Bold & beautiful:
Flamboyant UK TV personality Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, who recently joined the team on Aussie reno show House Rules, says it’s time to ditch ideas of good taste and have some fun, writes Robyn Willis
UK designer says it’s time for some fun
Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen must get invited to a lot of parties. Really, it’s a no-brainer to ask along someone who is this much fun to hang out with.
The UK interior designer and latest judge to join Channel 7’s House Rules team has built his reputation on, not just tossing out the rule book, but tearing it up into small pieces and burning it. But to pull off the kind of flamboyant style he is known for, you need to know what you’re throwing aside first.
“That’s the tradition I come from, that universal sense of good taste, that is what I am trained in,” he says. “I am Jedi in that s***. So it allows me to be entirely comfortable in subverting it.”
Living la vida local
This is Laurence’s first visit to Australia, and he’s in love. Having worked with celebrity landscaper Jamie Durie on The Apartment, an Asian reality TV show based on design challenges, he is embracing the unique environment that is Australian design.
“One of the things no one warned me about was that Sydney has such beautiful 19th century architecture,” he says.
“The Anzac memorial at Hyde Park is a moving and beautiful monument. My jaded European eyes now see Gothic architecture under an azure sky, not under the grey skies of Manchester.
“I am really irritating my wife Jackie because I’ve started looking at real estate.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, he is a fan of the work of Australian textiles designer Florence Broadhurst, whose vivid colours and patterns first came to prominence in the 1970s.
“People tend to look back at the ’60s and ’70s as the heyday of Australian design and when you do your research you see some extraordinary things from that era. There was a confidence and a conviviality to Australian home design which has been missing in recent years.”
Instead, he says, we have become shackled to concepts of good taste.
“A tastemaker like Florence Broadhurst would drive a multicoloured dumper truck through that attitude,” Laurence says.
And while some European design lovers might laugh off our relatively brief architectural history, Laurence says we’ve certainly made up for the late start, particularly when it comes to our legacy of mid-century design.
“Where Australia scores is in its midcentury design heritage,” he says.
“The big shock in a Georgian terrace is that most owners want it furnished in mid-century furniture. And Australia is top of the heap.”
Make it your own
Laurence argues that our homes should be a reflection of our own tastes and personalities, rather than being driv-
en by the whims of the real estate market.
“When the value of your home increases, people become unbelievably boring as a way of safeguarding the value,” he says. “Who cares how much a house is worth? It’s up to you to express who you are.”
Just as importantly, he says, don’t be afraid of dancing to the beat of your own drum.
“Your home should be as crazy and ghastly as you are,” he says. The fifth season of House Rules is currently showing on Southern Cross Television.