At home with Karen Koster: ‘I’m not a fan of old or vintage’

TV presenter’s home is a clutter-free kids’ zone with some modern art

 

Karen Koster started out her media career as the weather girl on Ireland AM in 2004, later joining the Xpose team, the evening entertainment show, which she now anchors. Koster is is also an ambassador for numerous brands and charities including the Children’s Medical and Research Foundation (CMRF). She lives in Dublin 4 with her husband John Maguire and their two small boys, Finn and JJ (John jnr).

Describe your interior style

It’s very modern and comfort is key. I am not a fan of anything old or vintage – you’ll never find me in a flea market or at an antiques auction – I’m not sure why but I like to be the first person to own something. When John originally built this house, he decorated it for the rental market and clearly didn’t have two toddlers in mind as his ideal tenants. After we got marred it quickly had to be repurposed as a family home and together we’ve stamped our personality on the place with walls of photos, indoor plants – including an olive tree which we have in the hallway. Art we’ve collected and our kids’ paraphernalia now covers every square inch.

What is your favourite room in the house?

It’s actually the boys’ bedroom. It used to just a bland spare room but since Finn and JJ arrived, it’s become such a happy little haven. It’s full of colour and cute nursery stuff and is perpetually messy. I love getting down on the rug and playing games with them. It’s also where I spend many a twilight hour trying to get them back to sleep, so it’s where I spend most time too.

A portrait of a woman on the stairway of Karen Koster’s home. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
A portrait of a woman on the stairway of Karen Koster’s home. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Interior turn-offs?

Clutter. I can’t cope with it. When John and I get on any cleaning binge, anything that’s not nailed to the floor gets thrown out. We are the most unsentimental couple ever.

Do you collect art?

John is really into his modern art and had given me a new appreciation for it. He doesn’t buy from famous or trendy artists but stalks e-Bay or artfinder.com for hours and if he comes across something he loves, he just goes for it. Nearly all the paintings and art in the house we found online, one of my favourites is a charcoal sketch of a female face by an American artist, Leanne Dolan, while John’s is the giant Peter Lik photo behind the couch. It’s of a canyon in Arizona shot using slow exposure over 24-hours to create these incredible colours and textures. We also have an abstract David Hart oil painting in the hall which everyone thinks is a Jackson Pollock when they come in.

Who is your favourite designer?

Two twentysomethings, Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McClosky, from Northern Ireland, who set up a fashion label called Rixo London. They are like modern-day version of Halston meets Jean Muir and their collection is flying on Net-a-Porter and in Brown Thomas. I’ve never met a nicer or more deserving pair.

The wedding photograph in Karen’s home. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
The wedding photograph in Karen’s home. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Where is your favourite travel destination?

It has to be Cascais in Portugal. I’ve been there through so many different life stages –as a kid, as a single woman with the girls, as a couple with John, and most recently as a parent and it never disappoints. The town is just beautiful, the beaches are amazing, the restaurants incredible, the wine is cheap and delicious, the history and culture is so rich and the people are just the icing on the cake. There’s a hotel called there called the Grande Real Villa Italia, and it’s one of my favourite places in the world to stay.

What would you save in a fire?

We have this big portrait of us, which my family brought to Sicily where we got married, and all our all our guests signed it and wrote stories on the back off, so it’s very special. We went island-hopping around the region for our honeymoon straight after, and I remember carting around this enormous portrait of us everywhere we went. People must have thought we were complete megalomaniacs.

If you had €100,000 to spend on the house, what would you do?

We don’t have a garden here, but we do have a terrace on the roof which we’ve just got furniture for and have put down some fake grass and installed a fire pit. I’d love to build a big American-style outdoor kitchen on it, so we could host big grill-outs and family parties up there.

What does home mean to you?

I know it sounds corny but it’s wherever the three lads are. I’m such a homebird, I used to wonder how people who travelled with their families ever felt settled. But now I realise that as long as the four of us are together with a roof over our heads that where home is. Location is irrelevant.

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