A splash of modern: Declan O'Donnell of 'Home of the Year' fame designed Olive Lodge

It’s ‘battle of the abodes’ time again, with news that the fourth series of the popular ‘Home of the Year’ will commence from this Tuesday, February 28, at 8:30pm on RTÉ One.

Over eight weeks, 21 different homes from all over Ireland will compete for the ultimate title with three very different properties featured each week until the grand finale and an overall winner emerges. Game of Thrones fought politely with swishy pads rather than bloodthirsty dynasties.

This year’s smorgasbord of top dwellings includes a renovated school house building, a converted 18th Century Mill, a series of contemporary newly completed homes, a traditional farm cottage and reimagined bungalows and semis.

More voyeuristic than project and sale based property shows, HOTY simply gives us an unadulterated scour around the insides of one great home after another. Its strongest sales pitch is selection – as usual all HOTY’s homes have been designed and furnished by their owners for themselves only; not by builders for the market or by those seeking to emulate trends. That means it’s a rolling visual smash and grab of ideas to deploy within your own walls.

And while the tone tends to be polite and reverential, there’s always been a touch of twitchy, yet controlled, frisson between its triad of judges, with the bubbles breaking ever so slightly now and then on the screen surface.

But this year there’s been a change to our guru gang. For the new season, we have lost one architect and gained another. The scarfed-up Hugh Wallace is back alongside textiles and furnishings expert Deirdre Whelan. But notably absent is hipster quiffster Declan O’Donnell, the most discerning component of the old crew and the one who has been most likely to break polite cover to tell us what he really thinks.

O’Donnell is instead concentrating on his core architectural business which will be kept busy right now with high demand for one-offs and refurbs. On HOTY he’s been replaced by another architect, Patrick Bradley.

Through the last three seasons O’Donnell, who is a founding partner with ODKM, has made no bones about his personal preferences for the simple and the contemporary, with a touch of the retros thrown in.

A fan of Mies van der Rohe, the Belfast-born architect is also a classically trained flautist and almost made it in a rock band. His taste, and that of like minded fellow ODKM architects Barry Kane and Ciaran McCoy, is characterised by the ultra contemporary one-off home projects this trio have become renowned for; the sort normally found glossing up coffee table tomes. And indeed he’s published his own: ‘Rooms’ with Declan O’Donnell.

Sometimes the ODKM trio can also be persuaded to bring their stylish contemporary take to a more typical estate type home.

A perfect example of this is 2a Woodside Drive in Rathfarnham, one of a pair developed on a site in a typical modern suburban setting which looks fairly “estatey” on the outside (likely for planning) but it turns out to be an entirely contemporary animal internally.

This 2016-built home, developed to an ultra high Passivhaus energy saving standard, is on the market through Sherry FitzGerald, seeking €1.95m. There’s a lot of house here, with 4,284 sq ft laid out over four floors – that’s just under four times the size of an average three-bed semi-detached.

At its core is a huge open plan kitchen, living and dining space which overlooks the garden. Its kitchen area has a marble effect quartz counter top, a Siemens double oven (one a combi), a double fridge and a Siemens dishwasher. There’s a big statement in the stylish central island in white with its marble effect quartz surface and an integrated multizone induction hob (also Siemens) and a Faber downdraft extractor. A series of Velfac overhead windows souse the whole area in natural light.

Double tilt and slide doors lead to the patio outside with strategically placed LED spotlights and integrated Bluetooth speakers. There’s a utility off the kitchen area with storage and a built-in freezer.

The family room has dark oak parquet flooring and a double sided wood stove.

And for watching Home of the Year with your friends (or Room with A View if you’ve somehow gone off the former) there’s a truly decent home cinema room complete with projector and a raised platform seated area from which to enjoy the movie.

Other luxury touches include a games and playroom (main photo) a wine cellar with handmade solid oak racks and drawers, and a dedicated laundry room to keep your whites out of sight. This house also has its own fully equipped gymnasium.

There’s a Husky central vac system to prevent the dust gathering under your feet. Upstairs are four double bedrooms and the master suite comes with double wardrobes and a Calacatta tiled en suite with a walk-in shower and underfloor heating. The family bathroom is also done in Calacatta floor and wall tiles with a standalone tub, underfloor heating and a dual function waterfall and rainfall shower, depending on what shower you want to come down in.

Finally, the attic floor has a home office and study, a shoe room, a spare room and a shower room with two shower heads.

Surely worthy of a place on HOTY?

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