We don’t know if you managed to catch Channel Four’s latest ‘home’ makeover programme the other night, George Clark’s Amazing Spaces? Well, if you missed it, then it’s definitely worth checking out on 4OD. It was remarkable, not least because it was the perfect antidote to Grand Designs. Anyone can be smug and self-satisfied if they’ve got a bottomless wallet: throwing money at a project doesn’t make you creative. Amazing Spaces, however, gave us Grand Designs light: a programme where ordinary people with ordinary budgets try to get their foot on the property ladder or create their perfect holiday hideaway. Was it amazing? Well, the word amazing is all-too-often overused nowadays: we ‘Americanised’ the word. Everything is now ‘amazing’ it seems, even the extraordinarily mundane. Still, we’d have to concede some of the things we saw were truly amazing, particularly the traditional chesterfield sofa in the converted horsebox in Dorset. Who says you need pots of money to make a splash?
The idea behind the project is that architect George Clark embarks on a voyage of discovery and tracks down some amazing building and renovation projects across the country, where people have built or converted small and unusual spaces, and transformed them on minimal budgets into something remarkable. For instance, anyone who’s tried to get a foot on the property ladder in London will know it’s virtually impossible for first time buyers. Do you give up? Well, no you think outside the box and persuade the council to sell you a former underground public toilet to renovate. For the princely sum of £65,000, one architect turned a former Crystal Palace convenience into a stylish and stunning studio flat. Or you buy an old coach in the Welsh Borders, and spend £4,000 transforming it into a unique and beautiful holiday home. Punters will be queuing round the block to spend a weekend in that little beauty in Hay-on-Wye.
Our own personal favourite, however, was the converted horse box in Dorset. Granted it was pretty basic by most people’s standards, but it certainly had its appeal. Not only was it parked in a lovely tranquil location, but it had the most ‘amazing’ chesterfield sofa we’ve ever seen. Now we’ve seen chesterfield sofa beds and a chesterfield chaise before, but we’ve never seen anything like a chesterfield water tank in our time. You’d never guess to look at it that it was anything other than a traditional leather chesterfield sofa, except perhaps that it was sitting rather high. We just assumed it was sitting on a platform at first, but it transpired that the innards of the sofa had been removed to make room for the cold water storage tank that supplied the horse box. It still functioned as a sofa though, and looked like any other chesterfield settee: we guess you call it the world’s one and only dual-purpose chesterfield sofa.
In the coming weeks the cheerful Geordie architect will be visiting lots of other amazing spaces including a log cabin and a suspended tent amongst others. If the owners have managed to shoehorn a chesterfield sofa into a hanging tent, then we really will be forced to take our hats off and say, George – we salute you.