Contemporary technology and a play on a traditional toy form the blueprint for a longtime interior designer’s Fan startup.
Anne Tollett this year launched Hanover Avenue, an interior design website that aims to make it easier for people to put together decor in their homes.
The website, named for the street in the Fan where the seven-person company operates, offers scaled images of furniture and decor that can be printed out and arranged on paper. Tollett described the process as “grown-up paper dolls.”
The website also showcases rooms put together by professionals, interviews with designers explaining the reasoning behind their choices, and links to purchase items shown in a room from vendors’ websites.
Hanover Avenue makes its money from referral fees when visitors to its site click through and purchase something from those vendors. Tollett also designs rooms for a flat fee. She said she eventually hopes to sell advertisements and expand on the partnerships she has with retailers.
“We’re sort of building the plane as we fly it,” Tollett said.
The St. Catherine’s School and VCU graduate said the idea for Hanover Avenue came from seeing people struggle to take professional designs seen in magazines into their homes on their own. Tollett has worked for more than two decades as an interior designer, mostly on her own.
“They like the magazine look but don’t know how to translate it,” Tollett said. “I kind of wanted to take that mystery out.”
Tollett compared the challenge of recreating a professionally designed interior to that of trying to look like Gwyneth Paltrow.
“There’s a team of women making her look gorgeous,” Tollett said. “And flawless rooms don’t happen by accident.”
Tollett said one of the misconceptions of interior design is that it all has to be done in one big shopping spree. By itemizing elements of design on her website, she said she hopes to clear that up.
“People can buy things at their own pace,” Tollett said.
Tollett wouldn’t say how much it cost to launch Hanover Avenue. She is financing it herself.
“My goal in the first year is to break even – I hope I do,” she said, “but also to continue to bring in these amazing designers.”