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The Great Interior Design Challenge

The BBC recently ran an interior design based programme on BBC2 entitled ‘The Great Interior Design Challenge’. The format of the show was similar to that of ‘The Great British Bake-Off’ which sees a winner from each episode put forward to compete in the quarter finals and potentially the semi-finals.

Each contestant was tasked with designing a room set based on a client brief given to them by the homeowner. The contestants then created room plans based on the brief and set to work transforming the room. However, all this had to be completed within a very strict budget of £1000 and within a limited time period of just two days. An exciting yet challenging task for any amateur interior designer!

The programme was always going to spark the interest of everyone here at the National Design Academy, however we found ourselves glued to our screens throughout the series as two of our students; Paula Holland and Lorna Satchell, were actually competing in the challenge.

Below we hear from Paula and Lorna to get their take on the competition and how they found their moment in the lime light!


Paula Holland

“I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the Great Interior Design Challenge. Although I didn’t win my heat, the contacts and friends I made whilst filming far outweigh my disappointment. I found being around such creative people a real inspiration. I am happy to report that my homeowner Celia has kept the room as I left it and has asked me to help with the designs for the rest of her house!

I am currently studying the distance learning Diploma in Interior Design at N.D.A. I must admit that trying to fit in work, family, filming AND assignments was a challenge but the Academy were very supportive in allowing me much needed extensions!

I would definitely recommend anyone jumps at the chance to apply and take part if the opportunity arises.”

Lorna Satchell

“I am a former student of the National Design Academy, I completed my Diploma in Interior Design in 2012.

In the spring of 2013, I saw an advert for amateur interior designers to take part in a design program, having previously completed a few design projects for clients, I decided to take the plunge and apply. I decided that this was going to be my personal challenge – feel the fear and do it anyway! From then on the whole process seemed to be a bit of a roller coaster. After what seemed like millions of telephone calls, emails and 2 visits with the production crew at my home, the day had arrived for me to travel down to London to film the show. The Alms-houses episode was the first episode to be filmed, so naturally, it came with its own teething problems as well as some of my own.

The previous week I had been sent the Client Brief. This allowed us 7 days to create mood boards/floor plans, design the space and source/order products and materials. Sadly for the first 3 days of that week, I was away with work on an event, however, at the time I thought I’d take the bull by the horns and battle through.

On arrival I wished I could regain those 3 days prep and more.

Though the whole experience might not have been a realistic Designer/Client arrangement, it definitely pushed me in at the deep end, igniting my creativity in interiors. Testing my ability to think on my feet, be apt and welcoming to new and arising situations (specifically the directors chairs which I had up-cycled in a fabric and I had planned to have matching curtains and pelmets made too. However, half way through day 1 I found out that my client no longer wanted curtains!)

On a professional note – it was television, so I feel that in my naivety and passion to succeed with my client’s brief, professionalism may have been slightly lost i.e. the lack of a floor plan! However, the amazingly supportive production assistant, Ed Robinson and the ‘behind the scenes’ crew, working alongside such knowledgeable and talented people made this a monumental experience for me. One which I would encourage any amateur designer to do but with more caution and planning. Something that I have learnt is that whatever happens – do it with passion – follow your instincts and put any learnt theories into practice.

Last but not least, I have felt extremely humbled by the support, compliments and encouragement from fellow NDA students, social media and the public and am now positively looking to take steps towards a career in interiors.”

We would like to take this opportunity to say how proud we are of Paula and Lorna and the work they produced. Completing such a large project in such a limited timeframe and budget is daunting in any circumstance but when it’s being filmed for television there will always be added pressure and nerves. Well done ladies we think you did a wonderful job and made us all proud.



BBC iPlayer (2014) The Great Interior Design Challenge Title Sequence [Online Image]. Available from: [Accessed 27/02/14] 


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