Dermot Bannon reveals we're a nation of hoarders who keep 'too much s***' in our homes

"When you strip back your home to just things you need you will find yourself in a place that is far more adaptable and can be re-imagined to suit your new needs"

DESIGN FOR LIFE: Dermot Bannon is impressed with how people have worked on their homes during lockdown

Daragh Keany

What once was an annual catch-up with Ireland's most popular architect is fast becoming a far more regular job.

The charismatic presenter is no longer just showcased to the press ahead of his ratings-smash Room to Improve series, but now he has spin-offs like his voyeuristic Incredible Homes and last year's two-parter that followed his own family move and renovation.

This time, the chatty expert is sitting down with Magazine+ for an altogether new show.

While the Room to Improve juggernaut continues to plough on in the background (expect to see season 13 at the end of year) tonight we will just have to make do with his latest concept, Super Small Spaces.

Dermot’s Drumcondra home which featured on last year’s show

"This is exactly the right time to do this show," he enthuses. "Everyone has been forced to re-imagine their homes and gardens over lockdown.

"It's not about gigantic modern extensions, shed conversions or home makeovers like you would normally see me in. This is about how the brilliant homeowners of Ireland have managed with their small spaces.

"There is a notion here that you have to own land or the biggest house possible. But realistically, for a vast majority of the population, you are more and more lucky to own a home these days and a lot of the time it is not your dream home, or it is certainly not what you had in mind when you started your purchase journey.

"So people have to adapt and manage with the houses they live in and this series is celebrating the creative genius that a lot of people have in order to make the most of the space they own."

Of course, the trick to a show like this is not just having the magnetic Bannon fronting it with his infamous aphorisms and frank put-downs. The trick here is in the research and effort before Dermot even goes near a camera.

"We have found amazing homes and dwellings. I say that because not everyone featured on this series is working on their own home. We have an amazing family of [grown-up adult] kids, the McCarthys, who are renovating a double-decker bus in honour of their dad who committed suicide last year.

"They have rallied together to do this, so I follow them on this journey. We were lucky enough to get in early so I was able to help them as they created this unique property that they plan to rent out.

"I don't want to give it away but it is pretty special in the end."

The bus project is the only case study in tonight's show that sees Dermot getting hands on. All of the others are long since built and lived in. So what was it like poking around these tiny homes?

"I am used to being the man in the middle organising, planning and managing big makeovers." he says. "So it was a treat to just walk in and take a look without wondering, 'What am I going to do with that wall?' or 'How am I going to create more light?'

"I'm like everyone at home who loves these shows. I love looking at other people's houses. The only difference is I come from an architect's viewpoint so I see little things that maybe others don't. I am constantly looking at things and thinking, 'Oh wow, I love that - I'm nicking that idea!'

"I'm a total geek for that stuff. All the magazines and books on my bedside locker are architecture ones," he laughs.

"I'm Irish so the grass is always greener for me too. I just moved into my dream home and spent a fortune on doing it up.

"Yet still I think I would change a few things after being in lots of these amazing houses for this series. I think that's natural, right?" he looks for assurance.

"Irish people keep way too much sh*t in their houses," continues Dermot. "We're hoarders. I am too, so this isn't a judgemental thing. But when you strip back your home to just things you need you will find yourself in a place that is far more adaptable and can be re-imagined to suit your new needs.

"And we all have new needs these days. The home is multi-functional now so we have had to adapt and be creative. I think some of this series' homes will showcase that."

But does the star have any regrets two years on from letting the cameras into his own home and opening it up to the Irish public?

"No. I can't expect others to let me into their house if I'm not willing to do the same. I still get the odd passer-by who wants to take a picture of the house. During lockdown I would head out and talk to them - any excuse to get out of the house to be honest!"

BÚLA BUS: The McCarthy siblings in Cork are renovating a double decker in honour of their dad

So with another new spinoff kicking off tonight does that spell the end of Room to Improve, Magazine+ probes.

"Are you absolutely mad?" jokes the star. "That is the bread and butter. That is my baby. I would knock all the other shows on the head to continue Room to Improve. I love getting in and my getting hands dirty. It would be like a professional footballer training all his life but never playing.

"I want to design, I want to draw, I want to help people turn their homes into their dream. These shows are great but if you held a gun to my head right now there is no contest. We are nearing the end of filming on the next series.

"It is a long process. It will be out later this year, I reckon, and it will be just as exciting and entertaining and maybe educational as previous series - I promise!"

⬤ Dermot Bannon's Super Small Spaces begins tonight on RTE One at 9.30pm

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