‘Yes I like it! I have to admit it! Dermot was right!”
Three years on and long-haul pilot Ian Callaghan is now a declared fan of the infamous concrete wall that became the pivotal point of friction in his home’s 2016 episode of Room To Improve; forever remembered as “The One with Dermot’s Concrete Monolith Wall”.
Presenter Dermot Bannon’s driven efforts to perfect the great wall of concrete in his glass-box extension for Callaghan, complete with stressed bits showing, famously didn’t grab the imagination of the Drogheda-based pilot who had only just purchased his 1930s period dream home in need of restoration and extension.
Knowing Dermo’s budget-busting reputation, Ian had asserted his priority for his project as: “Agreeing on a budget (with Dermot) and sticking with that budget.” But viewers watched as Dermot persisted with his “vision” of a monolith wall of concrete in the living extension and kitchen areas, despite steady reservations from Callaghan, who had to fly off for a week or more at a time with his work, leaving the architect in charge.
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We watched Dermot’s mistake with the plans hold up his great wall and the project overall. Later we discovered the great wall of Dermot had been put in upside down. The builder complained: “I’ve built houses quicker than this friggin wall!”
Callaghan did however, manage to head Dermot off at the pass when it came to his idea for a “black monolithic kitchen” to go with said concrete wall.
By the end of the episode it was clear that the Drogheda flyer seemed happy with the restoration overall but remained unconvinced about Dermot’s “great wall”. “It looks like you’re still waiting to finish it and like two foot of the edging has just fallen off,” Callaghan had concluded.
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Aranmore is a part-brick house at the Dublin Road in Drogheda which the airline pilot purchased for €295,000 when he moved home after living in London for 11 years.
Ian was initially attracted to it because of its original features and his wish was to have it restored but adding light and a contemporary feel to it.
Like Ian, Dermot loved these features. “It has been pretty much untouched since its original construction,” the architect enthused. “You just don’t get how beautiful this building is until you start looking. properly”
He pinpointed the original terrazzo fireplaces, the original windows, the architraves and the dado rails as being particularly special when assessing the scheduled 16-week project as being “half conservation and half renovation”. He added: “If you do too much to this house you destroy it.”
The other great contention in this project was the discovery of olde worlde wiring behind modern socket panels and switch covers, meaning that a complete rewiring job had to be added to the €150,000 budget for the project.
So this project did go over budget, but a good part that was the owner’s last-minute addition of expensive underfloor heating to the build.
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Now three years after the dust has settled and with plans to sell up and move on, Callaghan takes the opportunity to admit that Dermot was right about the wall all along.
“It just sort of fits the room. I didn’t see that in the beginning but I really like it now. So yes, Dermot was right about the concrete wall. Fair play to him for having the overall vision of what it would all look like and for trying so hard to convince me.”
The pilot recently placed the property on the market for €535,000 through local agent Shane Black and thanks perhaps to its familiarity on TV (the episode is still on the RTE Player), as well as its restored integrity, it has received plenty of viewer attention.
Located in the upmarket Dublin Road enclave in Drogheda, Aranmore is now a four-bedroom family home which spans 1,852 sq ft, almost twice the size of an average city semi.
As was envisioned in the televised renovation, it is now two homes in one – the stylishly restored period house with its grand dimensions and warming features – meshed with Bannon’s modern living space to the side and rear.
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There’s the front pram porch, the stained glass panels on the stairwell, the solidity of the original doors and joinery, including the stair rail and risers, the original floor boards upstairs which are stained and polished and the now open-plan, interlinking front and rear reception rooms with those original fireplaces looking almost brand new.
Finally there’s the kitchen and living ensemble with Dermot’s infamous concrete wall now looking ultimately serene and zen behind a raised stove fire. The kitchen is white (not black) and includes one of the architect’s much-favoured window seats for guests to have a cuppa or a glass of vino and a chat while you cook for them.
Aranmore is within minutes’ walk of Drogheda Town Centre. To see how it was done, check RTE Player Season Nine, Episode Two.
Local agent Shane Black (041) 9810848 has been seeking €535,000. An offer has been accepted in principle at the time of going to press.
Aranmore Dublin Road, Drogheda, Co Louth
Asking price: €535,000
Agent: Shane Black (041) 9810848
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