I was lucky enough to be given tickets by Axa Insurance UK to attend the Grand Designs Live show in the Excel Centre, London this week and what a fabulous day it was! I have always been a huge fan of the show and have watched it since the beginning, it is probably where my obsession for property renovations began. The show ran from the 5 – 13 May and is based on the Channel 4 series, showcasing all the latest trends for the home, whether it be Interior Design inspiration, a complete renovation or self build project.
The show itself was split into 6 different sections including Grand Garden, Interiors, Kitchens & Bathrooms, Build and Food and Home wares. It also had a restaurant, central bar, champagne bar and a Premium lounge, where I was lucky enough to enjoy a glass of fizz and some lunch. In the centre was a stage where previous stars of Grand Designs would sit and chat about their self build or renovation project and would tell the audience what they would change if they were to do it all again. Unsurprisingly, all of them agreed on one thing. That the expense and time taken to create their project was always highly optimistic!
The section that I was most interested in was the Grand Interior, where they showcased future trends including wallpaper, lighting and furniture. They also had an Interior Room Set (sponsored by Axa Insurance) where interior stylists were invited to create a room with products that viewers could buy online or in store from British designers and retailers. It was then down to the public viewers and a panel of judges to choose their favourite design and the winner announced at the Grand Theatre.
The Room Sets consisted of –
Living Room – Zuzana and Lina of Accanto Interiors
This living room consisted of mustard, grey and green tones with fabulous attention to detail including the orange piping on the sofa. The centre piece lighting had a vintage and modern feel to it, created with glass light shades. The bookshelves stood out with their neon pink lighting and the whole room was pulled together with the middle eastern inspired rug that almost looked 3D!
Kids Bedroom – Natalie Lockwood
Natalie is the name behind Little Mill House, an Interior brand that uses sustainable and upcyled materials within their interior design projects. She mentioned that they like to keep their projects “playful” and they certainly delivered this aspect in the kids bedroom. The carpet is made from plastic grass, the chalkboard walls were perfect for little people to be creative and surely, what child would not want a slide into a ball pit in their bedroom? I thought the use of monochrome with a dose of yellow was also a great use of colour, so different from the usual blues or pinks.
“Wellness” Kitchen – Helen and Finch Munro of Finch London
What was not to like about this kitchen (I do love a plant!) It definitely lived up to its wellness title, including a steam oven, a Jesmonite worktop which is kinder to the environment, water-based paints and plants. The cork flooring is 100% natural and the plants chosen remove Benzene from the air (which is often found in chemicals and paint). Apparently, one of the top most searched for items in a kitchen is a Larder (or food cupboard!) and they incorporated this beautifully into the design. The stylish glass pendants hanging from the ceiling completed the look.
Bedroom – Oliver Thomas
Well, what can I say? Wow! Oliver was a finalist on the BBC’s “Great Interior Design Challenge” and now runs his own interior design consultancy. He loves to use rich, luxurious textures and patterns and likes to layer up! This room had it all going on, from the fabulous wallpaper by Divine Savages, to the black and white tiled flooring and the beautiful emerald green Oyster chairs (my personal favourites!) I love how brave Oliver’s design was and you could take away so much inspiration from just one room.
Living Space – Jade Maria Interior Design
Everything about Jade Maria’s living space was just so stylish! She had created a space which included zones, which is perfect for modern day living, where the cost of property is sky high and we seem to be forever squeezing into smaller spaces! The beautiful pink sofa sat astride a zebra print rug and Jade Maria had added cushions of similar pattern to tie in the design. I loved the use of different materials, including the rattan style chairs and marble table. She had also created a work space which worked wonderfully with the room, providing plenty of storage space and styled perfectly. Jade Maria herself said she loved finding interesting and pretty objects to style around the room as she felt these were important finishing touches!
After viewing all the Room Sets, I went to watch the judging on the Centre Stage, where all the Interior Designers had gathered to chat about their design, what inspired them and to find out who had won the challenge. I could sit and look at Interior Design all day, but to judge a winner? I would have been hard pressed to choose just one. But, in the end, Finch London took away the accolade with their amazing pink and environmentally friendly kitchen.
My next stop was the “Lav Project” where designers were asked to create a small wash room with fabulous results. There was beautiful monochrome tiling and flamingo wallpaper by Grace & Grey. A tribal inspired toilet that wouldn’t look out of place on a beach by Studio 26. A stunning floral mural wallpapered bathroom complete with on-trend panel mirror by Aube Interiors. A stylish bathroom with Anna Hayman wallpaper and black marble flooring by Outshine Interiors. And last, but not least, my favourite Lav, the very patriotic loo dedicated to the Royal Wedding!
Once I got my interior fix, I then headed over to the garden section to try and get some inspiration for my currently overgrown and wild outdoor space! After viewing luxury swimming pools, garden canopies larger than my kitchen, BBQ’s big enough to cook for my whole street and a giant man shed where you would perhaps never see your husband again, I came away thinking I needed to put my house on the market pronto and buy a new one with a bigger garden. My favourite items had to be the Garden Beach Huts with seating and dining space. Some of them had even incorporated a BBQ in the middle, perfect for those wet British summers!
I could have spent many more hours at the Grand Design Live Show, taking in all the many retailers, manufacturers and over 500 exhibitors that were there to showcase their designs, but the 1617 Southern train was waiting to take me home to Brighton. The one thing that I did come away from the show was, I’m more determined than ever to one day build my own Grand Design.