Few creative endeavours are as rewarding as designing a home to live in.
For Sarah Waller, Principal Architect at Sarah Waller Architecture, this is a joy she lives and breathes for herself and her clients.
Sarah's latest project is her own dream home, located on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. Named Blackwood Doonan, the luxury pavilion style home is the epitome of resort-style living.
Here, we discover the expansive property and explore Sarah's story and monochrome styling advice.
Envisioning a career path doesn’t come easily for everyone, but the journey to becoming an architect was always part of the plan for Sarah.
“I wanted to be an architect from a very young age,” Sarah shared. “My father is a builder, and I can remember him taking me to building sites and trade shows. It was something I was always really drawn to. My path was somewhat destined.”
Beginning her career in the UK, Sarah relocated to Australia 18 years ago and founded her practice.
“We are a small boutique style practice, specialising in bespoke one-off architectural homes,” Sarah explained. “We take a detailed brief and try to understand each client's wishes and desires. We're here to deliver our client's dreams.”
While it was never part of the plan, in recent years, Sarah expanded her scope of work to become a builder, allowing her to take a design concept right through to construction.
“Becoming a builder was sort of accidental,” Sarah shared. “Our builder disappeared on us partway through a project, so I started looking into becoming a builder. I was fortunate enough to be accepted and given a license and found I enjoyed taking a design concept through to construction.”
Featuring the King Cove Sun Lounge in Shoalwater Surf.
For Sarah, designing and building Blackwood Doonan was all about raising the benchmark of her personal architectural style.
“I wanted the design to be bolder and to take it to the next level in terms of the finishes and material selection,” Sarah explained. “And to present a different pavilion style house on acreage to what I was delivering for clients.”
"The pavilions are anchored by a long off-form concrete wall, which is part of the overall concept of the house,” Sarah explains. “I call it a blade feature wall, and it's designed to anchor the pavilions – they all visually hang off the side of the wall.”
Featuring the Reef Pool Float.
Featuring the 1977 Pool Float.
The inspiration for Blackwood Doonan began with Sarah’s vision of creating resort-style living at home.
"I thought if I could create a holiday resort vibe, it would bring relaxation and calm to my busy lifestyle,” Sarah explained. “The flow of indoor outdoor living was important. I don't want separation; I want to open the vast expanses of glass and let it seamlessly flow and allow the greenery to come into the house.”
Careful to consider every detail, Sarah saw the opportunity to create a unique feature that complimented the home design rather than opting for a standard rectangular pool.
“My favourite feature is the swimming pool.” Sarah shared. “I love the sharpness and the boldness of the shape. I could have easily gone for a rectangular pool, but I wouldn't accept that. I wanted to reflect the sharp lines of the roof detail in the pool's layout.
Well known for her monochrome styling, Sarah brought her signature style into Blackwood Doonan to create a beautiful result.
“I chose a really tight theme. I've got the black and the white and then lovely greys coming through from the concrete,” Sarah explained. “All the texture and shadow lines have been carefully thought out to bring variety and ensure the monochromatic theme didn’t look sterile or cold.”
Featuring the 1977 Chair Module in Leura Natural White.
Inside every dream living space is the furniture that matches the home’s vision while bringing comfort and functionality to each space.
“I like the quality, strength and boldness of King Living designs. I like pieces of furniture that show their strength because my architectural style strong.” Sarah shares.
“My house is defined by sharp, bold lines and angles. With the Zaza Outdoor Sofa, I can open the wings to reflect the architecture of the house.”
Sarah also works with her clients to help design dream living spaces to complement their new home builds.
“I always emphasise to my clients that King Living is a long-term investment.” Sarah explains “It’s all about the quality of the manufacturing. The designs are robust and have longevity to them. If you care for it well, it will look after you.”
“I expect my clients to be able to say in 25 years' time that they still have their King Living sofa because they bought quality.”
When designing for a wide variety of architectural styles, each living space presents its own unique requirements, which is why Sarah often opts for modular designs.
“Because King Living is very modular, there are endless options. There really is a combination that suits every client.”
A classic combination of black and white is always timeless.
"Black and white so simple. It's a blank canvas.” Sarah shares. “I find colour can feel like noise. I like the simplicity of the monochrome palette – I find it calming and grounding.”
When it comes to home styling in a monochrome colour palette, some styling secrets will greatly transform the end result.
“Don't overdo the black. That's the secret to it,” Sarah explains. “If it’s all black, I find that too hard and minimal. I also like to introduce a little touch of grey, which follows through in my architecture and interiors.”
Texture is important in any interior styling, and this is particularly important for a black and white design.
“As soon as you bring in texture, it gives a depth,” Sarah shares. "You've got the play of light and shadow on the materials, so it doesn't become bland and cold. It brings everything alive and gives a new level of interest.”
Sarah’s other key ingredient is adding warmth with natural materials and bringing nature inside.
“Try introducing warmth to the palette with timber or other natural materials,” Sarah advises. "Bringing nature inside also lifts the whole look. At Blackwood Doonan, out of every window, there are pockets of green, and greenery is brought inside.”
Featuring designs from the King Living Outdoor Collection.
Whether designing and building a dream home for herself or her clients, seeing the projects come to life is always a joy for Sarah.
“I love being able to deliver people's dreams. I love that they come to me with an idea and wish list for their dream home. And as an architect, along with my team, we bring all these ideas together.”
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