Designer Anna Spiro’s Heavenly Island Home

Anna Spiro splits her time between Melbourne and Brisbane, but it’s just further east on Minjerribah/North Stradbroke Island where she truly feels at home.

After selling her holiday house of 16 years on the island, the interior designer went in search of an equally special place. She discovered a small, weatherboard house for sale, and despite its awkward shape, Anna immediately saw its potential.

In just six weeks (!), Anna worked with a builder and cabinet maker to transform the property into a relaxed yet luxurious house, stamped with her signature colour and pattern.

Lucy Feagins
Supported by Dulux

Painting by Jim McCullough. ‘I found a lovely cane plinth and urn via Instagram and love the height it adds to the space. I enjoy filling the urn with local foliage, such as banksia and gum leaves; it is an ever-changing arrangement in the room and draws the eye up to the interestingly-shaped ceiling,’ says Anna. Photo – Kara Rosenlund

As my sons were a bit older, I felt it was the right time to allow myself the luxury of an all-white sofa!’ says Anna. ‘So that it didn’t feel bulky in the room, I decided to make it an armless sofa with a frilled skirt…The bright sea-green box side tables that bookend the sofa reference a large abstract painting by Melbourne artist Jim McCullough, which hangs in the same room and provides a wonderful, fun and unexpected jab of colour.’ Photo – Kara Rosenlund

‘I picked two blue and white patterns for the scatter cushions, and plain soft-pink and pale-blue linen for the armchairs,’ says Anna.Painting by Jim McCulloughPhoto – Kara Rosenlund

An old butcher’s block acts as both a central bench and a sofa table. ‘The sofa backs directly onto the butcher’s block and thus sits centrally in the hexagon, providing anyone sitting there with a view directly out the window to the ocean,’ says Anna. Photo – Kara Rosenlund

A simple white coffee table and classic white walls tie together the space. Photo – Kara Rosenlund

‘The living room also has a few beautiful paintings that I love, as well as collections of favourite books stacked up on the floor, shells in trays, and glass candle-lit hurricane lamps for mood lighting at night. These elements add a feeling of casualness and comfort to the otherwise minimal decoration I have chosen,’ says Anna. Photo – Kara Rosenlund

‘In the guest bedroom I wanted to do something a bit wild, as it is a room with an awkward shape and no view. I covered all the walls in a bold red and white toile wallpaper and painted the window frames, skirting boards and cabinetry in a matching red,’ says Anna. Photo – Kara Rosenlund

Anna describes the home as ‘simple, fresh, modern, mixed with antiques and interesting art.’ Photo – Kara Rosenlund

‘In my bedroom, it is all about the view. Waking up and looking out through those wonderfully large windows to see the ocean directly in front of me, and the bushland just to the right, is absolutely stunning,’ says Anna. Photo – Kara Rosenlund

The outdoor deck among the trees. Photo – Kara Rosenlund

The exterior was painted dark navy (Porter’s Paints Yacht Race) to blend into the environment. Photo – Kara Rosenlund

The ocean view! Photo – Kara Rosenlund

‘There is nowhere else I’d rather be. This is my idea of heaven.’ Photo – Kara Rosenlund

Anna Spiro. Photo – Tim Salisbury

Lucy Feagins
12th of January 2022

Interior designer Anna Spiro lives between Melbourne and Brisbane with her partner Luke Warwick, and children Harry and Max, but calls North Stradbroke Island/Minjerribah her ‘true home.’ 

‘It’s where I have been coming to with my family since I was a little girl. It’s the most beautiful place on earth,’ Anna says. 

After selling a cottage she owned on the island for 16 years, Anna went seeking a small home with an ocean view, which she found just up the road! 

‘Despite its gorgeous views, Cassidae Cottage had been on the market for quite some time,’ says Anna. ‘The building is made up of two hexagonal weatherboard pavilions, and I suspect most people would find it hard to know what to do with a house that shape. But for me, it was perfect. It had everything.’

The house was in dire need of a renovation, allowing Anna to really make it her own. First things first – replacing the brown, aluminium-framed windows. ‘I replaced them with large floor-to-ceiling timber windows and sliding doors, which has added so much light, increased the view of the ocean from inside, and makes the house feel much more open,’ Anna says. ‘Removing the 1990s cornices and square setting from the ceilings made everything feel modern and fresh.’

The existing layout of the living/kitchen pavilion was also reconfigured for improved functionality. 

All this and more was achieved in just six weeks (!) with the help of builder, Luke Noble, and cabinet maker, Craig Madders.

Decorating wise, Anna opted for a slightly more muted scheme than her signature ‘grandmillennial’ style. ‘Something a little bit simpler, something more restrained and less patterned, than I normally would,’ she explains. ‘This house needed to be restful, peaceful; somewhere I could take a breath, away from all the patterns and colours with which I usually surround myself.’

Classic white interior walls were layered with block colours in tones of the ocean and bush, while the exterior is a contrasting dark navy (Porter’s Paints Yacht Race) that blends into the environment. ‘I didn’t want a stark white house that stood out. I just wanted it to be dark and fade into the beautiful landscape that surrounds it,’ says Anna. 

The main bedroom is all about the ocean view, while the guest bedroom offers a different experience entirely, featuring bold red and white toile wallpaper and matching red window frames. ‘It’s such a fun room; it really wraps you up when you stay in it,’ says Anna. ‘It’s proof that any room, no matter what shape it is, and even if it appears to have nothing going for it, can look and feel amazing with a bit of creative thought and a confident approach.’ 

The renovated house is everything Anna and her family need for simple island living, and where she feels most content. 

‘There is nowhere else I’d rather be,’ she says. ‘This is my idea of heaven.’ 

For more of this home and Anna Spiro’s work, see her new book ‘A Life In Pattern’ (Thames & Hudson Australia) out now. 

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