Home of the Year is back for its sixth series and the first episode aired this evening, featuring a familiar face to HouseandHome.ie fans!
Over the course of the next eight weeks, judges Hugh Wallace, Deirdre Whelan and Peter Crowley will be examining 21 homes as they compete for the title. After six years on the show, Hugh opens the episode by saying he's expecting perfection from this year's contenders - so the bar is set high.
Tonight we got a look inside the houses of the first three contenders: a 200-year old Dublin home, a building contractor's Meath barn-style home, and an interior designer's self build home in Dublin.
The latter home was that of Alannah Monks, who has styled a number of the real home tours you've seen appear in the pages of House and Home magazine and on Houseandhome.ie. Before last night's episode, it was time for her to turn her attention to her own home to work her magic before the judges arrived.
She has lived in her self-build home in Dublin with her husband Patrick and her two daughters since 2013, and she says she's constantly evolving its style. She describes it as eclectic and says she views her home as a playground for trying out new designs, colour schemes and ideas.
She wants each room to have its own style, often led by colour, so every space feels different.
She wouldn't put something into a client's house if she wasn't happy to live with it herself, so a lot of experiments happen inside the Dublin space, and the couple take on most of the projects to DIY themselves.
From the outside, Peter declares the home a 'modern cottage', which Deirdre feels is perfectly complemented by the country front door. The tall, light-filled hallway made a great first impression, but Peter felt claustrophobic walking into the much darker kitchen/dining room. Though, Deirdre begged to differ from a different vantage point.
Hugh loved the huge number of influences that Alannah had flagged, in her living room, describing her as having 'an adventurous personality'. When Peter and Deirdre weren't loving how busy the bedroom is, Hugh defended that exact personality expressed throughout the home.
Alannah wasn't ahead of the pack with her interior designer background as the 200-year old Dublin home belonged to another interior designer, Kerry Hiddleston and her partner Patrick O'Grady. When he first showed her the home before they bought it, she admits she thought he was crazy.
It was in poor condition when they bought it, but they gutted it, renovated and added an extension. The house had no original features left and they wanted a contemporary fun home for their family of six.
Kerry describes her style as a mix of contemporary and classic, with a few statement art pieces and occasional strong colours. She designed her house herself, with fun bedrooms for the four kids, with bunk beds with a fireman’s pole and a secret door in the wardrobe that interconnects two of the bedrooms.
She also added some curves in her home, including a curved wall in the living room and a curved stair, to contrast with its L-shape set-up.
Peter liked how subtle and understated the home appeared from the outside, but the quickly realised on walking in that there was little subtle about the home as the saw the curved staircase in the dark hallway.
The open plan kitchen/dining/living area was striking to the judges in a completely different way.
Hugh might have been disappointed about the restrained colour in this space, but Peter loved how pared back it was. Upstairs, Deirdre had only compliments for the creative way Kerry has set up the children's bedrooms, from the fireman's pole to the hidden Alice in Wonderland style door through the two rooms.
The final home in tonight's episode was that of building contractor Seamus Harrington, who wanted create a home for his family that nestles into its county Meath landscape. The house looks like three separate barns from the outside and the style is minimalist - a complete opposite to Alannah's home.
Seamus and his wife Karen love their minimalist style the materials they have used are stripped back; they don’t have skirtings or architraves plus they like the “no clutter” approach. They have used materials such as polished concrete and have a concrete island in the kitchen.
They describe the creation of their home as a labour of love and they feel very lucky to have a home like it.
As the gates open to reveal the three-barn set-up, Deirdre declares it an architectural statement, the best bit of which is the bright yellow door which she feels is so welcoming. Hugh says there's perfection in the detailing of the build, with simplicity in the furniture choices to match.
The lack of soft furnishings like rugs and other comforting factors, make the acoustics very harsh, and the judges wonder if they're sacrificing that comfort in favour of the impressive architecture.
The mixture of textures in the bathroom is something they would have liked to see carried through the rest of the house a little more to achieve a slightly softer, less cold feel - but that doesn't mean they aren't thoroughly impressed by the home.
At the end of the episode - spoiler alert! - Kerry's period home was the one chosen to head into the final with a score of 25 from the judges. But one thing's for sure, if these are just the first three homes, this is shaping up to be a great series for homeowners looking for inspo.
Home of the Year airs on RTÉ One on Tuesdays at 8:30pm until April.