Assuming the mantle of a family business is no simple task. For some, it might be a lifelong dream; for others, an unwanted imposition. It’s the former for sisters Rachel and Hannah Gurney – successors to the luxurious De Gournay homeware brand, founded in 1986 by their father, Claud Cecil Gurney and distributed in Hong Kong by Altfield Interiors – who have been literally surrounded by the family legacy since they were children. “We grew up in a house just opposite Kensington Gardens, decorated by our father,” they explain. “It was full of De Gournay wallpaper. We had exotic birds flying on the walls around our bedroom – every room was like a magical wonderland. It gave us both a very particular appreciation for decoration from a young age, especially for colour.”
Today, Rachel is director of sales at the company, while Hannah oversees HR, public relations, marketing and design. The sisters have since moved away from their childhood home to an apartment in South Kensington, where they’ve resided since 2014. The sisters may not have moved too far from home, but their apartment is very much their own. “We designed the interior together – to be eclectic and surprising, but still homely and warm,” they say, having merged what were originally two separate apartments into one, opening up the mostly boxed-in ceilings to allow for more height and space. “We played around with different styles and colours in each room.”
De Gournay's St Laurent wallpaper and velvet upholstery on the sofa mingle with Beaumont & Fletcher cushions and an antique red lamp.
Much of the sisters' art collection originates from the contemporary art gallery Broadbent.
De Gournay swatches and samples sit on a desk.
An antique mirror from Jamb Ltd mingles with brass-shaded Shitake lamps from Collier Webb and a bright woven floor runner from The Rug Company.
Hannah's favourite wallpaper in the home can be found in her bedroom: titled Badminton, it features a design painted on silver leaf gilded paper that imitates tarnished silver.
Much of the wallpapers in the home were all designed by the sisters, who enjoy using their home as a testing ground for new creations.
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Photography: Simon Brown Photography