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'We're stuck at home, so let's make the place better', urges Dermot

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Dermot Bannon put his skills to good use when he took the bath from his own house and put it at the end of the garden with his new shed

Dermot Bannon put his skills to good use when he took the bath from his own house and put it at the end of the garden with his new shed

Dermot Bannon put his skills to good use when he took the bath from his own house and put it at the end of the garden with his new shed

Celebrity architect Dermot Bannon has an interesting theory about the surge in house renovation projects during the epidemic - and it is not just about the working-from-home phenomenon.

"I think it's one of the things we can control right now," he said. "We can control very little at the moment, and that's one of the biggest challenges for everybody, losing control of our lives.

"Control is about decisions, and we've lost the decision- making process."

He said that in the absence of being able to make plans for holidays or even a simple gathering, sorting out a home extension or finally converting the attic is a simple project to focus on.

Fixated

"I know one of the big things I've always wanted to do with my kids is take them on a skiing holiday, but it was never the right time," he said.

"Now is the perfect time to do it, but there's not a hope of it happening, so all the plans and family decisions have been taken away from people.

"The only plans people can go ahead with is when it comes to their homes - 'We can make this place better and get the ball rolling on it'."

Bannon also believes people have become fixated during the pandemic with little things in their homes that normally would not bother them as we are spending so much time indoors.

"I've had people coming to me in the office about things they would never have noticed before, like chargers. Every kitchen table now has nine devices plugged around it," he said.

"There's cables going across everything and the printer and scanner needs to be set up. Everything is magnified.

"You just start to notice things you never did before."

Given that people are very limited in where they can go at the moment, they are keen to make the most of their living spaces.

"People are missing pubs and having somewhere different and special to go, so they're trying to turn their homes into a nice restaurant for a date night or somewhere that's cosy," Bannon said.

"During the first big lockdown in March and April when we had no freedom whatsover, the weather was good, so people were out for walks, they were rediscovering all of that.

"It's going to be a lot harder now in the winter when it's dark at 4pm in the evening and it's cold.

"People are going to be stuck in the same space for a long time and that's going to be really hard."

Bannon will be back on our screens tomorrow with the new series of Incredible Homes.

He had filmed one episode in Canada and was all set to fly to Spain for episode two when the lockdown was imposed, scuppering all his plans.

"It's a bit odd watching it back now, because there's hugs and kisses and no two-metre social distancing because we filmed it in February," he said.

"Canada was amazing, just brilliant, and very different to Ireland as the weather goes from minus 20 degrees to 35 degrees in the summer.

Showy

"I saw some stunning houses and amazing locations.

"The Canadians are very modest as a nation and they're not showy at all. It's a lovely country."

Bannon had to film the remainder of the series in Ireland, but said his trip to Canada led to him gorging on award-winning Netflix series Schitt's Creek.

"I was watching Ozark during lockdown, I wasn't sleeping and it's very dark at the end. I needed something to give me a lift and it was Schitt's Creek," he said.

One of the highlights of the new series is a visit to the Killiney mansion where Hollywood star Matt Damon stayed during his extended visit to Ireland last March.

"It's a playhouse, a fun house and it's kind of cool," Bannon said.

"I grilled the woman who showed us around the house about him and she said, 'Obviously this goes no further'. So I got a few anecdotes about his time there."