In a sea of new buildings, some of the best examples of art deco architecture here in Australia can be found in our inner-city apartment blocks.
The style is known for its glamorous flair, ornate details, and eclectic charm that can be traced back to the streets of Paris in the 1910s. So when Nina Siska saw a small two-bedroom pad come up for sale inside a Melbourne art deco building, she jumped at the chance to make the — albeit dilapidated — apartment her home.
‘It was far from liveable,’ Nina says. ‘The kitchen and bathroom had mould in the ceiling and had to be ripped out; the bathroom walls had paint flaking off them.’
‘All of the walls in the lounge and dining area were stained yellow from either nicotine stains or carbon monoxide from the old heater.’
But she still saw pros that outweighed the cons. It was structurally sound, the original ceiling cornices had no damage, and it had those dreamy retro proportions that you ‘don’t find often in newer builds’, she adds.
Luckily, all it took was ‘a lot of sugar soap and elbow grease’ from Nina and her dad to get the walls into a state that could be repaired. Every single pane of glass was knocked out and replaced with thermal glass, and they peeled back the carpet to reveal ‘beautiful wooden floorboards’ that were also carefully restored.
And beyond knocking out a concrete pillar, shelf and an ‘oddly placed broom cupboard’ to open up the kitchen, the floorplan remained the same, meaning most of Nina’s attention (and budget) could be directed on transforming the interiors.
‘I knew I was making a space where I hope to live for a really long time, so I knew I needed some help getting what was in my head into action, so I wanted to use an interior designer who likes colour, and fun spaces.’
She engaged long-time friend and interior designer Ineke Hutter of Studio Co & Co for the renovation. Building on Nina’s request for anything but white walls, they looked to the art deco era for inspiration to create an elegant, yet playful, palette. Almost all the walls in the apartment are now painted a soft blue-grey colour, styled with pops of manor red, dusty pink, terracotta, and coral in the furniture.
The exception to this is bathroom — showcasing sandy walls with tonal glossy tiles — and the bold peach kitchen, which features an IKEA fit-out, cleverly enhanced with customised green cabinetry fronts by Ren Studio and installed by Luke Watson Design & Assembly.
Nina says she’s glad she stuck to her guns with her bold colour choices, despite her painter initially insisting it was ‘too much’. ‘When I excitedly told about my plans for a peach kitchen with a peach ceiling he looked at me like I was crazy and shook his head,’ she adds.
‘My favourite part of the apartment is the living room with the curved wall. But I do love my peach kitchen!’