

IMG_5079 IMG_5078

I didn’t win the programme to go through to the next round. I was really sad about this, but I’m sure Jack was a worthy winner. I am writing this before seeing the show, so I’ve never seen his room, but I’m sure it was ace. The judges were kind with their feedback about my ability for good product design. I had little time with my client because quite simply, he wasn’t around as he lives next door and rarely came into the flat, whilst I was there. He was really lovely, incredibly kind and generous to let me into his life to design a room, it’s just a shame it’s not real life, where I feel I would have done a better job for him having spoken to him initially, rather than after designing the room. But then that would make for less intetersting TV I expect!

I remember coming home after losing and putting my 3 year old son, Fred to bed. We read my favourite book, which is now the only children’s book we sell at the shop. It’s a book about how life goes up and down but ultimately, you’ll be fine because you are you. A great lesson for us all. If you’ve never read it, please watch this video from youtube where the story is retold by the people of the burning man festival…it contains some small scenes of nudity, which my children find hilarious!…

I am passionate about this story, because it is one of the lesser known books by the amazing Dr Seuss and was written just before his death. It has a real air of contemplation, and has helped me to focus on what is really important to me. Losing the show hit my confidence really hard, but I have surrounded myself with amazingly wonderful friends and it was from their belief in me, that I picked myself up, dusted myself off and got on my way. In the last year the business has taken off in a way I never thought imaginable, we have had 5 pages in Red magazine, we have been on the BBC, we have loads of fab local press articles supporting us and most importantly, you, my lovely customers, believe in Love Inc and love it like I do. Thanks for reading my heartfelt blog on being on TV, ultimately I did it because it would be good exposure for the business, which in turn raises more money for our local Hospice (we donate 10% of our annual profits to them). I still love interior design, and it may be something I pursue in the future. Who knows….my mountain is waiting, so I must get on my way.

You can buy the book here.



  1. Post comment

    Hi, I’ve seen Sarah Moore’s work on the link that you listed above. It is impressive and she has creative mind in decor…!! Good work!

  2. Post comment

    I just watched the episode and read this. I thought you did a beautiful job with the room and would’ve happily taken your design myself. Was quite upset that you didn’t go through, actually. Hope you’re doing well!

    1. Post comment

      Hi Shelley, Thanks so much for your kind words! They made my day)) Honestly means so much to me. Thanks Hannah


Join the Discussion

Return to top of page