Interior Design Masters winner Banjo talks following your gut, leaving his heart in Margate and making mischief in Mull
We caught up with Interior Design Masters winner Banjo Beale to talk all things interiors...
Yesterday we saw the final episode of Interior Design Masters 2022 air on BBC1, and although we're certainly sad to see the show come to the end for another year, we were over the moon to see the extremely talented Banjo Beale crowned as the winner.
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Following his win of the hit interior series, the YourHomeStyle team caught up with the interiors aficionado to find out all about life on the show, his plans for the future, plus much, much more...
Hi Banjo! Huge congratulations on being crowned this year’s winner of Interior Design Masters! How do you feel?
Thank you very much! I'm still coming back down to earth. And I'm a little bit dusty, because we all watched the final last night in the bar I designed in Soho. All the contestants and crew from the show were there, and Alan even joined. Now I'm paying for it!
That sounds amazing! What’s life been like for you since you finished filming the show?
I mean, when I’m back on Mull, life’s no different - it’s such a small place! But when I came to London this weekend, suddenly I’m getting stopped in the streets by a load of middle aged men, who always preface it by saying their wife loves me. I know they love me too! It’s really funny being recognised.
Have you been working on any projects since you finished filming the show?
Since we finished filming the final in October last year, I’ve been really busy with the Watergate Bay project. I finished it last week, but there was certainly an added level of complexity living on an island at the top of Scotland and designing a hotel, literally at the opposite end of the country!
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That made me realise that interior design is 99% logistics and 1% design… it was quite a revelation, and for someone that's not organised, it was really difficult!
Speaking of projects, what do you think the future holds for you as a designer?
I mean, I don't know what it holds, but I’m so excited! I 100% want to pursue design in some way, and hopefully I can do it in my own way. I love collecting stuff, and I love using natural materials and repurposing unusual things. So I want to find a way to do that. And, you know, live my little wholesome farm life as well!
You mentioned that you live in an incredible property on the Isle of Mull in Scotland. How would you describe it?
Our home is a family farm, and we’ve been there for eight years. It's owned by four brothers, and Row and I are the adopted sons, their weird little Aussies! It’s run by this amazing 85 year old woman who's my best friend, Chris.
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We get up to mischief and design lots of stuff together. We weave lots of baskets, and we have a little pottery. My husband makes the cheese and I just make mischief.
So, when you were living life on the farm last year, what was it that made you think to enter the show?
Well, I've always wanted to pursue interior design, but I mean, it's difficult to launch an interior design business on an island in the middle of nowhere.
Since I was a little boy, I wanted to be an interior designer. My mum would let me rearrange the furniture when I was eight years old, and every Sunday, I’d do up the lounge room. I'd always be doing up my room, but then when it came time to pick something to study at university, it just wasn't an option.
I lived in the country and life got in the way, but I was always designing little things on Mull. I watched the show last year, and I thought 'I could do that!' I applied on a whim and heard back straightaway, and then it was all systems go from there!
Would you say going on Interior Design Masters boosted your confidence at designing?
Yes, absolutely. I have confidence issues and I second guess myself a lot, but the thing I realised is that I need to honour my gut in everything I do. The final space I designed was the space I saw in my mind the minute I walked in there, but the process to get to the end was just so uncomfortable and filled with so much doubt.
It kind of derails you, and you get caught up in it and you're in your own head. But, in the end I looked back and thought, ‘Oh, it turned out exactly how I saw it, why was that such a thing?’ I really learned to honour my ideas and just go for it. Don't second guess yourself!
Did you ever find it difficult seeing what the other contestants were doing as you created your designs?
In the final episode, when I saw Amy taking out her bar, I thought, ‘Oh no, I have to step it up, that girl did not come to play!’ During the show, I sat up with Amy until 4am in her van - I was keeping her company and Amy was working, upholstering chairs. I knew that she was not going to give up to the end!
At times, I thought to myself, ‘Oh God, have I've done enough? She's quite literally ripping out the bar!’ My place had good bones to start with, and it had a really nice bar that I didn’t want to ruin, so I had to work out how to amplify it instead. The challenge for me was the pure scale and size of the place, and the fact that it was a blank box downstairs, with an upstairs that was so huge. For me, it became about adding warmth. When viewers saw the final result on the screen, it was lit up like Wembley Stadium. But that space is really the most magic when the lights go down.
What was your favourite design of the series?
I really loved my drunk botanist hotel room. The green room was really my style coming together, because I love vintage botanicals and I loved that window nook. I always love kind of having a little nook in any space - you always want to have that magic spot where you sit!
I also really loved my shepherd's hut as well. It was fun collecting all the little pieces for that. And you know, I got magic porthole windows from a boat in Brighton, and I met an amazing person as part of the experience. One of the highlights for me was hitting the road and meeting lots of characters.
My absolute favourite space was in Margate. From the shutters to the owners reaction, it was a really special week. I left a little bit of my heart in Margate!
So where do you source all your vintage finds?
I'm such a fiend for Facebook marketplace! And I mean, I'm Australian, so it's no issue for me to drive from one end of the country to the other to pick up a canoe!
One day I drove from Brighton to Grimsby, to Bristol, to Birmingham. And then to Margate, all in a day! It's so stupid, but it kind of paid off… when I want something I know exactly what it needs to look like, and I wasn't going to stop until I found a green canoe with a wooden top! When you love old stuff and collecting, and someone opens up their shed, for me, that’s just heaven!