Hannah Cecil Gurney’s South Kensington home interiors are an expression of her passion for colour, and her devotion to her family business.
Hannah Cecil Gurney is not one to shy away from colour. She grew up in a house opposite Kensington Gardens decorated by her father, Claud Cecil Gurney, who founded de Gournay – renowned for luxury handcrafted wallpapers – 30 years ago.
“It was full of de Gournay wallpaper and every room was like a magical wonderland. It was a feast for the imagination and gave me a very particular appreciation for decoration from a young age, especially colour,” she recalls.
As the business development director of de Gournay, Hannah uses her two-bedroom flat on the ground floor of a Georgian townhouse that she shares with her husband and dogs, to showcase her love of colour. It took the couple six months to find the perfect property with an ideal location, lots of natural light, traditional architecture and enough space for entertaining. “I wanted the interior to be youthful, eclectic and surprising, but also homely, comfortable and warm. I wanted each room to be different, so that I could play around with different styles and colours,” she shares.
Expect the unexpected in her home, which is like a microcosm of many worlds juxtaposed together. For instance, a room may contain 18th-century French antiques alongside Buddhist Burmese trinkets on a modern geometric floor.
Father and daughter love spending time together, scouring flea markets around the world for beautiful pieces that are restored and used in their homes and showrooms.
“I love to combine the contemporary with the traditional. The modern pieces I own provide a nice contrast to the antiques, and keep the interior feeling fresh,” she says.
But it is the riot of colours that Hannah absolutely adores. “The wallpapers that I chose are all colourful, which reflects my optimistic personality. I love each room to contain different colours that evoke different moods. The mishmash of colours and the wild use of patterns are quite impulsive, but I like the chaos,” she says. The wallpapers in Hannah’s home are all de Gournay designs that she and her sister, also a director of the company, worked on together.
While she humbly acknowledges her inexperience in interior decorating, she seems to have no difficulty pulling off such a heterogeneous home. She attributes this to the fact that the majority of her furniture are antiques or reproduction antiques, which work well with the Chinoiserie wallpapers that are mostly inspired by 18th-century hand-painted Chinese wallpapers.
“The wallpapers are very colourful, so it’s easy to find furniture that works harmoniously alongside them,” she says.
WHERE TO GO
De Gournay wallpapers are available at Tatum, TEL: 6221-2524, http://www.tatumcompany.com