Sharing a pot of tea and a cake stand of delicious treats with a TV celeb is just what Monday afternoons were made for.
I was invited by British Gypsum to interview architect and Channel 4’s Restoration Man and Amazing Spaces star George Clarke at the Good Housekeeping Institute in London. My mother-in-law was very impressed!
So let’s crack on with it..
Hi George. Where do you find inspiration for your home?
G: “I buy stacks of magazines, rip things out and make mood boards. Pinterest is amazing, a huge database of pictures. I can find exactly what I want on there really easily. Often I can’t find things on Google images but find them in a instant on Pinterest, it’s all there. It’s phenomenal. Lots of design tips.”
What interior trends do you think will be big for 2016?
G: “I think brass is making a comeback, my nana was the only person I knew who had brass taps back in the day, but I’m now installing brass fittings in my house, they are so nice. Brass taps, a brass bath, modern fittings but with a brass finish, really slick and beautiful, classic. People are going to start being more adventurous with classic fitting, which they weren’t brave enough to take on before.”
What do you think of the white floorboard trend?
G: “White floorboards are a big no go for me. Been and gone. Dull.”
What is the most important room to get right in a home?
G: “The kitchen is probably the most important. Your kitchen is one of the most expensive things you’re ever going to pay for, and you need to get the layout right. Kitchens are probably used more nowadays than sitting rooms. It’s all going on in there, it’s the heart of the home.”
As a TV celeb would you do a reality TV show like Strictly or the jungle?
G: “No, absolutely no way. I’ve been asked a few times to do one particular show, but I’d never do any of them. I don’t like Strictly, I wouldn’t put my kids through it, if they saw me on there they’d die. Cringe.”
Is that secretly because you can’t dance?
G: “Ha ha, I’m alright. A couple of drinks in and I can move, I can throw a few shapes. I just could never do it.”
Would you do something more Bear Grylls style maybe?
G: “Yes, now that’s more up my street. I’d love to do that. But again, I don’t know if I’d want to do it for TV. I do a lot of mountain climbing, but for me it’s quite a solitary thing. I did a bike trip through the Sahara Desert and loved it, but if there was a TV crew there it would have probably ruined it for me.”
You’ve said you wish you’d travelled the world, out of a backpack at 18 and got into debt, instead of being so determined to work hard and be successful. Do you travel much nowadays?
G: “I’m lucky I get to travel a lot for work. I do lots of mini breaks too, but not as much travel as I’d like to. I think I’ll just do it later in life, maybe in 10 years time. I’d like to take a sabbatical for a year or two and go off and do it. I’d have to wait until my kids are 18 though, and off to university. I’d be 51 then, that would be a perfect age to travel the world. I probably wouldn’t rough it, although there’s a lot of romanticism about doing it that way.”
What’s your facourite thing in your house?
G: “I brought a second hand desk from Ebay, it’s a lovely Danish 1950s desk, it’s a bit knackered and the top’s a bit bashed. But I love it, I haven’t restored it or done anything to it…it’s perfect the way it is. My desk at home is probably the most important thing to me, that’s where I design, work, write. I often sit there and think it’s such a thing of beauty!”
Do you feel pressure for your home to always been perfect for guests?
G: “Yeah, hell yes. I have OCD, so there’s never any scuffs in the paintwork or anything like that. Everything in my house is nicely ordered and in a perfect situation. My clothes are all colour co-ordinated in my wardrobe. I got divorced a few years ago which is why I can be obsessive about keeping everything immaculate. The fridge is a little bit more carnage as other people get involved with that and I can’t change it.”
Is it true builders/ labourers go to the chippy most days?
G: “No, not true at all. I’m like any other builder, I love a bacon sarnie but I stay relatively healthy. A lot of tradesmen I work with keep themselves fit and are good with their diets. There’s been a big change in all of that over the last 10 years. The hardest times are during the winter, it’s freezing cold on site and you just want anything that’s hot, pie, chips, whatever. You have to be disciplined to not be doing that. There’s some posh builders around you know, I’ve seen builders with their lunch in Waitrose bags!”
I chatted to George at a launch for the new, innovative Lifestyle Wall from British Gypsum’s Room Made For You.
Never heard of Lifestyle Wall? Check out my post about it here.