Anna Spiro imbues effortless style. It would seem it is in her genes as she credits her mother and grandmother for helping shape her early interest in seeing the beauty of an environment and creating deeply comfortable, beautiful homes. Anna's outdoorsy upbringing in the warmth of beachy Queensland has clearly also played some part in her colourful, relaxed and welcoming interiors. With an aesthetic to her impressive portfolio that would seem just as at home in England as in Australia - her approach is considered, collected and without a hint of pretension. "I think my style is one that a lot of people feel comfortable with. It’s not too perfect, it’s not too contrived”, she tells us. "It feels familiar to a lot of people.”
Anna's bold use of colour and clever layering of print, pattern, art & antiques results in uplifting, joyful and enduring interiors. Anna Spiro Interiors work on both residential and commercial interiors in Australia and abroad, and produces much sought-after textiles and wallpapers, as well as curated treasures through Spiro Store - available online and imminently launching a bricks and mortar store in Brisbane. "I really want to support the local arts and crafts community and celebrate things made by hand...special things....things that people will treasure for a lifetime", Anna says. "I am also hoping that Spiro Store will be the go-to place for customers who want to order a custom-made sofa or an armchair in a fabulous fabric." As if this all isn't enough, Anna is also the author of two books - 'Absolutely Beautiful Things' and her latest release 'A Life in Pattern'.
With projects all over Australia, Anna currently lives between her hometown Brisbane and Melbourne, but her beach house on Queensland’s Stradbroke Island is "the place I feel happiest in the world” she says. "I think it’s the most beautiful place on the planet.”
Here we chat with Anna about her beach house retreat, favourite projects, and tips for us to refresh our homes; and she generously shares her go-to’s for decorating, visiting Australia, and so much more...
Anna Spiro in her New Farm, Brisbane headquarters; signature Anna Spiro style layering antiques, art, colour, print & flowers. All photos by Tim Salisbury.
Can you tell us a little about your upbringing in Australia?
I was born in Brisbane, Queensland which is in the north-eastern part of Australia on the coast. I spent my childhood going to the beach most weekends at my family’s beach house on North Stradbroke Island and a lot of time in the garden with my mum and grandmother.
How did your upbringing in Australia inform your design aesthetic?
I think living in Queensland with its warm climate and sunny, colourful outlook has influenced my design aesthetic greatly. I am always drawn to the colours of the ocean and strong bold colours that make me feel happy and joyful, warm and welcoming.
Anna's former beach house on Stradbroke 'Straddie' Island, Queensland
"I think living in Queensland with its warm climate and sunny, colourful outlook has influenced my design aesthetic greatly. I am always drawn to the colours of the ocean and strong bold colours that make me feel happy and joyful, warm and welcoming."
Anna's current beach house on Stradbroke 'Straddie' Island, Queensland
What about your earlier career before starting on your own?
I was always drawn to interiors and fashion as a young girl. I was obsessed with magazines and still have many that I started collecting in my early teenage years. I must thank my grandmother, Ellie Spiro, for helping me get my first job out of school at the age of 17 with a Brisbane Interior Designer who was also her friend. I started in a junior role and worked in the business for several years before starting Black & Spiro. In 2017 I changed the name of the business to Anna Spiro Design and moved into an old building in New Farm that I am currently renovating to include a new store, Spiro Store which is due to open this Spring.
Has your design style evolved?
I think my style is always evolving. It’s like anything in life, the more you practice, the better you get. I think I am much better at editing than I used to be and honing in on exactly what a room needs. However, my core principles of buying quality over quantity will never waiver. I am a great believer in only buying the best quality you can afford. If you can’t afford to buy all the pieces you need, just buy what you can afford and wait for the other pieces. Buying pieces that will last and stay with you for your entire life is what I like to try to educate my clients to do rather than buying items that are cheap and not well made. These are the pieces that you can waste a lot of money on as they don’t last, and you end up having to dispose of them much sooner than pieces made well. I am extremely passionate about helping my clients spend their money wisely and steering them towards furniture that is beautiful and made with great care whether antique or new.
You have many fans over the world. What is it about your interiors that you think the global, as well as the Australian market, connect with?
I think my style is one that a lot of people feel comfortable with. It’s not too perfect, it’s not too contrived. It feels familiar to a lot of people. It’s not distinctively Australian. It’s probably more English in a way. I feel most people feel comfortable when their homes reflect them and all the things they love, and my style certainly celebrates that.
A project in Mosman, Sydney
One of my favourite projects is the Sorrento Beach House in Victoria I completed at the end of 2018. The client was so wonderful and completely trusted me to create something wonderful for him and his family, giving me and my team free reign. This house renovation and extension involved me from the initial architectural design to the design of joinery, bathrooms, kitchen, hardware, finishes and the full decoration and furnishing of the home. It was a truly special project.
A favourite project of Anna's - Sorrento Beach House in Victoria
I am currently working on several houses for a client in Melbourne (one in the city and two at the beach on the Peninsula) which are going to be fabulous. They are a very cool young couple who love colourful, interesting interiors and they are so trusting of me and my team so I’m excited to be working with them on their projects.
Your online shop is filled with beautiful textiles, antique finds, and other treasures – what do you look for when curating and creating products for the shop?
I am always looking for things other stores don’t have. Things I am always trying to find in stores myself for my own home. I also love to support local artists and craftspeople and we are offering more and more one-off pieces, special things that you just can’t find everywhere. I am also hoping that Spiro Store will be the go-to place in Australia for customers who just want to order a custom-made sofa or an armchair in a fabulous fabric. They may not want to do the full design with me, but they can just come in and get a piece of what we do. I hope people really embrace that.
A bedroom in a Noosa project
Do you have go-to print/wallpaper suppliers?
Haha, I buy fabric and wallpaper from many suppliers across the globe. However, Elliott Clarke Textiles and EC Collective in Australia distribute many of my favourite brands such as Nathalie Farman, Nicholas Herbert, Michael Smith, Carolina Irving, Brunschwig & Fils and my own Anna Spiro Textiles so I love going there to find fabulous fabrics and wallpapers.
How do you use flowers and nature in your home and interiors?
I love using foliage and cut flowers from the garden in my home. Big branches almost touching the ceiling always look amazing. I love flowering trees and often use branches of them in huge vases in my home.
Do you collect anything?
I collect a lot of things. I collect antique textiles, old boxes like writing boxes, glove boxes etc, plates, jugs, antique furniture, small miniature furniture, cane baskets....I am a collector at heart.
Anna is a collector at heart
Where are your favourite places to shop for antiques?
I buy at auction mostly. I also love stopping at roadside antique stalls when on drive trips. They have the best stuff. I think the city antique stores can get very expensive and overpriced and I’ve really noticed that it’s getting harder and harder to find great things at good prices. However, I love the thrill of the chase. In Melbourne, there are many great antique dealers I like to buy from and can spend days visiting them all looking for great pieces for my clients and my own collection.
What do you look for when choosing art for interiors and who are your favourites? Most often my clients have their own art that we incorporate into their schemes or if I am asked to curate a collection of art, I buy from local galleries and look for up-and-coming artists to support. I do like to mix antique art with contemporary to create a fabulous mixed collection. Some of my favourite contemporary Australian artists are Ken Done, Bronte Leighton-Dore, Bellem Lett, Luke Sciberras, Laura Jones, < >and Jane Guthelbun to name a few.
A sitting room in the Mosman, Sydney project
Your best entertaining tip?
Set the table the night before and serve something that you can prepare mostly before your guests arrive so that you don’t spend the entire time cooking and instead you can enjoy the company of your guests.
Your favourite rooms to decorate?
My favourite room to decorate is a sitting room. Establishing a wonderful, conversational furniture layout in the first instance and then filling the room with fabulous comfortable sofas and armchairs and a beautiful layering of fabrics, colours, antique furniture, art and personal collections is always so pleasing to me.
Noosa Guest House Sitting Room
What’s something that we can all do at home to refresh our interior as the seasons change?
Have some new lampshades and cushions made or recover an armchair, or buy a fabulous, colourful new rug. There’s always a way to update your rooms and it can be as simple as buying a new painting. Just adding and taking away dull things that you are tired of can make such a difference or even just re-arranging your existing pieces in a thrilling new layout.
Please tell us about your beach house on Stradbroke Island in Queensland...
I have been going to Stradbroke Island since I was a young girl with my family. My parents always had a house on the island. When I got married and had my children, I wanted them to have the same experience as I did growing up. So, we bought our own cottage on the island which we would travel to every weekend on the barge. I now have a new house on the island that I bought a couple of years ago after separating from my husband with a wonderful view of the beach and ocean and it will always be my true home. I live between Brisbane and Melbourne currently but Stradbroke or as the locals call it, 'Straddie' is the place I feel happiest in the world. I think it’s the most beautiful place on the planet.
"I live between Brisbane and Melbourne currently but Stradbroke Island or as the locals call it, 'Straddie' is the place I feel happiest in the world. I think it’s the most beautiful place on the planet."
Various photos of Anna's Stradbroke Island beach house.
What’s next for Anna Spiro Design?
We are opening our new bricks and mortar store, Spiro Store in a couple of months which I am really excited about. It’s going to be brimming to the eaves with beautiful, special and different things for people to buy. I really want to support the local arts and crafts community and celebrate things made by hand...special things....things that people will treasure for a lifetime.
What does home mean to you?
It’s the place I feel safest and happiest. It's where I can spend time with the most important people in my life and I am surrounded by all that I love.
Sitting room in the Camp Hill, Brisbane project.
Let’s play favourites...
Flower - In the ground, I love seeing bright yellow daffodils flower in Spring. In a vase, I love tulips, the way they dance and fall and just do their own thing. I love that about tulips. They don’t adhere to any rules...just like me haha!!
Fragrance – Le Sirenuese (Mecca)
Wellness – Big walks at Straddie on the beach and in the bush as well as my 1R reshape/rebuild class...it’s so hard and I love it!
Clothing – Lee Mathews, Loewe
Shoe – Converse
Jewellery – Jessica McCormack – her jewels are to-die-for
Wallpaper – Morris & Co.
Fabric – My own Anna Spiro Textiles and Nathalie Farman
Colour – Every single colour but blue always seeps into every room I create
Music – At the moment I really love the Bridgerton Soundtrack
Muse – I think there are many people that I am really inspired by but as a whole, strong women are my muse. Women who push through against the odds and prove that anything is possible, that’s the type of woman I hope I am.
Book – Anne of Green Gables – she’s a fighter through and through and actually Anne was my muse growing up
Travel Destination – Venice
Quote – To be successful at anything, you must simply be what most people aren’t: consistent.
The best of your Australia...
Anna shares some travel tips for the cities Anna Spiro Design has offices in:
Shop – For cool offbeat homewares, gifts, antique lights and some furniture, I love Nyares Store in Albert Park. I also love Pan After store in Collingwood
Eat Out – Donovans at St Kilda Beach – always so gorgeous
Best Portuguese Tarts in Melbourne – Casa Nata at Windsor – AMAZING!
Best coffee in Melbourne – Saki Coffee at Armidale
All imagery by Tim Salisbury @timsailsbury
Interview by Emily Armstrong @emilyflorence_