Television presenter and architect George Clarke is known as the Restoration Man, thanks to his home improvement series of the same name and his innovative designs for transforming run-down properties into show-homes.
Even from a young age, it was Clarke’s dream to become an architect. Born in Sunderland in 1974, he came from a family background of architects, as both of his grandfathers on his mother’s and father’s side were members of the profession.
As a result, after spending school holidays around building sites, he decided at the age of 12 he wanted to follow in their footsteps. In an interview, he admitted there was never anything else he considered doing, as he was on building sites when most other kids of his age were still playing with Lego building blocks.
Leaving school at 16, his first job was with local architects, David W Johnson. He went on to study for his BTEC in Building and Construction at Wearside College in Sunderland, later gaining a First-Class BA Honours degree in Architectural Studies at Newcastle University and a post-graduate diploma at Bartlett School of Architecture in London.
Already a proficient tradesman, he supported himself through college and university by renovating people’s homes in his leisure time. After graduating in 1995, he worked with Faulkner Browns in Newcastle, before joining established architect Sir Terry Farrell, where his work took him to Hong Kong.
Clarke formed his own company, Clarke Desai, with business partner Bobby Desai in 1998. Their celebrity clients included television chef Jamie Oliver and American Idol producer Simon Fuller. In 2011, Clarke set up his new company, George Clarke and Partners.
His TV career was launched after he approached a literary agent with plans to write a book about architecture. The agent also represented television presenters and Clarke was snapped up to present a new Channel 5 programme called Build a Life in the Country in 2005.
Clarke presented two more Channel 5 property shows – Property Dreams and Dream Home Abroad – before landing the job as presenter on Channel 4’s The Restoration Man in 2010. He also presented The Great British Property Scandal in 2011 before hosting his current show, George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, which began in 2012. In 2014, he was awarded honorary membership of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors – the youngest recipient ever to receive the honour.
Clarke is well known for his philanthropic work and supports many charities – he is an ambassador for the Prince’s Regeneration Trust and homelessness charity Shelter and a patron of the Civic Trust. In addition, he works with the cancer charity Maggie’s and with Sunderland FC on its Foundation of Light and Beacon of Light projects.
A property feature particularly favoured by Clarke is bifold doors. Not only does he have them in his own house, he also uses them in many of the properties he redesigns, especially on George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces. He admits to being a huge fan of bifold doors, saying they are a wonderful way of opening up an internal space to the garden or patio area. He says architects agree that bifold doors make homes feel bigger by linking inside space with the outside, while at the same time minimising heat loss and maximising solar gain.
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