An Australian Art Deco Gem Gets A Timeless Revival

Periscope House captivates as it welcomes light into the home of a young family, ingeniously infusing Art Deco foundations with thoughtful innovations and adaptable spaces. Nestled in a leafy street, the residence exudes a character-rich charm, safeguarded by the area’s protective heritage overlay. 

For the owners Nikki and Dave, the affection for their cozy and inviting abode was palpable, yet the closed-off layout resulted in disconnected shared areas, leaving them yearning for a closer connection to their backyard. Eager to transform their beloved gem into a forever home, Nikki and Dave entrusted the task of a considerate extension to the Mihaly Slocombe design team, who celebrated the home’s history while future-proofing it for generations to come.

The street facade maintains the classic appeal of the original home with its brick and render frontage, unaltered and timeless. The extension gracefully extends from the rear of the house, harmonizing with the existing roofline in a subtle and seamless manner. Amidst a garden adorned with welcoming, well-established trees, the addition emerges as a courteous and polite addition. Paying homage to the original home’s white render and red brick hues, the extension’s exterior boasts a white Colorbond finish with selective accents of red thoughtfully integrated.

Within the interior, the antiquated 1950s layout, featuring closed-off and single-purpose rooms, has undergone a complete reimagination to better accommodate a growing family. Enlarging the living quarters, two children’s bedrooms were thoughtfully carved out of the previously enclosed formal dining and lounge rooms.

The adjacent family bathroom now boasts a separate toilet, a preemptive measure to avert potential teenage tiffs. A versatile fourth bedroom was designed to adapt to a myriad of functions, and despite being envisioned pre-COVID, has already become a valued work-from-home office. This reconfiguration creates a seamless zoning, with private spaces ensconced at the front and the rear extension offering an open-plan living area that defies the confines of stuffy, enclosed rooms.

The extension’s design was meticulously tailored to harmonize with the site and its natural surroundings. The ground floor embraces the western back garden, while the first floor, aptly dubbed the ‘periscope,’ captures the northern sun. Positioned above the open-plan living area, the periscope acts as a mezzanine, skillfully evading the harsh afternoon light that often plagues west-facing backyards.

 A well-crafted staircase, discreetly tucked behind the lounge, grants access to the periscope, which features a solid western wall, shielding the home from direct sun exposure. On the other hand, a north-facing glass wall beautifully imitates the rotation of a periscope, welcoming soft, gentle light into the extension. Intriguing perforated screens introduce captivating shadows and provide both privacy for the homeowners and their neighbors. 

Internally, a glass wall and louvres ensure a visual connection and acoustic separation from the living spaces below. A quiet sanctuary, the periscope presents Nikki and Dave with a versatile space, albeit subject to approval from their children who have already claimed it as their playroom and personal domain.

Beneath the mezzanine, the kitchen, dining, living, and outdoor spaces converge harmoniously. Accessible through an informal ‘back door’ for friends and family, this expansive communal area caters to functionality, spatial cohesion, and a strong connection to the surrounding garden – an aspect that was previously lacking. Stepping through the back door, one is drawn to the soft illumination that filters in from the periscope above, illuminating the warm blackbutt timber surfaces. 

The kitchen boasts continuous cabinetry along one wall, discreetly concealing appliances, a fridge, and even a secret door leading to the laundry. Its sloping ceiling culminates in a soaring space above the dining table, adorned with a singular custom light fixture. In contrast, the lounge room exudes an intimate atmosphere with its truncated ceiling, accommodating the mezzanine above and intentionally creating a cozy and inviting ambiance. 

Both the dining and lounge areas seamlessly flow out to the semi-enclosed deck and garden – a delightful haven for relaxation while the children revel in the joys of the backyard.

Periscope House expertly intertwines contemporary elements with heritage influences, paying homage to the home’s original character while ushering in light-filled, communal spaces that resonate with modern-day living. It skillfully wields a periscopic lens, inviting the outdoor beauty into the heart of the home, creating a harmonious connection with the surrounding garden.

Photos by BWRM Geelong