W e bought our 1920s house in Drumcondra four years ago and spent six months renovating it. We moved in a week before our daughter was born. She was two weeks overdue so we were cutting it very fine. It's home to my wife Louise and I, Sarah and three-and-a-half month old James.
The house is half red brick and half rendered. It's Tardis-like because it looks very small on the outside but inside it's actually quite big.
The renovation was a big job that involved gutting it and adding on a big extension, which probably looks identical to all those I've done on television. The main priority was to get as much light in as possible and push up the ceilings as high as we could.
We have a small sitting room at the front, which can be a good alternative to the open plan kitchen, living, dining area at the back. It's handy to have a separate space for little things like having a phone conversation. The middle of the house is the darkest so we put the utility room and downstairs toilet there.
We use the open plan area all the time. The kitchen was done very cheaply, with plywood and timber worktops as we ran out of budget. I would have loved to have spent ¤50,000 on a new kitchen but I think we ended up spending just ¤5,000.
All I ever wanted was a 12-seater multifunctional kitchen table that, like the Walton's, everything could happen around. I designed one for this house and use it for my laptop. Sarah also paints on it. Because it's so big, we can still sit down and eat without having to clear up everything, which is great.
The best thing about open plan is the space. It's perfect for all the family activities. The downside is not having the cosiness of small rooms that you can sometimes crave when you live in one big area. At times it can feel like you're sitting in a warehouse but we love it.
I believe a home should be a sanctuary and grow with you. It should reflect what you are and suit you. We started off with pieces picked up in secondhand shops and have slowly replaced some things. I still search through skips although Louise hates all that. If something is well designed, I don't care where it comes from. You can find great things in secondhand shops now that so many people are label conscious.
My pet hate is having everything matching. Our dining chairs are from a coffee shop in Malahide. I also used to buy pieces in Mother Redcaps. I'd buy the odd thing at flea markets abroad but it's not easy now with so many limits on luggage. However, I did pick up some nice Cubist pieces in Prague. I tend to spend money on items that are very special.
If you see a piece of furniture or a painting you love, I believe you should buy it. Your house and walls should be peppered with your life. Our doors are smothered with Sarah's drawings. I don't understand the idea of buying a painting to match a rug. A certain piece of poetry will do something for one person and not for another and it's the same with interiors. If something speaks to you, you will have it forever.
After six months of renovation, our house isn't quite completely finished yet. I still have more projects I'd like to do. I'm the kind of person who knows exactly what he wants to do but it tends to take me three or four years to do it.
My wife is always telling me to get the drill out. There are still paintings and drawings lined up along the skirting board waiting to be hung.
It took me three months just to put up floating shelves that I made for an alcove in the living room but by the time I got them up, I was sick of them.
If there's one item I could buy it would be a design classic like an Eames chair but I've never been able to justify it. There's always the holiday we need or the garden. Though if I do ever get around to getting it, I know exactly where it will go.
Who is Dermot Bannon?
He's best known as the charming, no-nonsense, straight talking presenter of the hugely successful RTE makeover show 'Room to Improve', which has been commissioned for a new series in January. Off the tele, he's a qualified RIAI architect and hopes to open his own practice shortly. Contact Dermot at Bannon.firstname.lastname@example.org
Interview by Caroline Allen
Favourite building? The original terminal building in Dublin airport, designed by Desmond Fitzgerald. The OPW has also been a favourite of mine since I was a student.
Fantasy dinner guest? Peter Kay, humour is better than any wine.
Biggest extravagance? My car, an Audi A4. I still feel guilty for buying it, but stare out the window at night admiring it when nobody is looking.
Who inspires you? Architect Luigi Snozzi and passionate people who turn their gifts into a vocation.
Perfect Sunday? Breakfast in Andersons with my wife and children, followed by a long walk in the park then friends or family over for a bit of lunch and a few sneaky pints in the pub later.