A Peaceful, Pastel Transformation Of A Petite Art Deco Apartment

This two-bedroom apartment in a medium-density, art deco block in South Yarra has been in the owner’s family for 30 years. Over that time, three different generations have lived between its walls.

When it came time for the most recent members of the fam to move in, the young couple engaged Rosanna Ceravolo to give the place a whole new personality. A refined palette; clever in-built pieces; and thoughtful pops of colour give the compact space a new contemporary life. This gorgeous, minimalist design puts a personal stamp on a well-loved home!

Sasha Gattermayr

A Guy Maestri painting hangs above the dining table and breakfast nook. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Simple cabinetry conceals appliances to keep the kitchen slick and un-clunky. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Archways create connection between the rooms without inserting doors, ensuring the palette flows throughout the space and performs its connective responsibilities. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

A light scheme with a few considered pieces that double up in aesthetics and functionality mean the space has a continuous personality, while still demarcating difference between zones. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Black iron shelving references the steel on the building exterior and integrates storage vertically. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Though kept to a minimum, pops of colour and texture add flair to the compact space. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Through pops of solid colour, each room has a subtle personality shift from the one before. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Pops of pink, pastel and terrazzo make this bathroom distinct but connected to its counterparts. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

The bedroom is the most minimalist room of all. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Sasha Gattermayr
15th of June 2021

Original art deco apartments are real estate gold – especially in the leafy, central suburb of South Yarra. So what do you do if you’re lucky enough to have secured one, but it needs some attention to get you through the next decade (or longer!)? You bring in Rosanna Ceravolo!

The architect quickly assessed the excellent, ornate bones of the place, and decided that no structural changes were necessary. Only cosmetic updates were required to return the drab former rental into a snug, contemporary home!

‘The layout and finishes were fairly basic and typical of a rental apartment,’ explains Rosanna. ‘But the apartment had great access to natural light, ventilation and lovely original details, such as beautifully rounded external corners, solid masonry stucco walls, art deco plastering, window reveals and trims, and beautiful door leaf panels and hinges.’

Great care was required not to overwhelm the small footprint, or crowd out the delicate heritage features, so Rosanna decided on a clean, muted colour palette that would allow the 73 square metre space to breathe. 

‘The interiors reference European apartment living, where bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better,’ she says.

Though used sparingly, soft colours and light, textural details (such as speckled flooring) have an important connective effect. The same terrazzo-like surface appears in different rooms throughout the house – the fireplace, bathroom cabinetry, kitchen splashback and entryway – to create flow throughout the otherwise simple spaces.

Notes of crimson offer moments of contrast to the predominantly pastel scheme. Solid red bar stools, a painting by Guy Maestri and a tufted ochre rug in the living room punctuate the space, also serving as markers to denote different zones of the floorplan.

Simple joinery conceals integrated appliances to keep the lean kitchen space streamlined and un-clunky, while in-built banquette seating prevents even a centimetre of wasted space. Custom black metal shelving references the iron balustrade on the building exterior, and creates a vertical storage space for everyday home items. The perfect, pocket-sized contemporary pad!

See more projects from Rosanna Ceravolo here.

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