With only five contestants – Tom, Temi, Jack, Monika and Peter – left on Interior Design Masters, the group were tasked with transforming a row of beach chalets in Eastbourne, East Sussex, which presented an exciting challenge as it was filmed in the middle of last summer’s heatwave.
Head judge Michelle Ogundehin warned she didn’t want to see any tricks from the remaining designers, who were given five separate briefs from the beach chalet owners to make the most of their tiny seafront spaces.
Michelle was joined by guest judge Laurence Llewelyn Bowen. The presence of ‘interior design royalty’, as host Alan Carr christened the famous Changing Rooms presenter, upped the ante even further.
Sadly, despite his much-discussed devotion to laid-back Ibiza-style, and after a ferocious sofa grilling which only Temi escaped, 34-year-old Marks & Spencer visual merchandiser, Peter Irvine, was eliminated after his chilled-out Mediterranean vibe failed to translate to the Great British Seaside.
We caught up with Peter, now back home in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and found out how it felt to have his mural trashed by Laurence and where that magic makeup brush really came from.
Peter, we were so sad to see you go…
I was so sad too. I dreaded that the show was going to end but I’m treating it as my next stepping stone. I’m setting up on my own, Peter Irvine Design, and I’ve created a website. I want to reach out to anyone who appreciates my aesthetic.
I’ve worked for Marks & Spencer for 10 years and I think it’s been really, really helpful. I’ve always been creative, with an appreciation for interiors, and my knowledge has certainly helped me on the show in terms of balance, of what works for the space, and things which will engage.
And how would you describe your aesthetic?
I’m a ‘natural escapist’. I have a love for natural materials and leaving them the way they are, untreated. And everyone knows that I love white. I love it where an interior can transport you to a destination setting. With my own company, I would like to put Northern Ireland on the map for something it doesn’t already have, that kind of approach to interiors.
Back to the task, was it the seating that did it?
Oh the seating. You’re working to a tiny budget and those seats were very inexpensive. I got them both for £15 in a charity shop over here. I found them and thought, ‘yes, pre-made banquette, brilliant, padded, comfortable seating’. I knew that in real life, yes, they would be higher than the real thing, but if I’d had time I would have chopped them up. I had to keep going, I was hand-painting a mural! There were these Edwardian deck chairs with canopies on top that I knew I had to store underneath, so I had to make sure I had enough space for them.
We loved your flower mural, why do you think it didn’t impress the judges? Laurence said he was expecting cabbage roses.
There’s always that unexpected element with the guest judge. The thing is, it didn’t ask in my brief for a vintage aspect; the client asked for a fun, vibrant, multi-generational space, with somewhere to store those Edwardian deck chairs. My week one feedback was ‘think of the client’, so that’s what I tried to do. This week was one of those weeks where I thought I’d ticked every box. Waterproof materials, professional, head-on – you rise to the occasion.
And we’ve never seen a IDM contestant use a makeup brush for painting before…
Ha, that’s a funny thing. It was when Belfast Pride had just happened. When I was packing to leave for the show, I would just run round the house making sure I didn’t forget anything, picking up anything I thought might come in useful. I just grabbed the brush – I’d used it for a Pride thing – and took it with me. I said to my painter, Darren, who used it, ‘here, try this’. He said it was the best brush he’d ever used, so I told him to keep it.
Who do you think will be in the final?
For me, Jack. He’s always had that well-roundedness that I find very admirable. Jack’s spaces feel very considered right into every corner, even the plugs on the wall. He fills a room with considered detail.
Tell us one thing that goes on behind the scenes that we might not know?
Well, for me with this episode, I was feeling really ill. It was a very hot day and I was in shorts and a T-shirt – we don’t get that kind of weather very often where I’m from.
I actually thought I’d got Covid but I didn’t want to do a test in case it was positive because if that had been the case I’d have been straight out of the show. I still don’t know if I had it or not because I never did the test.
In general though, the thing that viewers don’t realise is that when they are filming, the crew often come back to us and ask us to do a certain bit again. We could be way past that point. In week one, for example, I was plastering again for the cameras when I’d already finished!
And finally, have you actually been to Ibiza?
I have been to Ibiza, and I didn’t like it. I’m not a heavy clubber anymore.
• Interior Design Masters with Alan Carr, series four, airs at 8pm every Tuesday on BBC One. You can also catch up on BBC iPlayer.
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Freelance homes and property writer
Jayne specialises in advice stories for House Beautiful magazine and writes about a wide range of topics, from gardening and DIY to decluttering and mindfulness. Based in Yorkshire, she has recently renovated a 1920s house, where she lives with her family.