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Anne Pappas: “Add something old”

Add something old: Every room, even the most contemporary space, needs something antique or vintage to serve as a counterpoint. There’s no life in a room with a bunch of new stuff. An antique dresser, reupholstered settee, antique rug, mirror or vintage art piece is so important to add personality to a space. As part of […]

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Add something old: Every room, even the most contemporary space, needs something antique or vintage to serve as a counterpoint. There’s no life in a room with a bunch of new stuff. An antique dresser, reupholstered settee, antique rug, mirror or vintage art piece is so important to add personality to a space.


As part of my series on the “5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Living Space Spark More Joy”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Anne Pappas.

With over a decade of design experience, Anne Pappas founded Anne Pappas Interiors in Savannah, Georgia in 2011. Anne earned a B.A. from Boston University in Art History and Classics and a M.A. degree from Savannah College of Art and Design in Interior Design. She has spent time studying Architectural History in Paris, France and throughout Europe.

Anne gained experience designing and leading projects with architecture firms in the Washington, D.C. area and later served as a staff designer for the Savannah College of Art and Design’s campuses in Savannah, Atlanta and Hong Kong. She has applied her skills to large-scale international and domestic commercial projects, as well as detailed and refined residential interiors. Anne frequently collaborates with architects, contractors and tradespersons and works with local, regional and national clients.


Thank you so much for joining us in this series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Growing up in an academic family, I had thought I would follow a similar path and become an art history professor. I took a job working at a contemporary art gallery in Boston shortly after I finished my undergraduate degree. I found that I loved designing the shows for exhibits as much as the art. I also enjoyed collaborating with architects and designers. Until then, I hadn’t considered interior design to be a serious career. I decided to pursue a graduate degree in interior design at the Savannah College of Art and Design, which set me on my current career path.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

I’ve always loved to travel and study other cultures. My career has helped me merge both of my interests. On a trip to Paris, I stopped in the street and photographed a small storefront in Marais that was the perfect shade of green I didn’t even know I was looking for that was ideal for a project I was working on back in South Carolina. I’ve had the opportunity to source rugs and textiles from India, fish skins from Iceland and antiques from Europe. All of these experiences have influenced my eye and my approach to design.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Early in my career, I worked for an architecture firm in Annapolis, Maryland. Within the first month on the job, my boss handed me a set of plans for a large commercial project that she had redlined for me to complete. When I did, she stamped them and asked me to get a permit. I had no idea what to do. I literally walked down to the City Hall building carrying seven sets of plans (which another architect had informed me I would need). I went from department to department until I eventually figured out what to do with these plans to get a building permit.

From that experience I learned the importance of problem-solving and how to find answers to questions. I also learned that it’s o.k. to say that you don’t know something or that you don’t understand something. Those lessons have really stayed with me through the years.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I’m currently working on two beautiful new construction homes on Crane Island, which are my first design projects in Florida. It’s such a gorgeous part of the country, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work there. I love the fact that the clients trust me and are looking to me for advice and insight.

I’m also creating interiors for a Victorian home in Savannah’s Starland neighborhood, which is an up-and-coming area that was recently honored by Southern Living as the “The South’s Best Neighborhood.” I’m working with a young, creative couple and helping them turn a classic Victorian home into a cool L.A.-style residence with a pool cabana and Hollywood Regency and Mid-century Modern accents. It’s a lot of fun!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I’ve always loved the Marcus Aurelius quote: “Receive without pride. Let go without attachment.” I double-majored in Classics and Art History in college, studying ancient philosophers, which paralleled with a childhood and adulthood practicing and studying yoga. A major undercurrent of both disciplines involves letting go of attachments.

Recently, I was introduced to the book “The Daily Stoic,” and I came across this quote again. What a great reminder, especially when, as designers, we can become attached to ideas of how a project should be or things we think we need to make a design great. When you’re brave enough to let go of those attachments and ego, real design happens.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’m deeply grateful to everyone who has helped me throughout my career, but there are two people who really stand out. Early in my career, architect Scarlett Breeding served as a mentor at an important point in my life. She was the only female partner at the firm and had taught at Virginia Tech. She taught me the level of detail that’s required to do high-end design and the fact that you have to consider every surface and understand how the pieces of the project all fit together. She also inspired me and taught me how to run a design project and how to communicate design with builders, tradespeople and architects.

I also appreciate the guidance of my friend and entrepreneur Greg Parker. Greg is the founder and CEO of Parker’s, which was recently honored as the 2020 Convenience Store Chain of the Year. Greg started his company in Midway, Georgia in 1976 and has really emphasized quality in everything he does, raising the bar for what customers can expect from a convenience store. Greg came into my life when I was a newly single mom, giving me the advice I needed — to do more marketing and PR and to promote myself. He also encouraged me to treat my design business like a business and to value what I bring to the table. My background is in design, not business, but Greg pushed me see the way those two worlds can fit together.

Thank you for that. Here is the main question of our discussion. What are your “5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Living Space Spark More Joy” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Edit: I’m a firm believer that less is more. Pare down clutter, and keep only the things that you find the most beautiful, sentimental or special. I’m very intentional with the pieces I live with. A room needs to breathe, and when it does, you will breathe better, too.

Add texture: I love designing monochromatic or neutral rooms, but to make them feel warm, it’s all about texture. Adding metallic finishes, an antiqued mirror, woven or natural fibers, leather, suede or wood (painted or natural) can make all the difference. It’s the texture that creates interest and warmth.

Showcase your view: Many of my clients are fortunate to have beautiful coastal views, but whatever the view out your window, consider it and frame it. The space outside your window relates directly to the interiors. I treat a view like a painting. How would you frame a city view? Maybe paint the window frame black to frame it or hang tonal drapery on either side of a panoramic landscape view.

Think about lighting sources: Lighting is so important. I love using a variety of light sources, table and floor lamps, sconces and soft, overhead decorative fixtures. I also put everything on a dimmer. It’s great to be able to control light depending on the time of day, season or mood.

Add something old: Every room, even the most contemporary space, needs something antique or vintage to serve as a counterpoint. There’s no life in a room with a bunch of new stuff. An antique dresser, reupholstered settee, antique rug, mirror or vintage art piece is so important to add personality to a space.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could start a movement, it would be the “less is more” movement. I really believe that great design exercise restraint. I love creating interiors defined by a sense of quiet sophistication and innovative ideas. Ultimately, our most successful projects take clients on a creative journey to places they never imagined.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

I would love to have breakfast or lunch with Sean Monahan and Monica Paolini, the designers behind Sea NY. I love the way they’ve created such a unique brand with a really strong identity. The way they translate vintage inspiration, paired with modern elements and shapes, is so inspiring. They have such a strong, unique feel and language, which takes discipline, focus and creativity.

They recently posted Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s World” — my favorite painting, by an artist who has influenced my personal and professional style — on their Instagram page, which is a visual dream. I find so much inspiration in other media and tend to follow artists, fashion designers, textile designers and architects for inspiration in my own work.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Look for me on Instagram and @annepappasinteriors.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!

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