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Warm Welcome

A Designer Dazzles in Her Stratfield Home



Douglas Foulke

When Betsy Ryan and her husband Ed moved to Fairfield in 1997, they knew they had found their home in Stratfield, a neighborhood bordering Easton and Bridgeport in the northeast corner of town.

Twenty-one years (and five kids) later, the Ryans have long ago moved from their starter home. But, they have yet to depart Stratfield. After buying, renovating, and selling two subsequent homes in the neighborhood, the family is now happily in their fourth house in the area, a Brooklawn ranch that they gutted and remodeled into a sprawling farmhouse colonial.

Betsy, an interior designer and real estate stager, and Ed, a businessman, are huge fans of the Stratfield neighborhood. It’s a place they admittedly never want to leave. “Stratfield is like a melting pot of good people, diverse and wonderful, always open to caring for one another and being there as a community when someone needs help,” says Betsy. “Living here, you definitely give up acreage and you have close neighbors, but the tradeoff is worth it.

“We joke that our little enclave of Fairfield is called ‘Fairport’ or ‘Bridgefield’,” she says with a laugh. “Many people when they come here say ‘I never knew this area was part of Fairfield’ or ‘What a diamond in the rough!”

“A diamond in the rough” is an accurate way to describe the Ryans’ home when they found it nine years ago. Committed to staying in Stratfield but unable to locate a house suited to their growing family’s needs, the family discovered a mid-century ranch on Old Oaks Road tucked away near the entrance of Brooklawn Country Club. Situated on nearly two acres, the house was in an association of stately Tudors and center hall colonials developed in the 1920s for General Electric executives. The neighborhood’s charm won the Ryans over. But the ranch was “neither charming nor stately—it was run down and dated,” says Betsy. Yet, the property was ideal, and Betsy knew they could eventually mold the house into what they needed—and wanted—in a home.

This time around, though, the prospect of tackling another huge renovation was daunting. For starters, Betsy and Ed had already been through three home remodels. And, Betsy had her hands full with her family and a new and thriving interior decorating business. “We needed to make sure our dream for this house could in fact become reality,” she explains. Once again, the Ryans stayed within the confines of Stratfield, seeking help from nearby architect Don Fairbanks. With Fairbanks’ vision and guidance through two periods of work, the house nearly doubled in size. Almost every room was gutted, with the exception of the original living room, which Fairbanks retained due to abundance of light and a ceiling that “has a beautiful simple curved plaster cove where it meets the walls.” 

Phase one of construction included adding the front porch, entry portico, a foyer, stairs, second floor bedrooms, and baths, and framing out the attic level. But two important areas of the house—the kitchen and master bedroom—had to take a back seat due to the rising costs of materials and unforeseen replacement of an entire septic system. Those projects were eventually completed in a second phrase of work, and Betsy admits “I am glad I waited, as it gave me time to look and research so that I had my dream kitchen.”

Today, the Ryan home is sophisticated yet casual and cozy. Inside, Betsy chose a palette of sandy neutral colors that are paired with softer hues in blues and red. Flooded in sunlight during the daytime, and sparkling with interior light at night, the house has inviting wood tones, charming vintage furniture and accents, and an open, airy kitchen that’s perfect for a big, busy family.

Outdoors, the relaxed vibe continues thanks in part to the work of other Stratfield and Fairfield-based professionals. Austin Ganim Landscapes transformed the entire backyard, which was ignored for years and completely overgrown. “With Eva at the helm, they continued to clear and plant more every year to create the green oasis that we have come to call heaven,” says Betsy. Kelly McGovern Landscape Designs masterminded a recent addition to the backyard that includes a pergola-covered gas fire table—a cozy spot with couches where Betsy, Ed, and friends can relax while watching their kids swim in the pool. And Stratfield landscape architect David Schiffer reconfigured the front entrance of the house with “a cohesive look of boxwoods and stone work, complete with a fountain and Belgium stone squaring off the driveway,” she explains. 

Betsy’s objectives for her own home readily spills over to the work she crafts for her interior design clients. “I make it my mission to create warmth and charm in every home where I am invited to help,” she says. “To me, the most important aspect of a home is that when a guest enters, they can feel its warmth—they can see who lives there. I always say to a client, I want to know a little about the occupants in every room. I find design lately is so cold and repeated, with a very sterile ‘Pinterest’ inspired look that seems very staged and uninviting to me.”

It is easy to see that the Ryans have finally found their definitive, long-term spot. “The best part is that we feel really great here, both inside and outside,” says Ed. “We are truly home.” 

 

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Show Less...

A series of graphic novel-style panels designed by illustrator Kirk Manley tells the dramatic story of the spy ring that operated between New York City, Long Island, and Fairfield during the...

Cost: Members: Free; Adults: $5; Seniors & Students: $3; children 5 and under: Free.

Where:
Fairfield Museum
370 Beach Rd
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Website »

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  The hugely successful Connecticut's Got Talent is back. Dont miss the incredible talent as we audition LIVE on stage statewide talent from all genres. Sign up at WallStreetTheater.com The...

Cost: $20.00

Where:
Wall Street Theater
71 Wall Street
Norwalk, CT  06850
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Sponsor: Wall Street Theater
Telephone: 877-987-8764
Contact Name: Jeanne Moore
Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

The Housatonic Museum of Art presents a new exhibition, “Drip Drop, Tick Tock” by regional artist, Joseph Fucigna. The show focuses on sculptures from the on-going Plastic Fencing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Housantonic Community College
900 Lafayette Blvd.
Bridgeport, CT  06604
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Telephone: 120-333-25052
Contact Name: Robin Zella

More information

Join us while we hunt for the East Coast's best Dance Crew. Watch as crews for all ethnic backgrounds and styles of dance come together to compete for title of The Best Dance Crew! Hip Hop,...

Cost: Pre Sale $25.00 Day of Show $30.00

Where:
Wall Street Theater
Wall Street
Norwalk, CT  06850
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Sponsor: Wall Street Theater
Telephone: 877-987-8764
Contact Name: Jeanne Moore
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Open during regular Library hours Paradise [Lost] features a collection of color photographs by Árpád Krizsán, Best in Show winner of Pequot Library's 2017 Art Show....

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Pequot Library
Website »

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Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Top of the Hill: New Paintings,” a solo exhibition featuring new work by Brian Rutenberg. The show will open with a reception for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Francisco Fullana, Violin Soloist Join us for three masterpieces representing important moments in time for orchestral music.  Arvo...

Cost: $50; $37.50, $25, Students $10

Where:
Norwalk Concert Hall
125 East Avenue
NORWALK, CT  06855
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Symphony Orchestra
Telephone: 203-956-6771
Contact Name: Sandra Miklave, Executive Director
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

A series of graphic novel-style panels designed by illustrator Kirk Manley tells the dramatic story of the spy ring that operated between New York City, Long Island, and Fairfield during the...

Cost: Members: Free; Adults: $5; Seniors & Students: $3; children 5 and under: Free.

Where:
Fairfield Museum
370 Beach Rd
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

The Housatonic Museum of Art presents a new exhibition, “Drip Drop, Tick Tock” by regional artist, Joseph Fucigna. The show focuses on sculptures from the on-going Plastic Fencing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Housantonic Community College
900 Lafayette Blvd.
Bridgeport, CT  06604
View map »


Telephone: 120-333-25052
Contact Name: Robin Zella

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Formed in 1963 in Stamford, CT, The Fifth Estate was a central part of the garage rock movement. Remember NBC's 'Hullabaloo'? They performed their crackin' song 'I Just...

Cost: $28

Where:
Fairfield Theatre Company at StageOne
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

Open during regular Library hours Paradise [Lost] features a collection of color photographs by Árpád Krizsán, Best in Show winner of Pequot Library's 2017 Art Show....

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Pequot Library
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Top of the Hill: New Paintings,” a solo exhibition featuring new work by Brian Rutenberg. The show will open with a reception for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Evocation of light is ever present in the romantic and experiential landscapes of Ira Barkoff. His recent works convey the spontaneity and the maturity of the artist’s hand and dedication to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Sponsor: 1953
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

More information

Francisco Fullana, Violin Soloist Join us for three masterpieces representing important moments in time for orchestral music.  Arvo...

Cost: $50; $37.50, $25, Students $10

Where:
Norwalk Concert Hall
125 East Avenue
NORWALK, CT  06855
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Symphony Orchestra
Telephone: 203-956-6771
Contact Name: Sandra Miklave, Executive Director
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Laura from Olive My Skin will be joining us to talk about her lovely natural soaps, wood wick soy candles and skin care line, all proudly made in Connecticut. All Fair Trade, paraben free,...

Cost: free

Where:
The Smithy
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy
Telephone: (860)868-9003
Contact Name: susan
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

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