#10MINSWITH: SARAH AKWISOMBE

Sarah Akwisombe has gate crashed the design world with her interiors blog, encouraging other interior lovers to follow their dream and make their home as weird and wonderful as they want. The blog itself is bursting with creativity and colour, and as Sarah says of her style: “It’s kinda like Betty Draper wearing Nike Air Max.” Here’s why you should see what it’s all about…

SARAH AKWISOMBE

1. Sarah, you won the Best Newcomer Award at the Amara Interior Blog Awards in 2014, how has life with a super successful blog been since then?

Fun and unexpected! Every week can contain new unpredictable opportunities. Trips abroad, meeting designers, getting booked for shoots… I love that about blogging. Your inbox could contain anything! The thing I found most soul destroying about working in an office was the predictability of each day. I like that I get to set the rules and every day is different.

2. You’ve gone from an unrelated office job to running an award winning interiors blog and styling portfolio, as well as running the ‘No Bull Blog School’ to help out amateur bloggers. What 3 pieces of advice can you give to someone in the same predicament you were before starting out on your journey?

Honestly, as flippant as it sounds and as much stress and anxiety that it can produce I would just say GET OUT ASAP. I know people think ‘oh but I don’t have enough money to do that’ or ‘what will my friends and family think’ but life is way too short. It’s funny how many times I’ve thought my world was falling apart and I’ve emerged out of the other side bigger and stronger. Humans are built to survive and adapt. We often think it’s rock bottom or ‘the end’ and when you think about it realistically you realise how far away from that point you are. And isn’t being happy worth risking it? I think so.

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3. At what point did you realise that your talents lay with interior design?

I don’t think my talents lie within interior design specifically. I think I’m just good at creating, whether that’s music (my past life), a photograph or where someone lives. I get really passionate and excited by the process and then enjoying the end result. It helps that I also have quite a commercial, marketing brain that helps me to see what people will be drawn to. When it comes to interiors I found it really enjoyable doing up my flat when we bought it – more so than just ‘oh this is fun’ and then moving on a month later. I’m such a homebody that I want a home to really be mood setting and a reflection of you.

4. Where’s your go ­to place for gathering interior inspiration?

The art world. I think it’s so all encompassing with the different formats, methods and styles that you can always find inspiration there. I also look to history. I’m obsessed with antiques and the way people lived in past decades. You can easily pull influences from history and then update them with a modern lens. I also get inspired by movies a lot. Super stylised ones like Tarantino or Wes Anderson.

5. We love that your creative flair is wound into your own decor through statement wallpaper and vintage display. How can people make sure their personality comes across in their decor?

I always recommend that people start to keep a style journal – like a scrapbook. I was taught this on an interior design diploma that I never finished but that really stuck with me! You cut out pictures of things you like and stick them in over time, everything from art, fashion, whatever. The most important part is then looking through it and seeing if there are any recurring themes or styles and really asking yourself ‘why do I like this?’. I learnt a lot about my own style by doing that. I love things that look vintage and kitsch because they remind me of happy times in my childhood at grandparents houses and aesthetically I like a lot of vibrant colour and contrast. So when I go to buy things I ask myself ‘do I really like this or is it just on trend right now?’. If it’s the latter I don’t buy it.

6. When styling at home which room of the house is your favourite to do, and where in the room is the best place to start?

I think the living room is the best place to start because in most homes it’s where we spend the most time. It’s where our guests spend time and the room that reflects how we like to live. However, I personally love bedrooms as they span so many different moods, from being relaxed and cosy to being intimate. It’s fun to try and find a scheme that can work across all of those moods.

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7. We know you have a soft spot for antiques. So do we! Where do you go to seek out amazing second hand home ware finds?

I really like Bermondsey square antiques market and the Crystal Palace triangle is great. Other than that I am obsessed with eBay! I find so much great stuff on there.

8. You’ve already developed a strong identity for yourself and worked with brands like M&S, Dwell, and Paint by Conran. How did you come to work with these high profile names?

The blog has been a huge platform for me to get the attention of amazing brands. It also showcases my ideas, styling and photography so brands get an idea of what a collaboration with me might look like. I have quite a specific look / style so I think it’s either a good fit or not – a bit like marmite! That’s how both the Paint by Conran and Dwell collaborations came about, and M&S is quite a funny one because I just happened to be assisting a stylist who worked for the production company that does the M&S catalogues. I met some people from the team on the shoot and then they asked if I’d like to come back and do some more assisting and merchandising on their shoots.

9. What’s on the cards for your own home development?

Oh god don’t ask! It never ends does it?! We need to get the flooring for our bathroom and kitchen laid. We also need a new kitchen, built in wardrobes… they’re probably the big jobs on the horizon. Not to mention a never ending damp problem! The joy of living in old buildings!

10. Okay, we have to ask…what’s your favourite RSG product at the moment and why?

I really love the Angelica Art Print. It’s got loads of contrast – just what I like!

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Finally, a few quick fire questions!

I’m happiest when I’m: Cuddling my daughter or hubby

My biggest guilty pleasure is: sugary baked goods (and the Kardashians)

My favourite magazine is: Living Etc

If money was no object I would: Spend every day creating and experiencing new things. I’m kind of nearly there already 🙂

My best skill is: understanding the psychology of marketing. Plus blunt honesty!

My personal motto is: Fix your own oxygen mask before you try to help others.

My latest obsession: This sounds really weird but listening to music. I fell out of love a bit with it when I left the music industry but I’ve recently really gotten back into the vibe that music can give you. My personal preference is hip hop, really loud. Currently checking out Nao (she’s amazing) and Kanye’s new album is really frickin’ good.

My favourite film is: I find this one so hard cos I have so many. Baz Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet was a big influence on me growing up. I love the teenage melancholy of Cruel Intentions. Pulp Fiction. The eternal sunshine of the spotless mind.

My go to track: Kanye’s Black Skinhead. That’s my theme song.

In 5 years I’d like to: Own more than one house. Purely for the fun of decorating!

Follow Sarah’s Instagram and Twitter for bold and beautiful posts of all things interiors…

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