Room to Improve returns

Room To Improve is back for a new series in a brand new slot. Starting this Sunday, October 14, on RTÉ One at 9.30pm, Dermot Bannon returns with six more innovative and contemporary designs.

Featuring a diverse mix of renovations, refurbishments and brand new builds, the series includes the challenge of turning bungalow blitz into bungalow bliss in rural Tipperary, the salvation of a falling-down cottage in Old Finglas, rebuilds in Mullingar and Brittas, Co. Dublin, a software engineer’s paradise in Cork and the redemption of a former slice of flatland in Dublin’s Donnybrook.

This year, with budgets tighter and clients’ expectations even higher, Dermot will be obliged to expand his role as perfectionist designer to include mediation, builder-wrangling and some extremely delicate diplomacy. In this series, he’ll be dealing with six clients who know exactly what they want. Or so they think.

Quantity surveyor Patricia Power also returns as the budget-conscious Jiminy Cricket to Dermot’s design Pinnochio: keeping an eye on his more elaborate designs, negotiating the best deals and somehow making the impossible feasible.

As always, there’ll be last minute design changes, construction dilemmas, designers gone AWOL, unpredictable weather, wars of will, clashes, compromise and colour galore as the weeks pass, budgets expand, schedules slip and tempers fray.

Six very different projects – one architect as headstrong and self assured as ever. Still – there’s always Room To Improve.

Here are some of Dermot’s Top Tips to consider before you begin an extension project.

1. Light:
If you're planning an extension think about where the light is coming from. Light is the most important thing in any building. If the place doesn't have the proper sunlight you can throw your hat at it.

2. Function:
Make sure your functions relate to each other. Think how you will use the house. Maybe open plan will suit you and maybe it will not. So think holistically. See how you live your life and prioritise the rooms accordingly. If you don't cook very much there's no point in putting the kitchen at the back where the light and view is.

3. View:
Always maximise the views. For Room to Improve we did a house in Glasnevin that had a lovely south-west facing garden. There was a door at the back with two tiny windows and heavy blinds so you couldn't see the garden. If you have any kind of an outside space, make your house relate to it because it can be another room.

4. Keep it pure and simple:
Work from a blank canvas. People will pick a floor or choose a fireplace or a painting separately and look at things in an individual way and not together. I'm not a great believer in decor - lots of soft furnishings and that. Animate the house yourself with your own possessions and things that you love. I often see people buying paintings just because they match the carpet.

5. Proportion:
Everything has to be in proportion. Treat a room as a volume and not a plan: that is three-dimensional rather than two-dimensional. In practical terms, it means that a large room will require a higher ceiling so that you don't get that tunnel effect. The elevation of a wall is like a blank canvas - all windows and doors have to be in proportion to that space.