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Sally Matthews, Perth, Western Australia

Prior to establishing Matthews & Scavalli in the late 1990s, Sally worked for a number of different architects in Perth and the eastern states - moving around and experiencing a broad range of practices and types of work. This experience enabled Sally to determine what she wanted to focus on, so when she was approached directly for a project she knew it was time to establish her own practice.
“The first project I took on by myself was interesting but the initial years were really hard work”, Sally says. “I was still working for someone else during the day so I had to work on my project after hours. I also had my first child at that time so it was exhausting.”

Matthews & Scavalli now has a diverse portfolio of work, from schools to shop fitouts (including Morrison and Ricarda) in addition to residential architecture. “My favourite part of designing homes is getting to know the people”, says Sally. “Designing a home is a very personal process so as an architect you are in a very privileged position.”

East Fremantle Residence by Matthew & Scavalli Architects.
East Fremantle Residence by Matthew & Scavalli Architects.

Sally always starts her projects, and the design process, with a long chat with her clients. “I like to understand the people themselves – how they live, what’s important to them and what motivates them. From this I develop the brief”, says Sally.

Ms Matthew’s advice to people thinking about designing and building a home is that once you find an architect or designer you trust the most important thing is to tell them what you would like your lifestyle to be. “Don’t worry about the technical requirements like room sizes and planning. Leave that to them”, says Sally.

She also advises her clients that if you are building a home then do it for yourself and not the “imaginary person” who may buy the house after you. “Immerse yourself in the project. Commit to it. Don’t be afraid of resale”, says Sally. “The typical buyer with the statistical average of 1.74 kids just does not exist”, she explained. “There are so many different types of people and families.”

Once Sally has a good understanding of her clients, the next step is always to consider the budget and the site. “Never underestimate how good it is to have a sunny rom in winter and a cool breeze in summer”, says Sally. “So site considerations like a study of sun angles, overshadowing and exposure to breeze are all very important.”

In terms of trends, Sally likes to focus on enduring ideas rather than what may be fashionable for a moment. The first is to declutter. “Every item in your home should have a purpose. Make things uncomplicated and understated”, she says. The second is natural light. “If you would like your home to be filled with plants, you will need sunlight.”

Matthew & Scavalli Architects.
Gnarabup Residence by Matthew & Scavalli Architects.