Unlike Dermot Bannon’s design choices, Room To Improve will never go out of fashion


At some point in the last decade, architect Dermot Banon built an extension in the spirit of Irish television viewers and acquired permanent residence there.

It is speculating for future generations why room for improvement (RTÉ One, 9:30 pm) has become one of Ireland’s major attachments in an era of soaring home prices and general dissatisfaction with the real estate market. Leave it to historians and psychologists. But whatever the reason why the cheerful house makeover show flourished, even if the property was transferred to the political battlefield.

And now I’m back in Series 13. If the two-part partner of Dermot Home in early 2020 is one of the Banon purists who claim to qualify as their own season.

As with the room to improve tradition, the fun is between Banon’s starchy ambitions and his client’s wise desire to live in a lovely home that doesn’t resemble Frank Gehry’s feverish dreams. It’s flowing from tension. And in the first episode of four new episodes, Banon convinces Dublin’s Kilmacud Lisa and Mark Daily to equip the new kitchen with a stained glass wooden unit that resembles a trendy restaurant for drinking. The inevitable moment will come. Enter the jam jar and act as a “throw” as a side.

Foresighted Banon strongly feels that this is an urgent need to connect their new builds. Lisa and Mark are stunned. And they win because they sign the check.

Liam, the child in the middle of Lisa and Mark, has autism, so an element of human interest has been added. Indeed, one of the motivations for building a new home next to an existing one (the sale of which will fund the project) is that the family can design a sensory room specifically for him.

However, after that, a pandemic occurred and construction slowed down sharply. Darris moves to accommodation outside Drogheda, from which Lisa needs to attend a school in Dublin with her three sons. “It’s just crazy,” she says. “I don’t know if it’s sustainable. I’m tired. I have to hang out in Dublin for four hours.”

Also, his wittyness was not only having to negotiate the challenge of running the project through 18 months of rolling lockdown, but also having to deal with the significant increase in material costs. This is James McGrin. McGrin approved the delivery of the house at the agreed price-and now his overheads have gone through the roof. It’s an unpleasant situation. Still, along with Banon’s intermediaries, Dalys agrees on many budget cuts that expensive zinc roofs are the first luxury item.

It is proved in Dalys, as even the longest journey will eventually end. We visit their new home, and it’s certainly a minimalist wonder.

“They took me on a journey to get a glimpse of life with autism,” says Banon. “It’s a great relief to come here today and see the building working for Liam.”

The episode is really the story of a parent doing everything they can for their child.

And that’s probably where the secret to the success of Room to Improvement is ultimately – with all respect for Banon and his endless cheerful reservoir. Apparently, the property show, what it really is about, is the patience faced with overwhelming odds. Unlike Banon’s stained kitchen unit, it never goes out of date.


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