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With an emphasis on functionality, Sarah Harper’s kitchen island is clean, contemporary and purposeful

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Cutting Edge Design with a Texas Accent

Dallas architect Sarah Harper is blazing some serious trails with her innovative home designs and a focus on functionality

Sarah Harper knows the territory. As a local design architect with years of experience in north Texas, she specializes in modern residential and commercial work.  

Good-natured and upbeat, her success is wrapped around definitive skills.

One is contemporary technology. “We use Revit, a parametric program that helps develop our design, and produce drawings,” she explains.

Harper designs in 3D, which is not standard at all architectural firms utilize. She believes Revit enhances visualization for a more complete feel for the space. It also helps manage expectations.

Communication is another emphasis. Harper spends hours at the beginning of projects getting to know homeowners, understanding how they live … “sometimes helping them understand how they live,” and setting goals from a functional and an aesthetic perspective.

Her “programming phase” of planning is central: “The more that we can get the homeowners involved, the better the project will be. We work to get everything on paper at the beginning, Then as soon as we start doing layouts, we can nail it pretty quickly within the first few rounds of plans.”

“One of my strengths is an ability to synthesize information. I can take a lot of different things and put it all together very quickly. Strategizing and evaluating … especially when it involves several moving parts.”

Harper is also proud of her firm’s ability to listen to clients, a lost art in some quarters and an acute differentiator. “That’s a learned skill, something we’ve worked on diligently. And we’ve been told it sets us apart.”

What about her business? 2020 was a record breaker for Harper Design Projects – huge growth in the middle of a pandemic.

“It was our biggest ever, we were incredibly busy,” which comes with its own unique set of challenges. “You're doing so well you don't have time to take off and actually enjoy yourself. We didn't take a vacation last year … got a long weekend, but that was about it.”

While she works a lot in Midway Hollow, for example, Harper says her projects aren’t tied to any specific geography.

“We just went to Lucas (east of Allen, north of Wiley and Parker), aa area is exploding with space to build.”

Her market is expanding. “We’re doing Greenville Avenue townhomes, more in Crested Butte … a big ranch in Abilene, another in Greenville.”

Since she works with various styles, Harper has opinions on trends. Her own recently completed home, which she created, is a perfect example of her penchant for timeless design.

What’s new? What’s phasing out?

“The trend now is a single story … so people can age in place,” she explains, referencing baby boomers

“People want guest rooms, in-law suites,” a “campus.” Other trends involve, “more functionality,” minimalism, clean lines and natural light, decluttering and gathering spaces.

“Families want entertainment places, higher ceilings,” she says. “Functional double islands in kitchens; one as seating, another for cooking.”

Working pantries, the kitchen behind the kitchen, address functionality.

Consumers prefer aged “handmade” looks.  “Black and white’s still in … warmer golds are back. Plus, lighter stains, clear finishes … and home automation.”

When it comes to countertops, “Marble’s still popular, granite is out. Less siding, more brick and stone.”

Harper sees the end of black frame windows coming while the sun has set on shiplap.

“And no one really wants white because it shows everything!”

  • An open concept formal dining area is drenched in warm, natural light, easily accessible
  • True to her preferences for minimalistic design, Harper’s bathroom features large tile and innovative cabinets that appear to be floating.
  • A beautiful soaking bathtub behind glass is consistent with the home’s contemporary no clutter demeanor
  • A wine cellar, kept at 69-degrees in a full basement, features a unique ability to store bottles up or down, to easily read labels.
  • Not an inch of space is wasted in Harper’s wine cellar, including storing bottles in various configurations on shelving.
  • The living room’s non-traditional mantle is a sleek, smooth ledge above a minimalistic, modern approach to the fireplace.
  • Powder rooms are perfect places to take risks, says Harper. Moody and darker in floor-to-ceiling tile with trendy shades of black and gold
  • Texas architect Sarah Harper smiling with pride next to the kitchen island in the new home that she designed for her family
  • With an emphasis on functionality, Sarah Harper’s kitchen island is clean, contemporary and purposeful
  • Modern and functional, Sarah Harper’s kitchen island is clean, contemporary and purposeful