By Andrew McNulty on 11th October 2010
When she locks the huge black door of her dream family home and walks away for the final time, Sally Ridge knows she will also be closing a chapter of her life for good.
The stunning six-bedroom mansion in a historic suburb of Auckland is the one she and former fiancé Adam Parore went through tough planning wrangles to build. once it was finally completed, it was meant to be a haven for her four children, Jaime (17), Boston (13), Astin (7) and oclane (4), somewhere they could grow up and always call home. Sadly, that wasn’t to be, with Sally’s split from Adam earlier this year.
The lavish, sprawling property was sold recently, and as she packs up the family’s belongings for the big move,
Sally allowed New Zealand Woman’s Weekly to take a tour through the beautiful house she put her heart
and soul into.
It’s the first time that Sally has let the media take a tour inside this very private family haven, and she shares mixed emotions as she walks through the spacious, light-filled rooms.
“I’m never going to get anything like this house again in my life, never in a million, squillion years,” she says.
“I truly thought this would be home for a while and unfortunately that didn’t happen. But you know what, I’m totally happy to make a fresh start.”
The house was built on the site of an old rambling villa, which Sally says they initially tried to save.
“It was a beautiful house but it was too far gone, sadly, and there were lots of problems. We tried to renovate but it wasn’t to be, so we ended up building this one on the site,” she says. Sally worked closely with a top architect to create the house, finely honing the plans over two long years. During this time, she had to cope with long delays while waiting for building permission from the council.
Although the house was brand new, Sally made sure the exterior had a timeless, classic look so it blended with the older homes surrounding it. But when it came to the interior, Sally, who is a painter, fashion and interior designer, and the Weekly’s craft columnist, was able to bring out her artistic flair.
“I’m not the type of person who likes stark, minimalist interiors. For me, it has to be comfortable and personal, where the kids feel they can do what they like and not worry about it.”
The entrance hall’s main feature is otis, a full-sized model of a cow, decorated by the iconic Kiwi artist otis Frizzell. In the post-separation 50-50 split of their belongings, Sally has no doubt who gets the funky artwork.
“otis is mine, he’s coming with me,” says Sally. “Adam and I bought him at a charity auction not long after we first got together. I absolutely love him. Home isn’t home without otis.”
High above the hall, plaster cherubs on the decorative ceiling smile down on otis and other amazing artworks and items collected by Sally over the years. She points out some yellow and blue Versace china that was bought when she was married to league star Matthew Ridge.
“I’ve carted that around for years, since I was 24, and it’s never got chipped,” she says. “I didn’t get it because it was a designer label though, but because I loved the colours – I still do.”
The house was built with a whole wing for the kids, including a lounge and their four bedrooms, each with a bathroom. Sally felt it was important to let the older children make decisions about how they wanted their rooms to look.
So Jaime picked a delicate blue for her very feminine room, while baseball fan Boston made sure his cap collection had pride of place. In the children’s lounge, Sally and the kids spent five days sewing curtains, and they bought American flags on internet auction sites to decorate it with.
“This is where Boston’s not-very-popular drum kit stays,” she laughs. In winter, the kitchen was the place where everyone spent time, talking and eating around the huge polished concrete bench. And in summer, the pool became the focus, with the children spending all their free time in it, Sally says.
Sally has just bought a new home in Auckland and moves in soon. It’s more modest than the one she’s saying farewell to but she’s fine with that.
“To be really honest, as much as I love this house – and I truly do – it doesn’t feel like my family home any more. It’s sad, but I’ve lost the connection with it. Adam’s not here and we’re not together any more, and my feelings about the house have changed,” she says.
“I know we’ll make the most of the house we’re moving into. Ultimately, it’s not about the house but about the family that lives in it. As long as the kids and I are there, it’s our home.”