I recently had the privilege of rummaging through an old Art Deco cottage that had been sold at auction as the result of becoming a deceased estate. While the house was traded for an inconceivable amount, purely due to its land value alone, and will inevitably be bulldozed in the longer term, what I found inside was a veritable time capsule of that era, one that still retained many of the original installation furnishings and fixtures, including doors, light and bathroom fittings, masonry and tilework, even what were probably the original carpets and mattresses still in good condition.

To stand the test of time for so many decades, to remain usable even to this day, and to repel the heavy wear and tear that a house and all its surfaces must endure on an unrelenting basis, demonstrates just how fine a quality of finish the Art Deco suburban home was adorned with…

Bank vault doors still kept guard with heavy chromed handles. Magenta heirloom rosebuds looked up from vibrant carpets underfoot while emerald ivy climbed the halls across sheets of crisp wallpaper. Frosted spectacular triangle shapes pierced the windows like leadlight icicles. Jade ornaments bedazzled the bathroom between geometrical tiles like carved Maori offerings. Organic flying saucers filled the corners of the rooms with their soft yellow glow while an original Smiths Sectric Durban clock kept time upon the wall as it had done for decades.

As I took it all in I could only stand in awe at the level of workmanship and decoration that was crafted into these dwellings of the period, and was left pondering the question “why are we knocking down so many of these wonderful and graceful buildings only to replace them with cheaply built and unremarkable alternatives?” The answer still makes me feel dumb.

Inside the house there was an air of regality that I knew now could not endure, not with new owners, not in this day and age… The former owner, over 90 years old, saw no reason to change things. The new owner –any new owner– nowadays, will want to put their own stamp on their possession and customise things to their liking, breaking the entire synergy of the long held original.

As a result I noticed the old carpets were ripped up and placed out onto the footpath on first inspection. Not that I have any right to criticize that, not everybody wants 80 year old carpets in their living room… What I can rightfully lament though is the fact the house has definitely now lost a sense of originality and completeness; The time capsule, if you like, has had its lid torn open and its contents strewn out into the hard light of day. Nothing will be the same any more, not in this house, not in many more like it…

All pictures Inheritance 2014.

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6 responses to “ART DECO EMBRACE”

  1. Julie and Gerard Banks says :

    It’s very sad that these beautiful features are not preserved. The same could be said for the wonderful old gardens from these houses. I was heartbroken to watch recently as all my mother’s wonderful old Azaleas were bulldozed and my father’s stone paths destroyed. These could have so easily been preserved if the developers were responsible enough to offer these precious items to people willing to recycle them thoughtfully.

    • inheritanceorg says :

      Absolutely… It is not all that difficult to preserve some items. I also saw a beautiful house have all its leadlight windows smashed because it wasn’t ‘cost effective’ for the developer to remove them. I have seen many light fittings and doors also go to waste. Not to mention hardwood flooring timber.
      If it is not valuable enough to remove it gets destroyed. However it should be written into DAs to preserve these items.
      Thank you for the comments.

  2. decopab says :

    Stunning original interior features, just gorgeous. If the cottage is demolished I sure hope they have the sense to carefully strip the house and sell off to collectors. Heartbreaking.

  3. Tess Lynch says :

    I love all these amazing art deco photos. Brings tears to my eyes…

  4. Pete says :

    Greetings from Perth. What a fantastic blog. So glad I found it.

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