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In Conversation With: Grand Designs Live

Author Editor - 5 minute read

Kunle Barker, construction expert, journalist and TV presenter, has delivered over 8000 residential refurbishments, 120 schools and 3 sports centres as well as a number of countless high-end private renovations.

As well as delivering on high profile TV projects alongside Alan Titchmarsh and Sarah Beeny, Kunle is a guest speaker at Grand Designs Live. We caught up with him to suss out all the interiors trends that we need to know about.

What are some of the key interior’s trends for the new season you’re noticing?

The continued popularity of floral patterns and adoption of colour seems to be going from strength to strength. Also, I love that the rule books are being thrown out and designers are mixing styles to create homely spaces that really work for the people. There seems to be much more of an emphasis of marrying style with function which in my view is the only time that interiors really work, as there is no sense in having a space that looks amazing but is not functional. Unfortunately we don’t live in pages of magazines, so its refreshing to see some unrealistic design trends being ignored.

What are your tips for the easiest ways to revive a space without making major renovations?

  • Declutter – the amount of ‘stuff’ we accumulate is amazing and so the first thing I advise clients to do is get rid of at least 50% of the things they have on display. It is amazing how much of a transformation a little clear out can have.
  • Paint – Is a very easy and cost effective way to revive your space. Its worth taking a weekend to try and refresh your home with a coat of paint. You don’t even have to change the colour - it’s strange how quickly we get use to hand marks, chips and stains on paintwork so just 1 coat of paint will make a real difference.

What aspects of a property/space draw you to a project?

I’m drawn by the idea of changing a space to improve the lives of its inhabitants. How changing the way people interact with their space has a positive effect.

I’ve always been interested in the role of linking areas of the house. This is not necessarily a literal link, but I like to speak to a client and understand how they use the space now and what they would like to change. These are the aspects of a project that I must understand so that it may influence the way I design and then build a home.

Where do you look for inspiration for your projects?

Everywhere and anywhere. At the moment I love looking to nature for inspiration. I don’t just mean floral patterns, but I look at the colours, textures and shapes. Nature is great at random, so I always try to bring some non-uniformity to designs.

Three pieces of advice for anyone who has just moved into a new home?

  • Live In It - If possible live in your house before you plan any major works. The house will tell what needs to be changed but you need to live in it first – this may not be possible but even if you have to change a few smaller items to make the new home habitable – its worth the effort.
  • Repaint - It will give the house a lift and probably a much-needed update. It will help make the home feel like it’s yours so you can relax and settle into your new home. Also have the home professionally cleaned which will make a big difference.
  • Make Introductions - Introduce yourself to your neighbour’s and view as many of their homes as you can. Don’t be afraid to ask if you can look at their homes, it’s amazing how helpful people are especially when it comes to showing your any improvements they have made.

Your favourite room in your home?

The kitchen. It’s the centre of our house, the kitchen is the engine of the home, where you fuel your family. The kitchen is where we live, eat and interact with the people you love most in the world.

Whether it’s in the morning with the kids, the evening with my wife, or with friends at the weekend. The kitchen is my favourite space in a house.

What are the interior trends to avoid, in your opinion?

Minimalism - it’s just not a realistic liveable style, and you will constantly be tidying up and cleaning. Don’t get me wrong I love neat a tidy spaces but they do have to be practical.

There has been a big plastic free initiative for homeware and products this year. What can people do to minimize plastic consumption in their home?

The use of plastic itself is not the problem. The problem is that we throw it away too much plastic. Single use plastic should be avoided at all times - this is the real problem. Obviously avoid plastic bottles and containers if you can, but if you do use plastic make sure it is not single use.

Tell us a bit about Grand Designs Live – the link between the event and the show. What can people expect?

GDL is the perfect place for anyone planning, thinking about or up to their necks in a self build project. The TV show inspires people to dream and the live show helps people realise those dreams. The show is not just about self build, you can be inspired to change just 1 room through the Grand Designs interior room sets. Or inspired by the Smart home section to adopt new technologies. There is something for everyone which is why its such a great way to spend a day.

You have everything under one roof - experts, suppliers and talks that give you more of an insight into what it takes to deliver projects. Everyone is here to help so it does present a unique opportunity.

Grand Designs Live is on at Birmingham's NEC Arena from 10th-14th October. Tickets are available to buy from