5 Lessons we Learned from ‘Changing Rooms’

Distinctify, Country Living

Photography credit to Country Living

Hindsight is a very powerful tool. It’s arguably one of the most powerful tools, offering a degree of clarity that the heat of the moment simply can’t grasp. In the early noughties, we didn’t know it was a terrible idea to wear rara skirts over our jeans. Now we can see it in 2020. Who could have foreseen that Justin Timberlake’s 90’s curls would be considered a terrible look by 2018? In the late 90’s and early 00’s we couldn’t have known that trusting Linda Barker and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen with decorating houses was a fundamentally bad idea. For those of you lucky enough to have avoided it, ‘Changing Rooms’ was a staple of British television from 1996 to 2004, offering amateur decorators the opportunity to swap homes with a neighbour to redecorate. Guided by interior designers such as Anna Ryder-Richardson, neighbours were let loose on one another's houses for what was supposed to be home improvement, but frequently ended up doing the exact opposite. Just one look at Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s garish shirts should have told us enough about the man’s poor grasp of trends.

But alas, we were naive, it was the 90’s after all. We didn’t have to worry about someone immortalising our mistakes on an iPhone. Or so we thought. YouTube has come to serve as a shame platform for the Changing Rooms crew, where every terrible room is archived for the masses. And boy were they bad. Changing Rooms is a lesson in bad bedrooms, with obscure themes and horrible furniture, all topped off with the smiling face of DIY man Handy Andy. But lessons are there to be learned from, so here are things we learned to absolutely, categorically, never ever, do from Changing Rooms!

If it needs blowing up before you use it, then it belongs in a kids club...

Unless you’re a seven year old who bleeds Disney and wears Hannah Montana lip gloss that tastes like bubblegum, there is no excuse for inflatable furniture. None. Perhaps it was an attempt to hark back to sixties and seventies psychedelia, using spectral colours and hypnotic patterns, but we think we’ll give it a miss. Mila Kunis might have made the clothes on that 70’s show look cool, but nobody was lusting after the decor.

13 "Changing Rooms" Designs That Really Haven't Aged That Well, Distinctify
Photography credit to Buzzfeed

Alternatively, there is a way to do 70’s chic that doesn’t involve purchasing a foot pump or covering inevitable punctures with gaffer tape. Deep armchairs with walnut frames, like this Cooper chair, give you a sense of tasteful nostalgia as opposed to being smothered by vinyl and men in half unbuttoned shirts.

Distinctify, Cooper Armchairs
Photography credit to Distinctify

Pre raphaelite statues made of MDF are not conducive to romance…

We never thought this was a lesson that needed teaching, but then the imagination of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen knows no bounds. It’s quite astonishing that between the show creators, writers, directors and designers nobody queried the use of MDF as an appropriate marble substitute for statues. Come to think of it, it’s a shock nobody queried anything in this room. Nothing has ever been more unsettling than a four poster bed held up by naked ladies. Lighting all the candles in the world couldn’t make the atmosphere in this room anything close to romantic.

13 "Changing Rooms" Designs That Really Haven't Aged That Well, Distinctify
Photography credit to BuzzFeed

Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t require you having a Greek Adonis waving a fan for you while feeding you grapes to make a room romantic. All it requires is introducing soft textures that make you feel relaxed. According to a study by Travelodge, despite commonly associating red tones with love, they can be quite the libido killer. The abrasiveness of red can leave you feeling on edge and chaotic. Instead, try using a more limited palette that won’t overwhelm your senses. 

Romantic Bedroom Decorating Tips, Distinctify 
Photography credit to Spruce

It IS possible to get monochrome wrong…

The black and white combo is the oldest and most straightforward trick in the book. And yet Changing Rooms managed to get it all wrong. Have a look at this room: it genuinely looks like a Tron-themed escape room. And in case you were thinking that ‘it’s not that bad’, please note that the tiled pattern on the floor is actually just strips of electrical tape. Is it just me, or is anyone else starting to feel quite frightened of Charlie Chaplin?

House Plan Color, Distinctify

Photography credit to House Plan Color

The trick to making monochrome work, is to not overdo the black. Making white your base colour makes the room brighter, and allows you to experiment with darker accessories, adding and removing pieces until your home feels perfect. Mix monochrome with warm woody hues, to bring an element of nature into an otherwise industrial colour scheme.

Idea for living room: the living room in Scandinavian style, Distinctify

Photography credit to Hommeg

If you want to fight through shrubbery when you get up in the morning, go camping…

There’s introducing plants to your home decor. And then there’s this… Bonsai trees, orchids and cacti can be found in homes all across the country, but it’s possible this is the first and only time someone has attempted to hang them from the ceiling. Waking up in this room, you’d half expect Ant and Dec to appear as your alarm clock, revealing that you’re next to face a bushtucker trial.

13 "Changing Rooms" Designs That Really Haven't Aged That Well, Distinctify

Photography credit to BuzzFeed

We’re not denying that adding plants to your decor can look great, but try using them as accents rather than turning your room into a forest. It can help to recharge a room by adding natural elements such as plants. In the living room on coffee tables and even in the bathroom, plants reduce stress and enhance creativity by naturally filtering air pollutants. As an added bonus, it proves to your mother you can keep things alive for longer than a week.

Distinctify, Designer Furniture and Home Accessories

Photography credit to Distinctify

And please, please don’t display fragile accessories in precarious places...

We couldn’t possibly go without mentioning possibly one of the greatest TV moments of all time. Linda Barker attempts to display a contestants precious antique teapot collection on some free standing shelves, only for the inevitable to happen. The before and after shots from this episode ought to be framed and put in the louvre.

Changing Rooms Transformations, Distinctify
Photography credit to Heart


Photography credit to Heart

We think it's great to display accessories. Trinkets and things that reflect your own personality help to impress your character into your home. In fact, we think it’s so important to have your personality reflected in your belongings that we’d rather you didn’t come home to find them shattered under the weight of floating shelves. Instead, try out this coffee table which offers a sturdier way to show off the bits of you that make your house a home.

Riga coffee table, Distinctify

Photography credit to Distinctify

For all its faults, there is one thing we can be grateful to Changing Rooms for. The hero that is “Handy” Andy Kane. Our parting gift to you is his massively successful foray in music, ‘If I had a Hammer.’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxBabQ2kICU


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