Reimagining a Playful Home in Sydney with Fresh Art Deco Accents

Discovering an interwar, double-brick period home is a common occurrence in many Australian neighborhoods.

However, what sets this particular one apart is its unique transformation by designer Matt Woods from Killing Matt Woods. The task at hand was to preserve the home’s existing period features while leveraging its curved walls and art deco lines to fashion a retro-inspired facade, complemented by a second-story addition.

Experience the charming metamorphosis of South West House as it embraces a playful new identity while maintaining an air of authenticity.

Upon first glance, South West House exudes the charm of an Art Deco residence, reminiscent of the P&O-style facades that graced Sydney’s coastal suburbs in the 1930s. However, this captivating aesthetic is the result of the ingenious work of designer Matt Woods, who skillfully transformed what was once a traditional interwar brick property into the retro-inspired haven it stands as today.

The project was commissioned by Sydney couple Ben Milgate, a renowned chef with establishments like Porteno, Bodega, Humble Bakery, and Bastardo, and photographer Caroline McCredie. Seeking to accommodate their expanding family, they turned to Matt for a renovation that would breathe new life into their home.

“Given the constraints of the site, the only direction to go was up, presenting the challenge of crafting a new home that resonated with the clients’ vision,” explains Matt.

While the existing architecture leaned more towards the interwar style rather than pure Art Deco, Ben and Caroline were enamored with its original features, such as the curved walls, decorative doors, and the charming green-and-cream-tiled kitchen.

“My approach was to embrace the architectural elements already present and allow them to guide the design journey,” says Matt. “I’ve long admired the aesthetics of P&O/Interwar/Streamline Moderne style architecture, and I believed that drawing inspiration from the existing home’s design cues would align perfectly with these architectural archetypes.”

“Nevertheless, I was mindful of infusing a contemporary essence into the home, steering clear of a mere imitation of an Art Deco residence. Striking this delicate balance in design was paramount.”

The ground floor of the house has undergone minimal alterations, apart from the removal of a wall that previously enclosed the dining room, and the addition of a new terrazzo-lined stairwell. However, a significant transformation awaits on the roof, where Matt has masterfully crafted a brand-new second-story extension complete with a balcony that mirrors the original curved wall below.

Externally, the entire structure has been enveloped in a textured, off-white render, seamlessly blending the two levels into a unified facade reminiscent of cruise-line aesthetics. This cohesive design is further accentuated by the inclusion of porthole-style circular windows.

Inside, the interiors maintain a minimalist approach while subtly paying homage to the home’s heritage. Dark-stained American oak joinery serves as a direct reference to the rosewood furniture typical of the interwar period. The rich hue of this timber establishes a striking backdrop for vibrant accents of red in the furniture, complemented by terracotta and terrazzo tiles.

Matt’s reimagining of the original house is characterized by a playful fusion of period details from some of architecture’s most iconic eras, seamlessly integrated both internally and externally.