19 Apr 2023 | 3 mins

The alchemy of luxury: from hand-painted wallpaper to home automation - Financial Review

The alchemy of luxury: from hand-painted wallpaper to home automation - Financial Review

The following is an except from an article published by AFR on March 31st

On Toorak’s Clendon Road in Melbourne, interior designer Amy Spargo has overhauled the home of her parents, National Tiles founder Frank Walker and wife Rhonda, which recently joined the prestige market with a $23 million to $25 million guide.

Spargo echoes North’s views on the resurgence of craftsmanship and artistry, and believes true luxury often lies within expert co-ordination.

“We designed all the joinery, lighting plans, all the lamps are hardwired. It’s often the things that aren’t seen,” she says.


Interior designer Amy Spargo believes Melbourne and Sydney have different luxury aesthetics.

“A lot of people have a great idea, but it’s executing it at that level that requires a professional.”

The Maine House Interiors founder says an expert eye is crucial for luxury layering. At her parents’ mansion, Spargo started with six pieces of furniture as the launchpad to create a heavily decorated space.

Using fabrics, custom cushion trims, hand-embroidered materials and hand-painted wallpapers – like those created by English brand de Gournay or local Australian artist Bethany Linz – Spargo created a textural richness that exudes luxury.

Spargo believes luxury aesthetics are dictated by geography. “Melbourne is understated, there is a level of elegance there that I don’t think you see as much in Sydney,” she says.

“Melbourne, and particularly this house, we designed rooms for the season. We experience every season to its core. The study is a winter room, while the conservatory celebrates spring.”

Health is Wealth

For celebrity gardener Jamie Durie, who recently acquired Paul Bangay’s famous Stonefields property as the site of the next Opulus Hotels eco retreat, the most luxurious properties are built to elevate wellbeing.


Jamie Durie recently purchased Paul Bangay’s Stonefields house and garden for the site of his next Opulus Hotels eco retreat.

“My version of luxury would be you audit everything you come into contact with and your family comes into contact with in terms of volatile organic compounds. We are only just discovering silicosis, like asbestosis before it. I think VOCs will be as big as that,” Durie warns.

“Most of us walk around barefoot – in contact with lounges, paints, textiles and varnishes. If you minimise or eradicate those toxins, it provides a sense of silent luxury. The long-term benefit is the quality of life will improve and so will the length of it – and that to me is luxury.”

For existing dwellings, Durie says introducing indoor plants is a simple way to rid a home of carcinogenic elements. “Five medium-sized plants will reduce the amount of VOCs in your living room by 75 per cent,” Durie says.