How to make a house a home: Inside Ruth McGahey’s House of Goose
20th Aug 2020
When interior architect Ruth McGahey (aka, @house_of_goose) and her husband Andrew moved home from London with their three small children, the goal was to create a functioning family home for five. A house renovation and 30,000 Instagram followers later, Ruth tells us how she doesn’t think she’ll ever be truly finished decorating her 5,000 sq ft house and why the key to interiors (and social media) success is a premium camera.
“I love the kitchen because it’s incredibly functional,” says Ruth McGahey, as she talks me through her favourite rooms in her rural Ireland home. The kitchen is a storage haven, with a Calacatta marble counter by Miller Brothers Stone and matching island.
“Probably one of the best things in the kitchen is the double dishwasher situation – I’ve two dishwashers – which people are fascinated by.
“It’s a real room divider; some people say ‘No! You can’t have two dishwashers’ and others say ‘That’s genius’.”
Ruth’s massive kitchen fits two dishwashers for her family of five. Photo: @house_of_goose, taken on the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
Having two dishwashers is a dream scenario for most parents. And Ruth, a mum to three children: Edith, 7, Laurence 5, and Henry, 4, knows all too well how a house needs to function properly in order for it to be a home.
When Ruth and her family settled on their four-bed detached home in the countryside, which is commuter distance to and from Dublin and close enough to family, Ruth knew that the new-build would require a semi-renovation to work for their young family.
“There were four ensuite bathrooms but no main bathroom,” says Ruth. “Having ensuites is great, but Edith was two when we moved home from London and a two-year-old didn’t need an ensuite at that stage.
“The key moves that we did to make the house function for us was taking one of the ensuites, which led into a massive walk-in wardrobe, and closing that off to a bathroom which opened up to the landing that became a family bathroom. There’s now a bath, shower, sink and toilet.”
Ruth’s background as an interior architect was ideal for the home project. “Interior architecture is working with an existing building and repurposing it into something else. You might have an old factory that you’re turning into a shop, you’re always working with a building as opposed to a completely new structure.
Ruth and Andrew purchased a house that was built about a year-and-a-half before they bought it. Photo: @house_of_goose, taken on the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
“I know people that have viewed our house [when it was on the market], because it’s Ireland and every one knows every one! And people said to us ‘We went to see your house but there was so much to do and we just couldn’t see it’, whereas I could see it.
“What we loved was that the house was brand new, it had double glazing, super insulation, underfloor heating throughout, the bones of the building were fantastic and the layout was pretty good. The finishes and the grounds just needed tackling.”
Ruth says injecting your own personality into your decor is what really makes your house feel like a home.
“I really love contemporary design and contemporary architecture and simplistic finishes. I have used a lot of natural materials.
“I’m always an advocate for designing for yourself and your family, but you’re also designing for the house. There are sash windows, high ceilings, very generous spaces, so in terms of those links back to Georgian architecture, I have to be sensitive to those. I have remodelled our house by designing for the house as well as putting what we love in it.
“My personal style is a little bit eclectic, I like to throw fun elements into my design. I love a soft palette but I want my furniture to speak to my personality.”
Ruth has opted for neutral walls with accents of colour coming through in her “candy coloured” sofas, or animal-themed lamps.
Ruth has injected colour and personality into the house with candy colours on her sofas. Photo: @house_of_goose, taken on the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
“With this house I’ve kept the palette very neutral and similar from room to room – apart from Andrew’s office, that’s quite a deep blue colour – and the same flooring almost throughout.
“Then I let the furniture sing to our personality and our family. I’ve used ‘family friendly’ velvet through all our sofas because you can wipe it clean.
“When it’s stuff you love you don’t get sick of it. So many people play it safe and get a grey couch and then hate it after a year. If you’re living in it, make it fun for you.
“I have my Hetty the Hare lamp and my goose lamp. There has to be a piece of your personality in the house. If you love it then it will be your home.”
Ruth says she appreciated the space she and her family have now more than ever since lockdown forced them to use every inch of the home.
Ruth and Andrew got stuck into landscaping during lockdown. Photo: @house_of_goose, taken on the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
Andrew was working from his home office while she was homeschooling the children in the kitchen.
“The fact that Andrew had an office to go and work from while I could be in the kitchen with the kids, we’re so appreciative to have the space. We’re so lucky to not just have a big garden, but to have a garden at all, because I know people really struggled with that during lockdown. We appreciated it before, but it was highlighted a lot during the intense lockdown.”
And in between homeschooling, Ruth managed to work on the vast garden.
“We did so much in the garden when we had sunny weather during lockdown, we’d landscaping done, we put in a little hedge, which was all supposed to be done way before lockdown but it was on hold for a few months. I feel the garden is the last piece of the puzzle of the house. Although I still say the whole thing is a work in progress!”
Ruth takes a selfie on the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra in her new family bathroom. Photo: @house_of_goose, taken on the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
And lockdown brought a rake of new followers to her growing brand, House of Goose, on Instagram and to her blog.
“I rely on Instagram 100%,” she says. “A decent camera is hugely important for that. I upgraded my phone a couple of months ago for that reason. I can see other accounts and how they photograph and it is all down to the phone they’re using to capture the light.”
Ruth is currently using the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, which has three different camera modes, including an awe-inspiring 108MP Wide Camera, 40MP Front Camera and 48MP Telephoto Camera as well as a monumental 100x Space Zoom.
You can experience every moment captured in full, edge-to-edge clarity thanks to the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s facade. Ruth says the screen is “huge” and ideal for taking snaps of a full room of interiors.
If you want to take Hollywood-standard videos, the enormous 8K resolution at a huge 24FPS and the Pro Video Mode and Super Steady 2.0 mode will allow you to capture every fine detail and explore true emotion.
“It’s incredible,” says Ruth. “It captures every single detail – from the light and the colour – so well.
“Having a decent camera is probably the very first thing you need to grow a social media presence – after getting stuff to photograph! The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is hard to beat.”
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