Interiors guru Michelle Ogundehin’s step-by-step home revamp guide



f you’ve missed Inside Design Masters as much as we have, then set a date with your sofa for Wednesday night.

Michelle Ogundehin, the former editor of ELLE Decoration, will be joined once again by entertaining host Alan Carr as she attempts to unearth the hottest new talent from a fresh batch of ten aspiring interior designers.

Much of Michelle’s judging centers around how the designers use the space they’re allocated each week, be that a suite in a country hotel, a tech company showroom or a beach hut.

What quickly becomes clear is that even the coolest concept — and this show serves up many an excitingly creative mood board — will fail if it’s merrily bunged in without thoughtful consideration of a room’s dimensions, natural light and desired overall feel.

Michelle Ogundehin with Interior Design Masters host Alan Carr and this year’s 10 aspiring designers

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Michelle Ogundehin with Interior Design Masters host Alan Carr and this year’s 10 aspiring designers


Michelle’s favorite of this year’s challenges involves renovating shepherd’s huts. “They’re mini whole houses in one,” she says. “They’re romantic, pretty and kind of glorious, but design-wise, you could do anything, and that’s often the hardest brief. When you can do anything, what do you do?”

It’s a question that many new homeowners ask themselves, and the possibilities can be paralyzing. It can be tricky to know where to start, especially if you are far from an interior design master.

So, in a bid to steer you away from safe old magnolia, we asked Michelle to impart some of her core design wisdom. Her top tip of her? Enjoy it, and remember it’s your home.

Restore a blank canvas

If you’ve just moved into a house that’s plastered in dated wallpaper or decorated in colors you hate, Michelle advises stripping it all away and painting everything white.

“The point is to restore a blank canvas, so just a bog-standard white paint will do,” she says. “It will act as a brilliant undercoat for any future colour, and if you’re renting, your landlord is unlikely to protest.”

Determine your color palette

An aspiring IDM designer, Dean, reveals that he’s painted every room in his home black. In the first challenge, doing up a Manchester rental apartment for young professionals, he steps out of his comfort zone to attempt a calming green bedroom. While far from a design disaster, he fails to make the most effective use of colour. But what did he do wrong?

“If you use too many colors, you get a noisy, chaotic result,” says Michelle. “But if you use too few, as Dean did, it becomes soft. It’s about having enough colors for variety without getting too much Changing Rooms.”

For cohesive interest, she suggests choosing six core colors, including one white and two accent hues, and using them throughout your home.

Help them sit well together by linking their tone – Michelle favors “dirty colours” with a slight undertone of gray, for example, with her own palette featuring lavender, pale lemon, greens and blues.

“Surround yourself with colors that mean something to you, the colors that make your heart sing,” she says. “My palette won’t necessarily be your palette. I wouldn’t want to be dictatorial and say you must use ‘the color of the year’, because it might not fit with your scheme.”

Make a mood board, the old fashioned way

Pinterest offers an Aladdin’s cave of interiors inspiration, but Michelle favors tactile glue and paste mood boards. If you’re already questioning whether you have the time for an arty crafty endeavor, there’s no need to overcomplicate things.

“Start with your colors,” says Michelle. “Tear out pages from magazines, pick up a couple of paint cards and just keep going until you think ‘Yes, I really love this’. Then, let your newfound color palette inform everything else that you buy, from bedsheets to curtains.”

Most importantly, creating a mood board should be fun. “This is your home,” she says. “It’s a little piece of the ground that you can heal, and it does not have to cost a lot of money.

“Yes, there are lots of fancy swanky stores selling hideously expensive things, but there’s also IKEA, which I love, there’s some brilliant stuff in there. It’s about what you choose and how you use it, not how much it cost.”

Tune in to what you love

Choice can be overwhelming, and there’s a lot of it, but Michelle believes improving your self-awareness is key.

“When you go out for dinner, you know when you don’t like the taste of one dish but do the like the taste of another, and it’s the same with interiors,” she says.

“If you like a chair, ask yourself why. Is it its colour? Is it that it’s upholstered in velvet? Is it because it’s really squashy? It’s about opening your eyes, noticing things, and recognizing the importance of filling your home with the things that you love.”

Understand the power of flooring

Michelle believes it “better to sit on a box on a great floor than an expensive sofa on a rubbish one, because it will compromise everything”.

But renters, don’t despair; you can hide a dodgy floor by buying a rug that you’ll be able to take with you to any future home.

“If you’re on a budget, head to your local carpet showroom, ask to see their offcuts and choose a large piece in one of your palette colors,” Michelle suggests. “Many companies will bind the edges for you very inexpensively, and you’ll be doing your bit to help reduce wastage.”

Take pride in being more sustainable

Whether it’s upcycling a wooden chest of drawers you saved from the type or finding a characterful pair of ‘preloved’ brass candlesticks in a charity shop, sustainability has firmly established itself as much more than a passing trend riding the Blue Planet wave.

“I love pieces with a history to them,” says Michelle. “If you fill your home solely with brand new shiny things, it can lack a certain warmth.”

Never rely on ‘the big light’

Lighting is a huge area of ​​design that people devote their professional lives to, but Michelle’s core tip is never to rely on a central pendant to illuminate a room.

“That light is for when you’ve dropped a contact lens,” she says. “Table lamps that highlight specific areas can be much more convivial, so long as they go hand in hand with maximizing every ounce of natural light.”

Don’t be a slave to design ‘rules’

Design ‘rules’ bound but think carefully about whether they would work in your own space. Most importantly, would following them make you happy?

Take the widely touted edict that your small, north-facing living room should be painted dark because it doesn’t get much natural light anyway. Michelle advises doing what you want to do, as opposed to what you feel you should.

“You could make it into a cozy den-like space, but you could also illuminate it with beautiful lamps,” she says. “Be wary of fighting against a space’s bone structure, but if your style favors neutrals and you’ve suddenly got deep teal walls, it might look amazing, but it may also end up being the room you never go in.

“Have the courage of your convictions. It’s your home, so if you love polka dots, glitter and leopard print, then go for it. The most important thing is that you end up walking through your front door and thinking ‘Yes, this is me’.”

Interior Design Masters airs at 9pm on Wednesday 9th March on BBC One