invites you to join her on a virtual couch this evening to see which homeowner will take the spoils.
Despite being in lockdown these past few weeks, we’ve snooped well beyond the hall door and trooped through a variety of very different houses — all from the comfort of our own homes.
The two months have seen 21 residences strut their stuff in a bid for this year’s Home of the Year title — and now, we get to revisit the seven finalists’ homes for the day of reckoning as we join judges Hugh Wallace, Deirdre Whelan and Peter Crowley in Palmerstown in Co Kildare for the grand finale.
Two Cork dwellings are in the final — the lighthouse keeper’s cottage in Youghal owned by Saoirse Fitzgerald, and Loïc Dehaye’s Ballinlough Road residence in Cork City. The other homes are in Dublin, Belfast, and Cavan.
So arm yourself with our cheat sheet in advance of the grand finale, on RTÉ One at 8.30pm tonight.
When interior designer Kerry Hiddleston and Patrick O’Grady bought a 200-year-old home in Dublin, it was in poor condition.
They gutted and renovated it, and added an extension.
The house had no original features left and they wanted a contemporary fun home for their family of six.
Kerry is an interior stylist and designer who describes her style as a mix of contemporary and classic with a few statement art pieces plus occasional strong colours.
Sean Carolan and Jason Lawless were out for a drive one day when they spotted an old farmhouse.
They viewed it and made decided to make an offer after only 20 minutes, inside the house as they had fallen in love with the location. Their five-bedroom Co Cavan home was in a liveable condition but in need of modernisation so they gutted it and added an extension.
They describe their home as eclectic, and have collected a lot of furniture from skips and second-hand stores.
Eoin Murray and his wife, Kate O’Donnell, bought their home, a 1930s council house in Dublin, over three years ago.
The house was cleverly transformed thanks to the designs of Eoin’s architect sister, Ciara Murray of Newmark Architecture. It sits on an unusual site so Ciara and her business partner Sinead had to work with that.
They gutted the entire house and basically rebuilt it, and added an extension, doubling the floor space.
Saoirse Fitzgerald lives in a restored and extended lighthouse keeper’s cottage next door to a lighthouse in East Cork. Saoirse went to school nearby the lighthouse and was living in London when she saw the cottage up for sale.
She spent a few months renovating it with the help of conservation architects and her family. It was important for Saoirse to take advantage of the sea view, so she opened up a lot of the walls downstairs.
A coal shed is now a mainly glass bathroom with spectacular views out to the sea. Saoirse loves to sit outside with a lantern, where she can see and you see the light from the flash of the lighthouse and hear the waves crashing.
Ethna Dorman lives in a 19th-century converted carriage house and hayloft in a picturesque courtyard setting in Co Dublin. When her husband, William, passed away she converted the house into what she describes as her “sanctuary”.
She restored the building and created a partly open-plan living room and kitchen, separated by the old stable wall screens, and retained the original wainscoting on the walls.
She lowered the floor upstairs in the hayloft to accommodate the bedrooms and bathrooms. Most of the furniture in the house had been made by her late husband, William.
Interior designer Lee Austin and Mark Johnston had been looking for a spacious house in Belfast that Lee could put his own stamp on.
In his work, Lee has worked on many properties — but his home was by far the biggest challenge he ever embarked on. They did a full refurbishment and now the only original aspects of the house that remain are the doors and the fireplaces.
Architect Loïc Dehaye lives in Cork with his two daughters in a house that he redesigned. Loïc wanted a blank canvas to work with. He bought his home in 2017 and it was nearly derelict, so he gutted, renovated, and extended it.
He kept most of the walls and partitions, and the “good room” because, he notes, “it’s nice and snug”. The open-plan extension connects outside and inside and is designed to make room “the hub of the family”.