Something super is happening with small spaces down at our Tottenham Court Road. We’ve just launched our micro apartment to prove just how versatile and creative small space living can be. A full scale studio apartment, incorporating sleeping, eating, chilling and working, this is flexible living at its most elastic!
Wanna know more about the stylist challenged with the task of making 160 sq ft not only livable but lovely too? Sarah Akwisombe is just that lady: stylist, blogger and Croydon dweller, Sarah is refreshingly honest about her route into design. Step inside Sarah’s world and behind the scenes of #mymicrohabitat.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Sarah Akwisombe. I’m 31 and I live in Croydon in south London (born and raised!). I’ve been married to Jason, my lovely hubby, for 11 years and we have a three-year-old daughter, Marley.
You had a bit of a life before styling, didn’t you?
I left school at 16 and went to work in retail full-time. Shortly after that I started making music and quickly built up an online following, which took me to the stage of being able to play around the world at some of the coolest events and festivals.
When I got a little older I decided I wanted to be a ‘grown up’ and have a child and settle down. Plus I’d got a little disheartened with the music industry. So I went and worked full time in the world of marketing and content – both of which I’d learnt loads about from building a following online for my music. At the same time, I was building up my blog and sharing the design and decorating escapades involved in buying my first flat and renovating it.
When I got fired from my full time job (yep, really!) for reasons that I can’t really understand, I decided to go back to working for myself and try the whole design blogger thing full time.
Why a blog?
I started my blog because I knew I wanted to move into a career in the design/interiors field but I had no qualifications or contacts in that area. I knew I had to showcase my skills in a more ‘outside of the box’ way. I really believed in my eye and what my audience wanted to see more of so I just had to keep showcasing it via the blog in order to get brands to pay attention.
I now have about 10 thousand readers a month – not huge in the world of blogging by any means but I’m a big believer in quality over quantity. I have a really niche style and I attract readers who are also a bit rebellious and want to break the rules. They really vary in age and typical demographic – it’s the mentality and attitude that binds my audience. I have readers who are 21 and readers who are 60 who both have the same outlook on life. This is amazing as a content producer because it really encourages you to think laterally and promote your values through everything you do.
Why do you think your blog has become so successful?
What makes my blog stand out and why I believe it has brought me so much success so quickly is that I have a real ‘warts and all’ approach to it. The design world can be incredibly stuffy and snobby, which I dislike. I’m a girl from Croydon who has no airs or graces, I’m all about being yourself and never trying to fit into a mould. I’ve shared every step of my journey on my blog, from the horrible parts like being fired to the great bits like getting my first ever styling job. That’s what’s built me long-term fans and made it more than just what products I’m talking about.
What was your ‘big break’? What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
I didn’t really have a big break, it’s been a series of bigger and bigger jobs that have brought me to where I am now! I kept showing up, blogging and shooting interesting stuff and bringing my audience what they wanted – quirky, statement style that broke the traditional rules. My career highlight has to be creating the micro habitat! I mean what a cool job, to have a space that will showcase my style and curation of Habitat products right on Tottenham Court Road?! If you had told me that a year ago, I would have laughed at you.
Where do you work from?
I work all over the place. Mostly from home in my cupboard turned office, and about once a week at a local co-working space called TMRW hub in Croydon. That’s great for when I just need somewhere quiet and inspiring to work from. It’s full of other tech startups and online peeps so it’s a brilliant community to be a part of.
Give us the lowdown on micro habitat at Tottenham Court Road?
The creation of the micro habitat allows you to see what’s possible within a confined space and see that smaller living doesn’t need to be any less stylish. I’ve approached it from the mind of someone who may have a small studio apartment. They need to the space to be multifunctional, practical but also showing off their personality with the colour scheme and décor choices.
My plans are to create quite an arty space – somewhere that a design student or a London creative might live. It’s all about maximising on storage space within a small space but also showing that it can still look well designed too. It’s going to be quite a statement!
I’m working to quite a colourful palette of green, pink and white with some touches of brass to add a bit of depth. I wanted something that felt energetic and youthful. This isn’t for people who want to fade into the background.
Have you encountered any behind-the-scenes nightmares in creating the space?
The only difficulties we have faced have been turning things around quickly. Whereas I may have spent more time on a wall finish for example, we had to get things off to the makers so that we could meet the store deadlines. Again though, it just forced me to make quick decisions and not dilly dally over options, so not a bad thing! The project almost takes on a life of it’s own and I’m just the person steering the ship I suppose!
What small space must-haves should we have on our shopping lists?
I love the easy sofabed options with the click clack mechanism – click clack and it’s done! This is a must for studio living or small spaces. Living in London as a creative you never know where the day or night could take you so it’s good to be able to have somewhere that if your mates need to crash you can just pull out and have a space for them.
Anything on your wishlist?
I really love the Marlowe light so I’ll definitely be picking one of those up in the future.
60 SECONDS WITH SARAH
What’s your interiors style?
Bold, graphic and Statement making
Hot, new interiors trend?
Interesting surface materials that are now making their way into homes as standard (concrete, ply, terrazzo)
DIY or handyman?
Handyman! I’m useless.. will always give it a go but usually make a mess of it
Failsafe dinner party dish?
Gotta be a prawn cocktail surely?! 70s chic!
Soundtrack to your life?
Any hip hop songs that reference ‘making it’. Drake’s ‘Started From The Bottom’ is a good example
Cats or dogs?
Neither, I’m not a pet person at all!
Loud night out or cosy night in?
Night in 100%. I did all the clubbing back in my music days. Over it!
Chilling out with my hubby and Marley. Brunch somewhere cool, sun and no London traffic!
Death row meal?
Sweet and sour chicken with a side helping of hoi sin sauce.
Underpromise and overdeliver.
ENTER OUR COMPETITION TO WIN A £250 HABITAT SHOPPING VOUCHER
Get all arty down at Tottenham Court Road and you could be the recipient of a shopping spree at Habitat. Take a piccie of the micro apartment and upload it to Instagram or Twitter using #mymicrohabitat to enter. Sarah will be looking for creative cropping, amazing angles and original viewpoints that best convey the spirit of the space when she picks the winner of the £250 voucher.