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Wednesday, 6 April 2022

The Great Home Transformation - Interview with Nick Grimshaw and Emma Willis

Tell us a little bit about The Great Home Transformation. What can we expect to see in the series?

Emma – Well you can expect lots of amazing home makeovers and you can expect Nick and I to really try our hardest to be good at decorating (laughs.) Actually, Nick is really good – no, I think we both excelled!

Nick – I agree. I was surprised actually at how good Emma was and how good I was I was too. I thought you'd be alright at it as you strike me as someone who would be quite patient (Emma – 'I love a bit of DIY!') but we went way beyond painting – we built, upcycled and repurposed things.

Emma – And really touching human stories.

Nick – I didn't think it'd be emotional but actually they were all kind of emotional in different ways. I think people were like 'oh my house is just annoying' but then when we'd solved their issues and made their homes work for them, they were really emotional at the reveals. I think it's really important when your home just works – it's like we'd helped to solve this massive problem that they had and didn't know where to begin so it was definitely emotional.

Emma – I did expect the emotion, but I didn't expect how much fun it would be. It's quite stressful when you're doing up a house and because we're also doing it in three days, it's a lot of work! It's a big team, everybody's on top of each other but it was really, really fun. Sometimes home makeovers can be a bit serious but ours was megalols.

Nick – We did have a proper good time doing the show, it was very fun. All of the families were really great – we met so many good people and so many funny characters.

Emma – They all had a really good story and reason for needing our help. There's a couple of stories in there that are really sad but the people them in just really lift it and make it so joyous. Even though they've faced really devastating things, they have such a fantastic mindset and optimistic outlook. It was also really nice to get out as well, be able to go somewhere for a few days and be sociable again!

And we hear there's a revolutionary, life-changing truck involved?

Nick – Oh my god, the truck! This massive truck rolls into town and that is a truck full of absolute wonder. Emma is in charge of the truck content, she's the truck driver…

Emma – I mean, the truck has got a big, big build up. I would have liked to have driven that truck actually! It's basically a massive 3D mood board. Alex (Dauley), who's our phenomenal interior designer – she has this big plan for each of the homes, she sits down and speaks to the families. It's not about changing it totally; she wants their input so that she can create a home the family genuinely want to live in and love. She has those chats, goes away, does her brilliant creative thing and then they create it in the back of the truck. Essentially, they are walking into a part of what they will see once they're back in their home. It's not everything, it's more like a live snapshot of what they're going to get.

Have you two worked together before? And would you do it again?!

Nick – We've hosted The One Show together before.

Emma – We have, and we were really good at it!

Nick – I love working with Emma, she's really good at her job and also really easy to go to work with, and fun. With a show like this, you're doing DIY which people find stressful, plus you're in someone else's house and we're filming for long days, so Emma was really fun to go to work with. We just laughed all day; it was great to work together.

Emma – We laughed and ate. A lot!

Although the families are involved in the design process, were the reveals still nerve-wracking? Any tears?

Nick – There were less worries because as Emma said, it was more about making the houses work for them so if they had problems with the functionality, or nowhere for their kids to do a certain thing, it became more like problem solving. You were nervous for them to like it because after spending a few days with people, even though you were only with them for a few days, we got really invested in them and their lives, and really cared about them. So, you really wanted them to like it, but nothing was put in that was traumatic that they'd absolute hate. There were no abstracts or teapots hanging down from the ceiling!

Emma – The only time we got a bit nervous was when we were working with the family in Harrow as they had very different tastes. He liked very minimal design with slightly cold tones, and she was more into warmth and vibrancy so that was Alex's job to merge those two things and make it perfect for both of them. But that was as kind of as nerve-wracking as it got really as it was about creating something the families wanted to live in.

Nick – Yes, that was definitely a nervy one. Also, there was one house we did – a family with two kids, an older teenager and a young child. We did a room for the teenager and I thought that was quite a nerve-wracking reveal because when you're a teenager, your space and your environment is so important to you. Getting it right for a teenager is tricky because you're like I don't hang out with the kid and I'm also not an adult. But she loved it! She was so great.

What do you think the heat mapping technology would reveal about your homes?

Nick – Actually, it did make me look at my house differently! We live in a terraced house with a lounge at the front, a little dining room and a ginnel kitchen. We had the little dining room as another lounge because we just eat in the kitchen, but it did make me think why we never sat in it or used it, so we ended up putting a dining table in it, not necessarily to eat but more for work. The room was kind of an annoying size – too small to fit a couch in because of where the door was so although I didn't have the heatmapping, even just witnessing it made me think that rooms not used.

Emma – It would detect lots of piles of shit everywhere, I think! Papers building up in various corners… I think very similar to Nick actually. There is one space in our house that is absolutely redundant so I've often thought what could I use it for? It's an open plan room so it's quite tricky – the living room is at one end of it and the other end is a fireplace and a couple of sofas. You think it'll be nice at Christmas but that's only one week!  

Nick – There's always that one space that you think, oh that'll be nice if we have a party!  But you need to use it every day, not just as a what if.

Nick, you are undertaking an amazing interior design project of your own at the moment. How's it all going? Emma, have you had an invite yet?

Nick – Oh yeah, Emma's not been round yet! It was during lockdown when we were in the house all the time, we actually thought 'do we like this room? Do we like our bedroom? Does it work.' No, it doesn't. So, we did it all in lockdown and it was the first time I've ever done anything in the house that just me and Mesh did all the logistics and project managing for. We got a builder in to do all the actual building work, but we did all the layout, the design, the logistics of everything arriving on time which was a lot more stressful and more of a skill than I realised! Now we're going to attempt the garden because it's minging and it's been minging for years. The fence has been falling down for about five years so that's our next project! And that's when Emma can come round.

What would you both consider to be the worst interior design crime?

Nick – Keeping anything too pristine or just not using your stuff.

Emma – A house that doesn't look lived in and looks like a showroom. It's not a crime but I find it massively unrealistic so when I see that, I feel like people like are throwing it in my face because my house is such a mess! Actually, it's not a mess, it's just lived in and I've got three kids. I'm also not a fan of something too clinical and cold.

Nick – I quite like clinical to look at, but not to live in. I quite like a clinical hotel room because I don't want a room with lots of things in that I wonder whether or not they've been cleaned! In your house you want it to feel like your life is everywhere, what you've been up to and what you're into is represented so nothing too done.

Has working on the show inspired you to be more adventurous with your interiors? Or put you off anything in particular?

Emma – It hasn't put me off doing certain things, but it has made me realise I still don't really know anything about putting things together from an interiors point of view. But it has helped me make friends with two people who are really, really bloody good at it. So now I know I can just pick up the phone and go Nick, what would this go with?! Alex, what shall we do about that?!

Nick – It definitely made me think I could have a go at things that I thought would have been too scary to do like a bit of tiling. It's made me want to make changes to my house, so I love every bit of it and am not just putting up with it.

Emma – With things like tiling, you always hear people say, you've got to get a good tiler. tiling's not easy, and it makes you think you shouldn't go near it. But then you watch it and you're like, I get it if you're doing something really intricate but if you're just laying tiles, then give it a go.

 Nick – I'm going to give it a go in the garden. A lot of the stuff you have to be quite patient for – I think it was easier doing it for someone else as you wanted it to be really nice for them, but you also needed to be quick.

Emma – We've only got a three day timeframe whereas in your own home, you're like 'oh I've done a bit today, I'll do a bit more tomorrow' then you find something else to do tomorrow and it ends up being three months later, or in my case, six years!

What can we expect to see from Alex Dauley, the resident interior designer, and Tim Hitchens, the resident craftsman? 

Emma – Fun, frolics and very great craftsmanship.

Nick – They're both great fun and brilliant at their jobs. They're so skilled and proper grafters, they just get on with it.

Emma – They're really down to earth, incredibly relatable, just the kind of people that you want to be mates with, go out for dinner, sit down and have a laugh.

Nick – And make them do your house.

Are they both now on speed dial?

Emma – Yes! Alex has been over already and Tim's coming over next week.

What can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects?

Nick – I'm going to be doing more Celebrity Gogglebox with Liv.

Emma – And I've got more Cooking With The Stars.


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