Three time Salon Business of the Year winner and arguably hairdressing’s most energetic entrepreneur, Sharlene Lee, is no stranger to a premium experience, which is why she had to have one of Perth’s most celebrated new homes as soon as she laid eyes on it – meet Lake Monger’s Shutter House! Writes Cameron Pine.

Take a step inside the Shutter House and you’ll see reference points to Sharlene’s dynamic and colourful personality at every turn. From a delicate mix of materialism and modernism, to shaking up the status-quo, the Shutter House welcomes a calculated architectural masterpiece that fuses fresh interest with timeless luxury – all while gaining an insight into Sharlene’s creative mind.

Both Sharlene and the Shutter House share a mutual goal of making the most of their surroundings, through light and vibrancy. The home is built to be the best from the ground up, which is something shared by Sharlene and her business Circles of Hair.

“The first time I saw this house I knew I just had to have to it. I’ll have to admit I first walked in not even expecting or serious about buying a house. I’d said to my husband ‘maybe we should look at buying a penthouse or something completely different’ but as soon as I set foot in this house I felt like I was home,” Sharlene said.

“It immediately felt like everything in the house was built for me. There are so many reference points with circles, which is something that have been part of my business ethos for years. Even the stairs to the pool are circles and the colours are very me,” she said.

A strong nod to Japanese architecture and the importance placed on the honesty and artisan aspect of materials is evident as soon as you sight the impressive home. Whether handcrafted oak parquetry, terrazzo, Japanese Inax tiles and agape bathroom products – every selection has come from a place of minimalistic design but with a sense of detail beyond expectations.

In the wet areas, a cream Sugie Series tile was paired with terracotta grout and iridescent mirrors for an unexpected injection of colour and to act as the perfect mirror for Sharlene to take selfies, which, if any of you know the awarded Circles team, they all love! If you follow Sharlene or the team on social media you’ll have seen both the bathroom and the entrance, which have been the backdrops for various check ins and photos.

“The design at its core is meant to be expressive, it provokes you to look closer and longer,” said Perth based design house, State of Kin, co-founder Ara Salamone. “Hand-seeded terrazzo flooring and concrete ceilings juxtapose with the delicacy of the timber outside. We had a greater level of freedom to experiment with both colour and materiality.”

Raw, natural materials and a sense of custom and handcrafted skill is visible at every touchpoint. As one of the first projects for State of Kin, the home emanates a collective experience and one that is about celebrating the outside as much as the inside but with the ability to adjust the light and shade to the owner’s distinct tastes.

Materials experts Artedomus allowed the designers to create a robust design-focused material palette championing expressive materials – a key feature being the natural stone benchtops with detail and grain that ensures a completely individual home.

Italian furniture design house Mobilia and State of Kin collaborated to complete the look and furnish Shutter House, using some of the world’s most renowned and celebrated brands while ensuring a seamless experience for both house guests and residents. Leaving all of her furniture behind and starting again Sharlene says was part of the experience of really maximising what the house has to offer. “It’s the kind of house where the furnishings were designed to be part of it so we just had to have it,” Sharlene said.

Sprawling onto Lake Monger, Shutter House is backed by a silhouette of the city but with a tranquil atmosphere, utilising a simplistic concrete block design surrounded by a battened timber skin to wrap around the entire home. Movable shutters, almost like a garage doors, change the light and view throughout the day.

A mechanical system allows the timber façade (shutter) to open and close, creating a sense of enclosure and intimacy, while still allowing unobstructed views to the adjacent lake. It can be adjusted at intervals to scatter the light through the house – hence the name, ‘Shutter House’.

The majestic residence is spread over three levels with the ground floor consisting of a four-car garage, wine cellar and entry into a spectacular three story void that connects all levels via a feature staircase that lights up the entire home. The timber entry and elevator shafts are flanked by crisp white porcelain wall lights by Michael Anastassiades, which sit effortlessly within the playfulness of the architecture. A lift servicing all levels aids in the feel that you’re at a luxury hotel, not at a suburban home.

“There was something in the universe that said to buy it. My favourite thing is the layout and there are so many places to sit – in front of the balcony overlooking the lake, or up on the terrace overlooking the pool and everything about the home is just like staying in a hotel,” Sharlene said.

An open-plan living, dining and kitchen space on the second floor affords panoramic views of Lake Monger and connects to a terrace and pool area with a separate studio at the back.

“It sounds predictable but my favourite feature really is the kitchen because it has a separate scullery (butler’s kitchen), which is hidden away from the kitchen. It keeps the house looking streamlined and the main kitchen can even be concealed with a large wooden screen,” Sharlene said.

The arrivals zone is perhaps the most impressive – an open stair draws the eye upwards through the building via a void but also connects guests to the views. It’s almost a shame to take the lift and hard to believe you are surrounded by homes with such an open aspect.

“We loved it to a point of obsession,” Sharlene said. “It doesn’t look like a house, it looks, operates and feels like a hotel. My husband Mal has always been in a hotel half his life and I like being away – 2020 was certainly challenging with being home more so this home made it feels like being in our own W hotel every night of the week.”

“My second favourite aspect would be the view overlooking the water and out past the shutters which gives you a different feel to a completely open or closed off space. It’s the best house for people watching. You can sit out there and watch everyone passing by walking the lake. It’s not a beach but still completely relaxing at any time of the day looking across the water. You come home to that same feeling – relaxing and calming which I believe is the most important aspect of a home. I didn’t take one piece of furniture. Cleaning out, not taking anything old and starting again is so refreshing and making sure everything truly suited the space was paramount,” she said. 

This ‘topography’ created through separate zones of the house is something very carefully balanced that gives the house a feel of a hotel that you can almost ‘check in’ to completely different rooms with different personas and light.

Separate from the house design and to add to the experience, Sharlene said selling everything on marketplace was one of the highlights. “We met so many different types of people and it felt so good to pass on things I never used or no longer wanted,” Sharlene said.

Customisation has been key through Shutter house, from suppliers working to create completely bespoke colours and materials to the contrast between the more opaque look of the house when the shutters are closed. Shutter House has a high sense of intrigue and drama whether it’s both over exposed light or controlled shade. This statement continues outside with the cascading landscape gardens and the glass window on the side of the pool tying in shape and geometry both inside and out.

Bringing together form, texture and just the right amount of materialism, Shutter House delivers on the sense of intrigue and the immense drive and passion its owner Sharlene Lee has for her business and those around her.

Almost as if this home was specifically commissioned for the next phase of Sharlene’s lifestyle, the house proves that carefully curated architecture design and quality materials are the difference between a house and a home.

To be bold you also need to know when to be subtle, and Shutter House delivers a result that no doubt will be one of the country’s most celebrated houses in decades to come.