Design reality show with Jamie Durie as host to debut here

Jamie Durie.
Jamie Durie.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

The medium is relatively cheap and can change the mood of a room, says show host Jamie Durie

Remodelling a house on a tight budget and schedule is a challenge for many home owners, but award- winning designer Jamie Durie has a quick fix.

Paint, he says, is the solution.

"It is the most powerful tool in a designer's toolbox," says the Australia-born designer, as paint is relatively cheap and can change the mood of a room instantly.

"Paints aren't what they used to be. I'm not just talking about colour, which in itself can do so many things. Paint now can have a textured finish, a sheen to it; or you can choose metallics. It's a fairly sophisticated medium now."

The 46-year-old knows a thing or two about decorating, having hosted 52 design shows and authored 10 best-selling books such as The Outdoor Room and Edible Garden Design.

Some might have strength in architecture, which helps when they are building things. But then there are others who have strength in areas such as fashion and they are more courageous when it comes to designing.

JAMIE DURIE on the different strengths of contestants in The Apartment: Rising Stars Edition. He hosts, judges and mentors the contestants in the reality interior design show

His latest gig is the reality interior design show, The Apartment: Rising Stars Edition. The 10-episode show pits 12 contestants from Asia and Australia against one another to design different spaces. The winner gets $100,000.

Now in its fifth season, the show, which was filmed in Johor Baru, premiered on Sony Channel (StarHub TV Channel 510 and Singtel TV Channel 316) on Thursday.

Durie, who has been on the show since the first season, wears multiple hats: He is host, judge and mentor to the contestants during their challenges.

Joining him on the judging panel are flamboyant head judge, British interior designer Laurence-Llewelyn Bowen, who serves up witty quips; and American television personality and designer Genevieve Gorder, who brings a touch of glamour.

Durie, who was in Singapore last week to promote the show, says The Apartment: Rising Stars Edition proves that anyone can decorate a home. The contestant line-up includes Singapore-based actor Paul Nagaoka, who is a former real estate investor; and Ms Cara Ditta-In, a club manager from Thailand.

He says that even the amateur contestants, who work in other fields and have little interior design experience, have brought fresh ideas to each challenge.

"Some might have strength in architecture, which helps when they are building things. But then there are others who have strength in areas such as fashion and they are more courageous when it comes to designing."

Expect the claws to come out, right from the get-go.

In the first episode, the contestants were put into teams of three to design a bedroom to fit the theme, Age Of Romance. Feathers were ruffled when a team hoarded wood panels and furniture was delivered to the wrong team.

"It's dog-eat-dog out there," says Durie. "They are highly competitive and they want to win at any cost."

But it is not all catty behaviour. Durie lets on - spoiler alert - that two contestants fall in love in later episodes.

The entertainment value aside, Durie says interior design reality shows still appeal to viewers as they offer "free, fresh ideas" for renovations, especially when they want to have a go at decorating.

Durie, who received the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2013 for services to the environment and design, is all for home owners doing "D-I-Y design" in place of hiring an interior designer to plan their spaces.

The bachelor, who splits his time between Sydney and Los Angeles where he has homes and runs his offices from both cities, says: "Not everyone can afford (an interior designer). But with these shows, people feel empowered that they can do it on their own.

"These days, it's a way of putting your own stamp on your home. What you have in your home tells people who you are."

•The Apartment: Rising Stars Edition airs on Sony Channel (StarHub TV Channel 510 and Singtel TV Channel 316) on Thursdays at 7.55pm.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 18, 2017, with the headline 'Paint a new look'. Print Edition | Subscribe