Other joinery: original details

Art deco homes typically had fairly plain timber skirtings and architraves, and extensive built-in cupboards.


Built-in storage

By the 1930s, built-in storage was extensively incorporated in houses. Hallway cupboards, wardrobes that included drawers and shelving in bedrooms, bathroom cabinets, sideboards in the dining room, shelving units in the living room and a range of cupboards, drawers and fittings in kitchens, were all seen.

To match the curved walls and rounded corners of the exterior of art deco houses, interior fittings incorporated curves and rounded mouldings to units, bench tops, cupboard doors and shelving edges.

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Kitchen joinery

By the 1930s, kitchens were being designed to incorporate appliances such as refrigerators and electric or gas stoves, and has extensive built-in storage.

A whole wall was often dedicated to fitted storage units, including specialist containers such as tilting bins for bulk storage of flour and sugar. These may have contained linings made from folded flat galvanised steel.

Some kitchens also had bench seats around a small table, or even fold-down tables with chairs to fit.

Terrazzo, which had been introduced in the mid 1920s, remained a popular material for sink and bench tops, but long, integrated stainless steel benchtops were also being introduced.

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Skirtings and architraves

Skirtings and architraves were most commonly from rimu, but miro, totaramatai, tawa, red and silver beech, and sometimes oregon were also used. They were a smaller profile and generally plainer than those of previous house styles. Sizes were typically from  4 x 1” or 3 x 1” (100 x 25 or 75 x 25 mm) dressed timber.

A partial bevel or a simple, rounded profile were most common but more decorative patterns were sometimes created using flat and rounded timbers.

They were generally finished with a shellac or varnish coat.

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Fireplace surrounds

Open fireplaces were generally located on an outside wall. Fireplace surrounds and hearths were plain, often featuring art deco designs. Tiling was very common and was frequently capped by a timber mantelpiece that might also be integrated with built-in shelving beside the fireplace.

Electric and gas heating had also become popular where it was available. Electric and gas heaters were built in and sometimes had new materials around them, such as coloured glass (Figure 3).

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Staircases were timber, most commonly rimu, and were generally clear-finished with shellac or varnish. Handrails and balusters were generally plain and balusters were often constructed as a low wall that was lined with plasterboard on both sides and finished with a timber capping.

Balusters may also have been 4” (100 mm) wide boards with band-cut saw patterns following the style of the arts and crafts movement.