Meet Amy and Athina, the interior design duo behind the virtual interior design company and award-winning blog, Topology. A force to be reckoned with, they’re on a mission to bring affordable interior design to the masses. Most recently, the ladies have taken over the installation space at our Tottenham Court Road store to share their big ideas for small spaces. We caught up with them to find out how their business venture took off, where they look for interiors inspiration, and what their top tips are for decorating on a budget. Prepare to be inspired…
HOW DID TOPOLOGY COME ABOUT?
I (Athina) was working for another company selling high end furniture and people really liked my suggestions on what to buy. They’d show me pictures of their homes and I’d give solutions – it happened so much that customers eventually started asking for my email address and I’d send them product links of items they should buy along with advice. It was then I had a lightbulb moment and thought, hey I can make something out of this!
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
We’re split between living in Berlin (Amy) and London (Athina), so we do a lot of emailing and Skyping throughout the day, discussing what needs to be done. On a day to day basis however, individually each of us will be thinking of fresh blog content, sourcing products & drawing 3D renders for our clients. Recently as well our days involve talking about our workshops – we’ve just started hosting these once every few months for those who want to learn how to drawn floorplans, spatial plan etc.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP TIPS FOR LAUNCHING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
Discussing your idea to someone you trust is really important, perhaps a family member. Can you amongst yourselves decide whether the idea is good? Whether it’s actually feasible? If so, think of ways that you can make it successful – by this I mean how can you separate yourself from your competitors. How can you be better than them, more sellable than them and more marketable too. Come up with a plan and have some courage to put it into action!
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?
This is a hard one, but we both really enjoy watching our interior projects come together. There is something so satisfying about helping your client design a space and then finally getting the finished shots of how it’s all turned out.
WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR INTERIOR INSPIRATION?
Interestingly, we look back. By that we mean we look at past decades at the features that were around then. Whether it’s the 1970s or the 1900s there are unique interior features in each which you can use as inspiration for designs today. Many trends are generally recycled ideas from the past that are forgotten about. Take metro tiles as an example. They’re widespread now but originally were in their prime in the 1900’s in hospitals, underground stations etc. It’s really interesting to see what trends pop up and where they’ve come back from!
WHICH INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS WOULD YOU RECOMMEND FOR INSPIRATION?
We’d like to think ours is great for affordable interior inspiration (@topologyinteriors) but some accounts that really stand out would be @patirobins for her dark, eclectic style & Kristine of @restoringlansdowne – her home renovation account is jaw droppingly beautiful.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR OWN INTERIOR STYLE?
We both have quite different styles. Athina loves a mix of Scandi, rustic and industrial interiors whereas Amy likes Art Deco & mid-century with some bold colours.
WHAT WOULD YOUR DREAM HOME LOOK LIKE
Athina loves the idea of owning either a cottage somewhere secluded – away from London life where it’s quaint and cosy – but also flirts with the idea of wanting to live somewhere exotic like Thailand in a grand-designs esq home with a pool and view to die for.
Amy would love a huge, incredible penthouse somewhere like New York or Berlin with a unique interior full of items and art collected over the years, and of course panoramic views over the city.
ARE YOU INSPIRED BY OTHER PEOPLES’ HOMES? WHOSE HOME DO YOU ADMIRE?
For sure – there are thousands of amazing homes out there which boast great design ideas, storage hacks, colour schemes etc. The great thing about being inspired by someone else’s home is that you can emulate the aspects you like in your own home, but adapt them to make them more fitting to you and your style. Some stand out homes to us would be Rebecca of @malmo_and_moss, Kate from @mad_about_the_house & fellow blog award winner Malcomn of @designsisxtynine.
WHAT UPCOMING INTERIORS TREND ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT?
Feature ceilings – they’re so fun and there’s loads you can do with them. Ceilings are often neglected so it will be interesting to see how, when they get some attention, it changes the overall look of spaces. In general, people seem to be opting for bolder décor choices so we’re hoping to see some daring and exciting ceilings popping up.
HAVE YOU GOT A FAVOURITE HABITAT PRODUCT?
We love the Hendricks sofa in sage green velvet (as seen in Alice Levine’s home below). The shape is so elegant and timeless.
WHAT’S THE FIRST THING PEOPLE SHOULD CONSIDER WHEN MOVING INTO THEIR NEW HOME?
Shape and light. The architecture of your property (shape) will act as a backdrop to your design, so it’s good initially to think about whether you want to accentuate or manipulate it. Then assess the natural light source – colours, fabrics and furniture will look different in stark bright light in comparison to naturally darker rooms. That’s two things, but they’re equally as important as each other!
HOW DO YOU RECOMMEND PEOPLE GO ABOUT PLANNING THEIR INTERIORS PURCHASES TO ENSURE EVERYTHING GOES TOGETHER?
Creating a mood board is the best way to check that your prospective purchases are harmonious in colour and style. It’s often surprising that certain items clash, so it’s important to see them all on one page. If you’re competent in using Sketch Up or a similar architectural software, that’s also a useful way to check the measurements of your items to ensure that they fit into the space with enough room to move between the items.
WHAT’S YOUR TOP SPACE SAVING TIP?
Our top space saving tip is high shelving: lift anything that doesn’t need to be on the floor, off the floor. If you’ve got high ceilings it’s also a good way of drawing the eye upwards, which emphasises the sense of space. In terms of storage – ottomans, benches and coffee tables with built in storage are always handy. They’re great for hiding unsightly TV remotes and cables too.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO HAVE GREAT INTERIOR STYLE ON A BUDGET?
Absolutely! There are people who will always have style, regardless of budget. In fact, a lot of it is simply down to having the time to source the right pieces for bargain prices, but there are also loads of interiors hacks that can save you money.
WHAT TIPS AND TRICKS DO YOU HAVE ON SAVING MONEY WHEN INVESTING IN INTERIORS?
DIY painting and upcycling. An old chest of drawers could look beautiful with a lick of good quality paint and brand new handles. Annie Sloan does a great range of furniture paint which requires no prep like sanding or priming etc which makes upcyling easy and quick.
Charity shops & gumtree! You never know what you can stumble across for a bargain price. If you mix pre-owned items with some brand new products, you’ll fill your home on the cheap.
Feeling inspired? Topology Interiors will be hosting special workshops at Habitat’s flagship store on Tottenham Court Road on Feburary 24. Sign up for tickets or head over to Topology’s Instagram page for more interior tips and tricks.