The tale of Sarah, Edward, Arki & Arlo Foletta

“The key will always be to ensure they are communicators. Later in life boys tend to close down, so I want to instil in them that it’s good to talk and be open,” says Sydney-based architect Sarah Foletta. A mother of three - Edward, 5, Arki, 3, and Arlo, 6 months – she knows a thing or two about raising boys...

The Foletta family lives in a light-flooded abode in the beachside suburb of Bronte, which they recently renovated. “Our house was an existing double brick two storey house and let’s just say there was a lot of faux marble, arches, two cocktail bars… you get the picture. We gutted the interior and refinished nearly every surface. The existing bones were incredible so it was just a matter of reworking what we had with the budget we had available,” she says.

Even as a child, Foletta was interested in architecture. “On the farm, my siblings and I would rake up all the leaves on the lawn into rows to make rooms. We would then invite one another around to walk through the layouts of our pretend houses,” she says. Having previously worked for renowned British design company David Linley alongside Craig Allen, it’s no surprise that Foletta now runs her own established architectural practice. Since becoming a mother, she says she’s become even more focused: “I’m not an early riser nor am I a night owl, so I have learned to focus in the timeframe I have free that day.” We visited Foletta at home to talk about everything from her approach to parenting to interior design…

Photography: Grace Alyssa Kyo | Go to

How would you describe your approach to parenting?

It’s the simple things in life that makes things gel; if you combine love, affection, attention with firmness, calmness and taking a deep breath or two, the rest should be a breeze.

What has motherhood taught you so far?

Definitely patience.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Enjoy the moment.

How would you describe the first three months of motherhood?

The first time round is all about getting through – I always tried to sleep when Eddie slept. The first is the unknown and such a contrast from those lazy Sunday mornings. After that you know what you’re in for so it makes it so much more palatable, there is an end point and you know that. All of my boys have been pretty good sleepers, however, I remember a friend telling me how her first child slept through at 12 weeks and here I was with the first child still waking at six months. I questioned what I was doing wrong and then something clicked and he slept through… all babies are different so you have to constantly remind yourself of that.

What has been the most challenging part of motherhood and how have you overcome any challenges?

Tantrums are the most difficult to deal with for me, there are so many variables of how you can react so for me, the challenge is knowing which direction to take such as to distract, to ignore, time-out, etc.

Where do you source your homewares?

We have an eclectic range of furniture sourced from Winton Cottage in Tasmania (my favourite), House of Orange, Great Dane, Mark Tuckey.

What did your own mother teach you about life and motherhood?

When my father and brother passed away in 1999, my life changed. One makes choices, as the saying goes, ‘you either sink or you swim’ and my mum helped me to swim. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her; her strength and love is what carried me.

How do you keep your house in tidy with children?

With the three kids at home for four days of the week the house gets pretty messy. I used to try and do it all myself but I found I just can’t keep up, so I get a cleaner in once a week which I am very grateful to have.

Did your career change after you became a mother?

I was working in small and large practices all my life and always wanted to have my own practice, so having kids was the perfect way to do it. It wasn’t a change but a shift.

What are the pros and cons of running your own business?

The pros are flexibility and selecting the projects you want to do, rather than have to do. The cons? Marketing, bookkeeping and proposals.

What have been some of your biggest career highlights?

I love a ‘start from scratch house’ – it has to be my favourite as there is so much creativity. The beach house at Falmouth, which is now our family home, was my highlight as it was the first house I ever designed and I still love it.

How do you juggle motherhood with work?

Since having kids I have actually become very organised. I think my girlfriends are still in shock as I used to be useless. I have three free days (well, just with the baby) so those days are incredibly productive.

What kind of role model do you want to be for your children?

I’m not really too sure as I tend to think it’s hard to pinpoint key elements, but I do know that my husband and I work well as a team so I guess, it’s all about trying to be the best parent you can be and hopefully they will learn from that and create their own path.

What’s your approach to health and wellbeing?

Considering I grew up on a farm, we were exposed to a very interesting variety of foods. Mum loved Korean Kimchi and dad was fanatical about his vegetable garden – I’m a big believer of a balanced diet, which has been the same throughout my entire life. I don’t really agree with fad diets especially ones that are not sustainable.

How do you unwind?

I started yoga about eight months ago and I’m hooked. There was a point in my life where I needed high-energy exercise and now my body and mind needs something more meditative to calm me but I still work up a sweat so it’s a win win.

Sarah in a flash:

Coffee or tea? Tea with milk no sugar.
Typical breakfast: Fried eggs on toast.
Exercise of choice: Yoga
Book you’re currently reading: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.
Heels or flats? Flats – very rarely heels.
Pram of choice: Bugaboo but my sister gave me her Mountain Buggy and I have to say, I think I prefer it.
Baby bag: An old leather bag for the first two and now I just use my large Chloé Marcie tote.
Sunglasses: Celine.
Dream travel destination: Formentera, Spain but with three kids for the next three years, Indonesia here we come!
Websites you regularly visit: Always kids’ clothing websites – Tiny People, Munster, Buckets and Spades, Mr Wolf.
Must have essentials for a beautiful tabletop: I’m currently searching for a unique ceramicist for dinnerware so at this stage I haven’t got any tips, however, I do love the antique bone handled knife set that my mum bought me as a present.


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