TV presenter Julia Kendell is a woman on a mission

PUBLISHED: 16:16 27 June 2014

Join Julia at a design master class in Marlow

Join Julia at a design master class in Marlow


Interior designer and TV presenter Julia Kendell is sorting out her own life, sorting out our homes and finding lots of shared laughter along the way, 
Jan Raycroft discovers

Now this is a lady after my own heart. She wants us to pick drills and have a go, and to learn that what look like complicated and clever interiors are within reach when you just know where to start and follow simple plans.

What’s more, she is determined to peel back a lot of the ‘smoke and mirrors’ (while keeping the mirrors, which we’ll come to) behind apparently high end design style.

“Just look at some of the photos you see in glossy magazines,” she says. “Perfect walls, huge amounts of space, no wonder it all looks magnificent!” Then she shrieks with laughter: “Oh no, you are a glossy mag, what am I saying? The truth is that for most of us our homes are like us, 5ft 1inch and dumpy, not the equivalent of catwalk models. We have normal-sized rooms, with standard height ceilings.”

It’s a giggle we can share because this magazine, while sharing the finest treats with readers, likes to talk local, look local, and has an editor too short to reach the top shelves of Waitrose and so often forced to borrow someone else’s lanky husband to gather up Heston’s latest creations.

Julia can’t mend that dilemma, but her mission to empower women is in full swing with the launch of one and two-day master classes in interior design. The first one is at Danesfield House, Marlow, on 21 June. Expect lots of fun, plus lunch and snacks along the way as she demystifies spatial planning and how to survey a room, use of colour to create the right mood, creative lighting techniques and how to put together a professional mood board. Classes are limited to 12 people so everyone also gets a chance for one-to-one time with Julia.

Most of us have got to know Julia through the BBC’s hugely popular DIY SOS (she will be filming another episode later this year), and ITV’s successful lunchtime show 60 Minute Make-Over, including the new-look show presented by Peter Andre.

She also hosts live seminars at the National Home Improvement shows each year and is proud of the fact that she’s the only female TV interior designer who can actually tile a bathroom, hang wallpaper, put a shelf up, or make something fantastic out of a piece of MDF.

All of this has come about because she’s spent much of her adult life tackling numerous hurdles, including being a single mum of two at just 25 (she shared a poky terraced house with another mother in the same predicament and their four children). “I don’t really know how I coped in the early days. It was very stressful and I spent five years clinging on by my fingernails,” she admits.

She’s now a grandmother, to Winter Lily, but looks nothing like anyone’s ‘Nana’, has survived a sticky long-term relationship break-up, recent – and wrong – tabloid gossip that she was involved with Dragons’ Den millionaire Duncan Bannatyne (they were pictured together at a couple of celebrity events), and is now rebuilding her life in a rented home in Burchetts Green. And there’s a new man in her life, James, and everything is going wonderfully there.

But what she really wants, after many years spent living in Henley is: “My own home. Somewhere I can grow vegetables and have my chickens. I’ve got someone else looking after them for now, but it will be wonderful to have them back with me.”


Julia Kendell’s courses

Fancy spending a day or two with Julia? Find our more about her courses in both Marlow and London at


My favourite places

Shopping - Lots of Living, a new interiors shop in Duke Street, Henley, is fabulous. You can’t go wrong in Marlow, either, there’s such a good selection of shops.

Eating treats - The Crooked Billet in Stoke Row always hits the spot and I can’t resist the Giggling Squid restaurants in Marlow and Henley.

Family days out - I don’t think you can beat Odds Farm at Wooburn Common. Children love seeing all the farm animals close up. We are really lucky to have attractions like this in our area.


Julia’s Five Top Tips

It’s amazing how energizing and spacious a room can feel once re-decorated, but there are several improvements that can be made without embarking on a full-scale refurb project. These are my tips, based on interior design theory and tricks of the trade, to maximise the feeling of light and space in a room.

1 Consider pruning back or removing trees, bushes or other structures outdoors that might be obstructing natural daylight entering the room. Even dark foliage under a window will reduce the amount of light into the room. Paving immediately under a window will help to bounce light though the window.

2 As texture absorbs light, reduce the amount of fabric at the window. Even if the curtains are stacked off the window they will still consume natural daylight. For maximum light without compromising on privacy, install shutters or blinds, opting for white, light-coloured or pale timber finishes.

3 Replace carpet with solid flooring for the same reason. Even a dark timber will make a room appear much larger than a light, shaggy carpet. As a compromise, and to achieve a contemporary look, choose a carpet with a very low pile or ‘solid’ feel (such as a ‘rib’). The more texture, ie the longer the pile, the smaller the room will appear and the light levels lessen.

4 Choose reflective surfaces to bounce light around the room. Flat, glossy, mirrored and glass furniture and wall finishes will reflect most light. Consider skim-plastering a textured ceiling and crumbly or pitted walls to provide as flat and light-reflective a surface as possible.

5 Colours with the shortest wavelengths in the visible spectrum, e.g. lilac, blue through to green give the appearance of making any surface painted in these colours appear more expansive and recede into the distance. Colours from the opposite end of the spectrum, red through orange and yellow, have the opposite effect and any room painted a ‘warm’ shade will feel smaller as a result.

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