Christmas at Anna's Attic
Lets get to know Anna Straw, Interior Designer, Stylist and creator of online homewares store 'Annas Attic'
Anna please tell us about the moment when you knew Interior Design was going to become a passion of yours.
I was really lucky growing up, my parents allowed me to have input in my room from an early age, so funny when I look back, one year my Dad painted my ceiling black and hung a hanging wicker chair, all very on trend again now. Another favourite was a wall covered in cork, I spent days on end cutting images from magazines like Vogue & Elle and covered the wall in supermodels.
Wow how cool, what brilliant memories Interiors is so very similar to fashion isn't it how trends come go and come back again. What is it about Interiors that makes you tick?
I love how interiors can change the feel and mood of a space. Most important to me though is reflecting the personalities of those who use the space, I believe a house isn't a home if it doesn't reflect those who live in it, you should be able to walk into a space and learn about who it belongs to.
Anna I absolutely loved watching you in GIDC I was mesmerised by your unique creativity, your passion & eye for style & design really stood out. Tell us about the highs and lows of being involved in such an amazing programme.
Thank you so much. There were so many highs but the biggest has to be the reaction of the homeowner Joseph. I wasn't there for the live reveal but met him afterwards, Joseph was over the moon, the room was small and his brief was for a cool multi functional space where he could relax, dine and entertain his friends. Knowing that I had achieved all of this in the given time and within budget was very rewarding. It was great to see Joseph tweet a photo of the room filled with his friends on the night the show aired. He was using the space exactly as I had hoped and hadn't changed a thing. Ive long been a fan of ex judge Sophie Robinson so was elated when she contacted me to ask if I would produce a "How To" for her blog featuring the controversial bird light fitting.
Working with the GIDC team was such a fabulous experience, from my builder Dickie and decorator Francesca to the casting team and my camera man Jake, not to mention judges Daniel Hogwood, Kelly Hoppen and presenter Tom Dykhoff. I had a ball on set and I liked the camera so much more than i thought I would. I really cannot recommend taking part enough to anyone who maybe considering it.
I cant lie I was immense disappointed not to have gone through to the next round, thankfully I'd picked myself up and dusted myself off by the time the show aired. Ultimately I set out to create a beautiful space for Joseph, the shoe determined that I needed to do that within budget and on time, I achieved all of these, so whilst I may not have gone further in the competition I achieved what I set out to do.
Anna I really enjoy browsing your awesome homewares store I have a huge wish list for Anna's Attic, your picks are right up my street, whats your general buying ethos for your store?
The most important thing I consider when buying stock has to be whether or not I would have it in my own home, if I wouldn't then why would i expect someone else to? I am drawn to pieces which have a handmade quality to them, vintage items and interesting pieces. I'm also keen to champion artists and little known brands too, I'm sole UK distributor of Parisian artist Sandrine Chambery, stocking her beautiful wall hangings/wallpapers which are produced from her original works. I also stock a selection of wallpapers by Mind The Gap, an emerging Transylvanian company who produce some truly stunning designs. I'll be adding a selection of their lighting range as well as their framed art prints in the near future too!
Do you have a go to design staple/rules for rooms that you tend to always include in your plans?
I always like to include something a little unexpected, it may be a piece of art, an over sized footstool, a contemporary chair with a classic table, something that makes people think. I love it when people visit our home and ask "where did you find it?"or "what made you choose that?"
If you had any advice for anyone thinking of launching into the interiors industry as a career what would it be?
Be like a sponge, Im constantly aware of my surroundings, you can find inspiration in the most unexpected places, on holiday, in the city, on a country walk, keep your eyes open. Also, don't be afraid to ask for advice from those you respect, be brave, I've been overwhelmed by how helpful and friendly people are.
What lessons have you learnt in business so far?
I'm still learning every day, I would say it's important to accept that you can't do everything yourself. Don't get me wrong the day to day stuff is all me but when it comes to specialist skills, website design for example, if you don't possess the skills speak to an expert, it's worth it.
Who is your style idol?
There are two, both from the fashion world, Coco Chanel for her classic enduring style and pure class and Vivienne Westwood for her trailblazing and devil may care attitude. This is reflected within my interiors, I love classic lines and pieces but like to rock and roll them up a bit. Putting a classic Chesterfield sofa with a leopard print footstool and a faux unicorn head is a classic example of this.
Tell us about your worst decor fail
Well, that's an easy one. my husband and I bought our first house in the mid 90s, at the height of the BBC show Changing Rooms success. That show has a lot to answer for, not least us painting a coat of Vaseline in-between two coats of paint on all the woodwork to achieve a crackled effect!! I wanted to achieve an aged look and as there were no such products around then I ploughed on. How I thought that said petroleum jelly would ever dry out, let alone produce the cracked antique paint effect that I desired I will never know. Needless to say a lot of petroleum jelly, paint, swear words and time were wasted that particular weekend.
What's your Xmas decor style?
I am totally sentimental and never more so than at Christmas, I'm not a fan of colour theming at the best of times, never mind at Christmas, instead I favour heirloom and vintage baubles mixed with family keepsakes which adorn a huge real tree in our lounge. Our mantle pieces really come into their own at Christmas too, I love to decorate them with lots of greenery and lights, the one in our kitchen is usually trimmed with a large greenery swag and lots of knitted decorations and candy canes. I like to seek out vintage decorations at fairs and flee markets too and was lucky enough to pick up a knitted nativity earlier this year, which I can't wait to find a special place for.
Tell us about your new exciting collab #stylemychristmas (launch 1st Dec) & how we can all get involved!
Pandora Maxton approached me back in the summer to ask if I'd like to co host a Christmas hashtag, I was thrilled so immediately said yes, Pandora is great fun and we both love Christmas so it was a bit of a no brainer. We've been busy compiling our daily themes and getting some super brands on board too. We're offering one large prize, to be announced on New Year's Day, the winner will receive a House of Sloane telephone, a Lisa Jayne Create Gin print, an Audenza gold Rock On hand, an Arbitrary Matter print and I'll be donating one of our belly baskets too. Who ever wins will be very lucky but the prizes are the icing on the cake, sharing your festive squares and sharing the love and appreciation is what its all about. We want people to get involved as much or as little as they are able, we understand that it's such a busy time for people, hopefully scrolling through with a tipple and a mince pie in hand admiring all the #stylemychristmas posts will provide inspiration and light relief at the end of the hectic days to come. Save our #stylemychristmas list, which can be found on both mine and @pandora.maxton Instagram feeds, follow the daily themes throughout December tagging #stylemychristmas to play along. We'll both be posting weekly favourites and an overall winner will win the prizes at the end of December, a great belated Christmas present for one lucky instagrammer.
What's next/the dream for Annas Attic?
I've been really lucky so far, since the show aired back in January I've worked on both commercial and private projects as well as launching the online shop. Hopefully more interior jobs will follow and the shop will continue to grow, who knows there may even be a bricks and mortar shop on the horizon some day.
If you were off to be dumped on a desert island what 3 items from your home decor would you be taking?
Only 3?! A bookcase I inherited from my grandparents, everyday I see it I think of them, my tattooed man doll by American artist Mimi Kirchner, which was a special birthday gift from my husband and our faux unicorn Phyllis by Broken Hare.
Best design tip for a small home/space?
Use it wisely, plan what the space will be used for and allocate space accordingly. Colour choice is crucial, however don't presume you have to use white, it's surprising how well dark colours can work in smaller spaces. Integrate storage and have a place for everything, small can be good, but small and cluttered can be overwhelming.
Quick fire questions!
Actor Cillian Murphy's alter ego - Thomas Shelby from The Peaky Blinders.
Your most annoying personality flaw?
I talk too much.
Fav all time film?
The Godfather trilogy
Fav meal to cook?
I don't particularly enjoy cooking, I do however like to put on a nice cold Christmas spread, think leftover turkey, cheese, pickled walnuts etc.
Drinking gin with girlfriends (that's a hobby right?)
Thank you so much Anna for taking the time to share your story and whats behind the scenes at Annas Attic! Wish you all the luck in the world with everything, your passion is so infectious!
Hope you enjoyed reading guys Anna is defiantly one to keep an eye on head over to her instagram to follow her & enjoy browsing her awesome online store.