ON THE HOUSE
RULES JUDGE LAURENCE LLEWELYN-BOWEN ON WHY HE NEVER PLAYS IT SAFE
You won’t miss Laurence LlewelynBowen on the new season of House Rules. Just as his wardrobe overflows with well-tailored suits in flamboyant fabrics, there’s no containing this judge’s charisma.
While he says he can reveal “absolutely nothing at all” about Gold Coast team Aaron and Daniella, he did mention the unlucky entrants who renovated their home were stuck with the fallout from Tropical Cyclone Debbie.
“Each stage is designed in extreme spaces with the most extraordinary time restraints and conditions, not to mention the cyclone – the cyclone coincides exactly with one team’s outside phase of the challenge,” Laurence says.
“I don’t think anyone in any way can predict who will win. One of the most extraordinary things is the turnaround.
“Every challenge there is a tectonic shift, people are going to be amazed by how constantly changing the pecking order is.”
As you can imagine, Laurence is not a fan of sedate “showroom” style.
“I’m very tough when I feel people are playing it safe, doing a show home, that’s not the point,” he says.
“We live in a really scary world, a really, really scary world. When you close your front door that tiny corner of the planet is yours. It reflects you, it’s your shrine, your icon, your jewel box.
“It doesn’t make sense to throw away that gift, by decorating beige because the neighbours do or you feel you have to. I have no bourgeois commitment to one sort of decorating over another.
“I want to look into the hearts of the contestants and help them do what they want to do, but better.”
Judging someone’s personal style can be sensitive ground to tread, especially when it comes to selfexpression, but that’s why Laurence is perfect for the job.
“Our job as the judging panel is to help contestants explore what they’re capable of,” he says.
“The show really creates a perfect storm for teams to express themselves, and sometimes that means smashing a few eggs to make an omelet.
“I’m so surprised, delighted and excited by what some of these teams have already achieved in global design terms. A couple of the interiors will be inspiration for, not just Australia, but the rest of the world.
“I had always hoped by using amateurs they wouldn’t follow the same well-beaten track ... they are capable of huge leaps of creativity and originality.”
If amateurs are producing such high standards of design, though, what does that say for industry professionals who have dedicated their life to the art?
“Obviously the principle effect is on the audience. Everybody’s home is going to be looking very different in a year because of this series,” Laurence says.
“It’s entertaining but also a great way of getting those aesthetic ideas.
“When Changing Rooms launched 20 years ago in the UK it totally changed the design landscape. It meant that design was no longer a pursuit of the wealthy or influential.
“I hope the effect on designers will be to precipitate a massive step up in sophistication and elegance in high-street design.
“I think as a result of seeing how mainstream prime-time television audiences have become so design literate, professional designers will step up their own game.”
House Rules season five, coming soon to Channel 7
Judges Drew Heath, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and Wendy Moore will be setting the standard when House Rules returns to our screens.