the GUEST room: HANNAH CECIL GURNEY
This fall, we are elated to have Hannah Cecil Gurney of de Gournay to the guest room! Hannah, her father Claude, and her sister Rachel, are behind the beautiful hand-painted wall covering, porcelain and fabric company. Claude founded de Gournay in 1986 and with his daughters, they have taken the art of handpainted goods to a new level celebrating the incredible craft and also, the work of designers bringing interiors to life through custom wall coverings and fabrics.
Hannah’s kindness, style and passion for design (and wall covering!) is apparent in her warm demeanor, engaging personality and inspired interiors. She is a mother of three and her and her husband’s home — which she decorated — was recently featured in Architectural Digest earlier this fall. It’s a joy to have Hannah share her favorite places, restaurants and inspirations with us!
What inspires you?
I am inspired by my father who has a relentless energy that seems to only increase with age. I am very blessed to get to work alongside him doing something that I love so much. We share a passion for business (we both trained as accountants and worked in finance in our earlier lives) and for interiors. We adore to go antiques hunting together in France and Italy… to find decrepit but beautiful pieces that we can restore, reupholster and thus reincarnate. Because of my father’s work (he is the founder of our family business, de Gournay) I grew up in a house full of hand painted Chinese wallpaper. There was colour and pattern everywhere. That is where my love of interiors began… Particularly for interiors that are layered and rich in colour. My work takes me all around the world and I have met and become friends with some unbelievably talented interior designers. The work of these designers is a constant source of inspiration.
Tell us about YOUR favorite guest room
My favourite guest room is at my parents-in-laws house in North Wales. When I first met my husband and explained to him what I do, he stifled a yawn. He explained to me that his ideal interior was the largest bed on offer in Ikea and a 62″ television! Six months into our relationship I went to stay with his parents at his family home in a very remote part of Wales (a 5 hour drive from London). I was shown the guest room nicknamed the ‘Chinese room’ which had a beautiful antique de Gournay wallpaper from the early 1980s! Eddie had had no idea that the wallpaper was a de Gournay one! It turned out that my now mother-in-law was one of my father’s first clients. I always stay in the ‘Chinese room’ when I visit my in-laws. It is so surreal to see the wallpaper and imagine my father and mother-in-law discussing the project 40 years ago, unbeknown to them both that their children would one day marry…
Tell us about your most recent favorite find…
There is a gorgeous quirky shop on the Fulham Road in Chelsea, London called Edition 94. They sell very unique and fun homeware – especially their scalloped edged ceramics (I cannot resist a scallop!). Talking of ceramics I also just discovered the beautiful work of Frances Palmer. One of my favourite weekend hobbies for relaxing is flower arranging. Flowers don’t look much prettier than when arranged into one of her pottery vases.
My favourite restaurants in London have always been the River-Café and Petersham Nurseries (the Richmond one)… but I did recently discover that I have been missing out on loads of fun at Chiltern Firehouse which has great décor and a very buzzy atmosphere. Really great for a more lively evening.
What is one thing about you that would surprise people?
I got a first class degree in Physics at university and I am pretty certain my mother thought I was going to be an astronaut. The world of wallpaper is pretty small in the grand scheme of the universe… but it’s a world I love! I really lucked out in that I get to help run a business where I also have the chance to be creative.
What is your definition of TIMELESS STYLE?
Style that reflects one’s personality and grows and develops with it. A person’s style should have a signature look and feeling but whilst maintaining that, it should also evolve to suit one’s life. Style should feel natural not restrictive. Most importantly, good style is something that the owner took joy in creating.