Architect Amanda Bone on how she nearly rejected RTÉ’s ‘Home of the Year’ but turning 50 brought change of heart

'Home of the Year' judge architect Amanda Bone

Melanie Finn

When architect Amanda Bone was first approached by producers to do RTÉ’s Home of the Year, she nearly turned it down as the idea “terrified” her.

But a big birthday last year prompted a change in attitude to taking on new challenges and she has adapted to the role with gusto.

“To be honest, I turned 50 last summer and I just said to myself, ‘That’s it’ and there was a turning point in my life. I said, ‘I’m going to make the most of every day.’

“It sounds corny but I said that every opportunity that comes my way, I’m going to enjoy myself.

“So I think it’s a mixture of coming out of Covid and turning 50 and saying, ‘Right the next half of my life, I’m going to have a laugh,’ as well as work hard.”

Her other half also helped to convince her to take on the high-profile role, which was her first time doing any TV work. “I was terrified I’d be really bad at it because I don’t think I’m very articulate. I was just afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it. Then my partner said, ‘I think you’d be good at doing that.’ So I went ahead and said yes and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made because I’ve had so much fun,” she said.

Now in her third series as a judge on the show, she’s well able to argue her case against fellow judges Hugh Wallace and Sara Cosgrove as they assess some of the country’s most stunning homes.

L-R: 'Home of the Year' judges Amanda Bone, Hugh Wallace and Sara Cosgrove

The Bray native previously worked in Paris and New York before establishing Amanda Bone Architects, an award-winning practice in Dundrum, south Dublin.

She has relaxed more into the role with each passing series and “enjoyed it a lot more this year”.

“The more you do you something, the easier it is and the more relaxed you are. I took myself quite seriously the first time I did it because I’m very passionate about architecture and design.

The first time I got comments, I was a little taken aback. But then I saw the funny side of it and some of the comments are hilarious

“I brought to the show what I would to my work in terms of being a perfectionist and I was really interested in creating a conversation about design. But I realised I also needed to enjoy myself and I felt easier around the cameras. I got to know Hugh and Sara and the crew. And I went, ‘I’m going to have fun and enjoy every single minute.’”

Bone has also become more accustomed to being in the public eye – and the social media attention.

The first year of doing the show, she hit the headlines thanks to a throwaway remark about Irish people and their “obsession with outdoor wicker furniture.”

Bone said she had very little experience of social media prior to doing the show. “I had a presence for my practice in terms of the person doing my media and web design, but I would never have put myself out there,” she said.

“I don’t think there was one photograph of me on social media before HOTY. I was completely naive and this was all new to me. Although I had a presence on Twitter, I had never actually been active on it – apart from posting something about my work.

“So the first time I got comments, I was a little taken aback. But then I saw the funny side of it and some of the comments are hilarious... It is what it is.

“If you’re going to put yourself out there, you’ve got to be prepared to get some flak. This time around, I went, ‘I’m just going to be myself and just go for it.’ It’s a hard thing to do, to not care what people think. But once you do, you’re a hell of a lot happier.”

As for the show finale which airs at 8.30pm on RTÉ One on April 4, Bone said viewers should expect some fireworks as the judges struggled to agree on the overall winner from the seven finalists.

“This year, there was a bit of a heated discussion... It took a whole day... You get very attached to the home that you’re pushing. I am extremely competitive and I was determined not to back down this year,” she said.