Common modifications

Most art deco houses have retained their original street appearance. However, it is common for other parts of the house to be modified or repaired.

Owners of art deco houses often purchase them for their style rather than their performance. Most art deco and Spanish mission style houses still look much the same as they did when first built, with only minor or cosmetic modifications.

However, their age and, in particular, the weathertightness issues associated with the stucco cladding and low-pitched or flat roofs, mean that many art deco houses are likely to have undergone some repairs or renovation. 

Renovation work is also likely to have been carried out to increase and modernise living spaces and service areas. Depending on how recently renovations have been carried out, little improvement may have been made to the house’s energy efficiency.

Renovation trends

Where modifications have been carried out, they have often been made at the rear of the house to maintain the integrity of the art deco street appearance. Modifications may include:

  • alterations to the roof or roof cladding to address weatherproofing issues
  • replacing timber with aluminium windows
  • an extension to increase the living space
  • the addition of decking and external doors to create an indoor/outdoor flow
  • interior alterations such as removing walls between kitchen, dining and living rooms to create open plan spaces
  • refurbishment of kitchens and bathrooms including installing new fittings and fixtures.

Occasionally a second floor may have been added. While the art deco form can be relatively easy to extend upwards from a structural point of view, from a stylistic and aesthetic point of view, it can be difficult to achieve a satisfactory result.

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Typical modifications

As part of renovations or repairs, common art deco house modifications include:

  • re-roofing – to address weathertightness issues and deterioration of roof materials (see roofs for more)
  • patching or repair of damaged stucco – also for weathertightness reasons (see walls and cladding, and remedies: matching new to existing)
  • replacement of timber frame windows with aluminium frame ones (see windows, doors and other joinery)
  • installation of new interior wall linings, especially in service areas (see interior features and finishes)
  • replacement of electrical wiring (see services)
  • replacement of plumbing pipework – if this was done in the 1970s or 1980s, the house may contain black plastic piping which should be replaced (see services)
  • floor insulation may have been installed; it is less likely that roof or wall insulation has been installed unless the linings have been removed (see insulation).

Garages and carports

As a separate garage or carport was often included with the original house construction, it probably still exists. The garage may have been extended to fit another car or to provide additional storage. Many art deco houses had a single garage semi-attached or incorporated into the structure, for example, where there was a basement. As with villas and bungalows, some art deco houses have had new garaging added to the front of the house.