We’re now halfway through series four of Interior Design Masters where the remaining six contestants – Temi, Tom, Peter, Monika, Jack and Ry – travelled to the elegant spa town of Harrogate, North Yorkshire to work their magic on three independent shops in need of a facelift.
Split into teams of two with a budget of £3,000 each project, Temi and Tom were given Westmorland, a family business specialising in sheepskin rugs and slippers, Peter and Monika got Owl Store, selling trendy fashion/homeware, and Jack and Ry had the challenge of bringing a ladies’ shoe shop, Daniel, bang up to date.
Put in charge as project leader, Ry Elliott, 28, from Dartford, Kent struggled with the brief from day one. Although his team mate, antiques shop owner Jack, gave him confidence, Ry’s huge window display boxes crumpled under the scrutiny of chief judge Michelle Ogundehin and her guest judge, retail space entrepreneur, Ross Bailey. As a result, Ry found himself on the sofa for the first – and last time.
In an exclusive interview with House Beautiful, Ry tells us the embarrassing truth about being on camera, and why he’s tipping Jack or Tom to win.
Ry, your first time on the sofa was your last. How do you feel about that?
It’s funny because I was excited to finally get feedback. When you’re not on the sofa you don’t know how you’re doing. You’re flatlining, you just carry on. So this was my first and only feedback. When we were waiting to go into Michelle’s studio at the end, I thought I might be going. I had a gut feeling during the last day in Harrogate.
Ladies’ shoes though, how hard was that?
I don’t know what women want in their shoe shops. I asked my mum, but she hates shopping so perhaps she wasn’t the best person to ask. She just said ‘something easy to pick up and select’ so it wasn’t a huge amount of help. I think this was definitely the first one where I felt I was out of my depth. On the first day I really struggled. Jack’s amazing and so positive, but it was definitely the toughest one yet.
That evening, Alan Carr was in the hotel having drinks with everyone, but I got to the point where I thought, ‘I’ll just have a shower and go to bed.’ I was not myself.
You admitted to being ‘absolutely terrified’. What scared you so much?
I think it was the unknown, I just wasn’t feeling it. If you’re a lead designer you’ve automatically got a target on your back. I knew it was going to be me or Monika [to be eliminated], but I was more nervous than her.
Didn’t Alan inspire you with his star jumps?
The star jumps?! I wasn’t expecting that. It was so funny, everybody was laughing. But what you can’t see on the TV is all the people watching, all the crew behind us and all the people passing by. They must have been wondering what we were doing. It did make me feel good and alive though. Being on the show is very overwhelming but when Alan comes in, nothing is scripted, he just rocks out, he just does his thing.
Was it hard having to be the leader and in charge?
I think it’s definitely helped me in terms of going after what I want. The whole competition has made me view things slightly differently and not to be so scared. A turning point for me was last week in the hotel. I thought, I can do this. I did lean on Jack a lot – he loves the glamour. I’m more calm and muted.
Where did you/Jack source that gorgeous kissing chair from?
That was Facebook Marketplace. Jack found it. I went to his house in Norfolk and got completely lost on the way there, but we had a brainstorming day and that’s when we came up with all the ideas and started to source stuff.
Jack’s amazing – if you have a piece of furniture in mind, he’ll be able to find it. The kissing chair was £200 so it wasn’t that much at all. We were trying to save as much money as possible. It was the same with that massive cabinet. We had to pick it up and it wouldn’t fit in the van, so we made two trips.
What was your favourite scheme in the show?
I really loved week one, making that breakfast bar for the apartment. And last week, the hotel scheme, I was so chuffed with that – my headboard, my curtains that I sewed myself, and I’d never made curtains before, and my sliding door. What’s really nice is having all the trades available to help. You have a vision in your head and they make it happen.
Tell us one thing that goes on behind the scenes that we might not know?
It’s getting used to the cameras. There are so many cameras on us, all the time, and everyone is listening in. I’m telling you, I could not go to the toilet thinking that people were listening to me [because I was miked up], so I had to wait all day. That was a new experience, I’ve never had that before.
Who’s your tip to be in the final?
At this stage, I feel like either Jack and Tom, both have been very consistent. Jack I would say is very elegant, he brings historical glamour to the mix, his period design, he does it in a modern way and he can literally do anything – and he’s really good at DIY.
Tom is very considered, very thoughtful, very mid-century modern with a contemporary twist, and has that really lovely, subtle touch.
All of them are amazing though. This is the best thing that’s come from the show, our friendship. It’s a competition at the end of the day but we all do really like each other. We all recently went on holiday to the Cotswolds – except Charlotte, who has just had a baby, and I’m going over to Belfast soon to see Peter.
What are you planning to do now?
I’ve launched my own interior design business, Ry Interiors, based in Dartford, Kent, and London. Business is picking up, especially since the show went on air.
• 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.