Senator’s Wicklow home to feature on RTÉ

Episode three of the new series of Ireland’s favourite home improvement show, Room To Improve, will the feature the Wicklow home of Senator Katherine Zappone and Dr. Ann Louise Gilligan.

Zappone and Gilligan share a former hunting lodge built in the early 20th century in Brittas, north of Blessington. Partners for 30 years and married for the last nine, the couple have fallen out of love with the wooden house they refer to as ‘the shanty’.

The challenge for architect and host Dermot Bannon will be to rehabilitate the dilapidated lodge and link it to an adjacent mews building. But with a limited budget – nowhere near enough to complete the plan Dermot initially devises – and two famously single-minded clients to deal with, compromise is the order of the day.

With battle lines drawn, conflict begins on day one, with Dermot presenting a long list of omissions and retentions required to meet the constraints of the budget, then insisting on the retention of a high picture window, even though a large supporting beam will bisect it.

As the build gets underway, demolition work exposes a wooden structure so flimsy and frail that builder Peter Finn fears the place might collapse before he and his crew can save it. In order to reinforce the building, specially made oak beams will have to be imported from Germany.

In order to maintain the integrity of his design, Dermot will require all the diplomacy and sales skills at his disposal but, despite his optimism, there’s no arguing with Katherine and Ann Louise.

It seems the architect has finally met his match. Twice.

Watch this episode of Room to Improve on Sunday, the 1st December at 9.30pm on RTE ONE.

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