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We should bring out sofas!

In conversation with the fabulous Brian Dowling Gourounlian

Story Highlights
  • "There are some amazing upcyclers out there and they are artists."
  • "It is in my top five of shows I've worked on in my whole entire life."

Rathangan native Brian Dowling Gourounlian rose to fame after winning the second series of the reality show Big Brother followed by winning Ultimate Big Brother in 2010.

In recent years, he has appeared in other television series such as ‘Come Dine with Me,’ and ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ along with presenting segments on ITV’s This Morning and Virgin Media Television’s ‘Ireland Am,’ and ‘The Six O’Clock Show.’

More than 12 months ago, Brian took on a new and very exciting role alongside his husband, Dancing with the Stars judge, Arthur Gourounlian when they became the proud Dad and Papa to their beautiful daughter, Blake.

Juggling Fatherhood with a daily radio show on 98FM and a new home makeover show ‘The Salvage Squad,’ his schedule certainly shows no sign of slowing down!

Here, Mr Dowling Gourounlian discusses the show, sustainability and gratitude

Build & Renovate: What would you like to tell me about your brand new show ‘The Salvage Squad?’ It sounds like it is going to be fabulous!

Brian Dowling Gourounlian: I think everyone loves a home makeover show or a home improvement show and I think what makes ‘Salvage Squad,’ slightly different is sustainability and all of the items are either secondhand or preloved, in one episode we used the flooring from someone’s floor and made a new wardrobe.

You know it’s a new world we live in now. I think we all have to do better. As the host, I’ve seen everything that goes on and I am looking at all the designers, builders, carpenters and it’s really changed my view on the word sustainability, especially the word second hand I would have always thought it was tatty but that is not the case, there was loads of second-hand stuff with tags on that haven’t been used.

The thing that makes this show stand alone and stand different, is the sustainability aspect.

B&R: From what we see on Instagram, your own home is very stylish, would you have an interest in interiors/ design yourself?

BDG: I always say that Arthur does a lot more styling because I am quite basic and he likes the Victorian times, Tudor and Marie Antoinette styles, he loves the richness and the textures.

I think if we were going to do something together, it would be sofas, I could see us bringing out couches! If I work on something for long enough I think I am a professional, so with ‘Salvage Squad,’ I think of myself as a designer so I’m like to Arthur “I think we should bring out sofas because I’m practical and Arthur is like the director and he has a vision.” With eight years being married and a baby we work well.

B&R: Filming the show must have been great fun, are there any highlights or funny moments from behind the scenes that you can discuss with us?

BDG: I was doing my radio show every day I was doing ‘The Salvage Squad,’ and we shot all through the summer from the June Bank Holiday to the last week in August and I have to say, I have been doing this for a long time, 22 years and I safely say, it is in my top five of shows I’ve worked on in my whole entire life.

I had such fun, the production company who made the show for Virgin Media really trusted me, from the director to the crew of the show, everyone was in it together and the fact that it was a home makeover show.

We were invited into people’s private family homes whether it was their bedrooms wanted made over, their kitchens, their living rooms, and it was honestly just so much fun. Honestly, it goes down as one of my favourite experiences.

I want to point out and thank all of the people who applied to be on the show to the families that invited us into their homes, you know someone’s home is their private area and they were so vulnerable on camera.

A big thank you to all the designers that I worked with and to Virgin Media and Animo for such a fun summer.

B&R: With more and more of a push towards sustainability and upcycling, would this be an area that would interest you or have you ever attempted any upcycling in the past yourself?!

BDG: I was always good with clothing, it was my thing, even after Big Brother which was 22 years ago I was lucky enough to be able to buy nice things, I’d buy Christian Dior coats and I have had them for 22 years.

All the designer bags that I have invested in have 22 years, some 15 years, some 10 years.

I suppose when it comes to stuff in the house, I probably could do better, my mantra was “Oh if the wheels come off the sofa, just buy a new one,” or if there is a rip in the fabric, just get rid of it.

I’ve now seen how people can cover chairs in fabric and how you can change the sofa or redo the headboard by upcycling.

I have to say that upcycling has absolutely opened my mind and I am more aware in the home when it comes to curtains, sofas, beds, and cushions.

There are some amazing upcyclers out there and they are artists.

B&R: Now that the show is in the can, has it inspired you to make any changes to your own home?

BDG: I think again, more along the lines of being more aware of doing stuff myself, you know do we really need to have someone come in here and do the bits and bobs that I wouldn’t have done before, like fixing the shower or fixing a curtain, if I can’t do it then maybe a neighbour or friend can do it rather than buying something new.

So I am more aware and mindful now.

You’ve had quite the year; a radio show, guest presenting the ‘Six O’Clock show,’ and ‘Ireland AM,’ a documentary, a book, becoming a Dad to Blake, have you got any exciting projects coming up over the next little while that you can tell us about?

BDG: First of all, I can’t believe what I’ve done in the last year, that is what amazes me you know with the documentary in itself that we shot and was received so well, the book that comes out in October, I’ve got my own daily radio show, I also do Ireland AM and Six O’Clock – I have more of them coming up.

I do stress to people who seem to think ‘oh you’re so lucky,’ but I’ve been working behind the scenes for years, like for over 20 years to get to this point in my life and what I do now is I really relish in the opportunities whereas before when I was living in London I was very matter of fact with business but now I realise how lucky I am.

If I just had to name one thing there, take the documentary, I’d go wow, just one of those things and I’d be so grateful but to have all of that. What I do now is I live in the moment more and I appreciate it more.



Words: Emer KellyImages: Virgin Media Television

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