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Owain Wyn Evans: 'My disco fireplace is such a great space for drinks and dancing'

·9-min read
Photo credit: Mike Marsland
Photo credit: Mike Marsland

As part of our interview series, My Happy Home, presenter, weatherman, drummer and self-proclaimed fashionista, Owain Wyn Evans, talks about mid-century modern, why every Pisces needs rainfall, and his love of The Golden Girls’ Japanese-influenced Californian pad.

Born in Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, Owain – who appears on BBC's The One Show and BBC Breakfast, and presents the weather for regional nightly news programme North West Tonight – is patron of The LGBTQ Foundation charity. He's played the drums as a hobby since the age of seven, and in 2021 raised more than £3 million for BBC Children in Need with a 24-hour drumathon.

Joined by Anglesey-based interior designer Mandy Watkins and Cardiff architect Glen Thomas for a new BBC Cymru Wales series, Wales' Home of The Year, Owain is on a quest to find the very best properties the country has to offer – from terraced houses to bungalows, castles, country cottages, and everything in between.

Owain has lived in an Edwardian semi-detached red-brick house in South Manchester with his husband, Arran, who works in the museums sector, for two years. It’s the third home the couple have renovated.

What makes you happiest at home?

OWE: I suppose just being there makes me happy. One of things that turns a house into a home is that a lot of love and time has been put into it. As is always the case with an older home, there is always something to do. Last week I was putting beading down and caulking in the living room and hallway. When my husband and I are both there and we’re not working, I love that.

One of the things I love most is my lovely big, cushioned, padded, orange chair. It faces out through the double doors towards the garden. It's also the cat's favourite chair. Franny is a lovely cat – she's a long-haired, half Maine Coon. She sits in the chair and peruses what's going on outside. It's quite modern, it's got a mid-century look about it. We actually bought it in Cardiff, in a furniture shop. I love objects that have got a story, so that's why this chair is my favourite place.

Photo credit: Owain Wyn Evans
Photo credit: Owain Wyn Evans

What is the best home bargain you've ever snapped up?

OWE: Best-ever bargain? Oh my goodness, this is a tough one. What I was saying about mid-century furniture, I know it's very en vogue, I do love it, and one of the things I'm never afraid to do is to bring in things from other eras and styles into our home.

I was filming a show recently in Leeds and in a reclamation type place I saw this gorgeous 1970s sewing box. The top is completely water-stained, but open it and there's a cute felt-lined box, and it's got four cute little legs pointing outwards. It was only £20. It's got one of my old drums on it. In our previous place, the basement where I kept my drums flooded, but I managed to save one, so that drum is on top of this box now, in the living room. It looks fab, and you can also chuck all of your rubbish into it.

Tell us about your favourite memory at home

OWE: When you're renovating or working on a home and doing a lot of that work yourself, you sometimes don't see the small daily wins of getting the little jobs done. But I remember walking into our living room after we'd put a mirror up above the fireplace, and for some reason it made the room look complete! There were still bits to be done, but it felt like a living room and not like a project anymore which was so lovely.

What is the best decorating advice you have ever received?

OWE: Buy good masking tape – and to be honest, I do try to. Also, buy good paint brushes, and with a good paintbrush you don't need masking tape. I can't remember where I heard this from, it might have been my father. He used to make little Airfix models, you know, the little planes and things. He had very intricate tiny little brushes. When we bought our first house, he was always telling us what to do, but in a nice way. I'd always ring him up for advice about stuff and my parents are still always at the end of the phone.

Where do you shop for the best homewares?

OWE: Now, I absolutely love an antiques fair. Anything which looks like it has a mix of all sorts of furniture and interesting items. I've always loved wearing brooches. A lot of the brooches I wear are costume jewellery. Men don't usually wear brooches, but I love them, the more extravagant and camp the better.

We've got to a stage where our current home is almost at maximum capacity. I don't really want to do that cull, we love everything we have, such as an amazing mid-century coffee table we found; it's a smoked glass, circular thing, it looks like it should be in back room of a 1960s/70s nightclub.

Whenever we need anything practical, IKEA is where we go to. We've got some chairs in our dining room from IKEA. They are new but look like mid-century, so aesthetically pleasing.

If you could have a snoop around anyone's house whose would it be and why?

OWE: It's a completely fictional home, but I'd love to walk around the house featured in the 1980s sitcom The Golden Girls. The interiors were shot at a soundstage, but the exteriors of the girls' home was an actual house which still exists in California. It's a single storey 1950s home with gorgeous Japanese architectural influences, including Shoji sliding screens between some rooms. I'd love to have a nose around that place.

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

What is your most treasured possession at home and why?

OWE: A Welsh stick chair which belonged to my grandmother on my mother's side, Beryl. It's got a wide seat and lots of little wooden dowels coming up. It's quite a tall thing. It was at her home in Capel Hendre, West Wales, and we'd be throwing wet coats on it, shopping would go on it, but it's pretty old this thing. I think it was my grandmother's grandmother's chair.

We've had it for three or four years and it's beautiful. It's quite a light colour, and we've kept it as it is. It's definitely a piece which would come with us wherever we go. I think it's probably worth quite a bit now, but I would never dream of getting rid of it. She was the most wonderful woman, my grandmother. She had great taste. She was always interested in clothes and nice things.

What would your perfect night at home look like?

OWE: I'd say it would have to start with drinks in the garden before wandering into the kitchen with the disco fireplace fired up. It's such a great space for drinks and dancing, especially if you push back the dining table to allow for more room.

Photo credit: Owain Wyn Evans
Photo credit: Owain Wyn Evans

What does your outdoor space mean to you?

OWE: I love being outdoors and I think what my outdoor space means to me is being able to enjoy the weather. We inherited a lot of mature plants here, and we also installed decking. Our old house in Leeds had a huge garden – at the bottom there was a huge 18-foot tall wall, rendered in a sandy colour, which had a fig growing up it. But what we didn’t have was a place you could step out into – we really wanted to make the garden part of the home.

I love being able to go straight out. Outside is a different feel, to be able to look up at the sky. Arran definitely looks after the garden, and I most certainly do not. I do mow the lawn though.

What room do you spend most of your time in at home? How did you choose to decorate this space?

OWE: It's definitely got to be the kitchen – dark forest green with wooden worktops, the walls are kind of a sage colour – and dining room at the back. Arran loves cooking and I love watching him and chatting. We had the back opened up and on a nice day it's flooded full of sunlight. It's also home to the disco fireplace. I collect vintage disco lights and when friends come round, I switch on the most cool-looking ones.

Our lounge is gorgeous as well, it's a soft pink colour. We've taken the floors back and they look gorgeous in here. Over the years, we've done a lot of the work ourselves personally, because of budget.

What would top your list for the worst decor trend?

OWE: I think it's got to be Artex. It's just hideous. In all three of our homes, there's been Artex in them. Not only is it hideous, it could contain asbestos. Dealing with it is almost like a dark art. My least favourite pattern is the popcorn effect, or shards; it's almost like you're in a cave, with these things hanging off the ceiling.

If you could design your dream home what things would you want to include?

OWE: I think I would really love to have some kind of room with doors opening out fully to the garden. I do love rain, I don't know if it's because I'm a Pisces or because I grew up in West Wales. Maybe it's a bit of both? When it's raining I love opening our doors, and sitting in that orange chair. I also think – selfishly – that a drum studio would be very good.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

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