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Hannaford Ross Interiors - chatting with Deborah

When your interior designer’s business primarily comes from word of mouth, you know they must be good!

Deborah Ross is that designer. After taking a colour and design course in the early 2000s, Deborah fell in love with interior design and, after progressing from an interest to a part-time job, she is now works full-time in Hannaford Ross Interior Design in Sydney. If Deborah is ever asked if she made the right decision, she need just list her many delighted customers, like the client who recommended a sister, who then recommended Deborah to her beauty salon … who then recommended Deborah to another beauty salon!

Catering to commercial and residential customers, Deborah offers a “bespoke” service, be it a simple colour consult or a complete redesign. Often, the choice of paint colour is the most difficult choice for her clients, and experience has shown that a mistake can cause a lot of heartache – and often a lot of money to correct! Connecting with her client, getting to know who they are and what they really want, is the best part of Deborah’s day and inevitably guides the recommendation about a colour scheme to suit their office or home environment.

Then there is the client that simply has no clue where to start or finish, and for this customer Deborah can ease the process and alleviate the anxiety of decision-making by creating mood boards, a budget, a furniture plan – even finding suitable pieces and applying her supplier discounts. As well as furnishings and paint, Deborah sources artwork that brings her clients’ spaces alive!


And fabulous afters in Beacon Hill home by Deborah from Hannaford Ross

Design of strata spaces can often be one of the more challenging projects, as strata committees often consist of five or six people each with their own idea. Deborah has countless stories of being brought in to fix the design horror resulting when trying to mesh all stakeholders’ preferences into one design scheme. Deborah’s very simple solution to this conundrum is to present two concepts and to suggest that the strata votes. More often than not a clear decision ensues and the strata manager can get on with the job of making the space more enjoyable for all. Deborah takes the same approach with office designs, which can often present the same challenge.

A stunning transformation in an inner city apartment, showcasing the before & after living space & a gorgeous bedroom space with a stunning triptych painting

Deborah’s philosophy is that a great relationship with her clients is central to a successful design. She prides herself on delivering what they want – even if they don’t know what that is at the start of the relationship! Ideally, she meets with the client in the first instance and then balances in person and remote meeting consultations to suit the client’s lifestyle (and restrictions, when they apply!). She keeps her finger well and truly on the pulse when it comes to design trends, but is not swayed by these if it doesn’t suit the client or their space.

An emerging trend that Deborah has seen is a focus on luxury. People are spending more than usual on designing for comfort and indulgence, upgrading to things like bigger houses to accommodate working from home or installing a pool to provide a resort-like feel when overseas trips are out of the question. Clients are increasingly softening their rooms, with curves in furniture and architecture and tactile fabrics an emerging trend. While minimalism is still popular, maximalist is on the rise with bold colours, statement pieces and contrasting patterns somehow working together to make the perfect harmonious space.

Lounge room with black leather lounge, timber floor, see from the outside in . Showing a curving timber staircase & half open timber sliding door. The door has reflections of lush palms.

Simple, yet effortlessly stylish. The furnishings & accessories blending into the warmth of the timber details of this Pittwater home.

On the flip side, many businesses are downsizing and paring back, with their staff working from home more and hot spotting when in the office, hence the focus is on reception areas and room for online meetings.

When asked to name her favourite project to date Deborah struggles to choose but when pressed she gives a couple of examples that demonstrate her knack for problem solving. The first was for an elderly client who sold all her furniture and moved into a retirement village with a vision of starting fresh. Then COVID hit and she was unable to get anything to furnish her new home.

When Deborah met this senior citizen she had just a TV on a box and a computer on a chair. Deborah knew which of her suppliers would have stock (and, just as importantly, who would deliver and install in the home for her frail client) and within ten days the apartment was fully furnished, right down to the indigenous and abstract artworks that her client desired.

The second example – a tiny lady who had lived in Japan and wanted to maintain the no fuss, minimalistic monochromatic style favoured in that country – an aesthetic seemingly at odds with the fact that she is mother to three strapping boys! Deborah worked with the client to select items with clean and simple lines that were large enough to accommodate her, quite literally, growing family!

If you have a design dilemma or just want a guiding hand don't hesitate to chat with Deborah to discuss your own design solution!

By Kate Chapley


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