Binge-Watching ‘The Great Interior Design Challenge’ Season 4: Unseemly Seamless @bohosusan

I haven’t mentioned much about the judges and host in my other posts on The Great Interior Design Challenge (seasons 1, 2 and 3) because I always saw them as the least important factor. But that changed in season 4, and not for the better. I have to wonder, based on the above screen capture, if their expressions reflect what I felt as I watched.

Meet the players

In seasons 1-3, Sophie Robinson cohosted with Daniel Hopwood. Then in season 4, she was replaced with Kelly Hoppen, who was a guest judge for the finale in season 3. This shot was taken just before announcing the winner for season 4, in which Sophie was called back as guest judge.

Not much of a consolation prize, is it?

Narrator Tom Dyckhoff looks the most ashamed, but none of them look very happy. I share their dismay. Sophie liked color and had a personality to match, whereas Kelly’s oeuvre is neutral and, well, that tells it all. Throughout the 2017 season, she exuded all the personal warmth of a three-day-old dead fish. A beige one. @bohosusan

Daniel, the only one who looks the least bit animated in the group photo is probably trying to explain why Kelly-baby came in late but grabbed top billing in the credits.

Unseemly, isn’t it? No wonder there was no season 5. @bohosusan

Putting aside my unproven theories about what happened and why, something else jumped out at me this season: Almost no one SEWED, as in SEAMS. Oliver Thomas was the one exception, and he sewed his sweet heart out (spoiler alert) only to come in second to Kelly’s darling, Daniela Tasca York.

I personally rooted for Oliver and think he was cheated, especially since too-cute Daniela left a lot of work unfinished. But Kelly kept going on and on about how wonderful she was while she dismissed Oliver as lacking depth. Methinks he just wasn’t beige enough.

But he could SEW, dammit! Which is more than I can say for any of the other contestants this go-round. Well, enough of my belly-aching about what I didn’t like and on to the good stuff.

More creative creative challenges

In every episode, every season, judges give each contestant the same “surprise” item to reinvent and work into their room(s). This season the item’s were equally ubiquitous but sparked more interesting results.

1. COAT HANGERS @bohosusan

This challenge kicked off episode 1, the Regency terrace homes in Cheltenham, and was my favorite because all three contestants hit it out of the park.

Challenger Katie made hers into a picture frame with lines that echoed the custom headboard in her bedroom redo.

Oliver assembed his into a flower-power wall hanging, trimmed with some leftover upholstery tacks.

And Daniela stacked hers into a low table, which looked good sprayed gold but could have done without the design on top. (I also don’t think she incorporated it into the room very well. Just looks crowded in there to me.)

2. BOBBINS @bohosusan

While in the former textile-manufacturing town of Saltaire in episode 2, each contestant received vintage industrial bobbins to reinvent.

Two of the contestants, Anna Straw and Nicholas Tudor, sawed off the ends of their bobbins. Anna used hers as cabinet door knobs, and Nicholas made his into playing pieces for a gameboard coffee table in a Zen-inspired living room.

3. BARRELS @bohosusan

Barrels brought out the best in two semifinal contestants TIMES two in the episode 7 semifinal filmed in Hotwells, near Bristol.

Wild card challenger Richard Yeomans made a nifty side table, as well as an uber-cool hat stand.

Daniela broke hers down into a mini-barrel planter and a sculpture. The sculpture was supposed to be a table lamp but someone (Daniela?) accidentally cut the cord. It would have made a cool light, but it still looks neat as sculpture.

Reinventing the bed

Even though hardly anyone sewed, EVERYONE was cutting, stapling, pounding and wallpapering beds and bed effects. @bohosusan

Oliver got the ball rolling in episode 1 with this custom cutout and padded piece de resistance. The judges hated it, especially Kelly-baby, but I rather like it. (I feel like I need to push Oliver’s case for a rematch.) @bohosusan

Richard built a sleek wood frame around an existing bed in a hotel chic redo in episode 3, a gothic Victorian cottage in the Highgate area of North London. @bohosusan

Oliver was “putting on the Ritz” with this wallpaper and moulding headboard surround in an art deco flat in Streatham in episode 6. @bohosusan

And he was at it again in the episode 9 final in a Broadstairs Castle apartment in Kent, transforming the plain sleigh bed pictured above into… @bohosusan

…this to-die-for four-poster, curtained (sewn by Ollie, of course!) and fit for the king of the castle.

Form follows function

Two contestants especially excelled at designing interesting functional pieces–a wardrobe and a desk each. @bohosusan

Though the judges didn’t like the distressed finish contestant Shaida Bhatti gave this ziggurat-topped desk in episode 3, they did like the design. @bohosusan

They also praised Shaida’s colorful built-ins in episode 6, which involved combining simple box-shaped storage units with an existing dresser. @bohosusan

Challenger Nicholas Tudor got his midcentury modern mad on in episode 5, a Georgian house in Aberaeron, Wales, with this cleverly angled shelf unit and work table. This photo also gives you a peek at his other triumph–the wallpapered vintage midcentury desk, which… @bohosusan

…demands a closer look. Really retro, huh?

Surface studies

Three contestants earned kudos for eye-catching surface details–Richard, Oliver and Daniela .


The fab angular paint job Richard gave this combination guest room/craft room in episode 7 tricks the eye into seeing a more angled room with greater depth.

OLIVER’S OH-MYs! @bohosusan

Olly took tuxedo striping to new levels in both episode 6 in this gentleman’s club lounge… @bohosusan

…and in episode 9 in a different gentleman’s study. Here, the striping, in combination with the windows, framed out the stunning views to the sea. And the blue walls helped wash away any boundaries in between. @bohosusan

I also loved how Oliver used mock crocodile contact paper to jazz up a pair of nondescript bedside tables.

DANIELA’S DOs @bohosusan

Daniela used bronzed mirrors to great effect on the fronts of lower kitchen cabinets in the episode 9 final. By reflecting the floor, the small galley kitchen immediately looked bigger, and the bronze color warmed it all.

My only criticism? Mirrors? In a kitchen? Oy, the upkeep! @bohosusan

In that same kitchen she also used marble wallpaper. The LOOK was sensational, but again–wallpaper? Over a kitchen stove and counter? Not so practical. @bohosusan

It was much more suitable in the episode 4 bedroom she redid, where the unique patterning looked for all the world like pricey bookmarked marble slabs. @bohosusan

Midcentury modern me, however, had no reservations with this half-paneled wall Daniela installed in her episode 7 semifinal round. I also love the long shelf below it. What a great space to style! I may have to steal that idea and use behind my very own living room sofa.

Trip the light fantastic

Season 4 brought with it yet another passel of inexpensive but impactful lighting ideas.

There was Oliver’s hula-hoop chandelier in episode 1…

Daniela’s suede-tassel drum shade chandelier in episode 4 (which would have looked better completely covered in rows of tassels), @bohosusan

Richard’s bulbs suspended into clear glass vases in episode 5, @bohosusan

Nicholas’ trash-can-lid lights, also in episode 5 (which the judges didn’t like but I did),

and Daniela’s long-fringe-stapled-on-a-hoop chandelier in episode 9. This one, though striking, wasn’t finished well. As judge Daniel commented, he could see the staples at the top from his position down under and she should have covered them with a line of cording or other trim.

That’s what I didn’t get about the Daniela mystique. While she did some truly original things, her finish often left something to be desired OR she just flat out ran out of time. Oliver? Never. Not once, in spite of some material and delivery hassles. Everything was finished on time and to a T.

Oh well. Them’s the breaks.

No more seasons, but if you want more…