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Home Stories: Tracy Keeley

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When I was walking into the foyer of businesswoman Tracey Keeley’s apartment building in Kingston, someone leaving gave me a bit of a stare.

Not a particularly strange one, but enough eye contact to make me wonder if they knew me. As I reached the intercom and dialled the apartment number, I became paranoid. Was I rude and should I have said ‘hi’? Was it someone from a recent gig that I refused to play an ABBA request for? Was it the dad of one of the long string of jilted girlfriends I left behind?

“Ashley, is that you?” I hear Tracy Keeley on the intercom. “Come on up.”

Tracy’s apartment really is something else. Between the outlook to the old red rooftops of Kingston, the high ceilings, the timeless finishes and opulent styling, I was transported to another world. The last time I felt like this was in a fancy shmancy apartment in New York. Grand—not in size, but in presentation.

Everywhere I looked my eyes were hooked on something. The detail in the herringbone wooden floors, the intricacies of the tiles or the classic cornices, all intertwined with art, chandeliers, books, vases, fresh floral bouquets and layers upon layers of complementing textures.

I’ve never been a smoker, but if there was any place to break out a cigar and settle into a long discussion about whatever it is that people discuss on the Upper West Side, this was it.

Tracy has only been in her home for around three very happy months, but she’s obviously very settled. The owner of Bookplate inside the National Library of Australia, and Pollen at the Australian National Botanic Gardens, has been waiting for this dream home built by architect Albert Bonansea, whose work she greatly admires. And I can see why.

The intimate, hotel-like interior feels like as if someone has thought about every single facet of its design. Take a look at the bathroom floor, with its highly-detailed grey tile work, marble tops and classic chrome tapware that just sings ‘New York New York’. And the curved bedroom wall that, thanks to the clever use of dimensions and textured wallpaper, acts as a sound barrier.

As we chatted, Tracy mentioned that she used to be a school teacher and that her favourite part of that job was nurturing talent. So, it’s no surprise that this architectural creation spoke to her.

“Whether you’re nurturing someone else’s talent or your own, it’s likely to connect with and change someone,” she says. In Tracy’s case it was the kids of the past and customers of the now, and for the architect, it was Tracy.

We sometimes forget the impact we have on others, intentionally or otherwise, and we should be proud of that. I must have been quite deep in thought about this when I was leaving, since for some reason I went through the wrong door and ended up in the kitchen pantry. I could hear Cass and Tracy laughing at me, so I came back out with some pasta and said: “I just thought you may like to have this for dinner tonight…but on another note, where is your front door?”

It wasn’t far off, as the door was subtly included as part of a corridor wall. When I asked why the architect designed it like that, Cass said “why don’t you ask him yourself Ashley? He’s just going in and out downstairs.”

Ah, so I had confused a strange look with a hint of pride in the architect’s eye. If I was him, I would want to know who is going into the creation I nurtured too. So, there we have it, it wasn’t ABBA after all.










Read all of Ashley’s Home Stories series hereHome Stories is brought to you in partnership with Canberra Centre

Photography: Cass Atkinson

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