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Serenity in Synergy

This article was written by Victoria Hittner and was featured in our November issue of Home By Design magazine. Photography by Elise Hassey To visit the original Home By Design article and view more photos, click here.


“No one can really pinpoint my design style,” says property and interior designer Sarah Parry-Okeden. “It really is an eclectic combination of a lot of different places. There’s India in there. There’s Colorado. There’s coastal Australia. It is a combination of a lot of the influences I’ve had since I’ve traveled.”

As the owner of full-service firm Wild Orchid Spaces, Parry-Okeden has a hand in every step of the design process—from building to landscaping to finishing touches. She and her team work in a refreshingly minimalistic fashion, doing almost everything in-house. Wild Orchid purchases properties, redesigns or rebuilds, and then rents or sells the finished product—often via Instagram.

“I find it much more personal,” explains Parry-Okeden. “I build the house myself and everything that’s gone into it and I can organically help [renters or buyers] work out if it’s a good fit for them and their family or whoever they’re purchasing it for.”

This guest house property, however, never made it to the market. Parry-Okeden and her family have called it home since its completion. Its location in lush Avalon Beach, Australia and flexible, open-air layout make it easy to see why.

“I always focus on bringing nature inside the house, . . . bringing plants inside and letting the outside speak,” explains the designer. “It’s incorporating that synergy and that flow between the exterior and the interior.”

Bifold glass doors, gabled ceilings, and expansive windows help blur the lines between indoors and out. Says Parry-Okeden: “At the end of the day, if the house has no walls, that’s what makes me happy.”

Antique columns from India create a grand entrance, framing an unobstructed view all the way to the back patio. The stately pieces once graced Parry-Okeden’s childhood home, adding a touch of nostalgia to the property. A fishing basket refashioned into a pendant light completes the striking entryway.

In fact, most of Parry-Okeden’s pieces are sourced from her travels or antique shops. Rarely does she purchase ready-made items off the shelf.

“If you ask my friends and family, my car is always full!” says the designer. “It has things from the most high-end, prestige antique stores in the city to stuff I found on the side of the road. I’m like a little bowerbird and I’m always just pulling in, collecting. I have a thousand things stored in warehouses and they all have a purpose, and they all have a place—even if they don’t know it yet.” Even items sourced from big retailers—like the living room chandelier from Anthropologie or Ikea wicker pendant in the primary bedroom—were given custom additions or new coats of paint. Every nook and embellishment hints at history and a good tale.

Throughout the home, Parry-Okeden played with layers and texture to add to the cozy, collected feel. Reclaimed railway sleepers serve as floating shelves and even a mantel in the living room, while counter-to-ceiling herringbone tile helps differentiate the kitchen space. Intentionally overlapping rugs lend further dimension to the limed hardwood floors.

“It’s a very small space, but I’ve managed to incorporate timbers and sandstones and tiles and ceramics and brass. I like to sort of think of it as a small, colorful journey through textures and visual interest.”

In the more private spaces, Parry-Okeden created a distinct sense of retreat.

“I think that it’s really interesting to create a different kind of feeling in each bedroom and not have everything be so consistent,” notes the designer. To achieve a “coastal kind of boho” in the primary bedroom, she kept the palette light and the textures plentiful. In the narrow children’s room, custom bunks, sunny hues, and clever stairway storage keep the space cheerful and flexible.

“When you walk in, you feel like you’re home,” says Parry-Okeden. “It’s not stark. It’s not cold. It’s not uninviting. When we were creating this little guest house, I wanted it to be somewhere you really wanted to go and have it feel warm and pretty casual, as well. I want a house to feel inviting and warm and just a journey for your senses.”

Avalon Beach, Australia
Located just thirty-seven kilometers (twenty-three miles) north of Sydney, this idyllic beach town is popular with surfers and families alike. You can reach it by car or bus within an hour from the big city. As designer and local Sarah Parry-Okeden describes it, it’s “sort of a barefoot and fancy-free little town—a lot of surfing, a lot of sandy hair.”

Although famous for its waves, the coastal town offers much more than just surfing or paddleboarding. The sandy beach and two rock pools provide plenty of space for little ones to safely explore. Local treasure Bookoccino lives up to its promise of being “more than just a bookstore.” Grab coffee or wine and catch a literary event or live music while you’re there.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the iconic La Banette bakery for a pastry or treat yourself to dinner at Bistro Boulevard. The popular beach suburb is filled with easy cheer and little luxuries.