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Meet Banjo Beale: From Interior Design Masters to Designing the Hebrides

Australian-born Banjo Beale rose to fame after winning the Interior Design Masters in 2020, but his interest in interior design began when he was a child. Since his victory, Banjo has taken on various new challenges, including becoming a judge on Scotland’s Home of the Year, publishing his forthcoming book Wild Isle Style, and hosting his own show, Designing the Hebrides on BBC Two.

Banjo Beale

Banjo’s love of interior design stems from his fascination with getting to know his clients and creating schemes that go beyond their wildest dreams. His personal style incorporates deep, saturated colours mixed with relaxed rattan, faded terracotta, and time-worn antiques, all while adding a wow factor to every room.

Travel and location play a crucial role in Banjo’s designs. He finds inspiration in nature everywhere he goes, and his schemes incorporate the wild, from rural textures to botanicals. Being Australian and living in Scotland has also influenced his style, creating a mix of relaxed, coastal cool and warm, toasty tones.

Designing the Hebrides follows Banjo as he revamps amazing spaces in wild locations, such as a castle turret, lighthouse cottage, gin bar, and both. The show highlights the challenges of designing in a remote location with limited resources, wild weather, and hard-to-reach locations, making it a hilarious, anxiety-inducing rollercoaster ride.

Banjo’s most special project is the bothy on the Isle of Ulva, where he transformed the unloved building with zero budget, zero transport, and only two days during a hurricane at the start of winter.

He enjoyed it so much that his dream project was to build a faded but glamorous hotel in Kolkata, India.

Banjo Beale’s journey in interior design is proof that saying yes to everything, no matter how wild or scary it may seem, can lead to remarkable adventures and endless possibilities, Here’s what he had to say:

Banjo, it’s a pleasure to chat with you Firstly, congratulations on your victory in Interior Design Masters last year! Can you share with us what you have been up to since the show ended?

After the show, I decided to just say yes to everything, no matter how wild or scary it seemed. I went into Interior Design Masters with a dream of becoming an interior designer and it came true! Along the way, I somehow added TV judge (on Scotland’s Home of the Year on BBC Scotland), author of a forthcoming book Wild Isle Style (out in October) and host of my very own show, Designing the Hebrides on BBC Two.

Has your interest in interior design been a lifelong passion or did it develop over time?

I loved rearranging my mum’s living room when I was a wee boy. I’d do it every Sunday and I’d always have to return it to how it was at the end of the day. But I loved playing around and painting my room every season. I grew up on a race track in a very small town in the Australian outback so we didn’t really know interior design was a career path. Then I moved to a really small island in the middle of nowhere in Scotland so naturally, I applied to go on the nation’s most popular interior design show to launch a career.

What do you find most enjoyable about the art of interior design?

Getting to learn about a client, like, really learn about them, their hopes and dreams, who they are and how they want to live and create a scheme beyond their wildest dreams. I love the thrill of the hunt too, sourcing gorgeous one-of-a-kind antiques from Swedish folk cabinets to one-metre-high giant verdigris copper lanterns from the 18th century.

Does travel and location play a part in your designs and how does this inspire you?

I’m inspired by nature everywhere I go and all of my schemes incorporate the wild, from rural textures to botanicals. I also think being Australian, and living in Scotland, my wandering, wayfaring eye creates a mix of relaxed, coastal cool from the Antipodes to the warm, toasty tones of the Hebrides.

Can you describe your personal interior design style? Have your tastes changed over time?

My style is cool, calm and collected. I love saturated, deep colours like forest green velvet or masala mohair, mixed with relaxed rattan, faded terracotta and time-worn antiques. Always with a wow piece, whether it’s an oversize, reclaimed light moment or a contemporary piece of furniture that pops against the old.

We’re thrilled to hear about your new show, Designing the Hebrides. Can you provide some insight into the show’s concept?

It picks up where Interior Design Masters left off. After the final, I decided I wanted to launch my design business on Mull, an island in the inner Hebrides of Scotland. It’s a wild and remote place, perched on the edge of the Atlantic – quicker to get to Iceland than London. The show follows me as I do up amazing spaces in wild places, like a castle turret, lighthouse cottage, gin bar and a bothy, which is a refuge for trekkers and fishermen, two hours walk from the nearest road.

Designing a project in such a remote location sounds like quite a challenge. 

The entire show is one big adventure (and misadventure). Living on an island forces you to be resourceful. We have no real shops to find interior bits and one very sparse hardware store, so you have to be really organised or make it yourself. I’m not organised so that’s a recipe for disaster. Or a good TV show. Through in wild weather, hard-to-reach locations, where a small boat or two-hour walk is the only route in and straight-talking locals who don’t mind telling me what I’m doing is rubbish, and you have a hilarious, anxiety-inducing rollercoaster of a show

Of all the spaces you have designed, which one holds the most special place in your heart, and why?

The bothy, located on the Isle of Ulva, was a special experience. The island was purchased by the locals (from private ownership) and is home to only 8 people. They asked me to help regenerate the island and do up this small cabin so they could start making money and attract tourists. We had two days, zero money and no transport so we had to be really clever, use only what we could find on the island and complete the work during a hurricane at the start of winter. 3 of us working on the bothy along with two camera crew camped and built on top of each other for two days to completely transform the unloved building. I couldn’t believe the results.

If you were given the opportunity to design any room or space in the world with an unlimited budget, what would be your dream project?

I’d love to build a hotel in India. The sights, sounds and colours are beyond spectacular. My husband and I have spent a collective year living out there. It would be in Kolkata, an often forgotten and underestimated city. Fragrant Bengali food, colonial architecture, yellow cabs that look straight out of 1950’s New York and miles and miles of marigold markets would be the backdrop to a faded but glamorous hotel that would attract gangsters, grannies, rockstars and fashion designers.

We hear that you’re currently writing a book. Could you tell us a bit more about what to expect from it?

It’s called Wild Isle Style. It’s inspired by living on an island and is a roadmap to creating authentic and resourceful interiors, that don’t cost the earth – the planet and the purse. It’s about embracing reclaimed, collecting, sourcing and curating treasure and celebrating characters who make wild interiors in magical places.

You’ve accomplished so much already with your TV show, a gorgeous coffee table book, and your designs for clients. What exciting projects do you have lined up for this year?

Amongst all of the crazy telly stuff and books, I have not forgotten my dream of being an interior designer. I have been working on two gorgeous, five-story Grade I listed townhouses in Bath that look straight out of Bridgerton; a farm shop on Mull and a seven-bedroom Grade II Jacobean Manor House in Wiltshire. I’ve had to build a team and I’m working with Amy Davies, my fellow finalist and now bestie to bring some of these spaces to life.

I’m also looking for a little more balance now the book and TV show is finished, so perhaps a holiday is in order too. I’m thinking of somewhere warm and tropical to thaw out after a long winter.

Banjo’s new show Designing the Hebrides is on at 8 pm on BBC Two on Wednesdays or you can watch the entire series on BBC iPlayer, brilliant just like him and well worth a binge!

Photography by Alex Baxter