Grand Designs is a DIY programme.
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In a brand new series, Kevin McCloud follows six households on an extraordinary mission - to completely re-design and redecorate their homes from top to bottom. This is interior design for real - real people spending real money on their own dream designs.
Each programme follows a single project, and Kevin is there at every step. He listens to their design ideas, witnesses the trauma of every decision and takes them on ideas raiding trips to inspirational interiors. Over the series, he meets a young banker in London converting his flat in the Barbican into a '70s fusion of Pop and Zen, whose budget spirals out of control; a couple in Cheltenham stripping out the horsebrass-heavy pub look they inherited in favour of a dreamy Medieval style inspired by castles and cathedrals; a couple in east London lovingly restoring a Georgian house to its former glory; and even Damien Hirst, who creates a Shaker retreat in his back garden..
Attempting to rebuild, furnish and decorate a home from scratch on a very tight budget is the stuff that nightmares are made of. Nick and Ann Curtis are a brave couple from Sunderland who are about to undertake such a task. A year ago they saw a disused electricity sub-station in a quiet suburban street. They decided they had to have it - and - £35,000 later had a shell, but they knew exactly what to do with it. A few years ago Nick brought Anne a book on Moroccan interiors and she fell in love with the style immediately.
"Morocco" has hit the high-street in a big way - but what looks good in a glossy magazine does not always translate so well to the dull, grey skies of England. Kevin is concerned, not only at the scale of the task that the Curtis' have set themselves but also that the final outcome may look out of place and disappointing. "It's a very long journey they've got ahead of them," he says. "It's a long way from Sunderland to the Sahara."
Their plans are spectacular. The original building consisted of a single level with a central tower, but the Curtis' want to convert this simple shell into a family home comprising living room, kitchen, double height dining room with balcony and four upstairs bedrooms. And the budget? Just £50,000, which must include not only the building work, but the interior decoration as well - not much to realise the house of their dreams. But what Nick and Ann lack in finance they certainly make up for in passion and energy.
They estimate that the work will take eight months. But the build seems to be going on forever. And they can't live in the place in the meantime so the whole family is squashed into a caravan onsite. Nick is project managing the whole thing, and holding down his job as a policeman. Ann is working full-time, the kids have to get to school, and do their homework in the caravan. Money is very tight - life for the family is going to be very tough for the next few months. The living arrangements and the sheer scale of the task begin to take their toll. But at the lowest ebb, a trip to the Morocco 2000 exhibition and the fashionable Momo's restaurant provides a much needed shot of inspiration, and our intrepid couple rush back to Sunderland, their enthusiasm recharged and brimming over with new ideas.
But ten months later the family are still living in the caravan, they've gone over their budget and tempers are starting to fray. Will this former sub-station turn out to be the Moroccan paradise they dreamed of or have they started on something they simply cannot finish?