Built by Wilson


Team Simone Haag 

Bethany Williamson

Timothy Kaye

Barwon Heads was a residence conceived long before it became a reality. Twenty years ago, its current owner implored the then-owner of the Barwon Heads site to sell it to her should it ever come up for sale. Five years ago it did, and Sarah and her husband purchased it with the hope of building an Australian beach house which will one day become their forever home. Surrounded by four family members who live on the same street, another family home behind and various aunts, uncles, godparents and cousins a stones throw away, the current iteration is an elegantly resolved, light-drenched home which mediates perfectly between large informal gatherings of friends and family and a discerning appreciation for antipodean design, personal sentimentality and art.

Having lived in LA and Hong Kong for the past 25 years, Sarah’s vision for Barwon Heads Residence reconciled all her lived experiences to date. Designed by Tecture Architecture and built by Sarah’s cousin's Matt and Lauren of Built by Wilson, the home has been completed by Simone Haag’s engagement which instilled an atmosphere of permanence and intention, cultivating the feeling that Sarah and her family live there all the time, despite the months that might separate their visits. A precise architectural geometry conjures a modernity that is leavened by a leafy, salt-bleached material language in harmony with the coastal context. Inside, this earthy tactility continues exponentially through furniture, artwork and lighting unified by sculptural qualities, rich patinas, warmth and deep comfort.

Through a remote process which emphasised the rapport between client and designer, Barwon Heads Residence has come to be defined by the pillars of the initial brief — the desire for a place that embraces the art of entertaining, the unspoken welcome of doors thrown open to the outdoors and the cadence of decorative pieces that hold the narrative of the home’s occupants. In a residence distinguished by ample proportions and myriad expressions of light, textiles, texture, artwork and sculpture become its fixed stars. A pair of Tacchini ‘Orsola' sofas in the living room, reupholstered in a custom ‘Telluride Stripe’ in navy blue and cream echo the tones in a large scale painting by Josh Yeldham to introduce notes of colour while harnessing connotations of the American West and weaving in Sarah’s husband’s heritage. A vintage tiled and chrome coffee table accompanies it, complimenting yet sitting outside the realm of trend and style to layer a sense of considered authenticity. A custom Cenzo dining table with low slung Mattiazzi ‘Fionda’ dining chairs and adjacent credenza by Guatemalan-based Agnes Studio converse with both the bleached timber elements and black steel hardware while embodying an effortless coastal charm and inspiring long, languid evenings with the rear of the home opening up to the nostalgic spirit of Australian summer.

In the winter, Barwon Heads Residence wears a cosy domesticity. An indulgent ‘The Big Easy’ sofa in the rumpus and a Jardan ‘Lemmy’ couch in the sitting room beckon. Plush Loom rugs and the wabi sabi ambiance of sculpture and which finds its way constantly into lighting, vessels and furniture are animated by the flickering shadow play from deep reaching wintery light by day and the golden glow of fireplaces by night. Beyond its aesthetic expressions, Barwon Heads Residence's interior decoration exudes a permanence which often evades holiday homes, retaining a lived-in spirit from one visit to the next while it quietly waits for the day Sarah and her husband will occupy it full time.

"Simone had a natural understanding that using beautiful textures instead of colour would create a perfect blend with the geometry of the architecture. We wanted this to be a house that our children could run around in while also being visually distinct, beautiful and well crafted. She was really good at understanding that, and mixing important pieces with less discerning ones. 

She’s just a fucking dream to work with. To do this from the US and get to the end of the build and think, you know what, that was so amazing, I’d do it all over again. That’s fucking crazy! Who says that? To have the trust…remotely…she’s just singularly very good at what she does. I loved loved loved working with her."

~ Sarah & Dave Harden