A Sense of Place

Elements of the West Coast and Far East combine in a one-of-a-kind Wisconsin home

Nancy and Mike Ring's Asian- and California-inspired living room. SEE MORE PHOTOS OF THE RING HOME IN THE SLIDESHOW BELOW.

Nancy and Mike Ring's Asian- and California-inspired living room. SEE MORE PHOTOS OF THE RING HOME IN THE SLIDESHOW BELOW.

Whether rolling green hills or a blanket of white snow is the view from their living room windows, Nancy and Mike Ring can appreciate the beauty of all the seasons from their home in Plain, Wisconsin. And that’s a significant change for Nancy, who grew up in California’s Bay Area. But when she and Mike, a native of Plain, decided to build a house here to eventually share with sons Hunter and Gavin, daughter Stevie and dog Kona, she wanted to incorporate a piece of her past.

“I have very strong ties to California and since I had the opportunity to build from the ground up, I wanted to bring a little ‘home’ to my home,” she says. “You can take the girl out of California, but you can’t take the California out of the girl.”

The result is a warm house with California character and Asian details that could fit in on the West Coast just as easily as in the heart of the Midwest. Nancy and her brother, an architect in California, worked together to design the house. She insisted it be open, inviting, relaxing and chic, while he made blurring the distinction between indoor and outdoor space a priority. With 2,700 square feet on both the main floor and newly finished basement, the home features many rounded arches and extra-thick walls to lend a “beefiness” to the architecture. A rough plaster texture and sun-drenched colors imbue a sense of earthiness, while an open floor plan and lots of windows add airiness. Much of the Rings’ furniture comes from stores and antique shops in Los Angeles, where Nancy’s sister lives.

A fan of Asian style, Nancy also picked up many pieces from Madison’s Indocara, which specializes in contemporary Asian furniture. While the Rings built their house twelve years ago, the basement is a new place for the kids to play pool, watch movies or just hang out. Nancy chose brick walls, concrete countertops, slate floors and dark woods for the game room, kitchen and living room to evoke New York City lofts, “where industrial meets Old World.” From the start, the house was meant to be lived in, Nancy says. So they don’t worry about scratches on the hardwood floors or that the deck gets beat up from summer after summer of outdoor fun.

“To us, the gentle distress reflects who we are and adds to its character,” she says. “We love our house. It’s us.”

Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine.

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