Local interior designer combines digital resources for new online design app

by | May 22, 2015 | ART

“I’ve been a designer for a really long time. When I first started there wasn’t access to everything.

“I’ve been a designer for a really long time. When I first started there wasn’t access to everything. There wasn’t One Kings and people didn’t have access to every little thing on the web,” said Anne Tollett, of Anne Tollet Home.

When it comes to being an all-around artist, let’s face it, you’re either born with it or you’re not.

Most are born a natural painter, creator, sculptor, or designer, some of them can jump from creative medium to creative medium and do just as well in each. As for the people that aren’t born with it, they have to practice hard and be mentored by somebody that has that natural creative eye.

There’s an art to everything, for example, the Feng Shui of your home can either make you feel good or maybe bad if it’s not right. Those non-natural born artists may have some idea of how they want their house to look but they don’t know exactly how to execute it.

Back in the day, people had to hire an interior designer if they wanted to be sure not to make mistakes. Now with the internet, people have Pinterest and all sorts of sites for inspiration.

Many people now are using online resources like Havenly, Decorist and Home Polish. On these sites you pay around $100, fill out a survey that asks what your style is: ‘Eclectic, Traditional, Global, etc.’ and which of these sofas do you like? Which of these tables? Then it uses that information and essentially spins around in a wheel and pops out a room.

“They give you a bedroom in a box, I just thought it stripped out all the art of design,” said Tollett (pictured below). “Also what I saw happening was making people make even more mistakes, so then they were even more discouraged.”

After these people pay $100 or so to get a ‘bedroom in a box,’ they then go out and buy all the furniture and décor paying however many thousands. Then it ends up not turning out right.

So it’s a double-edged sword. People don’t get to use any creativity and they end up wasting tons of money for something they don’t like.

Designer Anne Tollett saw this problem and wanted to find a way to fix it; to create an online resource where people can use their creativity and not make mistakes.

“I wanted to teach people how to look at a room like a piece of art,” said Tollett. “Give them all the components to make a beautiful face, no matter what their floor plan is.”

Last year she got together with NeverNot, a web design group of young talented dudes. They’ve helped out the VMFA and Lamplighter Roasting Co.. It took about a year to build Tollett this new site, which soft-launched in February and fully launched in March.

Tollett and her crew build attractive rooms with a program called SketchUp. Then they use Photoshop and the rooms look extremely realistic and detailed.

The rooms are fully furnished, painted, decorated, etc. The coolest part is the Design Guide which are ‘paper cut-outs’ similar to paper dolls. There are cut out sheets for the floor plan of each room and each item that goes in the room. This way you can print them out and arrange the room anyway you want to make sure all the spacing is correct based on your floor plan.

The Buying Guide is a clickable guide to each piece of furniture in the room and the link to the store where it’s from. Even the books that are on the coffee tables have store links.

Oh yeah and access to all of these rooms are free!

Each week a new room is revealed, and each room takes over 200 hours to create between Tollett and her team – it’s all well thought out, not just the product of an algorithm. She has collaborated with several unique designers all over the world using their products, all the while showcasing them and giving them the chance to get their name out there.

She’s had a designer in San Diego who makes really unique wallpaper, a guy in Canada that makes upscale dog beds and a lady in New Zealand that makes beautiful stitched artwork.

Local artist Sunny Goode is doing a commissioned piece of artwork for a room reveal coming up in a few weeks.

A lot of the rooms are Tollett’s own concepts and ideas but readers can request a room makeover. She’s done several room makeovers featured on the site listed under the ‘Room Makeover’ tab.

One of the rooms was for a reader in Seattle named ‘Living Room for the Arts’ – she’s a graphic designer and he’s a musician. You can see the dramatic changes in the Before and After photos. The artist wanted to take the drab, old traditional room and really update the space so it reflects the artsy personality of the family.

Tollett goes through a long detailed process with these clients figuring out their interests and all of their ins and outs. Tollett is very friendly, loves people and wants them to get the best room possible to fit their needs and interests.

This site is truly the first of its kind.

“I really dug deep to see if anyone else had done this. The reason I did it was because so many people were calling me to help fix their room and they would’ve spent a ton of money buying a sofa, chairs and rugs,” said Tollett. “Now with Pinterest and Instagram, you have all this content, you really can be like okay I know my style I know my vision and you feel confident. You’ve got your budget, you’ve saved your money and you buy everything and you think it’s going to look good [but it doesn’t].”

“It’s things like making sure that the dialogue and the height of this echoes that. There’s a big piece of art here that’s very colorful, so we wanted another big piece of art there but how do you make not compete. It’s the art of it.”

This site is really amazing because for each room it takes you through the before and after, a behind the scenes video of how it was done, a Buying Guide linked to each piece of furniture and décor. Then there’s a video of how you can make the room work for your own specific floor plan using the Design Guide paper cut-outs.

There are also tons of tips like how to build a custom coffee table and how to buy on a dime. Do’s and don’ts like how to arrange furniture or get the best lighting in your room. And again it’s all free.

You can trust Tollett. She’s a VCU Painting & Printmaking grad, has owned a design business in Austin, Texas called Cline Tollett Design, worked for the number one design store in Austin called Wildflower, designing for tons of celebrities.

She’s been all over the world, has a ‘hot’ ad man husband and two little girls. Now she’s back in RVA with this new interior design resource to knock out all the other foes.

“Stop making the mistakes, learn to think like a designer and learn to have a beautifully curated space. I just was trying to give everyone the thrill, it’s really fun,” said Tollett. “I wanted everyone to have that effortless experience of designing a room and also for the people that like that whole DIY thing, it’s fun to play with those design paper dolls and move them around.”

Don’t waste your money on those automated design sites. Anne Tollett Home is where it’s at.

Let’s get this lady on the Today Show!

Brad Kutner

Brad Kutner




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