Homes As Individuals As You 

The houses at Universal Home’s impressive new West Hills development will be as unique and as varied as the families that choose to make them home – and that’s primarily thanks to the skills of our expert colour consultant, Sarah Kerr. 

Modern and vibrant 

Sarah Kerr is a hugely experienced and well respected interior designer, having been a presenter on TV1’s Changing Rooms programme and also a regular contributor to New Zealand design magazines. Who better, then, to help Universal Homes make the essential decisions on the exterior and interior colours and materials for their homes at West Hills. 

Through her expert selection of materials and colour schemes, Sarah’s role at West Hills has been to work closely with Universal’s in-house design team and all the external architects involved to establish a modern and vibrant backdrop for this new community.  

“Collectively, we are a large team of design professionals and specialists who have many, many years of experience – and our objective at West Hills has been to create a community of tailored homes and spaces that we are all proud of in the future. That’s what we think about when we look at the materiality and the colour schemes – that and the individuality which flows through the buildings at West Hills.” 

Harmonious exteriors 

A critical element that Sarah introduced to create a sense of variety in the exterior finishes is the careful mix of cladding on the individual homes within the development. “It’s vital that there is a flow and a continuity of different textures,” says Sarah. “Some textures are heavy, like brick; others flat and shiny, like metal sheet. Between the rough and the smooth, we have introduced vertical and horizontal Linea weatherboards, which have shades of light and dark to get progression and movement throughout all the homes.” 

When talking about the exteriors of the homes at West Hills, the material that immediately sparks Sarah’s imagination is the brick. Why?  

“From the 1860s right through to the 1920s, West Auckland, from Hobsonville across to New Lynn, was dotted with brickeries famous for making a distinctive red-coloured brick. So when we take our modern red brick and introduce it into the homes at West Hills, we are paying homage to the local pioneers of the past that made these bricks. We’ve also added white brick, black brick, and earthen shades of brick, so there’s a lot of variety here – all of which reference the industrial history of the West Auckland.” 

To complement the bricks’ earthiness, Sarah and her team have introduced a warm, natural cedar into the material palette, which acts as a soothing contrast to the dark, modern Linea weatherboards, which are also used to clad these homes. 

“There are pops of colour, too, where we have used metal in an interesting, modern way,” says Sarah. “For the front doors, we have chosen colours of the New Zealand landscape – mustards, representing tussock grass; blues and teals, for the coastlines of the West Coast beaches; and Pohutukawa reds – all bring out the colours of the surrounding areas, the vineyards, and the waterways around West Hills,” notes Sarah. “These locally-inspired colours combine to make the homes feel like they have always been there.” 

Energised interiors 

The objective of the interior colours and finishes at West Hills has been to create homes that feel fresh, dynamic and contemporary. “People living in the area want to have bright, light modern and individual homes,” says Sarah. “So, inside, we have worked very hard with our suppliers to develop fresh materials and new ideas so that each community of homes within West Hills will have its own colour palette.” 

As a result, Sarah has put together four schemes for the ‘standard’ homes and two for the ‘affordable’ homes, giving a huge variety within each of the staged releases of homes at West Hills, which will appeal to the individuals and young families moving to this dynamic area. 

The variety in the colour schemes is a result of selectively mixing the palettes of floor tiling, carpet tones, kitchen cabinetry, kitchen benchtops and bathroom vanity colours – and also bringing in feature tile patterns for the splashbacks in the kitchens and on the back walls of the WCs. This diversity in colour and materials makes each home feel different and individual yet remain connected to its neighbour. 

“In the kitchens, we wanted to create a very contemporary look, so we have introduced two-tone kitchen cabinets that use light oak and dark oak interiors with white kitchen cabinetry for warmth. The benchtops are high-quality, durable, engineered quartz stone, with white, dark and marble-patterned options – all of which add variety to the internal spaces. And to finish, a punchy geometric splashback gives a modern contrast,” says Sarah. 

The carpets are all a quality cut-pile solution-dyed nylon carpet, which is UV-resistant (excellent for sunny homes) and stain-resistant – ideal for family living. 

For the walls, Sarah’s concept is to keep the colour light and modern throughout so that the buyers can add their own individual touches through artwork and soft furnishings. Lighter colours also add to the feeling of light and space. 

Thanks to Sarah Kerr, Principal Interior Designer at Sarah Kerr Design. 

Sarah Kerr Design specializes in bringing outstanding interior design to all areas of your home. Their goal is to achieve an interior that is both beautiful and functional. 

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