An exclusive interview with interior designer Banjo Beale

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The author, interior designer and judge of Scotland’s Home of the Year Banjo Beale sits down with H&IS to discuss all things style and design

words Catherine Coyle

Banjo Beale has had a busy few years. From hosting the hit BBC show Scotland’s Home of the Year to releasing his book Wild Isle Style and hosting Designing the Hebrides, he’s become an essential source for design inspiration, ideas and a few laughs along the way.

Here, Banjo Beale chats with Homes & Interiors Scotland editor Catherine Coyle about his design heroes, the items he could never give up and his favourite cocktail – amongst much more…


How has your style evolved? Moving to the Isle of Mull from North Queensland, I ditched my tropical, relaxed and whitewashed interiors for warm, rich and textured spaces.

What influences your style? Living on an island, with restricted delivery options and fewer shops, forces you to consider what you consume and how you approach renovating spaces. Being resourceful, reclaiming as much as you can, saving materials and rescuing furniture becomes your default, rather than just ordering the fastest, cheapest option online.

My style is cool, calm and collected, relaxed, with a sense of humour

Who is your design hero? I look to films and literature for my inspiration – world-builders like Wes Anderson, Roald Dahl and Yorgos Lanthimos, who create intoxicating, immersive and storied spaces that sweep you up in fantasy.

 

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What is your favourite building? A wee bothy on Ulva, an island off Mull, holds a special place. By definition, a bothy is a refuge or safe haven for farmers, fishermen or hikers, and this simple, rustic space is my happy (and safe) place. I was lucky enough to renovate it on my series Designing the Hebrides. It’s the cosiest spot to coorie into on a wild West Coast day.

Describe your dream home A simple, long box in a wild spot, with a patchwork of reclaimed windows and a library.

Island interiors that are typical of Banjo Beale style
Photography by Alex Baxter

What is your own home like? My style is cool, calm and collected, relaxed, with a sense of humour and full of treasures collected on my travels. I like deep, saturated colours, texture, patina and lots of natural materials. Plants bring it all together.

What makes a home? What I look for as a judge on Scotland’s Home of the Year is this: when I walk in, do I get a sense of who the homeowner is? A home contains parts of your past, parts of your present – things that reflect you. Good design is not about how much you spend or what you buy.

How do you relax? I love nothing more than bobbing up and down in a pool in a tropical setting, sipping a piña colada.

 

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How do you invest in yourself? Adventure inspires and fuels me. Antique shopping in far-flung places is my therapy.

Which iconic interior product do you wish you’d designed? Sitting is my favourite hobby, and I adore a chaise longue – every room needs one. It also doubles as a clothes horse, so truly multifunctional.

What should we be investing in right now? That antique you can’t stop thinking about.

Any objects you’d never part with? My clay bhar collection. My husband and I lived in India for a year and each day we sipped chai out of a clay cup, a traditional vessel which is normally thrown on the ground to return to earth. I would carefully wrap each delicate cup to add to my collection. I have 200 of them and they instantly transport me to this happy time.

What was the last thing you bought and loved? French flax linen bedding. Nothing beats climbing into washed linen. What are you sitting on right now? An Edwardian sofa in my clients’ grand drawing room in Bath, freshly upholstered in a gold tiger-print fabric.
Scotland’s greatest attribute is Nature. And its people. We’re spoiled with a wild landscape. But, for me, it’s the people – also wild, a little rough around the edges and never taking themselves too seriously.

Catch Banjo Beale on the next episode of Scotland’s Home of the Year 2024, available now on BBC One Scotland and iPlayer

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