Today FM’s Dave Moore on home renovation: ‘I can’t believe it’s our house. I genuinely still feel that way’

The radio and podcast host discovered a love for DIY and took careful guidance from his wife, artist Tracy Sheridan, when they transformed their north Dublin home

It’s difficult to talk about the home created by Tracy Sheridan and Dave Moore without acknowledging the key role played by Zig and Zag in their story.

The furry aliens brought the couple together more than 20 years ago. Tracy, a former actor, was Velcro Girl on the puppets’ 2Phat show on RTÉ, and Dave was doing music for the show when their eyes met across a crowded studio. Now she’s an artist and illustrator, while Dave is one half of the Dermot & Dave radio show on Today FM, as well as a podcaster and music producer.

When they first moved in together, Dave’s father asked if he knew how to hang a picture on the wall. Dave said he’d call in a man. But he didn’t. “I remember hanging something in the hall and asking Tracy: ‘What if I make a mistake and drill the hole in the wrong place?’ and she said: ‘Just fill it in and drill another one.’ That unlocked a bravery in me, and I realised it’s pretty straightforward when you get stuck in.”

That was the start of his love affair with DIY. Tracy and Dave are well matched. She comes up with the design plans and he brings them to life. Their home in Dublin’s Portmarnock is testament to that can-do attitude.

A few days after they moved in, Tracy unexpectedly took on the first job. When Dave left for work in the morning, there was a wall between the kitchen and the diningroom. “I came home from work to find that Tracy had sledge-hammered most of it down. So, we had to get the builders in to support what she was knocking down.”

They also removed a back kitchen to gain more garden space. A few years later, Dave installed decking and a canvas awning. He later replaced the awning with polycarbonate sheets. “On the days when it’s wet but nice, you can still sit out, and the sofa and bikes stay dry.” After the decking had seen better days, he replaced it with a composite material and aluminium supports “so it will basically last forever”.

He also built a garden room in a weekend with his friend Shane Davitt, a guitar-maker who is also an all-round handyman. “Most of the jobs I’ve done are over a weekend. It’s amazing what you can do when you get stuck in on a Friday afternoon and don’t stop. And Shane is such a repository of knowledge. I had never built a floating floor before, but he had, so I had the confidence to do it.”

Tracy says the garden room is invaluable as a playroom because “the kids are at home but they still have their own space”.

The couple has four children, aged from 8 to 13, and while the house has five bedrooms and a studio upstairs, the kitchen was small. “Now that the kids are getting bigger, we were all a bit squashed, so last summer we said it was time to get the professionals in.”

Extending into the back garden was not an option because they did not want to lose their outdoor space, so they looked towards the front of their house.

“Our hall was huge – actually bigger than our kitchen – so we built out the front and built into the hall with our kitchen,” she says. The work also included a new porch built by Dave and Shane Davitt.

The front of the house was dark, while the garden was south facing, so she came up with the idea of a sliding wall between the kitchen and the rest of the house, to bring the light to the front.

“I actually thought I’d leave the wall closed all the time, but the only time I close it now is when I’m on my own and I want a bit of cosiness, or when there are a billion kids running around and you want a bit of privacy,” she says.

No corner is wasted in the kitchen. A small utility room is hidden behind a cupboard door in the corner. The space under the stairs is a handy play area for Lego and toys.

Kitchen builder Daniel Martin provided the oak kitchen and worked with Tracy on the design. “He listened to me and we were a real team. The most challenging thing was getting the sliding wall, because it had to be so sturdy for the kids.”

The wall is made from fire doors wrapped in oak. “That moving wall has really changed how the house operates,” Dave says. “It was such a genius idea Tracy had.”

The kitchen and table top supplied by Cosentino are made from Dekton, a compacted blend of the raw materials used to produce quartz, porcelain and glass. “It’s impervious to children, which is the most important thing,” he says. “Sharpies, any amount of spillage, everything just wipes up. I can take a pot off the hob and plonk it straight down on it. It’s really functional.”

While they share a studio upstairs – Dave records his podcast Why Would You Tell Me That? there – Tracy often works in the kitchen because of the light. As well as being an artist, she has just finished writing and illustrating her first children’s picture book.

Her vibrant and playful art brightens the walls, while the stairs and landings are what you would expect from someone in the music industry – lots of guitars and awards on the walls. And, er, Dave’s Guinness World Record for an achievement with a Malteser. “It’s the most ridiculous thing,” he says. “I have a Guinness World Record for blowing a Malteser with a straw 27 feet across Stephen’s Green shopping centre floor in 2008.”

His co-presenter, Dermot Whelan, also broke a record that day for suspending a Malteser in the air.

Now, I don’t have €10,000 guitars. I buy things for €200 or €300 that need love and attention

But back to the guitars. Dave is an enthusiastic collector and while he is reluctant to confirm how many he has, a figure of 80 has been mentioned.

“I have built some with Shane, and it’s the most joyous and satisfying thing in the world to do. Now, I don’t have €10,000 guitars. I buy things for €200 or €300 that need love and attention. It’s a real source of joy and contentment to me to plug in and play.”

Guitars are not the only source of music in the house. A few years Tracy casually said it would be nice to get a piano for the children. The following morning, an old but well-loved piano arrived on the doorstep. Dave had searched online and found one around the corner. She sanded it down, stripping away decades of French polish, but when they got it tuned, it transpired that it couldn’t be rescued. “But I really didn’t want to lose it so we decided to get an electric piano to fit into it,” she says.

Dave was guided by YouTube videos when he tackled that job. He removed the keys and key bed to make room for the electric piano, but left the harp and strings in place. He was going to weave material around the strings to silence any vibrations but decided not to. “And actually, they are really nice. Leaving the strings vibrate has made a natural reverb which is gorgeous.”

Tracy thinks they are finished renovating the home, “but you never really stop, do you? We’re finished downstairs but I’m sure next year we’ll find something upstairs to do.”

Almost a year on from their kitchen extension, Dave echoes that thing people say at the end of home makeover programmes. “I can’t believe it’s our house. I genuinely still feel that way.”

Biggest win

Dave and Tracy both agree that the moving wall in the kitchen is the best thing they’ve done in the house. “It has transformed the place,” Dave says.

Biggest mistake

“I’m struggling to find one,” Tracy says. “The only thing I can think of is that we should have done the kitchen job sooner. I think it’s easy to put renovations off because of the upheaval or financial reasons, but the years pass very quickly.”

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