It’s a paradox, isn’t it? In the midst of the housing crisis, when home ownership was at an all-time low, Room to Improve managed to knock The Late Late Show and Tommy Tiernan off the top charts.
After two years of Covid-related hiatus, the home improvement program is back, and our insatiable cravings for Dermot Bannon, project managers and double-height ceilings seem to have increased. .
Some of the explanations for this are purely logistical – the show, which airs at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, is the best time on RTÉ’s schedule.
There’s also the element of noise – like seeing how complete strangers clean their bedrooms.
Above all, Room for improvement also sell a very simple and marketable fantasy – if you just categorize the utility room or put a shape into your kitchen your home will be better and expandYour life will be better.
And for homeowners, with plenty of disposable income, it’s a very attractive prospect. It gives them a sense of control.
For the peopleLike myself, the tenant, the reasons we view these programs are contradictory and complex.
Personal, Room for improvement Not my favorite home improvement program because the deposit is both too high and not high enough.
They are not high enough because the design ambitions are so predictable. I want clients to say “live in a Swarovski crystal slide boat that doubles as a submarine”.
This does not happen on Room for improvement. Aesthetics are nice. And Dermot as well. And all the stress in the show can eventually be resolved by being nice.
Dermot will never shock you, say the way Linda Barker did Dressing room when she turned a living room into a monochrome mausoleum for Charlie Chaplin or covered 1,800 CDs on a child’s bedroom wall.
Or the time she destroyed her beloved collection of teapots by building a floating bookshelf (MDF boards strung with fishing line).
There’s no such feverish dream interior design going on Room for improvement. We all know what Dermot likes – glasses, and lots of things.
I sometimes wonder when Dermot Bannon’s large glass windows became the interior equivalent of Alan Titchmarsh’s obsession with floors and water features. They will eventually fall out of favor.
But that doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon.
And Dermot also ticks a lot of RTÉ’s boxes when it comes to storage. He is uncontrollable. He is passionate and knowledgeable without being too brainy.
His presentation technique is not too polished, giving it a sense of authenticity. He’s so irritable that people raise their eyebrows and say “Wow, someone has a hump!”, but he’s no diva.
We know what we’re getting with him. And that’s part of the show’s appeal. It’s repetitive and familiar.
Sure, there are complicated tensions but in the end we all know how every show will end. With everyone looking as happy as Larry and talking about an incredible journey they’ve been on.
As viewers, we love predictability – this is why we’ve all re-watched every episode of Friend at least five times and why is there a non-stop stream of reboots and recoveries.
However, as I mentioned, Room for improvement not my favorite home makeover show.
Although the design stakes are too low, the stakes are also too high because it’s based on the Irish real estate market.
When you’ve rented a home for years, like I did, home ownership becomes an illusion.
It’s up there with my fantasy of the sheer execution of Dolly Parton – I’d love for it to happen but deep down it just doesn’t feel tangible.
If you’re a tenant, following Irish home improvement programs can feel like an act of self-assessment. Similar to how you can listen to all of Adele’s following playlists after a breakup.
Is it good for health? Probably not, but most of us are still susceptible.
Many of the people who organize these types of shows will insist that they are not abetting or fueling the housing crisis.
They will point out that politicians should sort all of that out and tell you that throw cushions and the Farrow & Ball paint choice is intrinsically apolitical. But it’s a deliberate benign reading.
It is also one that disclaims our public service broadcasters.
These show ownership of your home, while inadvertently highlighting how difficult it is for you to put a personal stamp on your property while you’re renting. In most rentals, you must ask for permission to hang pictures or paint the walls.
I know some people will point out that you can simply change the channel, but sometimes it’s hard to see far.
Especially when home ownership seems to be second only to the weather on our favorite national conversation topics.
And as the housing crisis continues, our passion for properties and home improvement shows that it is likely to grow.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/as-a-renter-watching-room-to-improve-feels-like-self-flagellation-41391868.html Kirsty Blake Knox: As a renter, watch Dermot Bannon on RTÉ’s Room to improve the feel of chess