A Playful Sydney Home Reimagined With New Art Deco Details
At first glance, South West House looks like an Art Deco house with a P&O-style facade that started popping up around Sydney’s coastal suburbs in the 1930s.
It’s actually the clever work of designer Matt Woods, who transformed what was once a brick interwar property into the retro-inspired abode it is today.
Sydney couple chef Ben Milgate (of Porteneo, Bodega, Humble Bakery, Bastardo) and photographer Caroline McCreadie engaged Matt for the renovation after their family outgrew the single-storey floorplan.
‘Given the site constraints, the only way was up, and the challenge was to deliver a new home reflective of the client’s desires,’ Matt says.
While the architecture of the existing home was more interwar than art deco, Ben and Caroline loved the original features that offered the same flair, like a curved wall, decorative doors, and the green-and-cream-tiled kitchen.
‘My goal was to work within the constraints of the existing architecture and see where that lead us,’ Matt says. ‘I’ve always admired P&O/Interwar/Streamline Moderne style architecture and felt that picking up on the design cues of the existing home would lend itself to these archetypes.’
‘That said, I was also conscious of creating a contemporary aesthetic for the home and not a pretend art deco home — so striking the right design balance has been critical.’
The ground floor remains largely unchanged, beyond the removal of a wall that had enclosed the dining room, and a new terrazzo-lined stairwell. But on the roof Matt has created a completely new second-storey addition with a balcony that echoes the original curved wall on the level below.
Externally, the whole building has been coated in a textured, off-white render to unite the two floors in a cohesive cruise-line inspired facade, enhanced by porthole-style circular windows.
Minimalistic interiors also reveal nods to the home’s past. Dark-stained American oak joinery is a direct nod to inter-war period rosewood furniture, and the rich colour of this timber sets the tone for bold pops of red in the furniture, alongside terracotta and terrazzo tiles.
It’s a playful reimagining of the original house, as Matt melds period details from some of architecture’s most distinctive eras both inside and out.