<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none;" alt="" src="https://dc.ads.linkedin.com/collect/?pid=253123&amp;fmt=gif">

16. All About Interiors

July 29, 2019

This week’s podcast features renowned Brisbane interior designer, Anna Spiro. With an impressive career of bespoke residential work behind her, she has shot to heightened notoriety after her recent commercial work with Halcyon House in Cabarita, and Mr. Percival’s overwater bar at the Howard Smith Wharves. With an instantly recognisable style, we deep dive into Anna’s inspirations and aspirations, discovering her dedication to longevity, both in her design style and the high-quality pieces she personally handpicks. Finally, we explore her thoughts on property styling before sale, and Anna’s personal ethos that “we should all enjoy a beautiful home”.

Listen on iTunes Listen on Spotify

In this episode we cover:

This week’s podcast features renowned Brisbane interior designer, Anna Spiro. With an impressive career of bespoke residential work behind her, she has shot to heightened notoriety after her recent commercial work with Halcyon House in Cabarita, and Mr. Percival’s overwater bar at the Howard Smith Wharves.

With an instantly recognisable style, we deep dive into Anna’s inspirations and aspirations, discovering her dedication to longevity, both in her design style and the high-quality pieces she personally handpicks. Finally, we explore her thoughts on property styling before sale, and Anna’s personal ethos that “we should all enjoy a beautiful home”.

In this episode we cover:

  • The differences between residential and commercial interior design
  • The popularity shift to larger, ‘home apartments’ instead of houses
  • Key rooms to invest in
  • How to remain ahead of rapidly evolving interior design trends
  • Property styling before a house hits the market
  • Future projects
Brisbane Property Market Report

Download the Brisbane Property Market Report


A snapshot of the Brisbane Property Market

Download Now

Click here to see the full transcript

Hide transcript

Intro:
Welcome to the Brisbane Real Estate Podcast where each week we'll be answering all of your questions relating to the local property market with CEO of Place Estate Agents, Damian Hackett. Be the first to get market insights, trends and tips on everything you need to know when it comes to Brisbane real estate. To download a copy of our free Brisbane property report, head to eplace.com.au/podcast.

Damian Hackett:
Welcome back to the Brisbane Real Estate Podcast and today I'm sitting here with Anna Spiro, Brisbane's well known interior designer. Welcome Anna.

Anna Spiro:
Thank you very much.

Damian Hackett:
So, Anna, I know you've got a very distinctive style that's well known and we'll liked. I guess when you're sitting with clients for the first time and you're talking about a design for their property, whether it be residential, commercial, I mean how much leeway, I mean they come to you because they know you're a designer. I guess to give a bit of background here, I once sit with an architect and we showed a bunch of different cutouts that we liked and he pretty much said, "Well, listen, thanks for that, but you just tell me how many bedrooms you want. If you like my style, my style is it." So, have you found that over the years?

Anna Spiro:
Look, I think in the early stages of my career, obviously you wanted any job and every single job that came through the door. However, as time goes on and you get better and better, and I suppose people start to know your style, those sorts of people come to you for what it is that you can create. I like to get an early brief in regards to what they like, what they don't like. I think understanding the budget is always really important, but the best clients are always those that just say, "I love what you do. This is sort of what I kind of like and want." Then, "Hey, let's just do this." So, I think those projects get the whole of me and get a really amazing result. I suppose if a client really wants to be in control of me, I probably don't really want to do those projects as much anymore.

Damian Hackett:
You're probably not the right person for the job.

Anna Spiro:
Yeah. Yeah. I'm great when I don't have that sort of pressure on me. I can really come up with some amazing things when I have that free reign so to speak.

Damian Hackett:
What's the balance of your work at the moment say between say commercial jobs or residential people's homes? How does that sit?

Anna Spiro:
At the moment, we're doing one restaurant in Melbourne and the rest are home. So, homes are my absolute passion. The commercial came on board when I did Halcyon House, the boutique hotel at Cabarita whereby I think those clients wanted my style I suppose in that it's sort of homely and inviting and wanted to break the boundaries with commercial design. Those clients have continued to use me on various commercial projects, which have been really amazing. My absolute love is doing a whole house from scratch before it starts being built or before it starts getting renovated.

Damian Hackett:
Great. Now about your style, do you find that it changes over the years or do you follow other trends or is there a certain cell that I think you're known for obviously and how flexible or how has it evolved?

Anna Spiro:
I suppose with time and experience my style I think has gotten better. It has always been eclectic and layered, and I like to bring disparate objects together to create really interesting spaces, and that is a look that I will always continue to embrace. However, certain trends do come along and you start to incorporate little things like scalloped lampshades and various other things and you use those and then you move on and use some other look in, in amongst the look that you do.

Anna Spiro:
I think my look has an ability to stand the test of time in that it does evolve and get better and people can change things quite easily within the room rather than having a whole design done that's so stuck in its ways that you have to actually redo the whole room in six years' time when the whole thing's dated. So, I do think our style has a longevity to it.

Damian Hackett:
I guess a stall that we've discussed previously, you build up a Brisbane style and that's you're known for now. How would you best describe that do you think?

Anna Spiro:
Look, I think living here in Brisbane, we have such a great climate. It's hard and it's ... I think of Brisbane as a colorful city. I think that's reflective in my work. I love color and pattern. I suppose, I think people do come to me for that. I think that's definitely a Brisbane style that we should all embrace, because we live in such a warm city and it's full of vibrancy. We go to the beach on the weekends, and we shouldn't be having beige everywhere and those sorts of I think colors that are maybe more conducive to a colder climate.

Damian Hackett:
Like in Melbourne does and very simplistic.

Anna Spiro:
Yeah. I do so much work in Melbourne for Melbourne clients. I think they love the color and pattern that I do.

Damian Hackett:
I guess it makes sense if they're used to all the darkness.

Anna Spiro:
Yeah. I think it's so great. They really love what we do. I mean, I think it's just something a bit different for them.

Damian Hackett:
Yeah. Again, keeping with current trends. What advice, if you've got some people who are just looking to maybe add a bit to their current home, some listeners that don't want go through a full refurbishing, what kind of advice do you give to people saying ... and what are the key rooms I guess to focus on?

Anna Spiro:
I think definitely family rooms and living rooms. The other rooms we live in every single day. A lot of clients come to me to do children's rooms. I'm not a huge fan of spending much money on a child's room. I think you can pull something really interesting together for that. With lounge rooms, dining rooms, entertaining areas, I think by adding in a couple of new beautiful pieces, recovering a couple of chairs, some new cushions, lamps, I mean anything can make a big difference.

Damian Hackett:
Yeah. It's interesting because those rooms that you speak about are other public rooms and it makes you think when people are doing this, how much are they doing for themselves versus for their friends when it comes through in a really with I guess a lot of things we do like.

Anna Spiro:
Well, it's so interesting though. I have some clients over at Hawthorne on the river there in Virginia Avenue and we've worked with them. I think it must be about three years now. They really love color and pattern. They're a rarity. They really like really wild stuff. We've done their whole house. It's magnificent. He just says that it's the best thing they've ever done. He comes home and he just feels like he's in the most beautiful place.

Anna Spiro:
I think that doing it for yourself is so important. I mean, yeah, having it nice for your family and friends is cool, but it's about going to work. We all work really hard, but home is so important. I think if you can come home to a magnificent, beautiful home in the way that you like it to be, there's nothing better than that.

Damian Hackett:
Yeah. I guess it's coming home to your happy place, isn't it?

Anna Spiro:
It is. Yeah.

Damian Hackett:
Self happy place.

Anna Spiro:
That's why I encourage people to spend the right amount of money on their home, so that when they do ... that's where we spend most of our time, if not at work or ... I think home is one of the most important things to spend our money on, to make it feel really, really beautiful for ourselves.

Damian Hackett:
I guess we've seen with the, I guess the change ... I guess an aging population and with the business that people have the move to home apartments, the bigger apartments and so forth. It's been around for a while now, but it's becoming I guess a stronger trend. I guess with apartments you've got probably less rooms, so I guess it gives you more opportunity. I guess it can be more difficult but probably to spend more money in smaller areas to make a difference. What are your thoughts on that?

Anna Spiro:
Absolutely. Funnily enough, we did this really, I think unattractive before we got our hands on it, little three bedroom apartment, brand new, bought off the plan at Burleigh Heads for some clients a couple of years ago. It was so unattractive. It was just so plain and boring and bad fittings. Not good. We did the entire apartment. Wrapped the whole thing in wallpaper, redid the kitchen, furnished it with the most divine furniture, all custom made, and they live in Melbourne. They just use it for the weekends and holidays and things, but it's made the most incredible difference.

Anna Spiro:
I think you can make anything look amazing if you actually spend the right amount of money on it. I think using high quality beautiful products is key as well. Not Rubbish, junky inexpensive things. I think you've got to spend the right amount of money because then that will last and stand the test of time.

Damian Hackett:
One of the big, I guess improvements in our industry over the past four or five years has been the focus on people really stalling their properties before they go to market. I guess a lot of what you do though, it's almost like they haven't looked its best.

Anna Spiro:
I know.

Damian Hackett:
They'd been living there all their life they don't get to enjoy it. You know what I mean?

Anna Spiro:
They don't get to enjoy it. I find that I don't understand that concept, because I need my home to be an amazing place for me to live in. I can't live in a home that's not interesting and wraps me up I suppose. Yeah, it's almost a bit fake. But you know, it's interesting.

Damian Hackett:
I guess some people just get used to what it is. They have busy lives and they haven't got that eye to detail. I guess you work with more with people that are doing it to stay rather than just ... Yeah.

Anna Spiro:
Absolutely. I think it just can make such a difference to your mental state having a magnificent home to what you like. It doesn't have to be over the top or anything like that. As long as it's how you like it and beautifully done, I think it can really make a big difference to the way we live.

Damian Hackett:
How important in the whole design look are the accessories that you use you think? You got the key bits, the furnitures and-

Anna Spiro:
I'm a huge fan of beautiful art and I love antique. So, I think it's really important to spend money on art, antiques. I really love beautiful expensive fabric that is just key to the room schemes that I create. Knickknacks and bits and pieces I think can be a bit cluttery. I mean I obviously have them, but I think investing your money into big pieces, more so than lots of little things that can create a bit of a cluttered mess is really important. I mean, big pieces in a room mixed with sort of medium scale pieces make an really interesting impact.

Damian Hackett:
I mean, even speaking from experience, we've got little kids.

Anna Spiro:
Yeah.

Damian Hackett:
Those knickknacks around the place and that we're in the wrong spot or hidden boxes and yeah.

Anna Spiro:
Yeah. Some key art pieces or sculpture or lots of beautiful books and things like that. I think all of that's really nice. I always find when I go to a client's house, they bought all these things and there all these little tiny nick nacky things. I think, "Oh gosh, what are we goi ng to do with all of this?" I think bigger things make-

Damian Hackett:
It's easier I to keep it that way, isn't it?

Anna Spiro:
Yeah.

Damian Hackett:
Things won't get mucked up.

Anna Spiro:
Yeah.

Damian Hackett:
I guess if you look at some of the recent work that you've done that's I guess highly visible. It's been down at the Howard Smith Wharves. I mean, tell us about that project. That must have been a lot of fun.

Anna Spiro:
Well, it was. It was a lot of work. I mean, I suppose Mr. Percival's for me is the jewel in the crown for my work down at Howard Smith Wharves. It was an interesting project. I was given free reign as to the style and the look and the feel. I think it's been a huge success for them. I think it probably, my brief in initially was more that it was going to be a really high end cocktail bar, but I think the young people took a hold and loved it. Now it's become this crazy almost, I probably shouldn't use this word, but nightcluby kind of thing. I suppose it's interesting to see that everything that people are just using it and loving it so much. So, yeah, it's interesting how things, you might set it out to be something, but then it becomes this other crowd just loves it. So, I think that's interesting.

Damian Hackett:
It's quite amazing the success you've had since opening I guess, what just over six months ago now, isn't it?

Anna Spiro:
I agree. It's such an amazing location. We, as Brisbane people have this river that runs all the way through our city and there's not enough of that river city, I'm sorry, river frontage for us to enjoy. All of a sudden that's opened in Brisbane and the tourist market has just gone wild for it. I think it's just so great, obviously for all the properties in New Farm and along the stretch of the river. I think it's really great that we can get out and living in our hot climate out there and on that river down at Howard Smith Wharves. I think it's a great location.

Damian Hackett:
No, this is fabulous. So, the evolution in design, it a slow process? I mean, we're always talking about what's the next big thing or what's the latest trend or what's your take on that?

Anna Spiro:
In regards to doing a project or more of the design?

Damian Hackett:
Just the design of people's homes. I think-

Anna Spiro:
Me doing a whole home or-

Damian Hackett:
Yeah. I guess what I'm trying to say there is, do you think that as you said your style has evolved over the years. Is that a slow process or do you think there's ... I know every year I guess in an effort to sell new things, the industry is coming up with the new loco, especially if something recycled from 25 years ago. A lot of it.

Anna Spiro:
Yeah. I think with things like Instagram and the internet, things have become a lot more fast paced, obviously in many, many industries, including my own. My clients and the general public know so much more today than what they did 10 years ago about where things come from. So, my job as a designer has gotten harder to continuously look for more exciting things to present to my clients that are paying me to bring them things that are amazing and exotic from all over the world. So, I think definitely it's become more fast paced and I have to keep on top of the fact that things are just know where to get them from. I think probably more for myself, it's about things that I'm working on with my own career is that for me it's about product.

Anna Spiro:
So, designing my fabrics, my wallpapers, I'm doing a furniture collection and things like that, so that what I design can be sold in the marketplace and potentially, people have to buy it from me rather than just going-

Damian Hackett:
-Furniture collection sounds exciting.

Anna Spiro:
Yeah.

Damian Hackett:
How has that project been?

Anna Spiro:
Well, it's been something I've been wanting to do for a long time, but it's probably just in the starting process of that. So, probably another 12 months, because I want to do it properly. I also am potentially about to do another book, which is really exciting too. So yeah, lots of things on the table always.

Damian Hackett:
Things to do in the spare time I'm certain.

Anna Spiro:
Yeah. It's hard to fit it all in. Yeah.

Damian Hackett:
So, that process with the furniture design. So, you sit down with I guess furniture designers and do it yourself?

Anna Spiro:
Yes. Well, we-

Damian Hackett:
Then do you go off shore and-

Anna Spiro:
Yes. Yeah. So, we're talking with a couple of companies at the moment, which has some quite exciting collaboration, an exciting collaboration, I suppose it is. Yeah, because I like to align my name with leaders and people that as I said to you, I am about high quality. I'm not about putting my name to things that are rubbish or mass produced or anything like that. Because to me, it's really important that we produce furniture that stands the test of time and isn't just replaced every two minutes to add to the landfill. I figured that's my contribution to the environment.

Damian Hackett:
Like I said, when you're working with it with a number of clients and you're building your business, the fact that it's the Anna Spiro brand, people want a Anna Spiro as well, too. So, when you're working ... yeah.

Anna Spiro:
They love a table that we've designed or ... and we do so much Bespoke as it is now here. Everything that we pretty much do if it's not antique, it's Bespoke and they often clients get their very own sofa or their very own chair with certain details. That's what coming to a designer like me is all about. You get something that isn't mass produced in these furniture stores that are popping up everywhere. I think, isn't that what we all want? Something that is really beautiful. We want to have lovely things rather than just everyday stuff that's everywhere and mass produced.

Damian Hackett:
I guess technology and the shrinking world and the mass producing of things have I guess left some people struggling within their industries to understand what's happening next. I mean, can you see a clear path for what you think is going to happen?

Anna Spiro:
I think what's scary too in our Australia market, I mean there was so many more manufacturers 10, 15, 20, 30 years ago that would buy fabric from Australian fabric suppliers. They'd make the furniture here, then we'd sell it to the public. Whereas now, they're missing out ... the manufacturers are missing out and the fabric people in Australia are missing out as well because the furniture stores are going direct to China and having it all made. There's a real chain of people missing out on industry here in Australia. From my perspective, that's why I am all about Bespoke because I like to support the industry here. I don't want to see craftsmen and people like that fade into the oblivion, because we're just buying everything from China. I think it's scary.

Damian Hackett:
I guess when it becomes more like art, it's when people appreciate a piece.

Anna Spiro:
It's what I call when we advise clients about purchasing a new sofa. I talk about the fact that we like to make them an heirloom sofa. So, it's a sofa that they will keep for the duration of their life and they'll continue to recover it rather than, as I said earlier, going and buying a $1,500 sofa from a local place that brings them in from China and a natural linen and we get rid of it in two, three, four, five years time and then it goes into a landfill and we go and buy another one. It's just so wasteful.

Anna Spiro:
I think it's better and it's actually more cost effective if you actually spend the money upfront on the more expensive one off piece and then, as I said, recover it in 20 years time because they'll last. You won't need to throw it out. So, that's what I'm about. I'm about trying to educate my clients. I think it's, at the end of the day, it's more cost effective. It's more conducive to being environmentally friendly.

Damian Hackett:
Do you have a favorite piece of furniture? Is it a sofa or a table or...?

Anna Spiro:
Yeah. I've got an arm chair that I named after my grandmother and it's called the Curlewis armchair and we use it in every project. I designed the chair. It's got beautiful hand turn legs, timber legs on it and it's just a really great scale size. Everything pretty much most every one of my clients has at least one of them and we just make them in all different fabrics. So, it's a great chair and it's ours. So, yeah. Then the Sheffield Sofa, which is one that we use all the time as well. It's based on a traditional English sofa. Again, it will never date because they stand the test of time. Yeah.

Damian Hackett:
We spoke earlier about the fact that the big movement in selling property over the last few years have been people stalling their homes. So, people have made the connection now that if you spend money on the presentation and the look and feel, it adds value. I guess the shame as you mentioned is the fact that people are waiting until they leave their home to do that as opposed to ... usually they're on a bit of a budget as opposed to getting in early, spending the money, enjoying it and then adding the value. What are your thoughts on that?

Anna Spiro:
Yeah. Look, I think I suppose my Brisbane clientele as a whole is less inclined to spend as much money as my Sydney or Melbourne clientele. It's very interesting. Melbourne is so in tune with spending money on their homes and spending money well and buying really beautiful things. I feel that Brisbane still I suppose coming of age in that regard. There are certainly many clients that understand the difference that having us help them can make to their home and their lives and then in the end when they sell their property, the value of that. I think that people really should consider that using a designer and having it done properly for them to enjoy and live in with their family and then to sell the house as well is a massive draw card and can at the end of the day, make a big difference with everything.

Damian Hackett:
Yep. As I said, there's no doubt that people now understanding that in the sale process, but it'd be great if they could get involved earlier.

Anna Spiro:
Oh, I think so. Yeah. It's a shame that they have to wait to that time because we should all enjoy a beautiful home.

Damian Hackett:
Well Anna, thanks very much for your time. I really do appreciate it and it's been really informative.

Anna Spiro:
Yeah, it's really exciting. Thank you very much for asking me to be involved.

Damian Hackett:
Cheers.

Anna Spiro:
Thank you.

Outro:
To download a copy of our free Brisbane property report, head to eplace.com.au/podcast.