Meet the Locals

A Versatile Architect: Ken Woolley In Darling Point

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Ken Woolley was one of Australia’s most important architects.

Across the second half of the 20th century, he made his mark on Sydney through his many public buildings and home designs, including award-winning Darling Point designs.

Early life

Born in Sydney in 1933, Ken Woolley displayed artistic talent from an early age and was encouraged by his mother to pursue his creative skills.

After high school, he won a traineeship at the NSW Public Works Department and studied architecture at the University of Sydney. Woolley’s skill in drawing helped him win the University Medal and a travelling scholarship.

Woolley travelled to Europe and then headed back to Australia, where his designs began to make their mark on his hometown.

Iconic Sydney designs

While part of the NSW Government Architect’s Office in the 1960s, Woolley worked on one of his first large-scale projects, Fisher Library at the University of Sydney. The building’s undergraduate wing won the Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Sulman Award for Architectural Merit.

As the decades progressed and his reputation grew, Woolley turned his significant talent to designing many now well-known buildings: Ultimo’s ABC Radio and Orchestra Centre, the Park Hyatt Hotel at Campbell’s Cove, the Arc Glasshouse at the Botanic Gardens, the Convention Centre at Darling Harbour, the 2009 refurbishment of the QVB, and the Royal Agricultural Showground exhibition halls at Homebush Bay.

Residences by Ken Woolley

Woolley’s talents were not confined to large commissions. In 1962 his design for his own home in Mosman won the prestigious Wilkinson Award for a House of Outstanding Architectural Merit from the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA).

While other architects became known for a signature style, Woolley was recognised for the distinctiveness of each of his designs. This willingness to adapt served him well: his home designs acknowledged and worked with, rather than against, any restrictions such as steep, rocky terrain. Indeed, in an interview he once described the architect’s job as “puzzle solving”. This approach was wonderfully expressed in his Palm Beach house, which embraced the steep cliff face it was situated on.

He’s credited with being the founder of the “The Sydney School” style of architecture in houses. Woolley-designed homes can be found throughout the eastern suburbs – in Bellevue Hill, Double Bay and Paddington, and the landmark Pier Villas on New South Head Road.

Woolley in Darling Point

Woolley’s talent for working with a site is beautifully on display in his Darling Point designs, where his buildings take full advantage of the city and harbour views on offer.
His Darling Point designs include the Bay Terraces at 21 Yarranabbe Road, a neighbouring building at 25 Yarranabbe Rd, and The Point Villas in Thornton Street. All three buildings make the most of their harbourside position.

Then there’s The Penthouses – a veritable who’s who of art and design. Furniture designer and property developer Harry Sebel apparently commissioned Ken Woolley to design The Penthouses in 1967.

Situated at 58 New Beach Road, this fabulous Woolley building was created to maximise light, views and privacy. The building’s tiered design utilises the roof space of each townhouse as a terrace for the townhouse above. The concept would go on to be used across the city.

“On the world scene it was an important building,” Woolley once explained of The Penthouses, “because it was an expression of some of the principles of modern architecture and housing.”

The Penthouses won the Wilkinson Award in 1968, the first time a townhouse design was eligible for the award, which had previously been restricted to houses.

It was also photographed by Max Dupain (of “Sunbaker” fame) in 1969, and prints still circulate through fine art and photography dealers today.

Ken Woolley passed away in 2015 but his legacy lives on in so many of his amazing buildings, including in Darling Point.

Looking to buy or sell in Darling Point? Call me today.

Jason Boon

Meet the Locals: Jason Boon, My Favourite Conjunction Agent

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Selling real estate shouldn’t be a solo pursuit.

It takes a diverse team to prepare and sell a property – from photographers to stylists and from agents to assistants.

While we often go head-to-head to compete for listings, sometimes real estate agents working under different brands will also collaborate on a sale or co-list a property. Jason Boon from Richardson & Wrench Potts Point is an agent I regularly work with. He also happens to be a dear friend.

There are many reasons a vendor may choose to co-list with two agents under different real estate brands. Sometimes it’s because they think they’d both do a good job, and bring different qualities to the sale. Other times they want to combine the strengths of both agents to target different buyer demographics or increase exposure and competition for their property.

It’s true that real estate revolves around relationships, and my relationship with Jason Boon is one I really value on a personal and professional level. In an industry with a reputation for being individualistic, Jason stands out for his honesty and is supportive, loyal and generous in every sense. These qualities translate into his business, and I wouldn’t be doing the right thing by my clients if I didn’t get him involved in some of my sales.

Co-listings we’ve worked together on this year include 1401/81 Macleay Street, Potts Point, which sold for $8.8 million, and 2/51 Darling Point Road, Darling Point, which sold for $3.825 million.

We recently sat down for a chat about how we work together to benefit our clients.

Jason, thanks for letting me introduce you to my clients. One of the things I love about working with you is that I can trust you. You’re not only a real estate expert when it comes to Potts Point and the Eastern Suburbs, you’re also creative and generous in your ideas.

Thanks, Daph. It seems like only yesterday we sold that first property together but I think it was actually well over 20 years ago. I like to be creative in my negotiating but direct. I think our speciality in different areas – me in Potts Point, and you in Darling Point – means we’re a good team. But there are also no games between us. We’re different characters but we gel together when we sell. We both feel strongly about doing the right thing because we’re entrenched and accountable to the areas we sell in. And we both want the best outcome for the owner, rather than just a fast sale by any method. We work for the best result.

It’s very valuable to me and our vendors that you bring a different demographic of buyers into Darling Point, through your contacts. I have to say that I enjoy working with you because you also make it fun. As a mad keen surfer, you’re out there in the waves early in the morning and while you take your work seriously, you also bring authenticity to it. When we work together, I also find that your masculinity is a nice contrast to my softer approach. But as a female in a cutthroat industry, you’ve also been a great sounding board and mentor, which I’ve really appreciated.

Working in real estate for more than 20 years I’ve seen a lot of people try to bully women. In fact, bullying is pretty rampant within the real estate industry generally, because of the intense competition. But there are other ways to work with or compete against your colleagues. It’s one thing to show strength but you have to be compassionate. You need to have your own values and take them to real estate. You need to bring good behaviour to business and not be swayed by the culture around real estate.

I love the fact that your vendors trust you and listen to you. I often hear you say “you’re not going to like it but I’m going to have to tell you the truth!” But you always give people the truth with love and compassion.

The reality is that telling the truth can actually lose you a lot of business but it also means you end up getting the right kind of business. It has to tie in with who you are. We all make mistakes along the way but, for the most part, you have to stick to what is right for you. I think we share these values, which means we complement each other when we work together. Daphne, you bring a lot of enthusiasm, and you work hard to ensure the client is happy – regardless of whether the property is sold or not. For both of us, the client comes first above everything else, but I really respect the way you get to know them and the things you do for them. You invest a lot of time and often they become much more than clients.

Thanks, Jason. Looking forward to many more co-listings with you in the future.

Jason Boon and Daphne Sauvage

Want more?

If you’d like to know more about our local property market in Darling Point, or if you need help buying or selling a home, get in touch.

Meet The Locals: Stylist Robynne De Courtenay

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Robynne de Courtenay has worked in the interior design space for more than 30 years.

She launched the boutique interior design and styling agency, Coloured Pencil, in 2003 and hasn’t looked back. We love seeing Robynne transform properties and I recently chatted with her about what great styling entails and how thoughtful design can transform a home.

Hi Robynne, it’s hard to believe that we are well and truly into 2022 – how has your design business been going?

The last few years have been – in spite of the pandemic – extremely busy, overwhelming and quite incredible. The design space has not slowed down at all. In fact, the Covid landscape has had the opposite effect. People have been spending more time at home, and they are continuing to do so. The focus is very much on creating a space that is both beautiful and functional.

Has the current landscape changed the direction of your work?

One of the things I am hearing people say is that because they are spending time at home, they are sitting back and looking in and out for the first time. This has really driven the restructuring of homes.

And you’re both an interior designer and a property stylist – and we love the styling you’ve done for us on many properties around Darling Point. Can you tell me what each hat you wear entails?

The key difference is in how I approach the styling. With interior design, I work closely with a client to achieve a certain result. It’s an intimate relationship and the process is often an emotionally driven journey. With property styling I need to be quick and adaptable, to think outside the box to continue creating inspiring spaces. My interior design experience gives my styling work its edge.

Can you tell me about what people are asking for in Darling Point?

One of the strongest directions in the design space overall is the desire to create more usable space, and we see this both in Darling Point and beyond. People are re-thinking how they live – and how they can live in a more relaxed space. I don’t see open plan living going anywhere, however, what I do see happening is the rethinking of spaces. Home offices have become a necessary feature, whether that be a nook, a junk corner or a separate room. And couples and families are realising that home works well when there are dedicated spaces to spend time both together and apart. Breakaway zones are becoming really popular and every little alcove is being rethought. People are realising they don’t need so much stuff… more quality. We have seen a throwaway away attitude to some materials. Now it’s really refreshing to see that people are after more meaning and desire to connect with the home.

It sounds as if people are realising just how important that relationship to the home is?

Yes, they are. The way we use our living spaces has shifted radically over the last couple of years. We work from home and we spend more time at home, and many of us have discovered how much we enjoy this way of life.

And how is this newfound way of living expressed in design aesthetics?

I’m finding that I’m receiving more requests for interior design work. We’re being asked to incorporate fireplaces into design schemes at the moment. Baths, too. Clients are seeking out top-of-the-range fixtures so that they can spend time relaxing at home in a much bigger capacity than previously seen. Simultaneously, clutter and extra maintenance is out.

It sounds as if it’s about the cohesion of functionality and aesthetics in 2022. How do finishes tie into this?

I think natural and organic finishes will continue to be very popular in 2022, and there is a lean towards clean and simple lines. I personally love to use natural stones and materials. Lacquer is a surprising accent that is looking to make a comeback.

What about outdoor spaces? What do you see happening there?

Gardens will continue to be a major focal point. Gardens can be balcony gardens or expansive home gardens – anything to do with nature is popular. Nature can also be brought inside and I love to use indoor plants when styling.

And what about colourways? What colours do you like to work with?

There is a trend towards more warmth and earthy tones across the board, with pops of colour scattered throughout. I am still loving citrus tones for accents. The Pantone colour of 2022 is Very Peri (purple/blue mauve), and it will be interesting to see how that evolves in the design space.

It sounds as if there is plenty to look forward to in the year ahead. What are you looking forward to most?

Personally, a holiday. Professionally, I’m looking forward to seeing some of the developments that we have been working on throughout the pandemic being completed in the next few months. It will be wonderful to see my beautiful clients move back into their redesigned homes. And in a general sense, I’m hoping to see more kindness shown to one another.

Thanks for sharing your insights with us Robynne. Home really is where the heart is.

For more information about Coloured Pencil visit For design inspiration, be sure to follow Coloured Pencil on Instagram.