Some Sundays are for running around and getting shit done. Other Sundays are for hiding from people and getting your head right for the week to come. Today is definitely the latter. Lately, I’ve been self-medicating my anxiety disorder by tucking into my few favorite show on Netflix called The Great Interior Design Challenge. It’s a competition reality show in the British mold (or is it mould? They do love their u’s) of The Great British Baking Show (Great British Bake Off) and The Great Pottery Throw Down (yes, that is a real thing) where it’s all very slow, gentle and repetitive. It’s just the tonic for #thesetryingtimes.
The Great Interior Design Challenge features amateur interior decorators competing in challenges designed to test their professionalism, frugality, time management, and creativity. They’re given a small budget of 1000 pounds and three days to transform a room for an actual client in their actual home. The spectacular homes featured are a big part what makes this show so enjoyable. The houses are all historic British properties from different eras. Tom Dyckhoff, an architectural historian, hosts and he clearly loves his job. I could listen to him tell me about marble facades all day. The designers have, so far, gotten their crafty little hands on rooms in a converted, 1930’s modernist leisure center, a Scottish Castle, a thatched village in Dorset and a Georgian terrace house in Bath. It’s like the best of House Hunters International (my other anti-anxiety show) but without all the stupid people.
The judges are straightforward and fair. The designers are generally competent, but definitely amateurs. A few have had very British clashes with their clients. One designer was insistent on using dark blue wallpaper with cartoon spaniels on it. She called the look she was going for a “grown up, sultry, teddy bears’ picnic.” Her clients rightfully hated it, but it took them 10 minutes to come out and say it. There have been occasional tears as well, usually because the designers are overtired or worried their paint won’t dry in time.
This is a trailer for Series 1 but you get the picture (there are three seasons available on Netflix). The formula never changes and that suits me just fine.