We love introducing favorite designers and getting to know them better through our ongoing “Style Profile” Q&A series… Today we are delighted to welcome Anne Hulcher Tollett, Principal and Creative Director of Hanover Avenue, a full-service interior design firm located in Richmond’s historic Fan District. The north star that guides their process is: “Design everything our clients need and want in creative ways they’ve never seen or imagined.”
From high-end residential to boutique commercial, Hanover Avenue uncovers each client’s distinct style while designing spaces they’ve never dreamed possible – beautiful rooms that feel like a perfect reflection of what they love and how they love to live. Whether traditional or modern, Hanover Avenue believes rooms ought to be gracious and beg a person to come inside – comfortable, practical, with enduring style and unexpected moments of personality!
“Good design isn’t just about picking fabrics and finishes,” says Tollett. “It’s about creating a dialogue between every element in a room. I have just as much fun reimagining my client’s existing furniture as I do knocking down walls and designing a new kitchen!”
Q: When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in interior design, and what did your career path look like?
A: I know it sounds crazy, but I’m sure I wanted to be an interior designer before I even knew my playtime could be a career! Was I three years old? Four? For as long as I can remember, I was imagining new spaces, studying floor plans, wishing I could move walls or raise a ceiling. Interior Design has always just been my default to boredom…. Stuck in an ugly waiting room? Re-imagine it! Dying in a boring statistics class? Re-design the chairs!
I began studying Interior Design at The University of Georgia, and because my parents decided to have a grizzly divorce right in the middle of that, I found myself taking a break from college and becoming an intern at Sotheby’s (first in New York and then in Los Angeles). In their 20th Century Works of Art Department, I was totally immersed in decorative objects and furnishings. Pure heaven for me! After Sotheby’s, I finished my degree in Painting and Printmaking at VCU – a turn of events that has ended up being the best thing for my design career! Those fine art classes taught me to see spaces as a composition much like a painting or sculpture.
I got married and moved to Austin where I was making art and teaching art lessons, but so much solo studio time made me miss the camaraderie of people and the creativity of interior design. On a whim, I applied to be the in-house designer at Wildflower where I built a loyal client base. Within a year, I started my own firm, and here I am 20 years later, still doing what I love! Now we are a proper atelier of interior designers with experience from around the country and the world. It is a dream. I never take one minute with our fabulous team or our incredible clients for granted!
Q: How do you define your style?
A: Liveable. Well-traveled. Gracious. On trend but never trendy. I like rooms that look like they evolved over time and beckon you to come in to plop down on the sofa. Even the most beautiful fabrics or complicated profiles are meant to be lived in and enjoyed. I like creating spaces that have a soul, a history, a few imperfections, a little “twinkle in the eye”…. Even our most carefully curated rooms never take themselves too seriously. I like rooms with a little humor and a quiet confidence knowing they will stand the test of time in both durability and style.
Q: Who are your favorite designers (past and present)?
A: Bunny Williams is still practicing and at the top of her career, but she is a mentor to so many of us for her deft furniture plans and layering of textiles, light, and antiques. Even if you are a modern designer, it is worth studying Bunny’s furniture plans and color theory. She is a genius at space planning! Beata Heuman is newer in her career, and her use of color, irreverent profiles, and combinations of color is incredible! Her design has an unstudied, effortless quality with a flawless execution. Her spaces have a lighthearted humor that I find so endearing. I am never bored when I see rooms from either of these two amazing designers.
Q: What is the first thing you do when embarking upon a new project?
A: We take time to really get to know our clients…. We ask what they love and how do they love to live? We think about their spaces “today and tomorrow” because we want to ensure the interior design is enduring both aesthetically and practically. We discuss what existing furnishings (if any) have sentimental value so we can be sure to include those in the plan, we take careful measurements, and we make sure we all have our arms around the budget. We have found this approach creates a solid base which fosters client trust, designer confidence, and ultimately, great design.
Q: Over the last two years, how has interior design changed and also the way your clients are living? Are they requesting fewer open concepts, and more home offices, gyms, etc?
A: We haven’t seen much change over the years. Is that weird? Most of our interior design is so carefully tailored to our specific clients that every project ends up being unique. The only real change we have seen in the industry over the last two years is the ridiculous lead times for furniture and the cost increases. We sure do miss 2018!
Q: What are 5 everyday luxuries you could not live without?
A: Is coffee a luxury? I can’t live without morning caffeine, so that’s top of the list. I drink it out of a drip machine we got for a wedding present 20 years ago. I like it to taste like dessert – oink!
- Diorissimo perfume by Christian Dior. I have been wearing it since middle school. I basically bathe in it… If they ever stop making this scent, I will short circuit.
- This isn’t an everyday luxury, but I am so grateful to have a wonderful housekeeper to clean my house. I have endless respect for full time working moms and dads who come home after long days at the office to scrub a toilet!
- Trish McEvoy high volume mascara in jet black. It costs way too much for a dumb tube of mascara, but my Gawwwddddd, is this stuff ever worth it! This magic mascara has no clumps. No smears. No Trashy Lashy!
- This one isn’t a luxury for me. It’s a luxury for my funny Frenchie named Souvenir. It’s called Blissful Dog Elbow Butter, and it’s not for his elbows, it’s for his adorable and boopable nose! It keeps him looking glossy, and boogie, and on his A Game when clients visit the studio.
Q: Where do you find inspiration?
A: Oh gosh, this probably sounds so contrived, but so much inspo is found in nature – the color of the sky meeting the sea, the color of orange berries on a green bush, a stormy sky. Entire palettes of rooms can be created from the colors of a peach on a tree. But I am MOST inspired once I meet a new client and begin working on spaces with them. The treasures they have collected over the years, the trips they take, their lifestyle, their hopes and dreams, those are the things that are the true impetus for creativity for my team and me! It’s easy to pull colors and profiles together, but the real thrill comes when we have been so inspired by the family we are designing for that the final result looks like it all just appeared out of thin air – perfectly designed as if by interior design *magic*!
Q: What is your favorite movie house of all time?
A: Ok, ha! I literally had to ask my team what this meant because I thought you meant “movie house” like “cinema”…. I get it now, but there isn’t just one house….! Like a true designer, I love rooms from several!
- The upstairs hallway in Meet Joe Black! French Gray walls with INSANELY amazing art. The Rothko up there is BONKERS against those paneled walls.
- The kitchen in The Game with its neutral palette and classic finishes. So timeless!
- The Family Room from the townhouse in The Undoing. I love the cozy ocher mohair sofa, relaxed art, and inky walls.
- Nan Pierce’s Dining Room in Succession is so chic, warm, and classic. There is an understated elegance to the space given the scale of the house, and I love a dining room with a fireplace!
- I love the slipcovered furniture against the antiques in the Living Room of the beach house in Something’s Gotta Give! Forgiving fabrics and finishes are so fantastic in rooms with loads of saltwater covered people and pets. And I love that there are plenty of table lamps for reading (builtin bookcases galore!) and end tables to place a drink. An ottoman anchors the room and doubles as a coffee table. It’s such a classic and durable space!
- Jules’s Bathroom from The Intern. I’m a sucker for a clawfoot tub, mosaic floors, killer brass fittings, and a shelf built into the wainscotting for bath potions! This room will never go out of style!
- And the united team vote for best whole house if we haddddd to pick jusssst one is Anatomy of a Scandal! “Layered, Moody, Chic, Approachable, Timeless, Livable”, says the Hanover Avenue design team!
Q: When you aren’t busy designing, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A: I should say I mountain climb or sculpt or write short stories, but really, I love to just lounge and hang with my family and friends. Work is so fun that it never feels too much like work, but I do think it’s important for the team and me to step away so we can be recharged. Every night, we all head out of the studio to be home for dinner, and when I get home, my husband and daughters and I will play with the pets, chat about the day, sometimes play spades, sometimes dream of our next family trip, or just watch the news. It’s really laid back during my free time, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: Thank you so much for including us! We love The Glam Pad!
Thank you, Anne, for joining us today and sharing your refreshing and elegant approach to design! For additional information, please visit Hanover Avenue and follow@HanoverAvenue on Instagram for ongoing inspiration.