Anna Spiro brightens Brisbane bungalow with kaleidoscope of colour and texture

Jun 22, 2020
  • Article by Stefanie Markidis

With unfaltering attention to minute detail, this Brisbane interior is furnished with long-adored pieces and passionate bursts of colour in classic Anna Spiro style.

These are rooms that make you smile, interiors that brim with joy, enthusiasm and vitality. The location of this Queensland home is poetic: it sits in the sunny Northgate address of Love Street, and there is much to love here.

The interiors of Love Street sing with Spiro’s signature style. Warm and welcoming, they showcase collections of pattern-on-pattern, antiques and bright textiles.

Shunning the contemporary tendency toward subdued tones and dull hues, Spiro’s interiors are brave and intricate meetings of colour, shape and pattern.

As she explains, the elements of these interiors are not brought together to match – the clash is intentional.

“Every colour is beautiful. From the first meeting, I like to know what colours the client loves, so we can incorporate that into their scheme,” say Spiro.

“We love to get to know the client, so we know how to approach the initial concept for the design. It’s very much determined by the style of the house and the client.”

The full spectrum of colour is expressed in every room. Geometric patterns rest against tropical prints, bright yellow against baby blue. Rather than a visual cacophony, these elements integrate cohesively in a symphony of figure and form.

The acclaimed designer has developed an international reputation for her distinctive style. Spiro’s work includes Halcyon house near Byron Bay and the luxury overwater bar at the multimillion-dollar precinct Howard Smith Wharves. She is known for layered, uplifting and unexpected compositions.

Love Street is no exception. Spiro’s deftness with uniting varied materials sees cane, oak and ceramics feature in the furnishings, while old and new pieces come together in a design that is wholly functional.

The client, who had enlisted Spiro on a previous project many years ago, commissioned the practice to redesign her home and gave Spiro full creative licence with the work.

“We’ve had the most beautiful time with her. She trusted us the whole length of the way,” Spiro recalls.

The house was completely renovated and walls were removed to open rooms to the natural light accessed through its many muntin-embellished windows.

Designing the interiors of Love Street involved responding to both the personality of the house and the character of the client, explains Spiro. As with all projects, an open and trusting client/designer relationship was crucial.

“When you have free rein, you feel at ease and have this beautiful creative freedom.

“When the client gives you that freedom, it’s when the magic happens.”

The result is indeed magical. The cottage has been totally transformed from its original state, as light and pattern adorn almost every surface, while classic finishes maintain an elegance in harmony with the traditional structural features of the cottage.

Original pieces, including the client’s antique cane chair, were incorporated into the finished result.

One of the few instructions offered by the client was the intention for a blue-and-white room. This was realised in the library, complete with a two-wall bookshelf, where navy and white patterns feature prominently and blue paisley wallpaper peeks through from the adjoining dining room.

In the powder blue kitchen and pale mint sitting room, simple block-coloured walls are set against wildly-patterned cushions, wall prints and textiles.

It is in the bedrooms where pattern comes alive, as floral shapes are reimagined across wall prints, table furnishings and quilted bedding.  

Speaking with Spiro, you get the sense that she, like her designs, is brimming with energy, committed to precision and bursting with creativity.

Since her early years as a fresh-from-high school junior at John Black Interiors, Spiro has hit her stride. In fact, she says it was those early years – and later joining practice with her mentor in Black & Spiro – that provided the foundation for her award-winning practice.

“I was very lucky to work with John, because he taught me the traditional principles of how to be a really good interior designer. That has created the grounding to set my own aesthetic, for me to do what I do now.”

Spiro explains an attention to quality underlies her boldness with bright tones.

“Although I have all this crazy bright colour, it is underpinned by incredible quality and beautiful workmanship.”

Recent years have seen her publish her first book, Absolutely Beautiful Things and set up a textile company with her brother, Sam Spiro.

A commitment to sustainable design has led her to launch an online store with a focus on lifetime pieces, fair trade items and recycled antiques.

“I want to help people buy pieces that stand the test of time, rather than buying cheap ‘of the moment’ items that continually add to landfill and waste.”

With so many projects on the go, Spiro is no stranger to hard work. “This work demands perfectionism – and the word scares me, because it can be paralysing,” she says.

“Creativity comes to you in waves and sometimes it stops. It’s a crazy thing, being a creative person. Some nights I don’t sleep.

“I am a great believer that in life, to succeed in anything, you have to throw everything at it.”

This ceaseless drive is twinned with a passion for great design, which Spiro says she will take into her position as a judge for IDEA 2020.

“I want rooms that excite me, that are beautifully-curated, different, clever and great quality. I want something I haven’t seen before,” she says.

In the year ahead there are many projects and possibilities on the cards for the tireless designer. In true Spiro style, those cards are varied and bright – new interstate ventures, experimenting with her Stradbroke Island house and the intention to create another book.

“I’m really excited about what I’m going to be doing in the future,” she says.

With an expanding business, a growing international reputation for quality design, and new projects in her sights, there is much to be looking forward to.

Anna Spiro Design is a Brisbane based interior design studio founded in 2000 by Spiro. Spiro is also an IDEA 2020 judge.

Collectivus also recently used bright colours to set the tone for the new Pelci skin and beauty clinic also in Brisbane.

Photography: Eleanor Byrne

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