TV architect Hugh Wallace on renovating his own home and says he’s not a ‘starchitect’


Hugh Wallace couldn’t be accused of failing to empathize with homeowners who see their lives turned upside down on one of his popular TV shows.

he TV architect and her husband Martin have just started renovating their forever home in the heart of Dublin city.

And the 65-year-old already feels like he’s starring in his own episode of The great revival of the housethough fans sadly couldn’t see a “big reveal” from the low-key couple’s revamped digs down the line.

“Stress,” he says on the phone while enjoying a well-deserved vacation in the sun. “And the anxiety over the whole project.

“At the moment we live in a small cottage next to the house we bought and the work has just started. There is absolutely nothing — I have four walls.

“I don’t make a show about it because Martin is very discreet. But I will bring all the neighbors, there is no doubt.

“I live in this great old part of Dublin near Clanbrassil Street. There is a lady in the street who organizes the street sweeping, so if you don’t sweep the part of the street in front of your house, she knocks on your door. I love that.

“People scribbled graffiti on a big wall and they all organized and cleaned everything up again. The community kind of takes care of each other. We left the keys at the door and went to work and we came back and the neighbor came in and said, “I think you left them at the door.”

Hot from the back of House of the yearLanded by a 150-year-old Wicklow farmhouse owned by Kate and Shane Byrne, the presenter can now be seen on the third season of the popular RTÉ food show.

Like viewers, Hugh says his jaw was on the floor during some of the impressive restorations featured on the Sunday night staple, filmed under the most trying circumstances to date in the last three years.

“This year’s buildings are extraordinary. They range from a general store in Monaghan to a 14th century tower house in Cork. It’s amazing to see these owners attacking abandoned buildings, and you’re like, ‘You must be crazy!’ jokes the director of Douglas Wallace Architects.

“It’s not as if they were architects or engineers; they are social media personalities, they are nurses, they are doctors, and they are going through this extraordinary journey to save our heritage, to renovate houses that were on the verge of collapse and disappearance. And, my God, when you see what they’re doing — especially in this show — it’s mind-blowing, and they’re all pretty young.

The dapper host first rose to prominence as a judge in RTÉ’s national home competition alongside architect Declan O’Donnell and homewares designer Helen James, and later the architect Amanda Bone and interior designer Sara Cosgrave.

He also scored another hit in the genre of crowded real estate shows with My bungalow happiness on the channel last year.

But hardworking Hugh, who at one point in recent weeks had two simulcasts on RTÉ, insists he still doesn’t consider himself a celebrity – and is particularly allergic to the word used to describe the architects of television.

“‘Starchitect?!'” repeats the dismayed Dubliner. “Ah Jesus, I don’t think I got that far. It was sort of the 2000s – there were definitely a few starchitches from around the world around the place, but they fell by the wayside.

“People would come in and say hello, and they’d say, ‘Hello, Hugh’ and then I say, ‘God, I gotta know you’ and, of course, I don’t. Then people want selfies and stuff like that, and it’s okay. People are really, really nice.”

Irish Twitter, needless to say, may be a whole different story, with the score on House of the yearin particular, often drawing the wrath of chair judges on social media, although Hugh concedes his female colleagues usually have a harder time.

“Indeed they do,” he says. “Particularly Amanda – but she takes it in good spirits. I think it’s just hilarious some of the tweets.

“I was stopped during Covid by a guard and he gave me away because he said I gave a house the wrong score. You have to [have thick skin]but it’s just such a fun show.

Suffice to say, he has no intention of overthrowing Dermot Bannon as Ireland’s reigning starchitect. “Not at all,” adds Hugh. “We are good friends – and Diarmuid Gavin. The three of us are having fun. »

So a Gordon, Gino and Fred’s road trip-style show featuring the top three real estate porn dudes in the country has it ever happened?

“Absolutely,” he laughs. “That’s it.”

  • The Great House Revival continues on RTÉ One tonight

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