The Art of Decor

The Art of Decor


Architect Charmaine Kai creates a contemporary interpretation of art deco style

Situated on a petite block, a deteriorating two-storey art deco house was steadfastly losing its former glory. When such an impressive style of home becomes run down it’s an arduous task to restore the property to its full potential. With some innovative design work and a creative flair for re-invention, Architect Charmaine Kai has succeeded in doing just that.

With its new look, this transformed three-storey home boasts a contemporary façade perfect for its city fringe location. Adding a third floor was a design challenge as Kai needed to make sure the property retained the same overall proportions.

“We wanted the renovations and the extra floor to appear as a natural extension that complemented the existing house,” she says.

Covered in vines and missing any real aesthetic qualities, the façade needed some serious attention. Striking in its appearance, the new front entry is a feature in itself. External walls have been returned to their original rendered pattern, adding a traditional element to the design. Balustrades create accessible decks on the first floor, the curves of the balustrades accentuating the rounded corners of the existing trafficable roof.
“A new private courtyard has been created to craft a perfect space for subtropical outdoor living,” says Kai. Connected to the kitchen via a large bi-fold servery window, the addition is friendly and inviting. This functional area provides the owners with an opportunity to throw a hip soiree and do some alfresco entertaining.

In keeping with the art deco theme, new doors and windows have been fitted throughout the home. It was decided that the proportions of the existing windows should be reinterpreted to complement the home’s newly attained trendsetting vibe.

“Contrasting colours create highlights and interest to the exterior without dominating the art deco features,” explains Kai.

Moving inside, the overall effect of the design is fantastic. To create a larger living area indoors, a new floorplan was implemented with existing ground floor rooms opened up to create a flowing layout. This not only improved circulation but provided substantially better access between the kitchen dining and living areas.

Travelling up a floor to the second storey, you’re struck by the continuance of the art deco theme. The main room that’s slightly different in style is the bathroom which has been designed with practicality in mind. A generous bath and shower sit either side of the double vanity that comes complete with twin basins, large mirrors and a subtle wall tile feature.

Containing the master bedroom, the newly constructed top level features a north-facing private balcony reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Windows in the master ensuite were located to maximise views without compromising the owner’s privacy. Kai’s aim was to craft a contemporary open-plan bedroom and bathroom layout that contrasted the defined space of the downstairs art deco rooms.

Inside, the colour scheme is minimal yet striking. The existing stairs were sanded back to reveal a stunning, solid silky oak finish. Painted white, the walls ensure the black aluminium door and window frames stand out and timber floors stained in Japan Black are polished to shine and give warmth to the décor.

The project was designed by Charmaine Kai of 8i Architecture, 21 Hansen Street Moorooka, Qld
Phone: 07 3342 4806; email: or go to

Interior: timber stained in Japan Black
Stairs: silky oak

External: original rendered pattern painted Start White
Indoors: painted white

Private courtyard, landscaping

Black aluminium window frames, doors and balustrades

”A new private courtyard has been created to create a perfect space for subtropical outdoor living.”