Villa Blanca

Villa Blanca


And so it is as you enter the dream-like world Terry has created, you know for sure you are in the home of someone who has made their living creating instant karma, relaxation and comfort. This is most certainly the home of an inspirational hotelier.

Wandering outside, one is drawn to the living area’s deck like a bee to honey — and snapshots of Terry’s past as a working mother to three boisterous children are dotted throughout the garden. Later Terry will explain that a piece of torn mesh was once part of son Ash’s chicken coop. Ash, now 24, was responsible for the vast menagerie of wildlife that once lived outside and inside the family home. Suitably he grew up to be a zookeeper at the Wildlife Habitat in Port Douglas. “We don’t really use the garden anymore,” says Terry, looking a little wistful as her gaze settles on the nooks and crannies where the children — Ash, elder brother Matthew, now 26 and a commodities broker and little sister Billie, now 15 and the last of Terry’s children left living at home — used to play. “But it’s nice to look at.”

And so the harmony of this home shines as bright as the Dulux Vivid White of the walls: a home which holds treasured family memories and the sound of children’s laughter, amidst its rare and beautiful artefacts and antiques.“I used to have it painted cream when the children were younger thinking that was more user-friendly, but in actual fact it wasn’t, the white walls are better. I paint all my beach houses in that colour now, too,” says Terry.“I haven’t got a problem with children running through the house — bring on the grandchildren! I have just bought a new dining table from a shop called Parterre Garden in (the next-door suburb of) Woollahra; a French country table, but Billie can still do her homework at it.

Darlinghurst-born-and-bred, a streetwise Terry spent her early childhood growing up in apartments that were the “size of a shoe” she laughs, and even lived on her grandfather’s chicken farm while the family were building up their business. But she was seduced to the more suburban Darling Point by the property’s wraparound harbour view.“I had three children and this is a lovely family home. It has the aspect I desire which is northwest, protecting you from the prevailing south-easterly winds and also giving all-day sunlight. Here you can sit on the back deck until eight at night and watch the sun go down and be protected from the wind.

I also love old homes and even though I am a contemporary hotelier, you will find all my properties are established buildings with contemporary interiors, so there is that lovely balance of old and new. Here I’ve kept all the original bathroom fittings, the big deep bath, and the lovely old taps. Historical and the cutting edge: that’s what I love.”

When she first moved in, Terry tore away the carpets and replaced them with floorboards painted in a Porter’s paint called Paper. “Peter Lewis at Porter’s (Original Paints) has helped me with all the beach houses and has an enormous artistic ability for mixing paint, even the rose paint in the lounge room is something he made specially for me. If you look closely it has been brushed and ragged on, not painted on, so has a velvety texture.”Renovation work was minimal — she simply replaced the laminatein the kitchen with Carrara marble and modernised the fixtures, fittings and appliances, but still kept them in the same place.Occasionally Terry will swap artefacts in one of her signature properties — the Medusa hotel, two Sydney apartments, the new Amalfi chain, plus10 beach houses and villas including one in Bali — to refresh both her home and the properties themselves.“All the properties are unique. Nothing is duplicated but still signatory, it’s a bit of laid-back casualness, a little bit of glamour, a little bit of bohemia, plus a bit of tradition and Australiana (native flowers abound in the villa making dramatic statements in every room).

There’s also a touch of Oceania with French antiques (chandeliers hang from every high ornate ceiling, but somehow dangle in harmony with the vast modern bowls of freshly-cut hydrangeas). There is a bit of everything. I believe we all have the ability to be passionate about our hobbies — sculpture, photographs, painting … just go with it. But I am a believer in the old adage: form follows function — everything has to be comfortable and user-friendly.

The books in Terry’s lounge reflect her love of art — ‘Viva Picasso’; nestles next to ‘Dada and surrealist art’ and a Man Ray tome, so a teenage Terry had hoped to be an artist but instead, ever the businesswoman, she took the commercial approach and became a graphic designer. With a love of fashion, the struggling student dressed herself at the St Vincent De Paul charity shops and pinched some of her mum’s old pants and mixed them with the fashion du jour. Her style and beauty soon caught the eye of Vivien’s Model Management and by 20 she was modelling for Helmut Newton in Paris for a year, followed by a lucrative Revlon campaign in New York.“The modelling enabled me to visit boutique hotels,” smiles Terry. “I saw the beautiful interiors of private homes and of hotels I would otherwise have never been able to afford. When I came back to Sydney — with a 100-centimetre derrière because I loved the exotic cuisine; unlike French women, Australian women like seconds! — my modelling days were over and my new career had been expedited. I looked around Sydney and all I could see were colonial inns, doilies, heavy furniture, nothing like I had seen overseas.”

Following a stint as fashion editor for Cosmopolitan magazine, Terry launched her own styling production company. When her father died and she was required to head his company for a period she put “fashion plate Fanny” as she dubbed herself, through business school at Monash, Mount Eliza to gain the respect of the 100 staff, but ultimately handed it over to her younger brothers to launch her hotel business instead.

At heart, in spite of all her travels, she is still a Sydney girl happy to be a part of the Darlinghurst “tribe”. “Sydney has the sophistication of New York, the quirkiness of London, the sexy and sassiness of LA and that certain savoir faire of Paris.