Box room ideas from Grand Designs Live - Grand Designs Magazine
Grand Designs Live box room competition

Box room ideas from Grand Designs Live 2021

The Great British Box Room Competition is back! Check out the finalists' entries here...

By Victoria Purcell |

Stuck for box room ideas? Most houses have that one tiny bedroom, and many homeowners are at a loss as to what to do with them. That’s why Grand Designs Live has launched the Great British Box Room Competition – challenging interiors experts to maximise the potential of this under-utilised small bedroom.

Sponsored by Crown Paints, the competition will showcase six installations, each imagined by a different interior designer and crafted into a room set to be displayed exclusively at Grand Designs Live 2021.

Running from 6-10 October 2021 at the NEC Birmingham and sponsored by Anglian Home Improvements, Grand Designs Live hopes to inspire visitors with brilliant box room ideas, as well as practical advice and supplier contacts.

The winner of the Great British Box Room Competition will be announced in the Grand Theatre at the show. Past expert judges have included Kevin McCloud, Jenny Gibbs from the KLC School of Design and Harriet Forde, President of the British Institute of Interior Design.

Take a look at the box room ideas from the six finalists here…

Alison Simandl

Alison Simandl of AS Designed Interiors is as passionate about architecture as she is interiors, which is demonstrated by the technically structural elements of her box room concept. This traditionally decorated room combines both form and function, with hidden nooks supporting the owner’s lifestyle and wellbeing.

‘I have changed the simple box room into a multifunctional space hidden within the walls,’ said Alison. ‘Styled in traditional British wood panelling with bold floral wallpapers, at first the room appears to be a relaxed space, but as panels open new uses for the room are revealed.’


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House of Kin

Anna Barber and James Gavigan of House of Kin aim to create a cosy home library, where adults and children can enjoy time together away from screens and busy lives. This box room will be a refuge to sit, talk, listen and reconnect with your imagination. A pull-out bed and handy storage add additional functionality, making the most of the space.

‘In a world filled with screens, we wanted to create a unique, calming and magical moment inspired by books,’ said Anna and James. ‘This small box room can be used by the entire family as a library, guest room, play den, or even a puppet theatre. It’s the perfect place for uninterrupted, quality family time.’

box room ideas: a cosy home library and den with sofa bed by House of Kin

Anna Barber and James Gavigan aim to create a cosy home library and den. Image: House of Kin

Mariah Maxwell’s World of Design

Mariah Maxwell of Mariah Maxwell’s World of Design takes inspiration from Winston Churchill’s time spent in the basement Cabinet War Rooms during WWII. A rather niche source of inspiration, you might think, but Mariah’s vision comes to life through what she imagined he was dreaming of while down there; a morning stroll through the enchanted Forest of Savernake. The room will be a holistic sanctuary with multiple uses, from a library to a games room, or perhaps a whisky and cigar room in homage to the man who inspired it.

‘Holistic means that each part of our body and soul is intimately interconnected with the habitat we create around us,’ said Mariah. ‘My room design aims to celebrate the British environmental and earth friendly manufacturing that respects our beautiful green planet.’

Mariah Maxwell's box room idea is inspired by Winston Churchill's Cabinet War Rooms

Mariah Maxwell’s box room idea is inspired by Winston Churchill’s Cabinet War Rooms

Lorna Lancashire

Lorna Lancashire has transformed her tiny room from an unused space into a cosy lounge room, perfect for relaxing in front of the TV or with a good book. Traditional elements like wall panelling complement traditional hues of midnight blue, plush furnishings soft lighting, pepped up by subversive artwork and pops of colour.

‘I wanted my box room to be a little jewel in the house, a snug area where you can settle down and enjoy a good book or watch TV,’ said Lorna. ‘A sense of Great Britain is seen via traditional panelling and quirky accessories from union flag cushions to gold British bulldogs.’

Lorna Lancashire's box room idea for the Grand Designs Live competition

Lorna Lancashire’s box room idea combines the traditional and the quirky

Penny Ann Interiors

Award-winning residential interior designer Penny Johnson, of Penny Ann Interiors, has created a box room inspired by the ‘British Invasion’ – when rock and pop music from the UK, and its corresponding counterculture, flooded America in the mid-60s.

This Great British Box Room takes elements of anti-minimalist interior decorator Dorothy Draper’s modern baroque style, and combines them with Timothy Oulton’s passion for handcrafted British furniture. The result offers a chance to relive the vibrant freedom of the 1960s post-war era. But mostly, it’s an opportunity to be immersed in an era that was truly Great for Britain.

Penny Johnson's box room idea is inspired by 60s pop culture

Penny Johnson’s box room is inspired by 60s pop culture

Comfort Being

Chetna Balla of Comfort Being has created an inviting and stylish space perfect for reading and relaxing after a long day. Or taking time out of a hectic lifestyle to reset. Blue tones and plush textures create a sense of calm and a relaxed ambience.

‘The journey from box room to “my space” is that of a neglected room being transformed into an inviting leisure space where life’s little pleasures are welcome,’ said Chetna. ‘Blue for the room is inspired from the British flag. It lends itself to create a sense of calm and a relaxed ambience.’

A multi-functional box room for relaxing or use as a dressing room

Chetna Balla has created a multi-functional box room for relaxing or use as a dressing room

See these clever box room ideas come to life at Grand Designs Live 2021 at the NEC, Birmingham, from 6-10 October 2021. For further information, see