Interior Design Masters exit interview: Ash Appleton

interior design masters with alan carr series 5 ash
Interior Design Masters exit interview with AshBBC/Darlow Smithson Productions

Ash Appleton from London is the second to leave the new series of BBC's Interior Designer Masters.

Team work failed to make the dream work for Ash, who toiled alongside Ben and Jess to transform a tired classroom at Chester Zoo into an Indian-inspired hideaway. Head judge Michelle Ogundehin, joined by interior designer and House Beautiful columnist Sophie Robinson as guest adjudicator, were baffled by the boat – Ben's idea – and disappointed that nothing hung happily together.

The second episode of Interior Design Masters 2024 sent the remaining nine aspiring designers off to work in groups of three to create schemes reflecting the wildlife of India, Brazil and Madagascar. Each designer was given a budget of £1,000.

Speaking exclusively to House Beautiful, interior therapist and blogger Ash, 57, (find her on Instagram @anafricaneye and visit her website says she was gutted to leave so early, but the experience has given her the confidence to put 'Africa modern' on the map.

What's the one thing you did well and not so well in your task?

I’m not going to say I did anything well, because what I did was all below my standards. There is no time to do anything. Also at this stage, you don’t really know the people you’re working with so you’re trying to skirt round each other.

Going out when I did was very disappointing, but it gave me an opportunity for personal growth. I am who I am irrespective of what I did on the show, and what I am is enough. I'm more confident now, I really know what I stand for.

interior design masters with alan carr series 5 ash
Ash, Ben and Jess transformed an old classroom into an Indian-inspired hideawayBBC/Darlow Smithson Productions

Michelle liked your hot pink stencilled wall. What inspires your love of colour?

My style, Africa modern, is about the energy of modern Africa: it's about joy and colour, it's bold and in your face. It's mixing metals and materials, it's dynamic and vibrant and it's about a sense of fun. It's showing the world that modern Africa is not just about mud huts or townships. It's busting the myths about African interiors, the colonial legacy, and how things looked in Out of Africa, all very romanticised with safari lodges. It’s about urban life and living in cities. I have a house in Nairobi too.

interior design masters with alan carr series 5 ash
Ashbrian siambi

Tell us one thing that goes on behind the scenes that viewers don't know...

The number of people involved in making the show, it takes a village. There are so many moving parts.

What surprised you most during this whole process?

How much everyone loves what they do: the sound guys, the production people, there is so much enthusiasm. It is very, very inspiring that they are so passionate about the show.

interior design masters with alan carr series 5 ash
Ash with her fellow IDM co-starsBBC/Darlow Smithson Productions

Do you think you have what it takes to be an interior designer?

Yes, I was a lawyer before, working for the UN, travelling the world, but people would always be asking my advice on what they should do with their homes, so I started my YouTube channel. I’m excited that I’ve finally found what I’m supposed to be doing.

I do think it's essential to have some sort of training to be a professional interior designer – I’m registered with continuing online training. People need to have confidence in you; their biggest investment they have is in their homes.

interior design masters with alan carr series 5 ash
A balcony with a view: colour adorns every area of Ashbrian siambi

What's the difference between an interior designer and an interior therapist?

My take is about helping people create homes that help them be the best version of themselves. Your home is your bedrock – you go to sleep there and you wake up there. Even if you have difficult living circumstances, your home has to serve as your sanctuary.

Time to manifest! Tell us, what do you think you’ll be doing this time next year?

I want to be gaining increasing prominence in the Africa modern interior design space, that's what I really want to be known for. I want to be the person occupying that space, the one people come to when they want to learn more. I would love to be involved with East Africa-inspired homewares, writing a book and appearing on TV.

• Interior Design Masters with Alan Carr airs Tuesdays at 8pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer

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