An ‘Unliveable’ Retro Apartment Turned Playful + Personal Home

An ‘Unliveable’ Retro Apartment Turned Playful + Personal Home


by Christina Karras

In the living room. Vintage sideboard and 1970s art print from Angelucci 20th Century. Vintage table lamp. Paper sculpture by Gerard Van Dyck. Innovation Living sofa bed. Jardan cushion. Walls painted Porters Paint Newport (Half Strength). Ceiling painted Porters Paint Mist.

Owner Nina Siska inside her playful apartment. Artwork to left: Framed print by Cy Towbly from ‘The Rose’ exhibition catalogue.

Jardan Lola curved sofaHale Mercantile Co. cushion and Jardan Elk velvet bolster cushion. Wullf Chair by &Tradition from Cult Design. 1970s Floor Lamp by Jan Erik Lindgren from CCSS Shop. Nanimarquina Rabari 1 Rug from Cult Design. Smooth Coffee Table by Nicole Lawrence Studio. Artwork by Gillian Wardan.


Plant pot from Mr Kitly. Artworks left to right: Paper sculpture by Gerard Van Dyck. Still life paintings by Melanie Young. Artwork in square perspex by Gerard Van Dyck. Flowers by Art Stems. Escea fireplace heater from Stoke Fires.

The blue walls are beautifully contrasted by shades of terracotta, yellow, and soft pinks in Nina’s art collection.

Vintage Italian posters from Angelucci 20th Century. Vintage extendable dining table from 20th Century Scandinavia. Custom Dowel Jones Volta chairs. ‘We chose dusty pink legs and manor red backs (to fit in with the palette) with beautiful leather seats,’ Nina says of the custom chairs.

Flowers by Art Stems. Paintings in corner: ‘Spare Time’ and ‘Air Plant and Plum’ by Lucy Roleff.

The kitchen. Multicolour Verde Terrazzo Slab benchtop from Ceradomus Tiles. Zellige Cammello Gloss tiles on splashback from Ceradomus Tiles. Mud Australia coffee cups. Artwork: ‘Inner Self Detector’ by Tai Snaith.


Sancal dining table from Kezu. Cozoni Nela stool. IKEA cabinets customised with dark sage fronts by Ren Studio. Artwork: ‘Antipodean Dream’ by Heidi Yardley.

The tonal bathroom. Walls and ceiling painted Dulux Land Light. Custom Oxalis Stool by Bootleg Studio. Jardan Nelly Wall Sconce in Rust. Nood Co Shelf Oval Basin in Peach. Brushed gunmetal tapware and hardware by ABI Interiors. Kaldewei Cayono Bath by Reece.

Jardan Nelly Wall Sconce in Rust. Brushed gunmetal tapware and sink by ABI Interiors. Artwork: ‘She Doesn’t Get Out Much (red)’ by Nadine Christensen.

Vintage dresser from 20th Century Scandinavia. Cozoni Nela bench seat. Hale Mercantile Co. bedlinen. Glass sculptures by Mark Douglas. Artwork: ‘Always the same ghost’ charcoal drawing by Heidi Yardley‘The world we knew’ painting by Lucy Roleff.


Wall paint: Porters Paint Half Newport blue on walls and Porters Paint Mist for ceiling. Walls painted Porters Paint Newport (Half Strength). Ceiling painted Porters Paint Mist. Hale Mercantile Co. bedlinen. Cenzo Design bed. Matin small table lamp from HAY. Armadillo Agra rug in Gunmetal. Artwork: It is Midnight, Dr. _ _ image 9 by Jane Burton.

The Parkville apartment is now unrecognisable from its once-dilapidated state!

In a sea of new buildings, some of the best examples of art deco architecture here in Australia can be found in our inner-city apartment blocks.

The style is known for its glamorous flair, ornate details, and eclectic charm that can be traced back to the streets of Paris in the 1910s. So when Nina Siska saw a small two-bedroom pad come up for sale inside a Melbourne art deco building, she jumped at the chance to make the — albeit dilapidated — apartment her home.

‘It was far from liveable,’ Nina says. ‘The kitchen and bathroom had mould in the ceiling and had to be ripped out; the bathroom walls had paint flaking off them.’

‘All of the walls in the lounge and dining area were stained yellow from either nicotine stains or carbon monoxide from the old heater.’

But she still saw pros that outweighed the cons. It was structurally sound, the original ceiling cornices had no damage, and it had those dreamy retro proportions that you ‘don’t find often in newer builds’, she adds.

Luckily, all it took was ‘a lot of sugar soap and elbow grease’ from Nina and her dad to get the walls into a state that could be repaired. Every single pane of glass was knocked out and replaced with thermal glass, and they peeled back the carpet to reveal ‘beautiful wooden floorboards’ that were also carefully restored.

And beyond knocking out a concrete pillar, shelf and an ‘oddly placed broom cupboard’ to open up the kitchen, the floorplan remained the same, meaning most of Nina’s attention (and budget) could be directed on transforming the interiors.

‘I knew I was making a space where I hope to live for a really long time, so I knew I needed some help getting what was in my head into action, so I wanted to use an interior designer who likes colour, and fun spaces.’

She engaged long-time friend and interior designer Ineke Hutter of Studio Co & Co for the renovation. Building on Nina’s request for anything but white walls, they looked to the art deco era for inspiration to create an elegant, yet playful, palette. Almost all the walls in the apartment are now painted a soft blue-grey colour, styled with pops of manor red, dusty pink, terracotta, and coral in the furniture.

The exception to this is bathroom — showcasing sandy walls with tonal glossy tiles — and the bold peach kitchen, which features an IKEA fit-out, cleverly enhanced with customised green cabinetry fronts by Ren Studio and installed by Luke Watson Design & Assembly.

Nina says she’s glad she stuck to her guns with her bold colour choices, despite her painter initially insisting it was ‘too much’. ‘When I excitedly told about my plans for a peach kitchen with a peach ceiling he looked at me like I was crazy and shook his head,’ she adds.

‘My favourite part of the apartment is the living room with the curved wall. But I do love my peach kitchen!’

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