Urban Electric lighting

Hannah Cecil Gurney's Colorful World

After a quick introduction, we jumped at the chance to collaborate with de Gournay Director, Hannah Cecil Gurney when she set out to decorate her family home in London a few years back and more recently to light up a dramatic installation in the windows of the brand’s Chelsea showroom. Self-described as color-obsessed, Hannah's skillful use of color and pattern led to a transportive space that effortlessly flows from soft and cozy to vibrant and bold. Her selection of a cheery yellow paint on the Hedges sconces in her primary bath, adorned with hand-painted pink flamingos, was just one of many inspired choices.

We recently had an in-depth conversation to learn more about the role color plays in Hannah's interiors and in her day-to-day at her family’s fabled fabric house.

How would you sum up your place within the interior design world in 2 sentences?

My experience is more from the supplier side than the decorator side... So, when it comes to my own interiors I tend to learn by making mistakes!

How does lighting factor into the way you use color?

Color doesn't exist without light. The type of light one uses impacts how the colors in a room appear. I love very cosy interiors so I always opt for a plethora of light fixtures all glowing with a warm golden hue. This makes colors feel candle-lit and lends them a warmer tone that I find very inviting.

How does color inform smaller, more intimate spaces, such as bathrooms?

A bathroom needs to feel functional and energizing for when one is getting ready at the start of a day... So the light should be bright and airy. But at the end of the day the bathroom is a place to relax and unwind... So the light should be more soft and diffused. In the same way... The colors should be neutral and soft enough to be a backdrop to 6am wake up calls... but also be fun and transportive for escapism when one wants to decompress after a stressful day. I opted in my bathroom for a silvery backdrop which feels clean overall... but the gilded paper is then covered with hand painted flamingos which add pops of color. The bright characters make the space feel exotic and other-worldly. It's easy to forget one is in London when in that bathroom....

Hedges shown in Benjamin Moore #2022-50 Sundance paint selection finish with polished nickel accents. Interiors by Hannah Cecil Gurney. Photography by Douglas Friedman.

How does your approach to color differ when it comes to paint colors and walls versus the use of pattern, architectural detail and fabrics?

I love mixing different patterns, colors and scales together. I like there to be some more unsuspecting elements to the room. I usually go off-piste with upholstery fabrics to create an attractive clash with the de Gournay wallcoverings. That clash actually allows a balance to be achieved and prevents any one pattern from being overly-dominant. In this way the patterns and colors all sort of harmonize each other. 

When applying color to large-scale patterns, how do you figure out which hue dominates?

A lot of our wallcoverings are inspired by nature. Nature is a pretty good go-to for referencing which colors work well as dominant colors.

Do different rooms require different approaches to color? And how?

Yes. Most definitely. For example, a kitchen is mostly used during the day. In my opinion it's a room that suits fresh and energizing colors that enliven one's mood - blues, greens, yellows, whites.... Whereas a bedroom is mostly used in the evening. In my opinion it should be cosy and warm like a cocoon - oranges, pinks...

Altamont Wall shown in seaside bronze finish with clear glass. Interiors by Hannah Cecil Gurney.
Altamont Wall shown in seaside bronze finish with clear glass. Interiors by Hannah Cecil Gurney.

Are there general de Gournay Rules of Thumb when it comes to combining color families?

No, we embrace and adore all colors in all combinations!

What, if any, colors are understood as de Gournay signatures?

I'm not sure we have a signature color... but we get a lot of requests for blues and greens...

How does the foundational de Gournay vision relate to color and then absorb other hues/color schemes as part of the process?

We develop everything in-house very organically. We tend to find that nature provides the most amazing references and inspiration for new color palettes. We are huge advocates for the use of color and its power to change one's mood.

Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting
Urban Electric lighting