Dermot Bannon (49) is an architect and television presenter. He lives in Drumcondra with his wife Louise and their children – Sarah (17 years old), James (13 years old) and Tom (9 years old).
What were you like as a boy?
I am a nerd mess. I made small talk at school and that was sometimes misinterpreted. I’m not a trouble maker, but my mouth gets me in trouble because I’m always talking.
What did you do?
I used to play Lego a lot and I even entered competitions with it in Arnotts. I live next to Malahide Castle and I often cycle everywhere. I spent most of my youth riding what I thought was a BMX bike but it turned out not to be a BMX. And I love swimming in the sea. I still swim.
Tell us about your swim in the sea.
You have to do something for yourself. I go once a week. The day before, I was in for 15 minutes. Cold weather. The only reason I stayed so long was because two people got in before me and I didn’t want to get out before them. My hands were numb but that was my stupid pride. I didn’t realize how much pride I had.
Were you an avid reader as a child?
Yes, I love the Hardy Boys stories, and I would love Harry Potter if it ever came out because I read all of them as an adult. They are great.
This year you turn 50. Do you have any big plans?
The whole country opened up and I felt I should have a plan. I want an old fashioned disco: go to a pub and rent upstairs with a DJ and pints.
How do you feel about continuing for many more years?
I’m at the peak of the age where you still feel young enough to do most things. You are not at that stage where you can start using your age as an excuse.
Choose three words to describe yourself
Scattered, hilarious (I hope) and honest – I’m known for that on TV. I don’t hit around the bush.
Why are you an architect?
Most people think architects are obsessed with buildings but I’ve always been obsessed with people and how they use things. My greatest love is shaping spaces for people and watching them interact in it. When we went to see my grandmother in Wexford, I was haunted by the space outside the church, in the pylons where people would meet after Mass.
What motivates you?
That changes all the time. It could be starting a business or trying to build a television career. Once it went to the nightclub. But right now it is design. I want to be a better architect. I love learning about design. I feel like I’m an eternal student.
As a child, you lived in Cairo – and noticed similarities to the way that Egyptian city and Ireland lived during the pandemic. How so?
We went there when I was seven years old and we were there for two years. Life on the street. People did everything on the street. But that didn’t happen in Ireland because there was no pandemic. Yes, they have the weather, but most of the time they try to hide from the heat. That’s how people use whitespace.
In design, what do your pets hate and love?
I hate people who try too hard with their home and obsess over styling it, getting it ready for Instagram. I love the light, a beautiful view. It doesn’t have to be a big look. And I like natural materials, like stone and wood.
Tell us about an episode of ‘The Room for Improvement’ that had the biggest impact on you.
There is a family with three children, including a son with autism. I went on a little journey to learn about the lives of people with autism. I worked on it for three years and visited the boy’s school to see what worked for him. I had to find out what regulated him, so the house became a tool to help him. We put in a multi-sensory room, individual living spaces including space for the mother, where she can also keep an eye on her son.
Has being a father changed you?
Yes, it changes everyone. It’s just a liability. At first, those were sleepless nights – but now I’m worried. You are really shaping these people and that is a big responsibility. It took a while for the coin to drop. It’s not until they repeat things to you that you think, ‘Oh my God, did I say that?’
‘Room for Improvement’ is available on RTÉ One on Sundays at 9:30pm and is also available on RTÉ Player
https://www.independent.ie/life/i-hate-when-people-try-to-make-their-homes-instagram-ready-dermot-bannon-on-his-pet-peeves-and-why-he-enjoys-the-worry-of-fatherhood-41386142.html ‘I hate when people try to prep their house on Instagram’ – Dermot Bannon on his pets and why he likes to be nervous about being a father