Owain Wyn Evans: Wales' Home of the Year judge on making a home

Owain and his husband Aaron decorating
Away from the cameras Owain Wyn Evans and his husband are taking on their own home renovation
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He may spend a lot of time judging some of the most beautiful houses in Wales, but away from the cameras, having his own special place to call home is incredibly important for presenter Owain Wyn Evans.

The Wales' Home of the Year presenter is embarking on his own home renovation with his husband Aaron - the fifth they have taken on together.

It makes being paid to have a nose around some of the most spectacular homes in the country even more of a treat.

"Creating a home is so important to me," said Evans.

The couple, who have been together for 15 years and married for six, live in Pontcanna, Cardiff, with their much-loved cat Franny.

They have recently bought a Victorian house in Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, which they are stripping back to its bones and making their own.

Evans with his fellow judges interior designer Mandy Watkins and architect Glen Thomas
Evans with his fellow judges interior designer Mandy Watkins and architect Glen Thomas

"It'll become such a special place and a place that I can just sit into and relax around my hours with the Radio 2 gig, which is going to be lush," he said.

Evans took over from Vanessa Feltz on the early morning breakfast show in January, broadcasting live five days a week between 04:00 GMT to 06:30 from BBC Wales' Cardiff headquarters.

"I'm so lucky that Aaron and I have very similar tastes, but of course there'll be some things that we sometimes don't agree on," he said.

The most recent difference of opinion was over cork flooring that Aaron liked for their new kitchen.

"I was like 'I don't know, I mean, how is it going to behave if I've had a couple too many riojas and I splash some red wine on it', which darlings does happen from time to time," laughed Evans.

In the end they went with the cork floor.

Owain in one of the homes featured on the programme
Evans has been a fan of DIY and interior design for many years

Of course his beloved drumkit will have pride of place in the new house and has already been allocated its own room.

In 2021, Evans, then a BBC weather presenter, made Children in Need history after his drumathon became the charity's most successful 24 hour challenge ever, raising £3m.

His parents bought him his first drumkit - red with Mickey Mouse on it - when he was seven, and drumming has become a huge part of his life.

"It's helped my mental health over the years and has given me company when I felt lonely or when little Owain was being bullied," he said.

He said something else that makes the couple's house a home is their cat Franny.

"Aaron and I don't have any children, we have a cat, and you often hear this with people who don't have kids, the pet becomes your child," said Evans.

Owain and Aaron eating a bag of chips
Owain and Aaron like to mark the start every new renovation project by eating a bag of chips

"Even though Franny is an incredibly aloof child who doesn't loves me, that's fine I can get over that because she's a cat," he laughed.

Their new home will also be somewhere cosy for Evans to return to after his very early starts.

His alarm goes off at 03:15 five days a week, he pulls on the clothes he has picked out the day before and is at BBC Wales' Central Square base by about 03:30.

"By half seven, eight o'clock the latest, I need to be in bed," he said.

"I've got a little routine. Aaron finishes work, we have dinner, watch a bit of telly, and then I'll go up to bed."

Early starts are not new to Evans, who worked for years as a BBC weather presenter, but since starting at Radio 2, he said the experience of very early mornings had given him a connection with his listeners, many of whom are on the work commute themselves.

"We're part of this group who are always slightly sleep deprived but always somehow also feel grateful to be awake at that time of the day because it's a special part of the day," he said.

Evans grew up in former coal mining town Ammanford in Carmarthenshire.

"It was a gorgeous little three-bedroom house that was just full of love and was just a real family home and when I go back there to see mam and dad, that feeling just washes over me when I go in there," he said.

Although he was very happy at home, Evans did not have an easy time growing up.

"Ammanford has changed so much over the years and is just an amazing place now... but when I was growing up, it was a very kind of heteronormative environment," he said.

"Growing up throughout Section 28 was awful, and not only suppressed queer people, but also took lives away from us... having that shadow over your head where you feel like you don't fit and you are just not right was not pleasant to grow up in as a young, queer person."

An old photo of Owain and Aaron
Owain and Aaron have been a couple for 15 years and married for six

He said the experience made him "want to fit into a box" which has taken him decades to shake off.

These days Evans is known for his flamboyant suits and extensive collection of brooches and pocket squares.

"I'm nearly 40 now and it's taking me this long to feel comfortable in my own skin," he said.

"If I want to buy a woman's blouse which looks great on me then I'm going to buy it."

Evans has developed a unique sense of style and collects brooches and pocket squares

Wales' Home of the Year is now on its second series.

As a home-lover himself, he said the hardest part of making the programme was having to mark someone else's home out of 10.

"These are stunning homes, so I do always think that it's a bit mean when you're having to say 'oh, that's not quite to my taste' but at the end of the day that's exactly what this show is all about," he said.

The houses featured are vastly different from one another - from grand country mansions to two-bedroom city centre mid-terraces, but Evans insists that size and grandeur is not what is being judged.

"It's not Wales' 'house' of the year, it's Wales 'home' of the year, because what we're looking at is what makes the place a home," said Evans.

"Homes are our safe spaces, they're the places that we turn to at the end of the day... you open your front door, you close it and you want that space to be your cosy place and your cocoon and your bubble."

Wales' Home of the Year is on BBC One Wales at 19:30 GMT each Friday and is also available on BBC iPlayer