Guest Post: Daniel Hopwood Presenter of The Great Interior Design Challenge

Now over the Christmas break, some of you suggested that I could hand over the keys of The Mad House to someone else occasionally. For a change of pace. And I thought that was a good idea but who? Who would I trust with the keys? Someone with expertise clearly. Someone who knows stuff. Someone… professional. And I thought that you wouldn’t want just any old person. So, in the first of a new monthly series of guests to The Mad House, I would like to introduce you to the interior designer and television presenter Daniel Hopwood.


Currently judging – alongside Kelly Hoppen –  The Great Interior Design Challenge on BBC2 (tonight at 8pm and also on Wednesdays and Thursdays this week and next week), Daniel is also a Director of the British Institute of Interior Design and has run his design practice Studio Hopwood for the last 20 years. A specialist in contemporary design, he tutors at one of the London Design Schools and believes passionately that good design should be accessible to all.

Today he is going to tell us about five things he has done in his own home which will hopefully give you all some insider tips and ideas for your own. He bought it as a wreck and has worked to create a light-filled and airy one bedroom apartment. He is full of good ideas for small spaces so listen up those of you who have similar issues.



It is hard to keep a room looking tip top as there is always something that needs repairing. To keep on top of it you need to create a snagging list which you keep in an accessible location and tick things off as you go along. There is nothing more satisfying than being able to tick everything off. Put everything on it from replacing spot lights with LED to filling cracks and painting the bedroom ceiling, which always refreshes a room.


My flat has huge windows and it would have been too expensive to have curtains. So instead I used swathes of inexpensive voile – using a lot of one thing adds instant glamour. However, you can never have enough glamour so I went one step further and fitted a pelmet the full length of the room to conceal the header tape. That still wasn’t enough though so I fixed LED tape along the back of the pelmet which gives a warm glow along the voiles and almost transforms them into expensive curtains at night. It cost so little to do but gives a sense of luxury and we all need that in our lives.

I have made a large headboard that fills the wall covering both the bed and the side tables. It makes my rather small bedroom feel a lot bigger and gives the room that hushed, padded feel. It’s also simple to do; I covered panels of plywood in foam and fabric which I stapled at the back. Then I hung each panel on the wall behind the bed. I do like a layered look as it adds depth and personality. I achieved it by hanging an old convex mirror over the headboard.


You might also have noticed that I have a pair of Ikea tables on either side of the bed. I love Ikea but make sure you blend it with other furniture and customise it if you can.

Don’t be afraid of colour – even experiment a little by clashing them as I have done here with an emerald rug and an orange throw. It adds drama. Many interior designers say that if the budget is small then go for colour as it has such a big impact and distracts the eye from the places where you had to save money.


I tend to regard colour as jewels that need a good setting. I like to use both colour and pattern but with a darkish, neutral background to set it all off.

You can see from this that although I live in a small flat I see no reason why it can’t have a sense of comfort and luxury. For me the fashions of the 1950s are great inspiration. I love photos of elegant women in Dior wearing gloves with a lush bracelet on top. And yes I know that was not the grim reality of the 1950s but they, like us, loved a bit of escapism.

These images inspire me in the work I do today. Here I have had some fun by taking the mirror down to the basin and fitting the taps on top of it. It’s my interpretation of the lady in the gloves. Practical? Not hugely, but glamour never is.


 To read about Daniel’s New Year resolutions for his home – with lots more tips and tricks you can go here.

I hope you have enjoyed the first Guest Poster for The Mad House. Come back next month to find some more insider tips from a very glamorous television presenter (and no it’s not Kelly).

Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Huge thanks, Kate, for all the info and for taking the time to reply ! Very much appreciated. Thank you again . J. x

  2. Hi Kate, Have already posted on this gorgeous flat – but , I meant to ask, could you tell me who designed Daniel Hopwood’s sofa please ? Any idea ? I’m looking for one just like that ! Thank you, Kate .

  3. Excellent guest post! 🙂 I like Daniel’s idea about stretching the headboard well beyond the width of the bed… a bit like hanging curtains well beyond the width of the window, I suppose!? Will be remembering that!


  4. Thank you for sharing – such great practical tips. The apartment is just so calm, restful and luxurious.

  5. I love the picture he paints of himself stapling fabric and foam to OSB board and then hanging it on the wall. My vision is completed with him wearing Dior gloves and bracelet while doing it! Great article, Daniel is a true inspiration, stylish gent and all round lovely man. (But Shhh… I still don’t believe he upholsters his own headboards!)

  6. Loved watching last weeks episodes and will be hooked again this evening! Sorry it’s not Kelly next month, how about going all out and seeing if you can interview Kevin McC!!

  7. Absolutely love everything in your beautiful apartment – elegance, grace, restraint, luxury and glamour …..Fabulous !

  8. Thank you for sharing the details. I am addicted to the Great Interior Design Challenge from which I also get tons of ideas.

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