Thursday 19 July 2018

Dermot Bannon reveals one of the biggest oversights we make when designing homes

TV architect Dermot Bannon
TV architect Dermot Bannon
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Dermot Bannon has revealed what he considers to be a 'massive issue' when it comes to the design of many Irish homes.

The Dublin architect has been transforming people's homes across the country on RTE's hit show Room to Improve for the past 11 years and says that a lack of storage is one of our biggest issues when it comes to design.

"Storage is a massive thing in Ireland.  We don’t have enough of it," he told Marian Finucane on RTE Radio 1 on Saturday.

"We have the good dining room and the good sitting room that we think we need but nowhere to put stuff like the schoolbags, gym gear, bikes."

Dermot Bannon from RTE's Room to Improve with Daniel and Majella O'Donnell, in Meenbanad, Co. Donegal. Photo: James Connolly
Dermot Bannon from RTE's Room to Improve with Daniel and Majella O'Donnell, in Meenbanad, Co. Donegal. Photo: James Connolly

He added, that design is "not about pre-conceived notions about what a great house is.  That’s what’s got us into trouble.  Look at the house types we live in in Ireland - bungalow, the two story version, or a three or four-bed semi.  They don’t always suit our needs."

Dermot gave the example of a family of five who surf in Sligo every weekend and have five wetsuits to dry; "You can't leave them on the back of the dining room chairs.  Have an area like a wet room with rails to hang them up."

TV's Dermot Bannon offers tips on improving your home
TV's Dermot Bannon offers tips on improving your home

While Dermot often clashes with clients on the show on certain elements of their design, he says it's not about his ego, but about giving them the best design to suit their needs.

"One of the things that really astounds me about the show is people say, ‘The house fits my life and really works for us,’ and I’m thinking, ‘Well who did you think it was going to work for?’," he said.

Ireland's favourite architect Dermot Bannon and quantity surveyor Lisa O'Brien
Ireland's favourite architect Dermot Bannon and quantity surveyor Lisa O'Brien

"For most people watching Room to Improve they think it’s about my ego and I want to get my way but it’s not.  What it is is I’ve listened to them intently at the beginning. 

"What I do is I go into somebody’s life in my head - it’s like being an actor - and ask what do they do on Saturday mornings?  Where do they put the schoolbags?  I am designing for them so sometimes you have to push them a little bit to say, ‘Honestly guys, listen to me about this’."

Dermot Bannon's home in Drumcondra, Dublin, which he has put up for sale
Dermot Bannon's home in Drumcondra, Dublin, which he has put up for sale
Dermot Bannon's home in Drumcondra, Dublin, which he has put up for sale
Dermot Bannon's home in Drumcondra, Dublin, which he has put up for sale
Dermot Bannon's home in Drumcondra, Dublin, which he has put up for sale
Dermot Bannon has put his home of 12 years up for sale (Photo: DNG)
Dermot Bannon has put his home of 12 years up for sale (Photo: DNG)
Dermot Bannon has put his home of 12 years up for sale (Photo: DNG)
Dermot Bannon has put his home of 12 years up for sale (Photo: DNG)
Dermot Bannon has put his home of 12 years up for sale (Photo: DNG)
Dermot Bannon has put his home of 12 years up for sale (Photo: DNG)
Dermot Bannon has put his home of 12 years up for sale (Photo: DNG)

Although budgets on Room to Improve are often exceeded, Dermot insists that this is due to the clients' wishes for their build.

"Once we brought the QSs on board we haven't gone over budget on any project," said Dermot.  Speaking about a budget that increased from €200,000 to €300,000 on a recent episode, he explained that the increase was down to the clients.

"Everything came in at €200,000 and they wanted two extra bedrooms upstairs but that wasn't in the original brief costing," he said.

"It has always been the clients' decisions.  People will tell you they have €150,000 but they probably have €180,000 but I don't work to that.  They often want to add more back in themseloves.  Everybody does it. 

Dermot Bannon with homeowners Susie and Dave on Room to Improve
Dermot Bannon with homeowners Susie and Dave on Room to Improve

"People are roaring out their windows at me, 'You need a new calculator!' but I know in my heart and soul I don't."

Having recently put their Drumcondra home up for sale, Dermot and his family will be moving to a property nearby, a project which Dermot will gut and re-design.

"I kind of feel like a child at Christmas," he says of the prospect of working on his own project.  "I feel incredibly excited.  I am actually tingling most of the time.  I do it for so many people every day I’m starting to get house envy.  At the start I was okay but now I’m leaving people thinking, ‘God, I’d actually love to live there’."

They are staying in Drumcondra because they want to be near the city.  Dermot is originally from Malahide but lived in London while studying to become an architect and he enjoyed the fact that he could cycle everywhere.

"I was able to go to the nightclub on my bike," he laughed.

Dermot was on The Marian Finucane Show to promote the upcoming RIAI Simon Open Door 2018, a fundraising initiative in aid of the Simon Community.

Anyone can sign up to Simon Open Door and in return for a €90 donation to the Simon Community you will receive an hour long consultation with a certified RIAI architect.

Dermot said the initiative features "some of the most talented architects in the country".

He added, "People come up to me and say, 'Oh, your work is this, your work is that', well you should see the work all the other architects are doing.  Sometimes I do feel slightly guilty becuase I'm one of the only architects on the telly but a lot of them do it better."

You can take part in the RIAI Simon Open Door 2018 via simonopendoor.ie

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