Wednesday 22 November 2017

Ditch the decking: Dermot Bannon on how boomtime fad fell out of favour

TV architect Dermot Bannon, just one of the great speakers at house 2017.
TV architect Dermot Bannon, just one of the great speakers at house 2017.
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

In the 90s, you'd have been hard pressed to find a back garden in Ireland without some honeyed hardwood decking.

A trip to Woodies, a few coats of Ronseal, and your less-than-impressive back garden was now a horticultural haven. Sadly though, Alan Titchmarsh and Charlie Dimmock's favourite design feature has not weathered well.

According to 'Room To Improve' star Dermot Bannon, decking is now about as fashionable as piano ties, mullets, or Versaille-inspired 'water features'. "I don't think decking is in fashion anymore - it's one of my pet hates," he told the Irish Independent. "It's just not very innovative".

Even 'Ground Force' host Titchmarsh regrets telling everyone to cover their backyards with the stuff. This year he said it was his "Achilles heel" but refused to apologise for instigating the trend because "Chanel didn't apologise for her little black dress, did she?"

After years of soil and grass being covered by timber, home makers are now reclaiming the ground and creating their own backyard vegetable patches.

Almost 19pc of Irish gardeners have started growing their own carrots and runner beans.

Michelle O’Donnell, Glasshammer Studios, at House yesterday. Picture: Colin O'Riordan
Michelle O’Donnell, Glasshammer Studios, at House yesterday. Picture: Colin O'Riordan

Others prefer more a more manicured aesthetic so rely on fake grass - which has come a long way from nylon AstroTurf.

However, Dermot Bannon is something of a Puritan, and thinks Irish homeowners should never fake it. "I think everything should be as natural as possible," he says.

Which is why he also advises against installing faux Georgian or mock sash windows.

"Again that's another pet hate of mine," he said. "Especially if the sash windows are not made of wood. I don't understand why you would fake the structure of your house. It's like putting pretend Roman columns outside your front door. It is never convincing."

The RTÉ TV star has lots of other pointers to ensure your home is a beacon of class and style.

Like steering clear of anything with the 'wow factor' - be it a statement wall or electric blue sofa. "If it stands out and makes you think 'woah' that usually means that you're going to hate it in six months' time," he says. "Stick with neutral colours on walls. And if you want some bright pink, buy a cushion or a lamp: something you won't mind throwing out in six months' time."

For the last 10 years, many homeowners have felt the need to knock down walls to create light-filled open-plan living rooms. While visually impressive, these can become exceptionally noisy spaces when children, pets and families are thrown into the mix.

Now, open plan is being replaced by 'broken plan': clear living areas but with snugs for people to disappear into.

"I think if you want to create an open living area you should base it on the design of a pub," Bannon says.

"With snugs and different areas that are broken up by light, or levels of flooring or the height of the ceiling, it will make it feel more relaxed and contained."

Bannon also advocates using hanging mats and rugs instead of prints. "I really like when someone has a carpet or mat on their wall," he said. "It's got personality and there's usually a good story."

In kitchens, dark and sleek cabinets are preferable to pickled oak with rounded white handles.

Ultimately, Bannon says when revamping your home, use natural materials, and more importantly try and let your surroundings reflect who you are.

House 2017, which is an INM event, is open from 10am to 5pm today and tomorrow at the RDS in Ballsbridge, Dublin.

Irish Independent

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