Room To Improve: Dermot Bannon turns family home into 'Tardis' with the wow factor

See the transformation of this three-bedroom semi-detached residence in Dublin after just 12 weeks 
Room To Improve: Dermot Bannon turns family home into 'Tardis' with the wow factor

The new kitchen/living space at the Grays' home in Castleknock, Dublin. Pictures: Ruth Maria Murphy

A wonder wall usually seen in Swedish households and a cinema den inspired by luxury American homes contribute to the Tardis-like appeal of this revamped residence in west Dublin.

Ann-Marie and Andy Gray want to extend their three-bedroom semi-detached Castleknock property which they share with their sons Tristan and Senan.

Three months ago, the house was “just your average semi-d”, says architect Dermot Bannon in episode four, the finale of the current series of Room To Improve.

Now, from the solar panels on the roof to the extension, it’s been upgraded to a 21st-century build. “The house didn’t work as a home for them," says Dermot.

And the extension “makes the outside part of the inside”, he adds. 

Contractor Denis McGlynn delivers the project in 12 weeks — to Dermot’s brief, turning the property into “a really functional machine for living”.

Ann-Marie, a nurse, and Andy, a physicist, who has been working from home since the pandemic, have a budget of €180,000 from savings and through re-mortgaging, they tell their architect.

Ann-Marie, Andy, Tristan and Senan Gray.
Ann-Marie, Andy, Tristan and Senan Gray.

The Gray family have been living in the house for 17 years. It was built in the mid-1990s but they want to future-proof it, increase the BER rating from a C1 to an A3, as well as add a rear extension.

Dermot says: “So, the aim of all of this is to try to get all of the benefits of the really cool houses that you see in magazines — we’re trying to get all of that functionality but rethink it and try to put it into a three-bed semi-d.”


He draws up a plan to add a part-brick extension to the rear of the house, leaving a slice of garden to the side to allow light flow in and to offer framed views.

The floor of the extension is dropped to the level of the garden, with a raised ceiling creating a more dramatic new living space.

The existing kitchen and dining room are knocked together, unified by a new storage wall.

This, explains the architect, establishes “a clearly defined route through the house, meaning it feels less cluttered and more organised". 

To the front is that “enclosed, relaxed retreat for the entire family”. Aside from a building energy upgrade, the first floor remains unchanged.


Dermot promises the couple “the most efficient storage wall in Ireland” instead of a utility room, in the form of a heat-pump drying cabinet: “Every single house I went to in Sweden had one of these; I don’t know why we don’t have them in Ireland,” he says.


The media room is in response to the family’s — mainly Andy’s — passion for movies.

The interiors before. 
The interiors before. 

“It’s kind of the stuff of 'Cribs', isn’t it?” Dermot says.

“Your biggest hobby is cinema, so let’s dedicate an entire space to it.” 


Quantity surveyor Claire Irwin is pleased with the final tally.

Despite the build taking place in what she describes as a “crazy time in the construction industry”, the final cost comes in under the original cost plan of €188,000, at a total of €186,000.

“We just made a number of small savings throughout,” says the QS.

“The €186,000 doesn’t include items that Andy and Ann-Marie brought in themselves, items in the media room and external paving.” 

  • Episode four of the four-part 2023 series of Room To Improve aired on RTÉ One on Sunday, January 29, and can be seen on RTÉ Player



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