House Rules

House Rules judge Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen has never been so popular with TV bosses

“I turn down so much work!”

By Karina Recchi and Thomas Mitchell
Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen knows good TV. The British interior design guru has been on the box for more than 25 years, bursting onto our screens in '90s phenomenon Changing Rooms, before polarising international audiences in shows like The Apartment, Instant Hotel and Hidden Houses.
Closer to home, however, he draws in fans as the flamboyant judge on House Rules – a position he's held comfortably since 2017 and shows no sign of giving up.
"I don't see myself wanting to walk away just simply because there's something new and different," he tells TV WEEK of his commitment to the home renovation show. "If I was given something new, it would almost have to be at the expense of something I've already got – I'm not necessarily wanting that."
LLB and his House Rules co-star Johanna Griggs (Image: Channel Seven).
Laurence says that, at this stage – where he's juggling three shows, House Rules, The Apartment and Instant Hotel, and a family – even the promise of his own show wouldn't sway him.
"I've got to that stage where I turn down a lot more than I take on," he admits, hinting towards offers from I'm A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! and Dancing With The Stars.
"I don't want to be involved in bake-offs or eating locusts in the jungle or learning to dance. I want to do what I do best, which is talking about the things that mean an enormous amount to me: design art, travel. I want to preserve the quality."
And, for him, House Rules embodies all of those things.
"When you're engaged with other humans in other lives and lifestyles, it feels more nourishing," he says, making a point of what he believes is the difference between House Rules and its competitor The Block.
"It's no longer just about the Kardashian-manufactured drama. People want information and stuff that will inspire them and give them a helping hand in the way they live. House Rules is an important part of that," he says.
"I'm sure The Block is great," he quips, insisting he "hasn't watched it".
"But when you've got House Rules showing design in the context of a home you can relate to, it becomes powerful."
LLB calls House Rules relatable to the viewers (Image: Channel Seven).
Of course, there's something else House Rules has that The Block doesn't.
"My suits!" Laurence says with a laugh, before commenting on The Block host Scott Cam's outfits. "I don't even know what any of those garments are – ask my tailor!"
It's not only Laurence's impressive wardrobe that has him feeling smug. He also attributes that feeling to the recent Changing Rooms reboot that was pulled off air following only modest ratings.
"Of course it didn't last – I wasn't it in it! That's where it went wrong," he jokes of the franchise he hosted in the UK.
"Joking aside, maybe there was an issue with the casting. The original did so well 25 years ago," he says. "To an extent, Changing Rooms created reality TV.
It was the first show that allowed the audience to see everything that happened – whether it was good or bad – and get to know the people."
Between filming, Laurence has a growing family to squeeze in. And he makes the most of those moments, recently escaping to Venice, Italy, with his wife, daughter and grandson Albion.
"This is where we are as a family – it's about focusing the time we have together and doing something special with it," he says.
As for more grandkids to cart around, Laurence says it's "a matter of time".
"Albion is going to be three this year, so I'm sure there will be a Florence or a Guinevere around the corner," he gushes. "Hermione, my youngest daughter, has just announced her engagement to a strapping New Zealander, so that's another wedding."
And with so much going on in his personal life, we have to ask again, is he positively sure he wouldn't invite the cameras in?
"I am constantly having to beat off everyone doing a fly-on-the-wall doco because I'm never there – there's no point!" he says. "But never say never, I am always open to an opportunity."
Jackie and Laurence met when they were just 19 (Image: Getty).
House Rules airs Monday to Wednesday, 7.30pm, and Sunday, 7pm, on Channel Seven.

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