I’m back with my blog series, “Country Homes Around The World,” and for June, I’m inviting you into the jaw-dropping country abode of Maggie Deering. Maggie and her young family lead an idyllic life in Ireland, which she documents on her gorgeous Instagram account, @wisteriatreehouse. Below, she shares with me how her and her husband came about their stunning 18th-century manor house, and how she made it into a home.
What part of the world are you in, and how would you describe this part of the country?
We live in county Carlow, in the heart of Ireland’s ancient east coast. It’s an area rich in lush farming landscapes, beautiful, unspoiled villages, breathtaking scenery, rolling hills, grand country homes and ancient heritage sites.
Tell us a little bit about the character of your home. How did it come to you?
How old is your home, and how long have you lived here?
We don’t know exactly when our house was built… we know it was remodeled in 1835 in the Tudor Gothic style, and we know some parts Georgian, but it definitely has features that date much earlier. We moved in straight away after buying it and lived there throughout all the restorations, almost six years ago now!
How did you ‘meet’ your house?
On my 36th birthday, my husband brought me to view the house. It was a very cold, very wet day; in fact, we couldn’t have viewed the house at a worse time! I knew if we loved it then, we would always love it. And we did… its charm captivated me from the moment I laid eyes on it.
Who do you share your home with?
I live with my husband, Dave, my two children, Bobby (10) and Robyn (8), our dog, Archie, and our four cats that live in the stables. We have plenty of family and friends come to visit, too.
What is your favourite room or space in the home and why?
My favourite room is the drawing room. The light floods in each morning through its tall, arched French doors which lead to the garden, and it lights up the entire room. We found out after we moved in that it was originally called the “morning room,” a name which describes it perfectly. It’s a really peaceful place to enjoy an early morning coffee in before the house wakes up and the morning routines start.
How did you create spaces for family life?
I always believe the kitchen is the heart of any home. The house’s original kitchen and adjoining ancillary rooms were designed for staff and were all dark and north-facing. We spent two years living in the house as it was, getting a feel for what changes were needed to make it a home. This was more than enough time to decide that the old north-facing kitchen was not going to work. We decided to convert the accompanying two-bedroom, garden apartment – which was separated on the property – into a new, open-plan kitchen by reincorporating it back into house. This apartment had opened onto the south-facing gardens, which made it the ideal, large, bright sunny kitchen. It’s a decision that completely changed how we live and use the house for the better.
The library is also used by all the family. It’s a warm, cosy room filled with old books and deep velvet sofas. It’s great to relax in on a cold, winter evenings.
How would you describe your style of decorating?
I try to let the house dictate the style of the interiors. I was very much inspired by the house itself, its history, its original features, its fragments of wallpaper uncovered in the restoration, for example, the beautiful bird print Zuber and Cie wallpaper found in an upstairs bathroom. There was also the French Murano glass ball chandelier, the stone flagstones, the staircase, the arched windows and the original fireplaces. I felt I needed to do these original features justice – not compete with them, but compliment them.
What is your favourite season at home, and how do you celebrate?
I feel the house comes into its own in summer. We are surrounded by countryside, hills, fields and gardens. I love opening all the doors and windows and letting the house breath when the sun is shining. I love seeing the young horses running wild in the fields. I love filling the house with flowers from the gardens, sitting in the shade of the ancient trees and listening to the birds and the bees buzzing. I love the long evenings watering flowers, then watching them each take their turn to bloom.
Summer festivities are mostly outdoors, filled with busy barbecues and simple evening drinks by the lake watching the sun go down. It’s a great house for celebrations with family and friends
Any special tips for creating the feeling of “home?”
I love a kitchen table! We have a big, well-worn heavy oak table in the kitchen, and this is the heart of our home. Everything centers around this table… family meals, chats with friends, homework, baking and crafts. Even Archie, our dog, has his place under our feet here.
Regarding decor, I like furniture and objects that tell a story. I love anything old… heirlooms, antiques, vintage finds… I don’t care if they are perfect or valuable, I love looking at them and remembering a special person or a funny story or imagining who they previously belonged to. To me, that’s priceless.
I want to live in my home, and I don’t want everything to be perfect. I light candles and let the wax drip, I light a fire to enjoy the flames, and I don’t worry if the ashes make a mess.
I love the house filled with the smell of cakes baking in the oven or freshly-made coffee.
I love to bring flowers in from the garden and let the petals fall and wither.
I like be surrounded by well-worn, faded furniture because it means it has been enjoyed and relaxed in! To me, these are the things that make a house a welcoming home.
What does “country home” mean to you?
“Country home” to me means living with nature, observing and enjoying the changes in each season. It’s the log fires and muddy boots in winter. It’s feeding the birds and gathering berried holly to decorate for Christmas. It’s watching the farmers mow hay and cut corn. It’s watching for the first snowdrops and daffodils of spring. It’s watching the birds building nests and waiting for long, warm evenings enhanced by the elderflower and strawberry flavours of summer. It’s enjoying picnics in the walled garden, long summer walks and evening sunsets. It’s the autumn harvest with its crisp leaves and rich colours, and then it’s the preparation for winter again.
Living in the country is living in tune with the seasons, watching how nature changes and embraces it, too.
All photography by Maggie Deering.
I also went live on Instagram with Maggie last Saturday for my podcast MFCH Table Talks, where we chatted more! If you missed it, you can listen to our full conversation here:
I hope you enjoyed the peek into Maggie’s country home! If you’d like to see more, follow her on Instagram at @wisteriatreehouse.