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Architecture in South Australia: Interiors

This State Library of South Australia guide explores the architecture of SA, characterised by six chronological styles, starting with Old Colonial to 1840, Victorian to 1890, Federation to 1915, Interwar, Postwar and the Late Twentieth Century from 1960

State Library resources

Choose from the Library's selections below for images and brief histories.


All the rooms of a house were decorated and furnished according to rules of function and taste that had been established over a considerable period of time, and of course, like today the fashion of the time and the means and taste of the householder were the main influences on the decoration of a house.

The social stigma of some decorative materials and their acceptability in interior decoration has changed dramatically over the years.  For example, leather is considered a luxury material and is used for both expensive clothing and expensive sofas.  A hundred years ago, leather was considered utilitarian; leather aprons and vests were only worn by workmen, and leather easy chairs were only found in smoking rooms and men's clubs because leather was less flammable than fabric. 

Innovations such as bakelite, laminex, tubular steel, aluminium, vinyl and plywood as well as the popularity of geometric designs and the popularity of DIY have all had an impact on interior decoration and furnishings in Australian homes.

Today, the popular trend for 'natural fabrics' and décor has resulted in the popularity of exposed brick, oiled wood, polished concrete, glass and stainless steel.

Further reading:

Evans, Ian. Colour schemes for old Australian houses. Glebe, N.S.W.: Flannel Flower Press, c1984.

Rybczynski, Witold. The look of architecture. Oxford New York : Oxford University Press, c2001.