‘Like 24-hour Zen’

Photograph by Jeff Garland

When the draperies are closed, the look is sophisticated New York penthouse.

But when the curtains are opened on the expansive windows in this Birmingham condo, a Midwestern scene appears, becoming a panoramic pastoral painting in Terry and Ron Hughes’ home.

“We moved from a much larger house where we sat in our living room once a year and used our formal dining room once or twice a year,” Terry says. “Now we sit in our living room every morning and we’re able to look out on Quarton Lake. We watch the sun come up and have our coffee, and on Sunday morning, read the papers.”

From their perch at Waterfall Hill, the contemporary condominium project developed by Ron’s company, Hughes Properties, they watch joggers, dog-walkers, fishermen, and mothers with their babies. The décor is refined and cosmopolitan, but the context is up-north natural. “We have a big red fox, swans, egrets, a crane, and bunnies,” Terry says.

Interior designer Richard Ross had the challenge of merging the two aspects of the Hughes’ home. “It’s all about the view,” Ross says. “In the living room, I utilized a little area that faces the lake and did sofas back-to-back so one looks straight out to the lake.”

Ross also worked around rooms that were configured more for the view than for arranging furnishings. The fireplace, for example, protrudes so as not to block the view of the lake. “I enclosed it in marble and wrapped it in mirrors, like you would see in an old Parisian hotel. It’s old, but new again.

And it helped the fireplace blend in and reflect the outside.”

Overall, the 3,700-square-foot interior is elegant and timeless. “It’s sophisticated,” Ross says, “but people want to come in and sit down.”

Among the most intimate spaces in the home is the library, a narrow room made more difficult to arrange because of a doorwall.

“The library is almost like a womb,” says Terry, who, as a freelance writer, spends much of her time working in that space. “It’s just a really cozy room.”

The kitchen also is small, but it works, Terry says, because of a wall of cabinetry that provides ample storage. “It’s a really functional kitchen for me.”

Surrounded by their art and the thoughtful décor by Ross, the couple are able to truly see their surroundings. “I don’t think I ever noticed the seasons as much as I have in this house,” Terry says. “We hear this waterfall 24 hours a day. Sometimes it’s raging. It’s very soothing. We love it after heavy rains. It’s like 24-hour Zen. It’s a real calm house.”