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Television: How to Live Like Grand Designs on a Regular Human Budget

Love Grand Designs but can’t afford to build a concrete oasis? Alex Casey lists the top affordable style tips from the series premiere. 

Sunday night saw the premiere of New Zealand’s first ever Grand Designs, swapping out Kevin McCloud for Chris Moller and giant glass houses in England for concrete spaceships plopped in the middle of The Catlins. The first mighty project belonged to Lachlan, a charming Southern mystery man who can tend to a farm single-handedly as easily as he can drop a Coco Chanel quote.

I felt outrageously inspired by Lachlan’s ambition, but knew deep down, in my heart of hearts, that I will probably never have the time, money or inclination to build a futuristic parthenon in the South Island. I need to sort the mould in our cupboards first before I even think about where the hell a cantilever is going to go. Or, for that matter, what a cantilever actually is.

For those of you in a similar boat, I’ve plucked out some smaller, more affordable projects from the first episode that you can get to work on. Because everyone deserves a little bit of that Grand Designs luxury in their life.

1) Wear a thin scarf

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Chris Moller not only proved himself on Sunday as our calm local Kevin McCloud, but he wore an impossibly thin scarf for a South Island climate… on more than one occasion.

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Clearly choosing style over substance here, our man Chris isn’t afraid to break the rules and draw inspiration from places you’d least expect. This look is easy to achieve, just get your favourite old scarf and slice it into very thin strips with a mandolin.

2) Adopt this stylishly nonchalant attitude to the weather

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Move over Daniel Corbett, we’ve got a new weather lord in town.

3) Get your goggle on

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Get your goggles out to emulate this iconic cinematic look.

4) Bring back terminology from The Mask

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Don’t ever let anyone ever tell you that slang from iconic Jim Carrey 90s films aren’t cool anymore. Tune in next week when Chris Moller swaps the scarves for a Hawaiian shirt and kneeslides around the tradies saying “aaaaaalllrighty then.”

5) Hang up this sexy lady portrait

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This painting in the background threw me for a six, considering Lachlan’s otherwise coy attitude to his “wife project”. It’s a little glimmer of sensuality in an otherwise stark concrete jungle, and the only clue I have to support claims that Lachlan may be running an Eyes Wide Shut situation by the end of the year.

Want a sexy lady-in-the-sheets artwork for yourself? I have whipped us this hi-res replica – just print it out and bung it up with some blue tack. You buyin, Moller?

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6) Talk in animal-based riddles

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This one is also 100% free, and will astound your friends and family more than a rhinocerous taking a ferret to KFC.

7) Build a True Detective totem

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All you need is a scary Wicker Man dolly and a few antlers. Scare away the birds and – all going to plan – the people too.


Grand Designs airs on TV3 8.30pm Sunday, click here to watch the first episode

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