Trish Horgan talks about working with Suzie on her home Witchcliffe in Margaret River.
Q: I wonder if you can tell about your first impressions of Suzie?
She came across with an enormous amount of energy and enthusiasm for the job. We had a beautiful block in the bush, in Margaret River. We took her to stand on that block and we talked about what we wanted. I remember the answer was “Well, you really want to live in a glass box, that makes sense.” That’s exactly what we wanted. We wanted a house that brought the inside out. As we were getting on and we were moving out of a mud-brick house with random stuff that was quite dark into this new place, we wanted defensive light in place so that failing eyesight wouldn’t be failing so much. She grasped all of those things immediately.
Q: If I was going to go on this journey of building a home with Suzie, can you explain a bit of the process to me how it works?
Well, for us the communication was really good. We never had a problem with communication with the builder and Suzie and the various workmen on the job. Even though Suzie was based in Perth and we were building in Margaret River it seemed to flow very well. She always found the right time to be on the site. The fact that the builder and Suzie went on to do other projects together after our job was finished was a good feel for us that they built a good relationship. People that worked on our house were very proud of it and very proud to tell us that “My brothers worked on your house.” There is sometimes a sense that building is supposed to be stressful – this was not stressful at all.
Q: How did the interiors come together?
The interiors came together very well. I always felt that Suzie and I were on the same wavelength. In fact the day we chose the paint colors, she was in Perth and I was in Margaret River. We got one shade of one paint one degree different to each other. That helped that we both had a very clear idea of what should happen on the same line.
Q: What were the parts of the process that you really enjoyed?
I enjoyed the whole experience and really I’ve been looking for another project ever since. I’d like to do the same thing again because it was such a good experience. I think that says a lot in itself.
Q: Can you think of a story or something that’s part of the whole process that illustrates what sort of architect Suzie is?
I think the fact that she listened to what we wanted to have and grasped it exactly. We certainly got what we wanted. The house has worked very well for us. We love it. We spend more time there than we actually had anticipated we would spend. Yes, a good experience all around.
Q: What is it like to live in it? What does it feel like?
It feels like we got exactly what we were hoping to get, a house that fits into the environment which was really important to us. It nestles into the block very well. It just blends in.
Q: Is there any particular part of the house that you especially love?
The house has this line which is a slightly curved wall that binds the whole house together. We had plenty of land, we joked we were going to race each other in wheelchairs up and down the passage. This curved wall is like a spine of the house and it’s built with Kimberly stone. We’ve met everybody who’s worked on that wall and it was a big job. It was a lot longer than we thought. That wall is probably the proudest feature of the house.
Q: What do people say when they first see your house?
I don’t think we’ve had anybody in the house that hasn’t said, “Well, this is just such a beautiful home and it just suits the environment so well.”
Q: If you were asked what Suzie was like as an architect, how would you sum her up?
Energetic, enthusiastic, very giving of her time, very cooperative with all the tradesmen and all the builders. She had a sense of humor that got us through for a few tough spots. I suppose we built a very large house in record time. It was a collaboration between the builder and Suzie to get us into the house for Christmas. We built a four-bedroom five-bathroom home with big spaces in about 10 months, starting just from the footings which we already had put in.
Q: It was an efficient process?
It was a very efficient and fun process and that was nice. We all had a sense of appreciation of each other and what we all wanted. The whole collaboration was really, really good.
Q: If you were doing another project, you’d consider Suzie again?
Absolutely and I recommended her to people and some of those homes have gone ahead. They’ve been very happy too. As you can probably gather I’m very much a fan.