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To Binge or not to Binge Episode 18: “The Great Interior Design Challenge”

Hannah Allred
(Graphic by Hannah Allred | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

There’s something about HGTV and design shows that is so alluring. There are a couple dozen shows relating to home renovation and design. Mainly people trying to buy a house, a house being renovated to better fit the people’s wants and needs and/or the hosts designing something new before showing it off to their clients.

The BBC has a different approach to this cookie cutter formula. Similar to “The Great British Bake Off” — a baking competition hosted by Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood — “The Great Interior Design Challenge,” hosted by judges Daniel Hopwood and Sophie Robinson, looks for “Britain’s best amateur interior designers.” The main challenge of the show is to test a contestant’s ability to make-over a drab room. Every episode a contestant gets eliminated, through the classic “Survivor” structure.

Over a 12 episode season, the show goes through three groups of four, judging their design prowess with several different styles and rooms, culminating in a finale where two contestants go head to head — a design duel, if you will. The designers are given a small team of people, including a builder and designer, as well as a £1,000 budget to completely remodel a room.

Season recap:

There are currently three seasons of four on Netflix, but you can catch newer episodes if you can find a way to watch it on BBC Two where it airs. During one of the series, designers are given a specific styled house with only a room to design with different details given by the homeowner. So, even though the exterior of the house is the same, we get to see the designer’s interpretation.

To Binge or Not to Binge:

This show is enjoyable to watch if you like the idea of interior design or, if you’re like me and my mom, you will be seething with hatred at color choices and layout. More often than not, we both nod our heads to the beautiful rooms created by designers. All of the contestants have different styles and ideas, which brings variety even with a given prompt.

If interior design as a whole a doesn’t strike your fancy, it’s still a fun twist to similar competition shows like  “Chopped” or “Cutthroat Kitchen.”

Another thing I enjoy about “The Great Interior Design Challenge” is that it’s not as intense as American shows. Our shows have a sense of exaggerated anxiety. For example, most so-called reality T.V. shows are so dramatic and trivial they feel like those melodramatic telenovelas that are frequently made fun of. I understand it’s an eccentric piece of theater that is supposed to keep an audience’s attention, but it’s unnecessary. “The Great Interior Design” show is mellow and feels like genuine reality T.V.

There is never any forced tension. The show is calm and sweet to watch, but still has the stress of success to keep you coming back for more.

Unlike “Fixer Upper,” “Property Brothers” and “House Hunters,” it’s not a duo stuck in the loop of buy, renovate, repeat. It’s an actual competition, which feels different and new in content, but falls behind on form. By that I mean that a challenge show is nothing new, but throwing in the element of interior design is new and interesting. 

The show is binge-able because you keep watching to see who gets eliminated, as well as the transformation of the rooms. In addition, it’s a good show if you have nothing else to watch.

I will say the show is fairly repetitive, and the only saving grace is the finished product. Each design is hit or miss. The process is fun to watch, but it does just all bleed together until you see the end of the episode.

But in its entirety, the show is not extremely memorable. None of the rooms stand out in my mind in the grand scheme of the show. Since the show spans from room to room, the only rooms I remember are from the last few episodes.

Similar Shows: “The Great British Bake Off,” “Fixer Upper,” “Property Brothers,” and most shows on HGTV.

Rating: 3.75/5 – It’s not well produced, but it’s calming and fun to talk about. It is not remarkable enough to remember. 

“The Great Interior Design Challenge”

Available to stream on Netflix

12 Episodes: approximately 12 hours.

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