A Florist’s Dreamy Art Deco Apartment Is the Opposite of Minimal in all the Right Ways

updated Dec 19, 2019

A Florist’s Dreamy Art Deco Apartment Is the Opposite of Minimal in all the Right Ways

updated Dec 19, 2019
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Name: Leila Sanderson and Tony Espie
Location: South Yarra — Melbourne, Australia
Size: 1668 sq ft
Years lived in: 10 years

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Leila—a florist for Katie Marx Flowers and also a creative/designer/maker with her own business, Skinny Wolf, and her partner Tony, a sound engineer, live in an incredible Art Deco apartment on one of Melbourne’s busiest roads. Once you step inside their home, however, you’re able to escape from the hustle. Because they both often work from home, they’ve created a space conducive to creativity, and carved out their own spots to work in this two-bedroom space. And though the apartment itself is a “little bit crumbly,” the age of the structure adds beautiful character, and you don’t really notice that anyway with all of the amazing decor, foliage, and flowers everywhere.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Eclectic, dramatic, vintage, playful, a little bit crafty, Art Deco (three of the five homes I’ve lived in Melbourne have been Art Deco apartments), definitely my own and the opposite of minimalist! My furnishings and artwork have been collected slowly over the last 20 years of living in Australia (I’m from the UK). I’m a maker and a florist so the apartment is also always filled with flowers and foliage (fresh and dead!) and things I’ve created—especially ribbon rosettes, which I make a lot of! I collect pottery and love glassware and vases, new and old; Australia has some amazing ceramicists and creative people in general.

Lighting has always been important to me—the very first thing I bought when I moved here (before a bed or a fridge!) was a 1970s ceramic lamp—we now have 12 lamps in this home! I have a thing for large vintage mirrors (there are seven in this apartment), but it’s not that I like to look at myself. Honest! I just love the light and illusion of space they create. I also love small versions of things and I have many, including a tiny tank! Tony is a sound engineer who specializes in mixing records and his studio is in the apartment so it’s always filled with music and weird noises on repeat!

Inspiration: In no specific order: Mother nature, Claire Basler, Tim Walker, Mary Lennox, Sibella Court, Grace Coddington, Sera Hersham-Loftus, William Morris, and all women running their own businesses but especially florists. And Beyoncé—yes I know she has nothing to do with interiors but she’s awesome!!

Favorite Element: The Art Deco details. High ceilings, picture rails, brick walls, and wooden sash windows. We’re on the first floor so we get great natural light. And even though we’re on Melbourne’s busiest road it’s surrounded by greenery and trees.

Biggest Challenge: Also that this apartment is Art Deco—it’s almost 100 years old so no heating in winter and no air-conditioning in the summer!! It’s also a little bit crumbly!

What Friends Say: ‘Visiting you is sometimes like taking a walk in a forest!’

Biggest Embarrassment: At the moment the ants marching around everywhere like they own the place! I find it very hard to kill them as they’re not really doing any harm and we need the bugs!

Proudest DIY: Putting a cat flap in the back door!

Biggest Indulgence: Some might say the constant flowers but I find it hard to live without them! But I guess really it’s the 1960s emerald green velvet couches with original upholstery passed down from a lady who had them in her ‘good room’ and never sat on them!

Best Advice: Buy things for your home because you love them not because they’re practical or match other things! Buy handmade or vintage and support local makers and small business. Hard rubbish can also be a great source of furniture and home wares!

Dream Sources: If money were no object I’d love to travel the world collecting things for my home! 



  • Rosette by Skinny Wolf available from  Story of Things
  • Chandelier bought from a friend’s Mum
  • Candles by The Raconteur
  • Large Bottle vase from k7vintage at Chapel St Bazaar
  • Book sculpture made by a friend
  • One of the two Avalanches albums Tony worked on (he’s currently doing the 3rd!)
  • Carved wooden stool from  Greg Hatton
  • Velvet couches bought from a friend
  • Bird cage lamp made by Leila
  • Plywood milk crate stool by Page 33 now Addition Studio
  • Cushions by Skinny Wolf and Aura Home
  • Tea cup and saucer by Bridget Bodenham
  • Plate by  Lucas Grogan
  • Manhattan Art print by Jim Datz from  Three Potato Four
  • Small hat boxes from World Brand
  • Small handmade round paper box by Claude Jeantet from The Society Inc
  • Chinese Girl by Tretchikoff bought from a secondhand store
  • Bee and face pot from Scout House
  • Round glass vase from  Country Road
  • Normal trophy from Katie Jacobs
  • Plastic Clonette Auntie DeiDei doll from  Mona
  • Glass and metal apple from eBay
  • White trophy from Jones & Co
  • Small rotary phone from Tarlo and Graham (Now closed)
  • Ceramic pot with lid a gift from my mum and dad
  • Vintage babies
  • Flowers — Cork elm, cymbidium orchids and artichoke leaves
  • Tapestry kit stitched by me from Rob Ryan
  • Milk bottles and crate from ebay made into light by me
  • Glass vase from Country Road
  • Vintage Mirror from vintage store
  • Disco balls gift from friend
  • Ottoman made by Leila
  • Flowers — Cork elm, flannel flowers, artichoke leaves and eucalyptus flowers
  • Large magnolia photo by Rebecca Howell and Jason Reekie
  • Bird cage lamp by me



  • Installed by previous tenant; it’s IKEA I believe!
  • Flowers — Ranunculus
  • Tony’s cookbooks
  • My collection of white ceramics and small things too numerous to mention sources!
  • Postcards etc!
  • RRR (Melbourne’s community radio station) always on in our house!


  • Table, ceramic lamp and mirror from vintage stores
  • Chairs from office furniture sale
  • Vase from  Bridget Bodenham.
  • Beeswax candles from Queen B.  
  • Oil burner by Page 33 now  Addition Studio.
  • Flowers –Poppies
  • Built-in cabinet installed by previous tenant
  • Gold glass vase from ebay
  • Queen Elizabeth cup gift from a friend
  • Vintage glass bottle
  • Glass and rope piece found in rubbish bin
  • Flora — Dried hydrangea, eucalyptus marcocarpa, gum nuts, allium flowers, poppy pods, echinacea, woody pears, lily of the valley, and blushing brides. Fresh: banana flowers, green goddess and quince blossom
  • Ceramics by Bridget Bodenham, Ella Bendrups, Tara Burke, Katia Carletti and Notary Ceramics.
  • Miniature chemistry beakers a gift from a friend


  • Poppies my obsession! Follow my hastag #skinnywolfpoppies if you love them too!
  • Beeswax bowl by Tony Assness 
  • Various vintage candle sticks and 2 by Areaware
  • 1970s Ceramic lamp (the first thing purchased when I moved to Australia!)
  • Vintage Art Deco trolley
  • Champagne Glasses from Chapel St Bazaar


  • The original 1920s yellow bathroom suite 


  • Lots of music memorabilia, family photos, Liverpool football club paraphernalia (T is a live long supporter!), one of his vintage boom boxes, two of his 4 ARIA nomination trophies (Australian Recording Industry Association), and some of his vast vinyl collection including a Robert Palmer album he worked on in the 1980s!

Thanks Leila and Tony!

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