Sharon & Phil’s Bright, Modern Western Australian Home

updated Oct 24, 2019
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(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

Name: Sharon and Phil Sunderland
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Size: 300 square metres (3229 square feet)
Years lived in: 10 months; Owned

It’s apparent from the moment I walk through the front door that this home oozes style and sophistication. Although, the light-washed floorboards, paired with the white walls and the designer furniture and light fixtures, make it hard to believe that a family of five—with three children preschool age and under— live here. They do though, and it all seems to work beautifully, which is a testament to homeowner Sharon’s design choices. Every piece is easily cleanable, and there is minimal “fuss” in the decoration about the home.

(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

Sharon and Phil’s new home sits behind the original 1940s cottage they lived in before they decided to subdivide and build a more modern house that better suited their needs. Being on the back of the block meant that they didn’t have much space in which to play with, so they engaged both a local builder to build the home, and Landscape Designer Mon Palmer to design the exterior spaces—fully utilizing every inch they had available to them.

(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

They came up with a wide open plan living, kitchen and dining space on the ground floor, with large doors that open all the way out to the back courtyard. The courtyard is paved in a beautiful travertine, and provides a perfect second living space for the family. They were then able to use the second story for more intimate spaces—a home office, generous master bedroom, the children’s bedrooms and the bathrooms

(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

Once the build was complete, Sharon then happily threw herself in to designing the interior of the home, relying on her love of all things Scandinavian and the simple color palette of black and white to be her jumping-off point. Sticking to this design style has meant that every room flows beautifully into the next. Every piece seems as if it was always meant to be there. Through clever choice of textures and materials by Sharon, even the children’s toys fit seamlessly within the interior design scheme of the home.

(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: The ‘Scandi’ aesthetic is a huge influence, as we love the utilisation of natural light and materials, and subtle hues to create a bright space without fussy pieces. We make the overall look unique to our home by combining high-end with affordable pieces and local designers, and mixing it up with some bespoke pieces such as our Sarah Kelk painting in the living room and a bit of quirky fun such as the neon sign in the guestroom.

Having kids and living in Japan has also influenced me to embrace ‘Wabi-Sabi’, which is basically accepting imperfection because there is beauty in that too. I want to live and enjoy my house (and so do my kids) so even though we tidy up to be hygienic and we won’t accept the kids going crazy and drawing all over the walls, we accept that marks and cracks will appear and ultimately adds to the character of having a home that is lived in and loved. We are not an immaculate household by any means and rather appreciate the ‘story our home’ evolving.

Inspiration: Travelling overseas is the biggest inspiration for me. Online I love Pinterest and Instagram. I also love magazines such as Real Living and Inside Out. Also, styling the home is very much a team effort as my husband has a great taste and is also a good handyman!

Favorite Element: I love our open plan and ‘inside outside’ living areas. So when I’m at home I don’t feel like I’m confined.

Biggest Challenge: Having the time to do all the small jobs around the house like furnishing our theatre room properly and putting up our shelving. There seems to be an endless list of things to do around the home.

Biggest Embarrassment: Probably putting too much trust with the builder and electrician over light switches and plug outlets. We didn’t check this part of the plan thoroughly so have switches outside of the guest room for example!

Proudest DIY: The Ikea hack of our study room. My husband is quite the handyman and I love this room more because I know he designed it and made it with his bare hands!

Biggest Indulgence: The Tom Dixon pendant lights and our Sarah Kelk painting.

Best Advice: Have a budget and when quotes come back expect at least 30% in variation, as there is always something you want to change. We know this won’t be our ‘forever home’ but realistically we know we end up living here for quite a few years so prioritising where to spend on what is important for you and your family.

Dream Sources:



  • Dulux Vivid White
  • Flooring (throughout whole home): Royal Oak (Danish White)
  • Caesarstone: London fog for benchtops [countertops]
(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)


(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)


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Entry way, complete with statement tree! (Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

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Thanks, Sharon and Phil!