This week on Interior Design Masters we said goodbye to architect-turned-interior designer Buse Gurbuz, whose fairy tale-inspired room for toddler creative play didn’t impress head judge Michelle Ogundehin and her guest, colour expert, interior designer and House Beautiful columnist, Sophie Robinson.
In a tough challenge to transform nine rooms in a children’s nursery in a grand former stately home in Oxfordshire, nine contestants were split into teams of three. Buse worked with Charlotte and Peter to transform the toddlers’ area, and she was given the ‘creative’ room as her task. But Michelle found the finished result ‘really rather dark’ and counter-productive to the ‘role’ of the room. And whilst Michelle liked the tree stumps and sand spilling over, Sophie was concerned at the unfinished look.
Whilst taxidermy fan and furniture upcycler, Monika, sobbed over being taken out of her comfort zone, and antiques shop owner Jack made hot air balloons out of beach balls and tea towels, Buse, 28, struggled for time as she sanded a sheet of wood dating from 1945 and painted murals on the walls.
We caught up with Buse to find out if she regrets the brown walls, tree stumps and an overflowing sandpit.
Tough brief, designing for a nursery when you don’t have children?
It was definitely a tough brief. With nurseries, all of us without children, we were all suffering a little bit. My siblings are 14 and 10, but I do remember them growing up; their nurseries were quite dingy and horrible, not quite inspiring.
We loved the fairy tale inspiration for your room Buse, but what went wrong?
I’m so glad you picked up on the fairy tale aspect. That’s what I was really inspired by. I was always a big fan of Little Red Riding Hood; the scene were she wanders through the wood and finds the wolf. I had that in the back of my head. It was quite a creepy scene but there is something quite mystical in her naivety. Kids bring that sense of, ‘I’m just going to give it a try and see where it takes me.’
That brown though, was it a mistake?
The brown was a bit controversial. I know on the sofa [with Michelle and Sophie], we started a discussion of why I went with such a dark colour. For me, I didn’t want to be precious with the walls. I thought that if I’d gone with a lighter or brighter colour, the kids would mess it up. There was a lot of sustainable thought behind it.
Michelle and Sophie felt it didn’t sit so well alongside Peter and Charlotte’s more restrained palettes…
Collaboration was tough but because I had a separate room, I could go off on a tangent a bit more. Charlotte used that mural in her space, and the overall colours were picked out by Peter. They really did have to merge the two spaces together.
We went with a woodland theme – at the very beginning it was discussed. I leaned into that more than Charlotte and Peter did; it was magical and not as literal. I am the messy area, I thought, paint is going to be splashed on the walls, there will be sand everywhere etc.
I did honestly view my part as a messy area. It’s different from an area used for sleeping and a calm corner that’s supposed to be more serious. My area really felt kind of personal. I was the kid who would hang out in the paint area at school.
What’s the thing you’re most proud of achieving during your time on the show?
Making design that focused on permanence, that takes time to have that kind of approach – actually cladding the walls, doing the concrete, making the banquette seat. I think I was the first person to make something like that out of concrete on the show. I do still have an architect’s approach. For me, that’s where the power of me as an interior designer comes in, that I think of the structure first. I will be developing a range of concrete accessories, including lamps.
You certainly weren’t afraid to get busy with the tools…
Actually, to be honest, I would give credit to the other contestants with the power tools. That was the bit that shocked me the most – how handy the other contestants were. You’re under such time pressure, you really need to know what you’re doing. For me it was a big learning curve, getting confident with power tools.
That’s thing with real life interior design. Ideas are king but then there’s the actual practicality of making it happen. And there are other challenges, such as giving guidance to workmen. The practicality of doing it all onsite isn’t taught and you certainly can’t plan for the time element.
Tell us one thing that goes on behind the scenes we might not know…
We don’t see the rooms before we turn up. We only get a quick sketch of the room, only a little information for the brief. It’s quite tough. Things would be very different if we went and had a recce first. That’s where a lot of the mistakes happen because we aren’t really given enough detail beforehand to come up with something that takes into account unknown factors such as the light. If I’d known that the room had so little natural light, for example, I might have created a different scheme.
What are you doing now?
I have rebranded my design studio, STUDIOBOSE. I’m very excited about it as I think I have a better vision for it. I discovered my true style during this process – I think that I’m now a designer that has warmth, colour and cosiness in her interiors. I still don’t regret the brown I used. I have found the things that excite me and made nine friends that I’m sure will be in the field in the long term. What more could I ask for?
• Interior Design Masters with Alan Carr, series four, airs at 8pm every Tuesday on BBC One. You can also catch up on BBC iPlayer.
Follow House Beautiful on TikTok and Instagram.