Saturday, May 3, 2008

A House in Adelaide

House, AdelaideOn my recent visit to Adelaide I was lucky to be invited to this amazing Art Deco house. This photo shows the large porch area at the front of the house. It is certainly a very striking feature and provides a large balcony area from the upstairs rooms.

It was designed by architect Chris Smith as his personal residence and he operated his architecture business out of offices above the garage at the rear of the property.

Chris Smith designed many Art Deco buildings around Adelaide including The Capri Theatre in Goodwood Road, Everard Court Apartments on Anzac Highway and City of Holdfast Bay Council Chambers.

Ceiling, AdelaideInside the features are more or less intact although they have been renovated in recent years. Many of the rooms have built-in furniture and ornate decoration on the ceilings and cornices.
Some of the decoration is a bit over the top (in a good way) as if Smith was showing off some of his cinema designs to prospective clients but the etched glass doors leading to the dining room are very simple, elegant and almost impossible to photograph.

The ceilings have been painted silver or a bronze-gold colour and for some reason the light fixtures have been placed where they are needed rather than in the centre of the ceiling decoration as us mere mortals would expect.

Ceiling, AdelaideFor instance the kitchen light (above left) is over the built-in banquette seating area rather than the centre of the room. I think it looks a bit weird, here particularly, but worked quite well in one of the bedrooms where the man light was over the dressing table with additional light coming from a wall fixture above the bed. It does allow us to take in all the beautiful Art Deco detail of the ceiling decoration.

One area where the function and design came together as I would have expected was in the landing at the top of the stairs (above right) where the light fitting is centred. I think it works really well but maybe I am a bit old-fashioned.

Bathroom Floor, AdelaideThe house also had its fair share of terrazzo. The entrance porches but front and rear had beautiful terrazzo floors. The small area at the back door had a design which may have been just a geometric pattern but could also be interpreted as Chris Smith’s initials. The bathroom upstairs also has a colourful terrazzo floor (left) which the owners showed with a dramatic pause before throwing open the dark wooden door. It certainly had the desired effect.

Bathroom Tiles, AdelaidePerhaps in an effort to outdo the floor, the line of tiles halfway up the wall provide an amazing zig-zag of colours. The total effect is mind-blowing.

The garage and office (now a self-contained apartment) front onto a side street and have a wonderful deco facade. A central fin, the obvious feature matched with similar fins on the side walls set a little way back from the street-front. It was also great to see the by-fold wooden doors retained in the garage when so often they are replaced with a modern roller-door.

I hope next time I’m in Adelaide I get to spend a bit more time in this wonderful house.

Office/Apartment, Adelaide


  1. oh you are so lucky to get to experience such an incredible art deco gem in person!~ the detailing is simply fantastic, especially those ceilings...what a truly amazing place to live!~

  2. So true ... did I say they had a swimming pool inthe back yard!