HomeInteriorsA Perfectly Personalised Art Deco Apartment

A Perfectly Personalised Art Deco Apartment

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South Yarra’s art deco apartments are often tightly held – just ask Leila Sanderson and Tony Espie! 

When Tony first moved into this particular apartment, his initial housemate had been renting a room since the ‘70s, over which time she’d lovingly renovated the space like she owned it. Tony’s partner Leila Sanderson, owner of online store Skinny Wolf, eventually moved into the apartment, and the couple are still here 12 years later! 

The home is one of two apartments in a 1930s streamline moderne building. What it lacks in heating or cooling (!) it makes up for flexibility, allowing Leila and Tony to make most cosmetic changes as they please. Its three bedrooms afford Tony, who is a sound engineer, enough space for a home studio, which also helps to drown out the noise of nearby Punt Road! 

Updates over the years have included many paint jobs, with Dulux Submarine currently featured on the kitchen cabinets, and Dulux Victoriana on the contrasting pastel wall. ‘I could never live in a neutral interior, although I like other people’s neutral interiors!’ says Leila.

Leila describes the home’s aesthetic as maximalist with a hint of grandmillennial, while Tony calls it cosy, comfy, and even ‘dead!’ ‘That’s a sound engineer’s description of having lots of soft furnishing that deaden the sound!’ explains Leila.  

Vintage wares complement the home’s original art deco features, while Leila’s colourful ribbon rosettes and textured pieces oodles of personality. ‘I buy things because I love them, not because they go with other things,’ she says. 

Leila is also a florist working for Katie Marx, so there’s always plenty of flowers and foliage on rotation in the home. 

It’s hard to create a rental property that feels personal and embedded with history, but Leila and Tony have done just that in this very special home! 

1960s green velvet couches bought from a friend, who bought them from a lady who’d had them in her ‘good room’ with plastic covers on! Coffee table and wooden stool made by Greg Hatton.  Large ribbon rosette made by Leila for her store Skinny Wolf. Various cushions from Bonnie and Neil; Greenhouse Interiors; and Aura Home. Plates on display are a mix of Lucas Grogan and vintage. Bowl and vases on the coffee table from Chapel Street Bazaar. Large pills on coffee table made by Leila (‘Because like a lot of people, I’ve been thinking a lot about health recently!’). Flowers all arranged by Leila. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli


Leila Sanderson and sound engineer Tony Espie! Rug from Temple & Webster. 1960s green velvet couches bought secondhand. Coffee table and wooden stool made by Greg Hatton.  Large ribbon rosette made by Leila for her store Skinny Wolf. Flowers arranged by Leila. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli


Vases and bowl from Chapel Street Bazaar. Large pills made by Leila by air drying clay. Roses grown by Petrina Burrill. Bridget Bodenham ceramic dish filled with shells. Greg Hatton coffee table. Vintage chandelier bought from a friend. Disco balls a gift from Katie Marx. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli


‘A florist favourite: coral charm peonies! Only available for a very short season and they change colour as they age!’ says Leila. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli


Vintage mirror. Vintage oil jars in crate from Camberwell Market. Rainbow neon light from Sunny Life. 1970s pinstripe velvet armchair sourced by Curated Spaces. Sage and Clare cushion. Cymbidium orchid watercolour artwork by Zoe Langbridge. Various pots by Temple & Webster and Few and Far. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli


Giant rosette, cake, table cloth  flower arrangements, and chairs upholstery all by Leila/Skinny Wolf. Lampshade from The Society Inc. Bridget Bodenham ceramics. Large metal footed bowl from an op shop. Medium footed beeswax bowl/candle holder from The Raconteur. Vintage mirror. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli


Botanicum print by Katie Scott. Old man in hat painting and vintage tapestry from Etsy. Metal torso sculpture a gift from a friend. Lamp on shelf and hanging lampshade from Ikea. Paper poppy by Revery Paper Flora. Cherry neon light by Sunny Life. Gold ceramic cherries by Mondo Cherry. Large splattered serving plate from Home & Abroad. Dulux Submarine on kitchen cabinets. Leila’s collection of white ceramics! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.


Cake, flowers arrangements and curtains all made by Leila! Dulux Submarine on the kitchen cabinets, and Dulux Victoriana on the walls. Ikea lampshades. Dowel Jones Thimble Stool. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.


Original 1930s yellow sink and bath with the previous tenant’s plumbing! William Morris shower curtain from Society6. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.


Vintage glass vase. Yellow ceramic cup from The Mod Collective. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.


Rosette by Leila for Skinny Wolf. Flowers arranged by Leila. Fitted cabinets constructed by a previous tenant. Ceramics by Bridget Bodenham and Tara Burke. Peach candle holder from Jumbled. Bendy candle stick from Area Ware.  Candles from Queen B and Norsu. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.


Denim patchwork quilt and cushion, liberty print quilted pillowcases, rosettes and gold cape all by Leila/Skinny Wolf. Vintage Bitossi lamp. Blue and white checked pillowcase with frill from Society of Wanderers. Pink checked cushion with frilled edges by Projektityyny. Yellow velvet flower cushion from Kip&Co. Velvet bedhead from Temple & Webster. Fitted sheet by Castle and Things. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.


Tony in his home studio surrounded by his music memorabilia. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.


Music memorabilia in Tony’s studio, including two of his ARIA nominee trophies and the latest album by The Avalanches that he worked on! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

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Linda Barbara

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