In a timely edition of Home Stories, Ashley Feraude visits the home of sustainable building expert…
Having a rather full schedule, our photographer Cass mixed up her weekends and thought our Home Stories shoot with Terry Ring at his home in Pialligo was next week.
I’m not pointing this out to embarrass her, but instead to thank her for the opportunity it provided for me to spend an additional hour with Terry, owner of architect firm Ring & Associates, his wife Helen and daughter Grace. Oscar Wilde was right; punctuality is the thief of time—Mr Wilde, Cass and I would really get on.
As you can imagine, I was excited to meet such an accomplished architect and grateful for insight into his family home. This excitement only grew as I drove through a private gate and down a long driveway surrounded by vineyards until a magnificent estate came into view.
Terry met me at the door in a three-piece suit and Helen looking elegant—both were all smiles. At that exact moment, my mum’s words echoed in my head; ‘Be a gentleman, always bring flowers and compliment people on their appearance’. But overwhelmed by the stunning surroundings, I forgot all my education and blurted out “Umm, so Cass is going to be late.” Sorry Mum.
Actually, there was no need for me to be formal. Because while Terry and Helen’s welcome was genuine, Terry’s socks were also blue. That’s right, he paired that effortless attire with blue house socks. This observation was a recurring theme in much of our subsequent conversation—form, function and comfort.
We covered so much in our conversation and home tour, but rather than pointing out specific details about the home, I’ll let Cass’ photos do the talking, while I focus on a few things Terry said that I found insightful.
“After years of living in a darker home I wanted there to be light.”
And light there was. Terry designed his home in an ‘H’ formation with perfect cross-ventilation and northerly positioning. It was a labour of dedication, commitment and love. Terry’s enthusiasm for natural elements is evident in the way light, the garden and the vista of Canberra are celebrated throughout.
Now, we may not all have the luxury of designing our own window frontage, but we do all have a choice in how we maximise nature’s elements. We can choose to bring the outside in—whether it’s bringing in more plants or getting rid of those heavy curtains to let in the light (just avoid what my puppy does—bring in extremely large branches through his tiny doggie door).
“Consider every detail but don’t overlook the big picture.”
Terry and Helen have many items displayed in their home, which they have owned since their twenties. These may not be perfect in terms of stylistic fit—but then, what does perfect really mean?
Don’t get bogged down in detail. If the pieces have importance to you and a style that transcends fads, then work them into the bigger picture. See how you can balance the style, colour or shape throughout the house to give your styling a consistency.
Switch between your greater vision and the details to keep testing that fit and it will come together in a style that is an expression of you.
“Design is all around us, which is why I love art, fashion and architecture.”
Inspiration comes from many sources, and even though many of you read this series to look for home inspiration, you can find that inspiration outside the home too. Art galleries, shops, cafes, parks and more can give you the right amount of distance to provide inspiration, whilst also a rest from freaking out about which pillows to buy.
My partner and I actually decided our home highlight colour should be based on how we felt during a park in summer. Yes, I know it sounds corny, but the main point is that we felt relaxed and wanted our home to hold that feeling.
“In my forties I designed a lot of homes, then in my fifties a lot of buildings and now in my sixties I’m back at homes.”
Two things jumped out at me here. Firstly, that many people see their lives as having one peak—whether this is professionally or personally. Hearing Terry talk made me realise that we can have as many peaks as we like. It’s up to us and our determination. Life is long, so let’s not shorten it with misconceptions.
Secondly, the sum of our experiences defines who we are and gives us a calm confidence. As you can see from the photos, Terry’s home is grand, but it is calm. You are not dwarfed by the scale and size, but rather liberated by it. You can create that same calmness in your home by having confidence in your abilities and evolve your style as you move through your many life peaks.
“You’re one of the best people we’ve ever had in this house.”
Okay, well, he didn’t actually say this but with the way they treated me, that’s how it felt. I have often found it really comforting that people who are secure about their abilities are never boastful or brash and that style extends beyond them to their homes.
Right from the grand driveway to those blue socks.
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Home Stories is brought to you in partnership with Canberra Centre.
Photography by Cass Atkinson