The boys are back in town
at home’s editor, Rashmi, got up close and personal with the nation’s favourite decorating double act to find out what makes them tick’
So boys, where exactly did the two of you meet’ And who asked who out’
Colin: We met in a Glasgow night club called Bennets ‘ more than 21 years ago! Which is hard to believe considering we both look so young!
Justin: And it wasn’t a case of one of us asking the other out ‘ by a process of osmosis we just got talking and exchanged phone numbers. And the rest, as they say, is history!
What were your first impressions of each other’
Colin: I thought: ‘He’s a bit tasty.’ But he was with a crowd of friends and at first I couldn’t catch his eye. Eventually I bought him a drink (from memory it was a lager shandy ‘ he hadn’t discovered Champagne by that point!) and we just got talking. He made me laugh and that’s SO important. His dashing good looks were a bonus, but for me it’s always about the laughter.
Justin: I remember thinking that Colin looked like a male model with all that dark hair and broody, good looks. The moment I saw him I thought: ‘That’s the boy for me.’ Twenty-one years later I still haven’t shaken him off and I was proved right.
How do you find working together and being in a relationship’
Colin: We both love what we do so it’s never been a problem. After all, our work started as our hobby and that means we’re passionate about our careers. And anyway ‘ being in a relationship simply means we get to spend extra time together. God, do I sound like one of the Waltons’
Justin: Being together actually makes our job easier because we understand each other so well. After all, for everything that we do there’s always a second opinion! We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we always remember to give each other space ‘ I think that’s a major reason why we’ve lasted as a couple.
If you weren’t interior designers, what would you be doing’
Colin: I’ve always wanted to design a women’s clothing collection. So many successful fashion designers are men and ever since I was a little boy
I’ve been doodling away and creating a myriad of wonderful clothes; some outrageous, some very restrained. I’d also LOVE to be a travel presenter; that way I’d get to see the world and share it with everybody else. And blimey; being paid to wander the world’s most beautiful beaches can’t be a bad thing.
justin Ever since I was tiny, I wanted to act or sing. It wasn’t about being famous though, I just wanted to entertain. Doing what we do means we get to meet lots of interesting people and bearing in mind that Colin and I recently won ITV’s Celebrity Stars in Their Eyes, if I said: ‘Watch this space,’ would that be too much of a hint’ Let’s just say we WON’T be leaving interior design behind but we are currently working with some MAJOR record producers on some very exciting material!
What do you most like or enjoy about your job’
Colin: The before and afters! Whether it’s a wedding, a home makeover or whatever ‘ I just LOVE turning boring things into fabulous things. Being on TV is fun but it’s touching people’s lives that really makes it rewarding.
Justin: I love the travel. During 200 episodes of our BBC show Trading Up and 30 episodes of Ch5′s How Not To Decorate, we’ve been virtually everywhere. And while transforming literally dozens of homes on shows such as Million Pound Property Experiment and Real Rooms, we’ve seen every British domestic nook and cranny! But it doesn’t stop there ‘ while filming Trading Up In The Sun we trawled through some of the worst homes in France and Spain! Yup, we’ve been around.
What’s been your proudest moment’
Justin: Absolutely without a doubt, it has to be our achievements on the hit show Million Pound Property Experiment. The program ended up with audiences of nearly 5 million! But even more important than that was the fact that it was all real.
Colin: We started in a Birmingham house worth ’100K and finished in a Belgravia property worth ’1.25 million and, after paying the BBC back (with interest) the money borrowed to buy the houses, we gave every single penny of profit to Children in Need ‘ ’275,000 to be precise!
What has been your worst design disaster’
Without a doubt; SPONGING! In the 1980s it was a cheap and cheerful way of transforming space but we got carried away and sponged walls, doors, timber floors and furniture. Hell’s bells, we couldn’t stop! Our friends and family joked that they were scared to call by in case we sponged them too! These days, of course, we’re far more elegant and have learned to leave the sponge where it belongs; in the bathroom!
What makes you really angry’
Colin: People talking in the cinema. Which means that I can never go and see a film with Justin as he never shuts up.
Justin: Wastage. If the world could only learn to recycle then it would be a much better ‘ and much safer ‘ place for generations to come.
Who’s the decision-maker in your relationship’
Colin: I am.
Justin: I am.
Do you have certain traits that annoy each other’
Like we’re going to spill the beans and reveal our Achilles heels’ Yeah, right!
What nicknames do you have’
Colin: I often call Justin Lambchop!
Justin: He’ll always be Pooch!
Who’s best at DIY around your home’
Colin: Justin is a great detail painter ‘ he does all the cutting in and I do all the rollering. I guess I have a more mechanical mind so I’ll tackle plumbing or changing plugs but we both know our limitations. And anyway ‘ we’re much more into DFY: Done For You!
Who are your idols’
Justin: I worship at the altar of the great queen of interior design ‘ the goddess, otherwise known as Kelly Hoppen. As far back as I can remember she was always an inspiration. Her measured perfection and signature East Meets West style set her apart from her contemporaries. But my ULTIMATE idol is Simon Cowell. I’ve met him on several occasions and he appears honourable and supremely intelligent. He’s the master of his craft both in TV ‘bitching’ terms and in the music business. He ALWAYS tells it like it is! He should be immensely proud of what he does ‘ as I’m sure he is.
Colin: I’ve always adored Madonna. Her ability to listen to what’s going on in the music industry and then produce that which logically comes next is simply staggering. At nearly 48 she kicks the butts of girls half her age. And I admire Scottish hotelier Gordon Campbell Gray who taught me a whole load about hospitality when I was still a feature writer with The Glasgow Herald newspaper. Ken McCulloch is also a real inspiration. He launched the achingly lovely Malmaison boutique hotel chain and gave us The Columbus Hotel in Monaco ‘ one of my favourite Mediterranean bolt holes.
Of the celebrities you’ve meet, who’ve become firm friends and why’ both
We NEVER seek out celebrity. We’re as likely to make friends with those behind the cameras as we are with those in front. And besides ‘ the term ‘celebrity’ is an over used word. These days anyone can be famous via shows like Big Brother
but to be a true celebrity one must actually be good at something.
What’s your biggest fear’
both That we might never see the entire world! God, we LOVE to travel and can’t bear to think that we’ll miss something! On the domestic front, we also share an absolute blind terror of carpets in the bathroom ‘ they’re the work of the devil and harbingers of bodily drizzle and ooze. Yuk! Get rid!
What type of films do you like’ And when did you last get to the flicks’
Both It’s impossible to say exactly which type of film we prefer ‘ sometimes we want to laugh. Other times we want to cry. And sometimes we want to be scared witless by some new genre horror thriller like The Descent. In general terms we both like films that challenge our minds. We love to think and to analyse.
Colin: My favourite film of all time is Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.So beautiful and such a magnificently-filmed, tragic story.
Justin: My favourite film is undoubtedly Tony Scott’s The Hunger. It’s essentially a modern day vampire epic starring Susan Sarandon, Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie. I shiver just thinking about it. both We’d go to the movies every single day if we could manage it.
What’s your favourite food’
Justin: Thai, without a doubt. I just love those clean tastes. Now, if only I could manage to eat a few less green curries every month, maybe I could drop a dress size!
Colin: Italian food. Yup, as far as I’m concerned it’s a case of; bring on the pizza, serve up the pasta and dish up those tricolore salads. I thank God for my metabolic rate’
What would you choose to drink on a night out’
both ALWAYS Champagne, and ALWAYS Nicolas Feuillete. It’s a relatively young Champagne house but its maturity of ‘gout’ defies all of that. It’s a crisp and satisfying drink and a real brand to watch. One day, the entire world with be drinking NF and we’ll be saying: ‘We told you so!’ Yup, in the world of Colin and Justin, a day without Champagne is like a day without sunshine!
Where do you see yourselves in 10 years time’
both Together, in our 40s (yikes!) and still designing our way round the world on our perpetual and relentless mission of decorative beautification! Yup, improving the global housing stock, one desperate den at a time! And we hope to be saving home owners a FORTUNE via our recently-launched Housemouse online, home-selling service (www.housemouse.co.uk) which, if it rolls out as we plan it to do, will save the home-selling market billions of pounds annually. The premise is simple: ‘Why pay thousands in estate agency fees when we can help you sell your home for just ’145” We give you an online listing, we send you the garden ‘For Sale’ boards and the window posters and all you have to do is let the viewers roll in.
OK lads, choose one or the other and say why!
Paint or wallpaper’
Both! Saying that, wallpaper will probably be limited to accent or feature zones with good quality paint such as Crown providing the mood elsewhere.
Carpet or wooden floor’
Darling, that depends on the room. Carpets are good in bedrooms (Allied Carpets have particularly good ranges) but elsewhere we tend to opt for genuine wooden flooring by affordable companies such as Floors 2 Go.
Vintage or contemporary’
Usually a clever mix of both but we’re favouring the latter. Saying that there’s always room for a bit of nostalgia.
Garden decking or patio’
Hell’s bells, are we really going to be sitting on the fence again’ Decking, as long as it’s beautiful teak or a lovely example of Iroko.
And patio as long as we’re looking at purest white stone slabs or good quality marble.