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Home Stories: Charlie and Sandie

Ashley Feraude

For years I’ve been driving past a home in Turner, and every single time it has caught my attention.

The ever-changing display of objects in the yard made it look like a theme park of fun: red phone boxes, life-sized LEGO men, kinetic sculptures, disco balls hanging from trees, old red school buses, an array of cars and swings, soccer goal posts and more.

It was clear that someone was putting a lot of effort into entertaining us on the way to work, setting up different situations from day to day (including my personal favourite where a car was inside a soccer net at one side of the lawn, with a trail of skid marks leading to a large LEGO man). Yes, it looked like he’d kicked a goal using the car. I literally started clapping as I went past until I realised the guy in front of me thought I was sarcastically clapping at his driving ability.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, I was driving past and the owner was outside. My partner urged, “it’s now or never, go talk to him!”. It’s always weird starting a conversation with “Hi, I’ve been observing your house for a while and I like what I see”, but somehow it worked out because our photographer, Bel Combridge, and I returned a few days later.

The resulting photos tell the story of a family with a creative LEGO obsession and a gift for collecting and displaying fun things, which owners Charlie Bigg-Wither and Sandie Parkes often procure from their Green Shed business. There seems to be a story behind every item.

The many British elements (such as the original imported Police red phone box and London tube train stations sign) are all celebrations of Sandie’s heritage. The LEGO bricks were made by the kids (who have to complete them before playing computer games) and the LEGO staircase began from Charlie filling a week while Sandie was away—ending up as a full staircase obsession.

But the best story of all is why they do it, and the answer is simple. They love entertaining passers buy and making the local community a fun place to be.

All this effort has led to countless cars driving past slowly, people bringing in their kids and interstate visitors for a look, a bus full of Chinese tourists rocking up and even some people walking in expecting the house to be a coffee shop. So it’s definitely working!


On the flipside, the interior of the house is much more minimal and relaxed and it provides a calm balance to the extremity of the outside. Definitely a case of not judging a book by its cover.











Read all of Ashley’s Home Stories series here and read about Canberra Centre’s new homewares haven here.

Home Stories is brought to you in partnership with Canberra Centre

Photos by Bel Combridge @belcombridgephotography.


Ashley Feraude

Ashley Feraude is a creative consultant, music producer and man-about-town. Under his Sound Technique agency, he provides award-winning consultancy services ranging from branding design, creative content development and event music direction for events and hospitality venues. Under the alias Magnifik, he produces award-winning original music filled with electronic soul and performs melodic DJ sets at numerous night spots, events and festivals. And if that wasn’t enough, Ashley is also the author of this insightful interior design editorial series. So is he suffering from split personality disorder and has an obsession over pointy awards? Not really...he just loves design, music and getting an insight into people’s personalities. Plus he likes being really busy. More about the Author

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