Book Review – The Great Interior Design Challenge

Text: Katherine Sorrell ISBN 978-1-909815-11-7

RRP £20.00
Published by Pavilion an imprint of Anova Books – Jan 2014


Contains 256 pages

Three key sections are spread over pages 6 – 243:
1. WHERE TO START- with the following subheadings: Find your style, Hopton’s Almshouses 1749, Colour, Dorset Cottages 1779, Pattern, Texture, Regency Square 1818-28, Planning makes Perfect, Georgian Townhouses 1827
2. THE BIG PICTURE – with the following subheadings: Make the most of your space, Walls, Thames Tunnel Mill 1843, Floors, Lighting, Storage, Technology, Late Victorian Terrace 1890, Kitchens, Arts and Crafts 1890, Bathrooms, Edwardian Townhouses 1900-07
3. DECORATING DETAILS – with the following subheadings: Furniture, 1930s Suburbia, Art Deco Houses 1934, Window treatments, Displays, Brutalism 1950s, Finishing Touches, Span Houses 1967-69, Judges Top 5 Tips

Further Information – in the final section

This official TV tie-in book accompanies BBC TWO’s primetime 12 part Series of the same name and the foreword is written by architecture and interior design critic, Tom Dychoff. If you have tuned in to the show at all you will know that Dychoff is the show’s presenter and it is notable that his knowledge of architectural history is vast. His writing, like his presenting, shows a skill of conveying interesting information concisely and affably. Therefore, in the foreword, he is simply indentifying what house and home means to the British, and stressing that, with the help of the book, anyone who might be feeling in a rut can benefit from the creative ideas of the 24 aspiring designers who feature in the TV programme.

Range of information
The book is structured with some similarity to an episode from the series presenting different period styles, and global influences as a starting point, but you do not need to have viewed the TV series to find the book comprehendible. The Show is a competition; the book is a different pick. There are plenty of short articles, bullet pointing; case studies, and professional viewpoints from interior design specialists Sophie Robinson and Daniel Hopwood (the judges of the contestants in the show). Information is contained within a feature writing format and is substantial. 10/10

Quality of information
Like so many of these en trend books, information of any one thing is not particularly in-depth. There is a generous amount of tip and technique sharing and planning suggestions. The project work is educating in the process. Health and Safety considerations are included. Practicalities are addressed in section two i.e. painting walls, tiling, and wallpapering. You do not, necessarily, need to read the book from cover to cover to gain easy access to the information within. 9/10

The book has a hardcover book and measures 246 x 189 mm (H x W), the front cover design is quite boring, but the book is very stylish within. Typographically it is modern, and, like the graphic designing, is primarily black, grey and lime green print on a crisp white background. Each page has bold headings and sub headings and is packed with features, photographs of various sizes, mood boards, colour squares, etc. with handy notes tagging on here and there. 9/10

There is much quality to the composition of the photographs taken both outdoors and indoors. Full colour photography of before and after room settings make for some great lifestyle shots. These are very professional and nicely arranged throughout the book. Some double paged, full page, half page images and heaps of others. Illustrative design intersperses. 10/10


Under the final section Further Information are the profiles of the three ‘faces who front the Show. Following on are the profiles of the 24 Contestants. A useful two page Directory with names and addresses and contact details of retailers and suppliers of goods and merchandise relevant to the TV series and the book categorized as follows: DIY stores, large retailers, paint suppliers, decorating shops (including online retailers) also second hand recycled and vintage sellers. At the very end of the book is an Index, followed by a Further Reading list. Page 256 publisher’s acknowledgements and Credits, copyright info etc. 8/10

All of which is outlined in the book is intended to inspire the reader to work creatively with what they have. It is also attempting to create imaginings, for those undergoing any kind of redesigning project themselves, by using choices made by the amateur designers competing in the competition on TV, twinned with thought sharing and tips offered up by the field working experts. The aim is to do the best job of linking and recreating architectural styles from different time periods and geographical positioning, and helping readers to generate their own briefs in a way, using the book as a point of referencing. Much is conveyed in this well presented, well thought out book.


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