A Beautifully Restored Mid-Century Home, Filled With Nostalgia

Before its renovation, this mid-century property in City Beach, Perth, was untouched.

The home had some structural faults, so the owner engaged local interior design studio Design Theory to improve its relevance for modern living, while preserving its heritage and character.

By thoughtfully altering the floor plan and bringing in a nostalgic colour palette inspired by Western Australia’s beaches, sunsets, and coastal landscapes, they’ve future-proofed the home for years to come!

Christina Karras

City Beach Residence by Design Theory is a renovation of a mid-century home.

The home was originally built in the late 50s/early 60s by local architects Duncan, Stephen & Mercer.

The owner was passionate about the character and considerable mid-century charm of the existing house.

Design Theory altered the main bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and laundry — all within the original footprint of the home — and retained all other elements.

Blackbutt timbers — solid and veneer. All joinery by Handwerk. Marmoleum floors.


Textured orange glass plays homage to the original era. All joinery by Handwerk. Marmoleum floors.




All joinery by Handwerk Cabinetmakers. Marmoleum floors. Textured orange glass window.


All joinery by Handwerk. Marmoleum floors.

Tree views from the study.

Bedroom carpet from Dye Lab. Textured orange glass window. Marmoleum floors.


Bisazza glass mosaic 20 x 20 tiles

Bisazza glass mosaic 20 x 20 tiles.

The mid-century facade.

Christina Karras
27th of June 2023
Interior designer

Spec Construction


Walking inside this renovated Perth home, it’s clear the warm, mid-century home has been updated. What’s less obvious is determining what parts of the home have been restored, and what parts are entirely new.

That’s exactly how Design Theory wanted the interiors to feel. Seamlessly refreshed, yet full of nostalgia.

The owner engaged the design firm to restore and reconcile the condition of the original house by Duncan, Stephen & Mercer with her modern lifestyle, in the hopes of creating a more functional space for herself and her dog.

Design Theory director Lisa Reeves says the architectural integrity of the house guided the studio’s design process from the very beginning.

‘We felt we had a duty to both conserve its cultural heritage and character, and improve its relevance,’ Lisa says. ‘The shortcomings were that it was in poor condition and required an entire overhaul of all timber framing, finishes and services.’

‘There was no insulation or cooling, a very small kitchen, and only one bathroom — elements that needed careful consideration to ensure the home could support contemporary living.’

The designers decided to alter the main bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and laundry within the original footprint of the home, and retain all other elements.

The kitchen became an L-shape to keep the large window clear of obstructions, while the central living room’s slanted, timber-lined ceiling also helped increase the home’s sense of space, with retro-framed windows that capture northern light.

Lisa says the home’s colour and materials selections were led by ‘the uniquely Western Australian landscape,’ drawing on everything from local sunsets to coastal grasses, and beaches for inspiration.

The Marmoleum floors featuring a burl-like pattern pair perfectly with the exposed red-brick walls, made even better through thoughtful details like a burnt orange stained-glass window and the kitchen’s playful orange stove. In contrast to the cosy brown and caramel tones, the bathroom feels like its own time capsule, complete with lime-green tiles and a matching basin.

‘The original bathroom floors were glass mosaics, typical of the era,’ Lisa says. ‘Unfortunately, the original mosaics could not be salvaged, so to honour the history of the building, we created a custom mosaic mix that speaks to the past, while also blending with the new palette of house.’

Lisa says she’s most proud of how the home feels: intimate, warm, and somewhere you want to spend as much time as possible.

‘We were able to keep the home’s original soul intact,’ she says. ‘The improvements around making it far more liveable, functional, and sustainable for our client have been extensive, however, they in many ways are hard to spot, or look like perhaps they have been there all along.’

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