Interior Design Masters with Alan Carr promises “brilliant designers, exciting locations and eye-popping interior design”

House Design

Published: 5 March 2024

Updated: 5 March 2024

In a new series of Interior Design Masters, Alan Carr welcomes ten novice designers looking for their big break in the world of commercial interior design.

Over eight weeks they will be competing to win a collaboration contract with a global homeware brand to produce their own line of home furnishings. Design expert and former editor of Elle Decoration Michelle Ogundehin returns as the series judge.

The designers come from all walks of life and have very different signature styles, from the ‘Victorian Maximalist’ to the ‘Elegant Brutalist’ to the ‘Colourful Traditionalist’. Each week, either working alone or as a team, they are set a new challenge as they are given free rein to redesign a range of commercial spaces across the UK. These include turning former nun’s cells into B&Bs, revamping activity centres at Chester Zoo, transforming Wembley dressing rooms and remodelling holiday lodges at Blenheim Palace.

Each week Michelle decides which designers have created her ‘Stand Out Space’ and which designers will be sent home. She is joined by leading figures from the world of interior design including Abigail Ahern, Kelly Hoppen, Sophie Robinson and Mary Portas.


Interior Design Masters with Alan Carr is on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on Tuesday 12 March at 8pm. 

Q&A with Alan Carr

Image of Alan Carr with a pink suit jacket and smiling to the camera
Alan Carr (Image; BBC/Darlow Smithson Productions)

Welcome back to series 5 of Interior Design Masters. Can you tell us what viewers can expect from this series and why they should watch it?

Brilliant designers, exciting locations and eye-popping interior design. The show is such a springboard – that’s what I love about it. Banjo Beale has his own show, Micaela Sharp, Peter Irvine and Siobhan Murphy do presenting. Molly Coath and Fran Lee have worked with the amazing Matthew Williamson, and I saw a massive billboard advertising Paul Moneypenny’s new wallpaper range – felt like such a proud dad. This show can change your life.

How is it to be reunited with Michelle?

Love her. People think we are chalk and cheese but we have such a giggle on the show. Plus, you learn so much about interior design from her. Every day is a school day with Michelle.

Can you tell us a bit more about the designers taking part this year?

The key to the show success is the designers, it’s getting the right mix, not just of personalities but design styles. This year does not disappoint: we have quirky designers, serious designers but the one thing they have in common is that they are designers who are just starting out.   On this show you always think that you’ve seen everything and then a designer comes along with something so uniquely beautiful, or in some cases hideously awful, but you are always surprised whether in a good way or bad!

In your opinion, is there a common design faux pas which designers tend to make, that you have seen in this series or across all series of Interior Design Masters?

The most common faux pas is when the designers forget the client and just do what they want to do. The client wanted high end luxury, but you like lime green and fuzzy felt so you decided to pop that on the wall instead – its madness! The amount of times we see this on the sofa and Michelle ends up telling them ‘It’s not about you!!’. Obviously, it makes great telly when these designers do it their way but we do end up with some unhappy clients.

When you are with the designers as they are working on their project, do you ever get the urge to get involved or give your opinion?

I have to bite my tongue so badly, but then I do have the worst poker face, so I end up saying it anyway. The series has been going on so long now that I think the designers can tell whether I like it or not. They’ll say ‘you hate it don’t you’ and I have to come clean. But in my defence if I LOVE a design I will gush accordingly.

Michelle and the guest judges are the experts in their field, but do you ever find that their final decision at the end of each episode doesn’t match your favourite design?

Sometimes I am shocked and think Michelle and the guest judge got it wrong. But then that’s what separates this show from a lot of others as Michelle will so eloquently say why it was wrong and then you go ‘oh I see’. The show is fair, no one stays in because their nan’s not well or they didn’t get a Christmas present as a child, it’s whether they follow the brief. A designer will create a stunning room but if the client didn’t want that and asked for something different, you fail the task, then you will be on the sofa. That’s interior design – client is king.

What sparked your interest for interior design and what do you love about it?  

I wasn’t interested in interior design when I started, I loved the show don’t get me wrong, but I was a bit ‘it’s only some wallpaper – get over yourself’. But, as the series went on and I saw more and more designs I realised, and I know this sounds pretentious, the power of colour and space! Plus, you have to remember, with BBC One’s The Italian Job with Amanda Holden I was renovating our little house in Italy doing what the designers were doing back home. I was upcycling, finding wallpapers, tiling, panelling – on a budget too. But they didn’t have Amanda bossing them about!!! JOKE!!!

Do you have a style you take inspiration from for you home?

Love bold tiles, the brighter the better. I have quite eclectic taste, hate rooms with nothing in them, where’s the life? Do you even live in this room?!

In your opinion, can good interior design have a positive effect on how people feel?

Yes definitely, that’s the one thing I’ve learnt from this show – interior design can affect you mentally, whether that’s spatially or with colour. We all have a favourite pub or cafe that we love to go to, and you probably love it so much because of the design and you don’t realise it. The comfy sofas that give you a good view to people watch, the cosy banquette with the plush velvet makes you feel relaxed, the lighting gives off an intimate glow and you can chat with your friends in a soothing environment. Even if you don’t like interior design you actually do – you just don’t know it!

How do you think this series will inspire the British public with their own interior design ideas?

It’s all accessible, it’s all within reach, it’s all on a budget, there are no excuses. The only thing holding you back is your imagination. None of the stuff is high end, they make it look high end. If it can inspire me to go to a car boot sale on a Sunday morning, it can inspire you.

From your personal experience, if you were to give a word of advice to those viewers wanting to design or redesign their home or a room, what would you tell them?

Be confident. Go for it. I got these bright teal tiles for my kitchen, I thought sod it, let’s have a bit of colour, best thing I ever did. It’s a talking point when people come into my home. 

If you were an element of design, what would you be and why?

I would be a chandelier, elegant, never out of style but if you get too close – I get shady!!!

Q&A with Michelle Ogundehin

Michelle Ogundehin wearing a pattern dress and blue jacket smiling to the camera
Michelle Ogundehin (Image: BBC/Darlow Smithson Productions)

Welcome back for series five of Interior Design Masters. Can you tell us what viewers can expect from this series and the designers taking part?

Tears, joy, inspiration, disasters, incredulity, and a lot of passion and effort. Our designers work incredibly hard, because each and every project is everything to them!

How is it to be reunited with Alan?

It’s always a joy. But it is a wonder how much he still has to learn about interiors!! Haha, only joking. He’s brilliant. He asks the questions that the viewers are probably shouting at the TV.

What are you looking for in terms of design talent this year?

Everything! But most of all, I’m looking for people who are open to learn. People with a can-do attitude and a unique point of view. I can only bring out the best in someone who’s prepared to accept that they don’t know it all already.

Also, the best designers, whether just starting out, or firmly established, recognise that they are first and foremost in service to their client. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of defaulting to old tropes or personal must-haves, but if it’s not appropriate to the scheme, location, purpose or brief, then you have to be big enough to change it. That said, passion also goes a long way, as does enthusiasm!

Do you have a standout room from throughout the series?

It would be like picking a favourite child, so no, I couldn’t possibly choose only one.

Interior design can have a positive effect to people’s wellbeing. Why do you think is that?

Good design can change the way you feel, helping you to become your best self, inspire good habits, enable efficiency, and aid restorative relaxation. In this way a home environment can be a personal superpower! It’s as important to your wellbeing as good sleep, nutrition and exercise. After all, it’s a lot harder to create healthy food in a hectic kitchen, sleep well or honour thyself with exercise if what surrounds you is dark, drab or depressing!

What sparked your love for interior design? 

The power to change the way people feel. Interior design isn’t just about colour and cushions, it’s absolutely fundamental to wellbeing. That’s what drives me.

What interior design trends do you think we’ll see more of in 2024?

I think the time for trends is over. The only big theme we need to see now is sustainability.

What are your top design tips for people who are looking to revamp a space at home? And your design no-nos?

I believe that anyone can make their home a magnificent place to be by tapping into what they intuitively like and not over-thinking it. The best homes are always those which are a mix of inspirations and references that are authentic and personal to the occupants. For sure there are various ways to display and contain things, and loose rules about flow, and tighter ones about clutter, but all in all it’s about freedom of self-expression on what is arguably your biggest canvas for creativity. When we open ourselves up to that sort of creativity, we have the capacity to make magic! Plus, when you come at from this place, there can be no design no-nos. That said, ditch the plastic.

Where do you advise viewers to start if they’re not confident?

Make it your own! Have the courage of your own design convictions. Paint the walls the colours you love. Hang that crazy wallpaper. Celebrate and showcase your cherished belongings and make it a space to be truly ‘at home’ with yourself. Home should be your space to be fearless, completely at ease and absolutely splendid in your imperfections and obsessions.

What are the key qualities that make a good interior designer? 

Active listening skills! Too often designers occupy a zone of trying to convince, cajole and persuade a client to do what they like, instead of sitting back and simply asking them loads of questions. What they want to achieve? How do they want to feel in the space? What are their core objectives? Truly great designers paint a picture of renewed possibility, and then colour it in afterwards to suit a client’s desires.

One thing to bear in mind though, just because you can do your own home doesn’t qualify you to become a professional interior designer. In your own home you get to indulge yourself, as you should, whereas in the real world of commissioned work, you must repeatedly step aside from yourself as an individual, and that’s a leap every successful/professional interior designer has to learn to make.

Any words of advice for all aspiring interior designers watching the series?

If you’re not at the table, you can’t play cards, just apply!

Meet the Designers

Group picture of the designers.  Left to right Ash, Sheree, Francesca, Hannah, Benat, Domnall, Roisin, Anthony, Matt, Jess
L-R: Ash, Sheree, Francesca, Hannah, Benat, Domnall, Roisin, Anthony, Matt, Jess (Image: BBC/Darlow Smithson Productions)


Man smiling to the camera
Anthony (Image: BBC/Darlow Smithson Productions)


Style: Colourful traditional

Occupation: Stay at home Dad/ Interior stylist

Before becoming a full-time dad, Anthony was a musical theatre actor. He moved to London from Liverpool at the age of 18 to study Musical Theatre. He performed in productions such as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and toured the world with Evita, before hanging up his dancing shoes in 2020 to start a family with his partner.

In preparation for adopting their baby, Anthony and his dad, who is a builder, completely transformed Anthony and his partner’s run-down house into a perfect family home. It was from there Anthony’s love of interior design blossomed.

Anthony then designed his partner’s new restaurant, which involved transforming an empty shell into a warm, welcoming and practical space on a tight budget. His focus was to bring the outside in by bringing in natural materials and upcycling second-hand furniture.

Alongside looking after his son, Anthony now works as a freelance interior stylist for a luxury B&B company and also for events such as The Brit Awards & Eurovision, dressing the artists’ dressing rooms.


woman smiling to camera
Ash (Image: BBC/Darlow Smithson Productions)


Style: Africa Modern                                                   

Occupation: Interior Therapist

As a diplomat’s daughter Ash lived in Bonn, Stockholm and London before returning to Nairobi as a teenager. Although she has a home in London, her heart is firmly rooted in Kenya where she tries to spend as much time as possible. Her grown up daughter and son also live in London.

Ash initially embarked on a legal career in Nairobi which led her to a career in international diplomacy and sustainable development. She also worked on the side as a documentary photographer for the likes of the UN, various international organisations and charities.

Renovating homes in Nairobi she realised that the commonly perceived African aesthetic was often limited to ‘tribal’ or ‘safari-style’ which didn’t align with her vision. Ash draws inspiration from the pulsating energy and spirit of modern Africa and she aims to anchor her spaces in joy, colour, resourcefulness, whimsicality, art and craftsmanship.

A few years ago Ash started a website and YouTube channel to showcase her apartment renovation. She now styles herself as an ‘Interior Therapist’ aiming to create spaces for her clients which celebrate African heritage and make people happy at home. 


Man smiling to the camera
Ben (Image: BBC/Darlow Smithson Productions)


StyleVictorian Maximalist

Occupation: Lingerie Designer

Ben grew up in San Sebastián, Spain, but now lives in Wolverhampton with his history professor partner. He is obsessed with anything ‘Victoriana’ and describes himself as having the soul of a 97-year-old grandma.

Ben’s had a passion for history since childhood and it is demonstrated in his dress sense as well as his interior style. As a child he became fascinated with the Edwardian era – both the clothing and interiors. This love of history grew as did his hoard of antiques from the local flea markets. These unique finds are still present in his home today, including a French horn he transformed into a lamp shade.

His grandmother taught him how to sew, and from here his interest in creating clothing and fashion grew. He studied fashion in Madrid and gained a Masters in furriery and lingerie at Central St Martin’s in London before designing clothes for Film and TV. He later went on to manage a boutique in London’s Portobello Road dressed serving customers dressed head to toe in Victorian clothing. Ben now works as a sample cutter for a well-known lingerie company.

Five years ago Ben relocated to Wolverhampton to buy a house with his partner.  This was the first time his passion for history and interiors really came to life.  As well as his own home, he and his partner are currently renovating Ben’s family home in the Basque country which dates back to 1460.


Man smiling to camera
Donmall (Image: BBC/Darlow Smithson Productions)


Style: Graphic Mid-Century Modern

Occupation: Illustrator, Artist and Shop owner 

Domnall was brought up in Derry. He studied illustration at university and got his first job as a Graphic Designer at a local newspaper until his career took him to Belfast, Sydney and London.

He returned home in 2009 and as an artist, exhibited his work in Northern Ireland providing social commentary in a contemporary pop art style. In 2013 he was commissioned to create an iconic wall mural as part of his hometown’s City of Culture status and his winning design was chosen for the official mascot of that year also.

Domnall opened a studio shop in 2015 selling a range of reclaimed and upcycled furniture, original artwork, prints, fabrics designs and jewellery. He also began to produce artwork and murals for local businesses and has also worked on a variety of interior design projects in his hometown, for which he also supplied bespoke furniture and artwork. He has also written and illustrated children’s books.

In 2023, Domnall completed his most sustainable interior design project to date-designing a bar and restaurant for the Millennium Forum Theatre in Derry. Domnall is eco conscious in his designs and prefers using sustainable, non-toxic materials, such as pineapple leather and he sources and refurbishes preloved furniture. 


woman smiling to camera
Francesca (Image: BBC/Darlow Smithson Productions)


Occupation: Textiles Maker & Teacher

Style: Playful Colourist

Francesca lives in East London with her husband and their 2-year-old son. She is a crafts teacher and has taught children with special needs in her local community.

As a young child growing up, she recalls poring over her mum’s interiors magazines picking out things she’d have in her future home. In her early teens, her favourite pastime was to collect free colour paint cards and spend her time printing off floor plans from estate agent’s website to redesign the rooms.

After visiting her sister who was living in Japan in 2016, Francesca imported some Saori looms and on her return founded London’s first ever drop-in weaving studio which offered a variety of textile and craft classes, events and talks and she also wrote a book about weaving.  

During the pandemic, Francesca decided to focus on renovating her flat and starting a family. Her home renovation gained a good following on Instagram as people appreciated her fun, playful and mischievous style.

As well as teaching crafts she takes on freelance sewing commissions and has started attending an upholstery course. Now she is coming out the other side of having a baby, she wants to re-forge her career in interiors.  She would ultimately love to run her own interiors brand with a workshop to make and design products and be an advocate for sewing and crafts.


woman smiling to camera
Hannah (Image: BBC/Darlow Smithson Productions)


Occupation: Interior Designer

Style: Colourful Brutalist

After studying a foundation degree in Art and Design at university, Hannah embarked on a 20-year career in fashion visual merchandising. She worked her way up from the sales floor in a little shop in Leicester, to managing the European creative team for a global brand. She ran a production workshop, managing a team of builders who installed her shop window designs around Europe. 

Hannah left retail fashion when the pandemic hit, and she made the decision to pursue her long held ambition to become an interior designer. She signed up for a diploma in interior design and alongside her studies did a few unpaid makeovers for friends to build up her portfolio.

From a modest start upcycling plant pots and vases, Hannah set up her own homewares business, selling cast cement pots and vases through shops across the UK.

Hannah has redesigned her own flat, a handful of other residential projects and an office so far but has dreams of designing mid-century homes and hotels.


woman smiling to camera
Jess (Image: BBC/Darlow Smithson Productions)


Occupation: Upholsterer

Style: Memphis inspired mid-century

Jess moved to Margate after she joined the events team at Dreamland theme park. At the same time, she started a part time upholstery course as a hobby.

Her hobby for upholstery quickly became her passion so she quit her job and set up her own upholstery studio with a friend. Since then, Jess has upholstered hundreds of items and collaborated with interior designers across the UK. Jess loves taking on ‘weird and wonderful’ upholstery challenges and her most challenging project to date, has been entirely covering 19 ceilings with upholstery in a local hotel.

Jess is also a co-owner of a popular gay bar in Margate which she bought with her brother, girlfriend and two best friends. It went from a disused computer shop to a late-night bar which Jess designed in the Memphis style. Jess loved every part of the project and it cemented her love for interiors. Now she has just bought her first property and cannot wait to get stuck in with the re-design.


Man smiling to the camera
Matt (Image: BBC/Darlow Smithson Productions)


Occupation: Bathroom Designer

Style: Elegant brutalism

Matt is originally from Cheltenham and grew up with a passion for art and design, partly due to his father’s job restoring Japanese antiques. He was always happiest as a child when being creative and using his hands and at aged 16, he received a school award for innovation for product design.

Following school Matt gained an extended diploma in Art and Design and went on to do a BA degree in Interior Architecture. He spent a year studying in Barcelona and during the summer worked with his dad restoring furniture. Matt is now back living in Cheltenham and currently works as a bathroom designer for a local company. 

He is inspired by Brutalist architecture and design and loves working with light and shadow to create interesting design. His ambition is to open his own commercial design practice and his ultimate dream is to design a fashion catwalk in collaboration with a fashion designer.


woman smiling to camera
Roisin (Image: BBC/Darlow Smithson Productions)

The Wirral

Occupation: Former Travel Advisor

Style: Colourful maximalism

Roisin is originally from the Isle of Man. She moved to Liverpool to study Drama and during her summer holidays would work for camps in America as a lifeguard where she met her now husband. Her summer job led to her becoming a travel advisor and she has travelled the world extensively. She got married last year and lives in The Wirral in a house she has designed and renovated.

When Covid hit, Roisin and her husband decided to stay with her parents on the Isle of Man as they were in the process of building their new home. Roisin took over as their interior designer and project manager liaising with the architects and tradespeople to make her vision come to life.

In 2022 after some encouragement from her work colleagues who were always asking her for Interior design advice, Roisin set up an interior design Instagram account to document the transformation of her parents’ home and gained a following. As soon as she found out she had a place on Interior Design Masters, Roisin quit her job and now wants to pursue her dream career of being an interior designer. Her ultimate dream would be to design an entire boutique hotel. 


woman smiling to camera
Sheree (Image: BBC/Darlow Smithson Productions)


Occupation: Copyrighter                                                        

Style: Colourful Scandi

Sheree is originally from Leeds and grew up in a creative family home. Her Jamaican father is a musician and her Danish mother always encouraged her and her two siblings to give everything creative a go – art, crafts, music and writing.

Being half Danish and half Jamaican, Sheree has been influenced by both Scandi and Caribbean interiors and now loves to incorporate both styles within her own designs. Sheree’s mum renovated their family home which sparked Sheree’s interest in interior design and she fondly remembers coming home from school and taking on DIY challenges with her.

After university, Sheree moved to London to pursue a career in journalism. She became a copywriter for various retail stores and now manages a team who work on the companies’ marketing campaigns, adverts and websites.

She currently lives in Margate, in a newly purchased Victorian terraced house which she’s renovating herself. This big project has allowed her to put to into practice her interior design style. Sheree’s gained so much enjoyment from doing up her own home, she now wants to embark on a career as an interior designer.