Home of the Year winner revealed: restored 1920s redbrick ‘full of style and bold design’ lands the big prize

The crucial snoop factor that makes Home of the Year so addictive is missing from the series finale

“A day full of violence” is Home of the Year judge Hugh Wallace’s prediction as the cult property series arrives at its grand final (RTÉ One, Tuesday, 8.30pm). The promise dangled before us, like a hunk of raw beef steak, is that adjudicators Wallace and Amanda Bone (both architects) and Sara Cosgrove (an interior designer) will scrap tooth and nail for their favourite property.

With seven contenders, that’s a lot of potential conflict: the implication is that Home of the Year is about to put “rrr” in bricks and mortar.

Alas, this long-awaited smackdown is nowhere near as visceral as viewers may have hoped. Yes, there are one or two flashpoints as the panel debate the merits of the properties that have made it to the grand decider. Here, the big clash of personalities is between Wallace, who loves all houses equally, and Bone, a minimalist with an existential dread of ornate designs.

Bone expresses her misgivings about an old rectory in Derry, where she feels the “interiors overwhelm the home”. “You want it all painted white!” says Wallace. Bone throws him a look that could strip wallpaper at 50 paces.

Another (very minor) bust-up concerns an en suite loo with a unique design. “The main bedroom didn’t have a door into the bathroom,” says interior designer Cosgrove. Wallace is stunned: “It’s not like you have party guests trooping past you.”

This is the red meat we came for. Unfortunately, there is nowhere near enough. Instead Hugh and the gang have a generally matey time as they whittle down the hopefuls.

Aside from a lack of friction, the other big problem with that finale is that it removes the crucial snoop factor that makes Home of the Year so addictive. In the series proper, the fun comes from watching the trio of experts swan around and wax poetically about cupboards, hall stands, and open-plan kitchens the size of several student bedsits.

Sadly, there is no such excitement in the final. Instead, the shortlisted homeowners gather in Palmerstown Estate House near Naas and exchange small talk as the judges hash it out.

Tension is conspicuous by its absence and the decision to award the top prize to Shane Murray and Marty Campbell’s restored 1920s redbrick terraced home in Dublin feels random. It’s a lovely house. But is it head and shoulders above the competition? While Cosgrove, Bone and Wallace believe so – “balances creativity and functionality ... full of style and bold design,” says Cosgrove – you come away with the sense that, on a different day, they could have picked any of the other six.

One common criticism of Home of the Year is that, amid a housing crisis, there should be no room on the schedules for property porn – even when it’s at the tasteful end of the spectrum.

However, such a critique feels mean-spirited in the context of the seven wonderful designs – and victors Murray and Campbell get the tone right when expressing joy at their win and humility at being selected over the other candidates.

They are to be congratulated for their triumph – it’s just a pity the road to victory didn’t offer more of the gory drama Wallace had promised in advance.

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