all homes lead to stratfield
Neighbors and friends tease Ed and Betsy Ryan about their migratory habits. “The joke has always been that every time we have a kid, we move,” says Betsy.
And that’s almost true: The Ryans have five children and have lived in four distinct homes in Stratfield Village since they moved to town in 2003. First stop: a modest starter house on Sedan Terrace. Then, itching for more room, they restored a Fairmount Terrace Colonial in need of some tender, loving care. Next was a handsome Spanish Colonial on elegant Inwood Road. Finally, the Ryan’s booked moving vans to execute their most ambitious project yet; transforming a dated, single-story ranch near Brooklawn Country Club into a custom, two-story Colonial. With each new mailing address, the Ryans have managed to fulfill their domestic agenda without ever moving more than a mile in any given direction.
“People say we’re flippers, but we don’t see ourselves that way at all,” says Betsy. “We just know houses with good bones and can see their possibilities. Yet, every time we finished a house, as much as we loved it, something wasn’t right.”
Their most recent project could be described as a true Team Stratfield endeavor. Architect Don Fairbanks lives near their first Stratfield home. Landscape designer David Schiffer, who rehabilitated their lush yard with partner Juan Coyt, lives near the Ryans’ former Inwood Road place. “They knew us, they got us and they also valued Stratfield,” says Betsy.
Although the Ryans said they had considered looking for room to grow in other Fairfield neighborhoods—including the beach area where they rented during the renovation—they weren’t anxious to leave close-knit Stratfield. The neighborhood, so close to Bridgeport some inhabitants call it “Fairport,” isn’t especially familiar to some middle-of-town folks. “But we love the Stratfield Elementary school, the fact people really care for each other here,” says Betsy. “It’s a community you don’t go out of your way to leave.”
They stumbled on the ranch by accident, when a pending purchase of another home got bogged down in red tape. It was small, dated and not the family’s style, “but we loved the yard and saw what it could be,” says Ed. They transformed the place to a chic “farmhouse” style home that has given the Ryans room to spread out. Each Ryan child has his own, colorfully appointed, mom-decorated room—Betsy’s an untrained but skilled interior designer. There’s a “man cave” for the big and small Ryan boys to watch their beloved baseball and a pink-accented playroom for the girls. The stone pool, which sits alongside a slice of the Rooster River, is a big bonus. So, too, is the unearthed fire pit the landscape team discovered when redesigning the yard. “On the weekends we like to have family and friends over. I’m big on my Italian Sunday dinners,” says Betsy. “And now, we’ve got the space to really enjoy it.”
Next on the couples’ agenda is a kitchen/dining room renovation, but they insist their search for the perfect place is over. “People ask us, where next?’ but I can honestly tell them we’re finally home,” says Betsy.