A few days ago, I featured a picture of an Anna Spiro room that I love.
I found an interview of her
INTERIOR designer Anna Spiro has built her Brisbane store Black & Spiro into a successful international brand with a wallpaper line, a book deal and a popular blog - but she is still plagued by self-doubt.--------
Anna Spiro can walk into a room and know what needs to be done. She exudes confidence and authority. Her eye for piecing together the many layers and textures to make a beautiful, sophisticated home is envied.
Brisbane-based Spiro, who has established herself as a leading interior designer nationally and sparked the attention of style- setters abroad, is perhaps most at home in her cherished inner-Brisbane New Farm store, Black & Spiro.
Established in 2000, it is the place Spiro has come of age as a designer and the place she freely admits she is "obsessed" with.
"I work all the time," Spiro says.
"The hardest thing in my life - and everyone knows it - is that I do what I do here without interruption. Unfortunately, everything comes second to this.
"I put my heart and my soul and my everything into this place. A lot of stuff gets pushed aside because of it. That's hurt a lot of friendships - I've lost friends - and that's hard, but this business, as well as my children and my family, is the most important thing to me. Between them and this, there's just no time for anything else.
"People don't understand my obsessiveness over being here (at work) and not going and having a coffee with them or ringing them . . . I just want to be here or at home. I just don't have the time to go and sit and drink tea."
Spiro, 34, has achieved plenty. Her blog, Absolutely Beautiful Things, has registered some 12 million hits and been cited by American style queen Martha Stewart as one of the top 10 design blogs to look out for.
Then there's the recent line of wallpaper designs for Porter's Paints and her brand new Penguin book deal. She's also been married to Brad for almost 11 years and has two sons - Harry, 9, and Max, 2.
But Spiro is still plagued by self-doubt.
"I'm a worrier, a stress-a-holic. I'm very emotional," she says.
"I'm a control-freak, a perfectionist, and it's very hard to live with. I am obsessive about this place. I leave at night and if those cushions aren't sitting straight on those front chairs I'm demented. I ring the girls (who work here) and tell them. You are on show 100 per cent of the time. You've got to be perfect. With my work I'm an extrovert and everyone thinks I'm so confident and bold and brazen, but I'm the most self-conscious scaredy-cat, nervous, shy creature you'd ever hope to meet.
"I'm not confident and not good at anything public or meeting new people. I hate it. I just get so caught up about what people think about me.
"I can get moody . . . it's not good when I get moody. Everyone suffers and my husband hates me. If something has gone wrong with a job or a client is upset with me . . . I like to please everyone."
In the cut-throat interior design world, Spiro knows she had a lucky foot in the door, landing an "unglamorous" junior position straight out of school with established designer John Black, a friend of her grandmother. The pair eventually went into business together, forming Black & Spiro, but went separate ways in 2006. It was shortly after that Spiro began her blog and, she says, really began to shine in her own right.
Spiro grew up in Brisbane's bayside of Manly and Wellington Point.
Her parents were, and still are, lawyers in their family practice, Macfie Curlewis Spiro.
She credits her mother as her "true inspiration". Her wallpaper collection is inspired by her time spent as a little girl with her mother in their garden, in what she says were "the happiest days of my life".
"My mother is certainly a very creative woman. She has great taste," Spiro says.
"She's the person I ask. I wouldn't trust anyone else."
Spiro's relentless work ethic has meant little time away from her store, even to have her sons. She was back at work within three days of being released from hospital after son Max was born.
"We have our routine. I'm very lucky," she says. "My mother-in-law is just amazing. She picks Harry up from school, she takes him to all his after-school sports, she does all his homework with him and cooks him dinner. It's awesome and that's why I can do this here without interruption. If I was interrupted I don't think I could do it as well.
"Then we have someone to help with our little one because I figure they are two different children. One is nine, one is two, they have very different needs."
Spiro, who lives at bayside Birkdale in a "rambling old homestead in need of renovating", says her bucket list includes decorating a boutique hotel and perhaps opening a second store in Sydney.
"Even up till last year, I would say to you: 'I'm not that good at this'," she says. "It's hard for me to say: 'I'm good at this' but . . . I do have to, for my own self, acknowledge that I am good at it because if I don't, I'll just keep beating myself up."
Create the right balance:
- People struggle with colour, but we should embrace it, says Anna Spiro. "It doesn't have to be garish. To achieve a successful balance when using bright colour, I always suggest the use of natural rugs or dark-stained timber furniture to ground the colour scheme.
- When selecting cushions, choose a varying colour palette and mismatch the patterns. Mismatched cushions look best on a plain fabric sofa or a stripe or small pattern.
- When selecting furniture for a room, I usually suggest to my clients they invest in a good-quality sofa with a classic shape that won't date and that can be recovered over time.
- Invest in a beautiful antique dining table that will stay with you for your entire life.
- I love using lamps in a room to give beautiful ambient light.
- Mix antiques and modern furniture to create a lovely layered, interesting and unique look.
- Invest in beautiful paintings.
- Create unique tablescapes on coffee tables, hall tables and sofa tables using your collections, for example family photographs, books, old boxes, ginger jars or vases of flowers.
- Most of all, just buy the things you love because once in your home they will have their own very piece of unique thread that joins them altogether."
Spiro's favourite style blogs:
Ben Pentreath - benpentreath.com/inspiration
Style Court - stylecourt.blogspot.com
Habitually Chic - habituallychic.blogspot.com
Sanctuary - houseofbliss.blogspot.com
Pip Shining - pipshining.blogspot.com
Read Anna's blog at: absolutelybeautifulthings.blogspot.com.au
I hope you enjoyed Anna Spiro's interview. She is an inspiration. So real and talented.
All images via web.