“Now there is room to dance in the kitchen”



The televised makeover of a Co Wexford home is intriguing as it highlights how all households should have their own space and make design work for us.

The renovation team removed the wallpaper, peeling off the past, one layer at a time, while owner Mary O’Brien and her pals sorted and sent a life of mess in her path.

Mary has always loved where she lived, but the family home she inherited from her parents was simply not suitable for her needs.

Mary’s kitchen before ….

Mary is a member of the tight-knit community of Bridgetown in County Wexford, and a popular member of the staff at Wexford Garda Station, where she has been a clerk since 1976.

As a little person, Mary had to adapt to a house that was never designed for her.

Tall kitchen units, a three-foot-deep ventilation cabinet, and out of reach storage all helped make the house cluttered and difficult to navigate.

“I’m bubbly, friendly, and involved in things, but people probably don’t know the clutter is out of my control and I need help; everything is too high for me, ”said Mary.

“I’m afraid of change, I have to be pushed a bit. “

The house of Mary presented on Home rescue: the miracle solution on RTÉ Two this Thursday evening (November 18), where architect Róisín Murphy and builder Peter Finn and their team found a solution.

Róisín sat down with Mary at the start. “Why am I here?” she asked.

And the interesting aspect of this home redesign was that it focused on the owner.

As innovative as Róisín’s plans were to create a bespoke kitchen, a quiet contemplative bedroom, and a combined walk-in closet and walk-in closet for Mary’s vast collection of seasonal clothing, it was teasing Mary’s reasons for wanting the change and the sense of having fun with friends and family which was more compelling.

“I would just say, I’m little, I’m little, you know,” said Mary.

The kitchen, like most of the house, was not accessible or usable, she stressed.

Marie's cooking after ...
Marie’s cooking after …

“What is up there doesn’t come down too often,” said Mary, gesturing to the cupboards out of reach. “It wasn’t designed for me.

We watched Mary lug a stepladder and stepladder about to put the towels in the three-foot-deep heat press and do other regular chores.

“I guess that’s normal for me,” she said. “I probably walk a lot more than a normal person. I adapted rather than have the house adapted.

“Now I’m flying, I won’t always be flying in 20 years. “

Mary's house after ...
Mary’s house after …

Clutter is another feature that has crept in. “I like clothes and I have too many of them,” she added. “I don’t have enough storage. But “rather than taking the ladder or the stairs, it’s easy to drop it,” she adds.

Mary has lived here since she was about three years old, Róisín added. “This is his home, and it has remained unchanged, as if we were stepping back in time. She’s irreverent and bouncy, but she looks like her parents Tom and Sheila’s house, she doesn’t look like Mary’s house.


But Mary was adamant about one design element: “I don’t want it to be like a little dollhouse, I don’t want it to look miniature.

It was this comment that piqued Róisín’s interest, especially since she wanted to create a bespoke design for the owner.

“She’s very concerned about the judgments people might make,” said the architect, asking Mary about “ghosts and silent judges.”

Marie replied, “Some people were talking about me; see who’s with me and chat with them until I speak. I am normal, I am just small.

Róisín has created a plan that revolves around an accessible kitchen as well as a restful bedroom, a walk-in closet and an extra room.

Kitchen design “encompasses something that I’m really passionate about, universal design”, according to the architect.


In the decluttering tents, Mary was supported by her niece Róisín, her sister Claire and her cousin Maeve, but it was the owner herself who proved to be the most efficient sorter on site and ready, as she called it. ‘said, for his “new chapter”.

The units were changed, space was created where none seemed to have existed, and the entire redesign was tailored to Mary’s needs.

This was no ordinary layout, and the team quickly realized that this important change would take much longer than expected. There really is ‘something about Mary’ as so many friends and family colleagues were eager to help and praise the owner.

Mary with her sorting pile outside her house.
Mary with her sorting pile outside her house.

There were cameo roles from everyone from Superintendent Garda at Mary’s workplace to the local priest, Father Pat and country music star Michael English, who were all excited to chat about their friend.

Mary's house after ...
Mary’s house after …

As for Mary’s verdict? “I’m moving forward now, it’s my house, it will be more accessible for me, I will enjoy it more, and never clutter it up again.


“The whole kitchen is more accessible to me, and anyone of normal height can work in it – and there is plenty of space to dance.

“It’s like a new house I’m entering – my house.”

Builder Peter added, “Country superstars, family friends, name him, we’re all going to come here, because Mary’s going to have a house that she’s going to want to show off.”



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