Interior designer and TV personality George Clarke tells The Resident about his inspirations, the multi-generation homes of the future and going all ‘restoration man’ on his own Notting Hill home
Words: Jake Taylor
Since a teenager, George Clarke has been committed to creating new living spaces. And he’s making sure to remind everyone that just because he’s a famous face on television by virtue of his many shows, he’s certainly not forgotten his roots.
‘I’ve always had a passion to recreate and renovate,’ the 42-year-old says. ‘I’m not one of these presenters who’s been thrown into a show and told to look interested; I genuinely care about this stuff! Taking derelict things and turning them into something – since I first stepped onto a building site at the age of 16 – has been all I’ve ever wanted to do.’
In the 30 years since, Clarke’s emergence as a leading name in popular architecture has seen him travel the globe, from Sunderland to Hong Kong. He’s developed a reputation as an innovative designer, and even curated for himself a portfolio of celebrity clients that includes culinary whizz Jamie Oliver and pop mogul Simon Fuller.
He’s not just there to create spaces in which the rich and famous can live out their lives, however. For Clarke, there’s no difference between the multimillionaire’s mansion and the everyman’s residence.
‘Whether we’re rich or poor, the most important thing will always be that we love our home,’ he says. ‘That’s when we know we’ve succeeded. My programmes celebrate everything from the biggest space to the smallest. It’s about enjoying what we create – size doesn’t really come into it as long as what we have is practical, comfortable and gives us pleasure.’
For his own part, Clarke has settled in a 1910-built Notting Hill house. True to form, the ‘restoration man’ proceeded to gut the original interior and replace it with a modernised equivalent; the traditional Georgian interior, however, he kept. His idiosyncratic desire to put a personal spin on the property, Clarke says, should be the goal of any new homeowner, whatever their budget.
Putting a personal spin on the property, Clarke says, should be the goal of any new homeowner, whatever their budget
‘It’s all about being creative and efficient with any space,’ he explains. ‘That said, there is an interesting contrast in the way people regard their surroundings. Those who have space tend to view their houses in very traditional ways, mainly because of what they are told on the TV – so you must use these colours, or match this fabric with that piece of furniture. But if it is a smaller space, something personal, the rules go out the window.’
And the architect in him is championing the need to be ‘creative and efficient’, not just because he’s passionate for interesting and innovative design, but also due to the fact that the future of human society very much depends on it.
‘I believe that increased multi-functionality is really going to come to the fore over the course of the next couple of decades. We are going to start rethinking about how space is used and configured,’ he says.
The multi-generation home is something for the future
‘The multi-generation home is something for the future. With kids living at home for longer and grandparents remaining part of the extended family, getting everyone under one roof is an exciting way for families to be closer together.
‘People will be thinking more long-term too. Being constantly on the move is a waste of money – if you can stay where you are and expand or adapt what you have, it’s a much more stable way of living.
‘London is the classic example of that – it becomes very difficult to move around because everything increases at the same rate. So people stay put for longer and adapt what’s around them as their families evolve. It’s very clever.’