Think back about 25 years and try and remember exactly what you were doing; it might be tricky.

Not so for the charismatic interior designer, television personality and author, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.

Almost every week in the late 1990s he was on our television screens shocking unprepared home owners with the reveal of the new decor in their chosen room that had received a soaking in his LLB interiors magic dust in the, now legendary, Channel 4 property programme Changing Rooms.

In this ground-breaking interiors programme, two friends, neighbours or family members swapped a room in each other's homes to update in secret using a very creative decor scheme from a top designer and helped with the practical elements of the build by Handy Andy.

Some of Laurence's designs were so far removed from the participants' bland and boring decor choice that viewers eagerly awaited the homeowners' chins to crash to the floor when they opened their eyes to see a full-on LLB upgrade.

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, visits Plas Llanmihangel manor house, Llanmihangel near Cowbridge, to help raise awareness of a charity fundraising to buy it as a retreat for families.
Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen chats about Changing Rooms, style, lockdown and an exciting new project

Thanks to LLB's creativity, viewers regularly saw multiple bold colour choices, strong patterns, lots of gilt and layers of sumptuous fabrics on the programme, helping to make it arguably one of the forerunners and main influencers of the raft of homes shows that now delight millions on multiple television channels.

Surely LLB's always distinctive designs and retail home product ranges have been a visual springboard to encourage many an amateur designer to give their homes a splash of colour and pizzazz and then share their bravery on every social media platform?

LLB is definitely on Team Colour, and always has been, and is surely one of the founding fathers?

So now, the seminal show is making a return and it would not be Changing Rooms without Laurence bringing beauty to the bland again.

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, visits Plas Llanmihangel manor house, Llanmihangel near Cowbridge, to help raise awareness of a charity fundraising to buy it as a retreat for families.
Changing Rooms is coming back to Channel 4 and LLB has mixed emotions - mainly about his attire

A twinkle appears in the designer's eyes when the subject of Changing Rooms is brought up during WalesOnline's exclusive chat with the charismatic designer.

But whereas most former viewers have got themselves over-excited at the prospect of the return, LLB's first reaction is not necessarily at the same level of frenzied anticipation.

He laughs: "I'm absolutely dreading it! I was a young man when I did it last time, now I'm a grandfather that lives in the Cotswolds that drinks far too much gin - how am I going to be able to cope?

"The amusing thing is that they've had to employ two designers as the opposition - they feel that one person wasn't adequate to cope with being opposite me, ha! So I've got Russell and Jordan against me from the 2LG studio."

The duo of designers from this London-based studio might be going head-to-head with LLB, but their sophisticated designs that feature accents of glorious colour, sumptuous fabrics, metals and matts, and classic statement pieces makes you wonder if Laurence has met his match; the fight will surely be worth watching.

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, visits Plas Llanmihangel manor house, Llanmihangel near Cowbridge, to help raise awareness of a charity fundraising to buy it as a retreat for families.
Laurence says in the first lockdown we spent about £55billion on enhancing our homes

Changing Rooms relaunches on our screens at the end of summer 2021 and the perfect timing of its comeback has not by-passed Laurence.

He says: "It is an extraordinary moment of timing because the fourth of September this year will be the exact 25 anniversary of the first programme ever being broadcast and we will be on at the same time.

"So it really does just go to show that this programme was incredibly seminal for so many people. So many people have grown up with it, for so many people it was a very, very important part of their television landscape.

"Last time I did Changing Rooms I was 37. I'm about to do Changing Rooms now at 57 which makes me feel like, well, am I a little bit too old to be squeezing myself into the leather trousers again? But I'm going to do it anyway!"

We put LLB on the spot in a quick-fire interview, here's what he said:

Laurence also thinks the unabating appetite of people updating the interiors of their homes, fuelled by lockdown and social media, means Britain has definitely been bitten by the DIY bug like never before, and Changing Rooms is surely going to add colourful fuel to the interior design fire burning in many people's homes.

He says: "So the first lockdown, Britain spent £55 billion on home enhancement - we don't have the figures for the rest - and sadly not all of it with me, which is foolish I think as they would have made themselves very happy if they had!

"The extraordinary thing is all of these varieties of flavours of lockdown have actually encouraged the British to become much more engaged with being a bit more individualistic about how they decorate in a way they haven't done for about 20 years.

"I think for the past 20 years people have been so bullied by what other people might say but now being stuck on your own (in lockdown) actually means you can make your own decisions.

"But it's actually very interesting, as the whole thing has shifted away from the obvious stuff - the beiges, the understatement, the greys, and now people are definitely shopping at the higher end of the rainbow.

"But I think that's a good thing, we brits have always been great at eccentric decorating and I think that's something we really need to encourage in ourselves."

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, visits Plas Llanmihangel manor house, Llanmihangel near Cowbridge, to help raise awareness of a charity fundraising to buy it as a retreat for families.
Now Laurence is excited about a charity project that looks to make a Grade I listed mansion the hub of the community

Since Changing Rooms finished in 2004, Laurence has been busy filming all over the world, most recently in Australia where he managed to get home before the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns began.

He says: "I've spent lockdown with my family which was amazing, I was very lucky that I got back in time and I've just been spending an enormous amount of high quality time with my low quality family, haha, hope they don't read this!"

But as LLB looks at the back of his wardrobe for those now infamous Changing Rooms leather trousers, he has other work to do too.

Laurence has joined forces with the charity Connect to Purpose in a very interesting proposal and possible project involving one of Vale of Glamorgan's, if not Wales', most outstanding historic buildings.

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, visits Plas Llanmihangel manor house, Llanmihangel near Cowbridge, to help raise awareness of a charity fundraising to buy it as a retreat for families.
Grade I listed Plas Llanmihangel in Vale of Glamorgan
Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, visits Plas Llanmihangel manor house, Llanmihangel near Cowbridge, to help raise awareness of a charity fundraising to buy it as a retreat for families.
Surrounded by beautiful countryside, the manor house is a peaceful place to visit

Plas Llanmihangel was listed as a Grade I historic property by Cadw back in 1952 as 'one of the finest and most complete early gentry houses in Glamorgan' boasting a wealth of mesmerising original features, some dating back to the 14th century.

Currently on the market for £1.3m, the charity is fundraising with the aim to purchase the manor house and turn it into a safe and tranquil retreat for disadvantaged young people and their families from across south Wales plus a vibrant community hub where members of the public can visit and stay too.

Help and support offered to families will include personal development coaching, health and wellbeing therapies, education and creative arts, as well as opportunities to commune with nature in the surrounding countryside and play their part in the conservation of the manor.

The charity also intends to share the unique historic home with the wider community by offering bed and breakfast and holiday rental accommodation for public use; delivering wellbeing retreats and open days, and holding an annual medieval festival of arts.

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, visits Plas Llanmihangel manor house, Llanmihangel near Cowbridge, to help raise awareness of a charity fundraising to buy it as a retreat for families.
A grand welcome
Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, visits Plas Llanmihangel manor house, Llanmihangel near Cowbridge, to help raise awareness of a charity fundraising to buy it as a retreat for families.
The vaulted, lower area is said to date back to the 14th century

Laurence admits he totally fell in love with the house over a decade ago, filming its fairytale Gothic glory for the BBC series Hidden Houses of Wales.

He says: "The thing about Plas Llanmihangel that makes it so extraordinarily special is its kind of like a time capsule, not just for Welsh history but there's so much of Britain to it as well - it is such an extraordinary survivor.

"The fact that it is so out of the way, the fact that it is still so beautifully nestled in this bossomy incarnation of nature makes visiting it an incredibly attractive experience.

"Architecturally it is quite a spectacular little building - it's not over grand, it's not over pompous, it's not over the top - actually this is somewhere that is very fitting for purpose but you just can't move without breathing in centuries and centuries of history.

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, visits Plas Llanmihangel manor house, Llanmihangel near Cowbridge, to help raise awareness of a charity fundraising to buy it as a retreat for families.
Now that's a proper bread oven!
Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, visits Plas Llanmihangel manor house, Llanmihangel near Cowbridge, to help raise awareness of a charity fundraising to buy it as a retreat for families.
On stand-by to defend the manor

"One of the things I'm very, very keen on is for us to be a lot more creative about how we use our heritage. I think, particularly at the moment, it's very easy to see a structure like this and then envisage it as a series of oligarch duplexes or maybe flog it to Kylie Minogue.

"But actually one of the things I was so attracted to this project about is that this was a building that was created for display; for people who wanted to advertise the fact that they were at the top end of society but actually what we want to do is reincarnate this space for everybody.

"We want to give it an innate kind of democracy which makes it completely accessible but - and this is absolutely crucial - we want to make it relevant.

"It's something that places like Italy and France do better - they can reincarnate their heritage into something that is fitting to the time that we exist in now, and that is exactly what this project is all about - it's making an old building funky, and about now as well as about then.

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, visits Plas Llanmihangel manor house, Llanmihangel near Cowbridge, to help raise awareness of a charity fundraising to buy it as a retreat for families.
Abundant number of original features through the centuries to be found
Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, visits Plas Llanmihangel manor house, Llanmihangel near Cowbridge, to help raise awareness of a charity fundraising to buy it as a retreat for families.
Classic and quaint country outlook over to the equally historic church

"One of the things I really want to bring to the project is this layer of creativity so rather than just make a space which is for protection, which is for creating somewhere for our ultimate end users to feel safe and feel nurtured, I actually want to make this a much bigger thing to be almost like an arts and crafts brand.

"So I want everyone involved in this place now to actually be given an opportunity to use creativity - whether that's craft or whether that's hotel and leisure, whether that's hospitality, whether that's catering - as a way of giving themselves a new start with a skill that can lead them into other directions but along the way that skill itself becomes something incredibly attractive.

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"We're doing something here that's not just about social responsibility, not just about charity, it's also about creating a, if you like, lifestyle experience that we feel you're going to find very, very attractive.

"I love this idea that in a few years the Plas Llanmihangel style, the way that we do things at Llanmihangel, will be such a powerful brand that other people will want to do it as well."

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, visits Plas Llanmihangel manor house, Llanmihangel near Cowbridge, to help raise awareness of a charity fundraising to buy it as a retreat for families.
Laurence is excited to be involved with the Plas Llanmihangel project

Excited by the prospect of what the historic house could become in not only transforming people's lives but also being a hub for the community who can visit and enjoy the spaces too, Laurence is bringing his decades of professional interior design creativity and skill to the project.

He says: "What I would love to do is create a real sense of destination, not to be the usual 'tea and wee' heritage experience but actually something that feels much more scintillating, much more exciting, much more fashion forward.

"It is a great structure, it's the sort of structure that I really enjoy - it's quite brutal, it's quite 'roughty toughty' and I think it would take an awful amount of finessing but yes, I absolutely intend to hit it with the LLB stick, oh yes indeed!"

But before LLB can start getting creating with that design stick, there's the matter of filming for the Changing Rooms comeback, which starts imminently.

Find your next perfect home here:

Laurence says: "What I find most amusing is that certainly for the last 10 years I've been making programmes all over the world which are essentially descendants of Changing Rooms, the great granddaughters of Changing Rooms, in America and Asia and Australia, and to now go back to doing the thing all over again is exciting.

"I love the fact that Channel 4 want it to be very design orientated - we've got a lot more money and we've got a lot more time; we've got a lot more expertise.

"But that doesn't mean that I've got a lot more taste; I'm still absolutely 100% committed to being the naughty one; even after all these years - you would've thought I would have learnt by now."

And we wouldn't want it any other way Laurence.