No Home Improvement Show Is Too Crazy For Me To Watch


It’s been over 10 years since I got really worked up in a tent in Kildare in Oxegen watching British rapper Tinie Tempah perform his hit song Pass Out. I remember thinking I was glad I had made the effort to see him, walking through the mud and the rain.

Then, just a few weeks ago, I got pissed off watching him again, except this time I was on the couch and although he braved the mud and rain, it was during the presentation of a Channel 4 show about posh home extensions.

Yes, Tinie Tempah’s Extraordinary Extensions sounds like something Alan Partridge would present, but even Alan Partridge had some great ideas.

There’s no home improvement show I wouldn’t watch. I could see an ad for Jason Statham’s Thousand Pound Cat Flap or Michael Healy Rae’s Cow Shed to Cabin Chic and I wouldn’t flinch. In fact, I’d probably put the link to the series.

Sometimes the houses and the people who live there are so beautiful that we even forget our cynicism and can be vicariously happy for them and their beautiful tiles.

Despite the depressing reality that homes in Ireland will never become more affordable, we are absolutely mad at shows about buying, renovating, flipping, extending, gutting, saving and finishing, usually with results inaccessible to the average viewer.

RTÉ’s My Bungalow Bliss recently came under fire after a renovation in Donegal went over €100,000 over budget, while Channel 4’s flagship home improvement show is renowned for old Kevin McCloud taking a shaky-headed doom march around the perimeter of the site predicting that Jeremy and Carol and their newborn baby, Rufus, won’t be here until winter – and not before they’ve spent an extra £80,000 on a type of insulation that has yet to be invented.

Another cold December in the caravan is looming, Carol, and your beautiful new home will still feel like a tourist information center.

It’s part envy and part schadenfreude, I think. Many of these shows feature people who not only have the means to put four walls and a roof around themselves, but also to make the space they live in *adopt the voice of Kevin Grand Designs* blends seamlessly into the landscape while displaying flashes of modernity and humor that no one even thought this building could handle.

These are people envisioning a neon yellow staircase and a kitchen with no taps and we’re shouting “go ahead Jeremy, you crazy bastard” from the safety of that same blue DFS couch everyone else has. We know we’ll never have the money for the custom neon steel needed for the demented stairs, but we really want to see Jeremy and Carol fight over it.

RTÉ’s Room to Improve brings it closer to home, introducing ambitious aesthetics and more tangible tastemakers, with modern Irish homes and more achievable renovations. Innovations, materials and color palettes will reverberate and I have no doubt that in 50 years students of architecture will be writing essays on the Dermot Banishment of the Irish home, just as we have all learned how rural Ireland in came to be dotted with ribbons of “blissful” bungalows in the 1970s.

And if it’s not about clean, modern lines, we covet its sympathetic restoration, or better yet a mix of the two. Home of the Year is an almost perfect show in this regard, as it gives us a good look at homes, offers examples of nitpicking from both ends of the period spectrum, and allows us to speculate on what such a thing does. they can afford all that.

Sometimes the houses and the people who live there are so beautiful that we even forget our cynicism and can be vicariously happy for them and their beautiful tiles.

When home renovations move overseas, things tend to get a little crazier, and Channel 4 really has a monopoly on the oddballs taking on French chateaux. Escape to the Château recently wrapped up its eighth season and spawned Château DIY, a spin-off about other families chasing their French countryside dreams. Channel 4 has ordered 60 episodes of the show in 2021 and 2022, showing how invested the viewer is in the fairy tale of a palace in France, and the nightmare of the well that runs dry and finds unexploded bombs of World War II in the pigsty.

Cheap Irish Homes, which had two seasons on RTÉ, sits in a sweet spot between unaffordable fairy tales and tacky locker room time trial. Based on a popular Instagram account, it takes young Declans and Siobháns across the country to ruined farms or cottages with immense potential and invites them and us to imagine doing a Dermot Bannon on them.

It’s the most relevant of all home and building renovation shows and lends itself to pandemic fantasies of ditching the suburban semi-D and moving to the shore of a Midlands lake or western outcrop.

Will many of us ever do? No. Will we keep watching the shows as long as they keep making them? Absoutely.


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