An Interview with Chimene and Barry Cocking

Chimene and Barry Cocking discusses renovating and extending their home in Guildford, and making it a place for recovery and a new way of living.

Q: Chimene, when did you meet Suzie?

Well my brother-in-law was doing surveying work for Suzie in a house that she was building in Toodyay. It was around the time that we bought this property and we were looking for an architect. He said her work was fantastic so we gave her call and she came out to visit us.

Q: You weren’t initially thinking of anything contemporary were you?

When Suzie came to talk to us she really opened our eyes to different things. This wasn’t the way we lived before, we were thinking of a traditional build. We were thinking of smaller windows and just sort of flowing on from where the old house was. Suzie came up with the ideas of transition and this beautiful open space. We got the beauty of living in the old house and then this beautiful modern section as well. Once we started talking with her it was then that we changed our ideas of how we wanted to live in this new place. Even though this is sort of a modern house it’s still got warmth and charm. It’s not over the top modern, it is contemporary but with the use of stone and wood. Suzie talked us through options and we saw the benefits of all the different things that she brought to us.  It’s worked very well.

Q: If I was going to go on a building journey like the one you’ve been on with Suzie, can you give me some idea of what the process is like?

Suzie came out and looked at the house and talked to us. Then she came to our other house just to see how we lived in that place. After talking with us she did some initial drawings.  We discussed those and then she did about three more drawings. We chose one and then we elaborated that drawing. Suzie did all the work at the Shire so we didn’t have to worry about getting approval because it’s a special interest house. Suzie managed to get everything approved and justified so we had no hassle with the Shire. She also helped us choose the builder.

Suzie did all the work at the Shire … Suzie managed to get everything approved and justified so we had no hassle with the Shire.

Q: How did the interiors come together?

Well she had an interior person who was working with her who was great, and Suzie made a big contribution with the interiors as well. She came with us to shops that we didn’t even know existed and took us around. She gave us her architectural discount. She took us to shops and helped us choose things that we mightn’t have necessarily chosen which give this house that little bit of an edge. I knew that I wanted the Kimberley stone for the interior. That was one of the things that we said. Suzie came up with floating stairs and the colored glass.  This reflects the glass colours in the front door, like a sort of modern day stained glass. I’m getting a rug for here so Suzie’s taken me to the rug place and she’s sent people out for me. Anything that she can do for you she does. When she first introduced herself to us she said she had a holistic approach. She goes right from the beginning to the end. She’s amazing and makes it really pleasant and fun, she’s great.

GuildfordResidence, Architect: Suzanne Hunt
GuildfordResidence, Architect: Suzanne Hunt

Q: In the actual build, how did the communication flow?

We had constant telephone calls and a site meeting every two weeks. Sometimes it was with Suzie, sometimes it was with Catherine, an architect who works with her – she’s amazing as well. We would spend a couple of hours here and talk about changes or what was happening. Some days we would go in to her office, that was before the build started and we were choosing things.

Q: Can you think of a story that helps people understand what Suzie is like to work with? Do you have a particular thing that was important to you or that you really enjoyed about being with her?

She’s just a lovely lady. Building a house can be a bit stressful so sometimes she was a mediator, calming the waters. There were pressure points, but Suzie made the journey easier.  With everything else that was going on in our lives this was really helpful. One day there was a big issue with the builder. I called Suzie, she just dealt with all that and calmed us all down. She just sorted it. When the house was finished she came over with champagne. I had coffee with her recently and I can see she really loves the house. I’ve been able to put more and more of my style into the interiors, and Suzie loves the fact that I’ve put my own stamp on things.

Q: What is it like to live here? How does it feel for you?

It’s beautiful, I love it, it feels like we are just in our own little private world. I love the fact that I have got a modern section of the house and I’ve got the beautiful old section. I love how the two have come together. I love how so much beautiful light comes in here. The kitchen is fantastic, and it’s a great house to entertain in. Last April we had 140 people here for my daughter’s engagement and the house just works so well.

Q: You were saying earlier that you can really relax here.

Yes, I’ve discovered that the sun comes in and touches me as I’m lying on the lounge. I can  sit there and watch and hear the birds without going out into the garden. I can see them going into the pond. I have my breakfast and then go up and have a bath. It’s a beautiful big bath up there and I light a candle, read a magazine, have a cup of green tea. It was very good for my soul to live here.

Q: When people come to your house, what are the things that they respond to?

How much light is in the house, the garden coming in. They comment on how beautiful the old part of the house is then they also love the modern extension. They love the pavilion outside because it’s such a good entertaining area and everything we need is there. 

Q: Have you worked with an architect before or is this your first time?

No we haven’t worked with an architect before. We are building a beach house next year. We wouldn’t even bother looking for anyone else. We’d just go straight back to Suzie. She is a wonderful person. She’s lots of fun. She made the whole journey really enjoyable. It was exciting. A really fun time.  I think one of the most important things I value is that she opened my eyes and helped me to think about different things which I wouldn’t have done otherwise. I’m living differently and it works well for me. One other thing I’d like to add is that we told Suzie  we wanted this to be a low maintenance home. We’ve got the two dogs and my daughter still comes here with all her gear. It is certainly a low maintenance home, it’s quick to get back into shape.

Thanks very much Chimene.

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