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Interview :: Claud Gurney of de Gournay

I’ve always admired the work of de Gournay. Renowned for exquisite hand-painted wallpapers, furnishings and porcelain, each de Gournay creation is simply a work of art. So I was thrilled to meet Rachel Cecil-Gurney, daughter of founder Claude Cecil Gurney recently in San Francisco. Rachel showed me first hand samples from their gorgeous collections. Not only are the designs inspiring, but the attention to detail and quality is outstanding.

Taken from my iphone, this St. Laurent wallpaper (below) was inspired by Yves Saint Laurent’s apartment and is one of my personal favorites.

St. Laurent wallpaper detail // de Gournay // simplified bee #wallpaper

I asked Rachel about de Gournay’s history and was surprised at the answer. Claud Gurney founded the London-based high-end luxury brand nearly 30 years ago, but didn’t start in design, but had an amazing mentor. I had to find out more and am thrilled to be interviewing him today.

chinoiserie wallpaper // de gournay // simplified bee(source)

Simplified Bee: Tell us a little about your career and what led you to designing hand-painted wallcoverings and founding de Gournay?

Claud Gurney:  My career spans farming, accounting, consulting, economics, banking, property development and design ..  as you can imagine the joy of doing something creative won out over the drudge of finance and banking and I have never looked back.  I am a great believer that if you do what you love you have a good chance of being successful at it eventually and if you do what you don’t love you may as well be 6 feet under ..  There are lots of other narratives as to why I specifically ended up founding de Gournay around needing some wallpaper for my home and being quoted an outrageously high sum for the supply of that paper and quickly working out that it would be cheaper to set up my own firm than to buy from a company in New York ..  the rest is history ..

weeping willow wallpaper // de gournay // simplified bee(source)

SB:  Who has been a mentor to you?

CG: My mother – taking me round to auction sales when I was very young – from 8 years onwards .. understanding how to buy and sell and how to appreciate value and to create value where others saw none.

chinoiserie wallpaper // de gournay // simplified bee #chinoiserie #wallpaper (source)

SB: How would you describe your personal style and how has it evolved over the years?

CG: I hope that I don’t have a style – at least I don’t try to project a style ..  so I shall leave that for others to judge.  I have a belief that one should only buy the best and thereby one is rarely disappointed – whether it is food or clothes or houses or racehorses.

green chinoiserie wallpaper // de gournay // simplified bee(source)

SB: What type of architecture are you drawn to?

CG: It is hard not to be drawn to the maximum amount of light and simple lines with a combination of mainly rectangles and some curves.  I think that combining straight lines and curves well and creating light and space is key to goo architecture.  That means classical, some 18th century and some contemporary architecture.  Of course it all has to be adapted to the climate one is inhabiting ..

 hand-painted wallpaper // de gournay // simplified bee(source)

SB: Which other designers, artists or creative people are you loving at the moment?

CG: I have always loved Manuel Canovas and Alezandra Gioia (who coloured Colony’s fabrics for many years) and John Stefanides for their ability with colour. There are not that many designers capable of mixing different colours and patterns well – but many who can work in black & white!

 workspace // silver fish wallpaper // de gournay // simplified bee(source)

SB: Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?

CG: Alain Garcia seems to be the man of the moment and although I hate trends and fashions I love the way he can make so much from so little – he has a real decorator’s touch and it all seems so effortless for him.  I ma hoping he will design some wallpaper for us one day.

dining room with de Gournay wallpaper // simplified bee (source)

SB: What is the process behind a de Gournay work?

CG: Art, art & art.

boy's room with deco monkeys wallpaper // de gournay // simplified bee(source)

SB: I’ve loved seeing de Gournay in social media circles. What is your advice to other décor companies or interior designers or who are timid about trying social media marketing outlets?

CG: Like mathematics it is a dark art until one knows how to do it ..  once one has started to do it one finds it easy and it starts to become addictive ..  but like all addictions it should be tightly controlled.

bathroom with koi fish wallpaper // de gournay // simplified bee(source)

SB: What are you looking forward to?

CG: Complete freedom for a little while followed soon thereafter by more projects and plans and new houses to build and decorate for myself ..  stopping, savoring,enjoying and moving on .. and starting all over again …

 

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Read full story By on October 28, 2014 in baby and children, baby nursery room, bathrooms, bedrooms, boy's bedroom, chinoiserie, dining rooms, Features, interior design, Interiors, interview, Interviews, wallpaper

Interview :: Interior Designer Meredith Heron

She’s beautiful, witty and a fabulous interior designer. I had the pleasure of meeting Canada’s Meredith Heron while touring KBIS with BlogTour earlier this year and liked her from hello. I also became an instant fan of her classic design style with a modern unexpected twist. Meredith has an amazing eye for combining color, pattern and textures. She makes it look effortlessly. Each space is inviting, unique and fresh. In addition to being a great person and having an impressive design portfolio, Meredith has regularly been featured as guest host and design expert on national television programs such as Restaurant Makeover, which has been seen by audiences all over the world. What can this woman not do?!

I’m thrilled to be interviewing Meredith today!

meredith heron interview - simplified bee

Simplified Bee: Your signature designs are fresh, colorful and bold.  When did you know you wanted to be an interior designer?

Meredith Heron: I wanted to be a designer when I was 9 going on 10. My parents had split, I lived with my dad and he was working with an interior decorator. Her office was beside my hairdressers. I loved wallpaper. The selection process was so much fun and I never tired of flipping through the books. I wanted my dad to marry her. He didn’t. It was probably the worst mistake of his life. My stepmother isn’t nearly as cool. Heck, she’s not even nice. I put that aside however until my early 20s when, as an elementary school teacher I realized I had made a huge mistake choosing that as my career path. At this point, design was a hobby. I was poor as teachers are terribly underpaid or were back then when they first started out. I took a job making paint at Home Depot and became an in-demand associate. After too many requests to come to people’s homes I decided to go back to school part time for design which I did over the next 3.5 yrs. I made the leap in 2002 to leave teaching  just shy of my 30th birthday. I haven’t looked back since.

modern traditional breakfast nook - meredith heron design

 

SB:  How would you describe your personal style and how has it evolved over the years?

MH:  I’ve always had good taste but MAN OH MAN did I ever do some really ugly work early on. I focused too much on keeping the prices down and budget DIY decorating. It’s why I rail so much against it now. It really doesn’t pay in the long run and promotes a disposable lifestyle which is completely against what I believe in. I love pattern and colour and with experience I would say that I find myself extremely skilled in combining both to achieve dramatic effects. I see myself as a story teller. Clients hire me to write their biographies but instead of words, I use fabrics, furniture, architectural elements and of course personal items to them. I blend the new with the sentimental, the heirlooms to weave the clients through their decor to create a home. This can’t be about the look for less or budget decorating, yet it doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. It’s really a mind set. Invest in things you love. Hold on to those things that have meaning or remind you of someone you love or a time you cherish. Use these as your foundation and layer. I see my relationship with my clients as one that is not finite but rather is ongoing. We just peel back another layer each time. I now tell people that I am a Modern Traditionalist. That feels right.

 

interior design quote - meredith heron interivew - simplified beeblue dining room - meredith heron design
SB:  What type of architecture are you drawn to?
MH:  Georgian, Edwardian to a degree and Greek Revival. I think that I am a Southern Women with Parisian ancestors trapped in a Canadian’s body. I am a classicist. I love strong bones. I love my architecture to have symmetry so that I can be asymmetrical. I love a good paradox. Irony amuses me even in design. I prefer a more is more approach.

 

living room - art gallery wall - meredith heron design

 

SB: Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?

MH:  I’m totally freezing up here and feeling like I have to choose and this choice will forever determine I am not sure what but let’s give it a whirl. I would love to collaborate with Tory Burch on something fabulous I am not sure what but I think that our sense of pattern play would make us a great combination. From the design side of things I would love to work with Steve Gambrel whom I adore.

marble designer bathroom - Meredith Heron Design

SB:  I love that you don’t shy away from bold use of color. Do you have “go to” paint colors? If so, which ones?

MH:  I have a reputation for using bold colours but I tend to keep my crazy colour moments to just that moments and I usually express them with fabrics rather than paint. I love white walls, but I love blue/black walls equally as much. Living in Canada we have a much cooler light that is not forgiving to bright colours like you find in the islands or more tropical climates. My go to paint colours – Benjamin Moore’s Raccoon Fur. It’s my standard issue I want a navy kitchen blue/black. We sometimes vary that with it’s lighter counterpart Anchor Gray.  C2 Paints has an in between version of the perfect shade of indigo called Mistral. It is my mistress. We use Pratt and Lambert’s Seed Pearl as the perfect white it’s not too yellow and plays nicely with greys and rich blues. Benjamin Moore’s Feather Grey and Whitestone are our go to mauve meets periwinkles. I tend to prefer cooler tints on the walls it’s easier to add a splash of a warmer or more saturated bright in fabric. If I had a formula I would say I go cooler on the walls, I will add a warm pastel on occasion to the ceiling but I let my fabric stories warm things up or incorporate bold and dramatic art.

open shelves - kitchen - meredith heron design

SB:  Which of today’s interior design trends are here to stay and which ones will we see fade away?

MH:  I want to give an invisible throat punch to the whole “Abandoned, burned to the ground Belgian Farmhouse with an Industrial Hoarder Complex” look that seems to still be hanging around. Restaurants seem to all wear a similar uniform these days. Paint the walls black, use some splintered wood and tetanus causing metal for furniture and then add a chandelier and call it Industrial Chic… I’m OVVVVVVAHHHH it. I seriously designed restaurants almost ten years ago now that had that look. Let’s agree to move on.  I would love to see the return to traditional and layered luxe pick up more steam than the Steampunked to death… ya know? Brass I predicted well over three years ago was making a return and I’m thrilled to see how much it has been embraced so I think that it will continue to make it’s home in the industry.

gray sofa - living room - meredith heron design

SB:  Where do you recommend clients splurge versus save?

MH:  Buy the best sofa you can afford. TRUST ME on this one. I’m currently awaiting my new sofa from Wesley Hall and I literally cannot wait.  I have a pretty settee in my living room now but it is SO not comfortable. If you are on a tight budget, use 4×4 white ceramic tiles and offset them in a brick pattern. Add black grout. You can dress it up with brass or crystal or dress it down and make it feel cozy and casual. Silk drapery is often cheaper than cotton or linen. Invest in quality area rugs – Persians are so forgiving we put one by our front door and encourage people to walk in with muddy boots or snowy footwear. Let the mess dry and vacuum it up and it looks fabulous.

lacquered blue bookcase - library - meredith heron design

SB:  Facebook or Pinterest?
MH: I am a social media whore. It’s true. I love chatting with friends on Facebook, but I use Pinterest for work. It’s design porn and I’m addicted. I swear my blood pressure drops when I open my Pinterest Tab and refresh. Until I find something I lust after and must own.

heron chair - meredith heron design

SB: What is your advice to other interior designers who are timid about trying social media marketing outlets?

MH:  It really depends on your personality. I could talk paint off of a wall so I’m really good at being myself and just letting it all hang out on the more chattier outlets. I also have a plethora of pictures to share including my process and what my husband has made me for lunch or dinner so Instagram is a great connecting point for me. If you are shy I would suggest Instagram as the SM to hone first. You can share your Instagram to twitter and Facebook so you can kill three birds with one stone. Blogs aren’t for everyone but a Tumblr esque blog where you can share inspiration is often as impactful as those who are more verbose. Authenticity is thrown around as a buzz word but it’s true. Find the medium that is the best reflection of who you are and allows you to speak in the best voice possible.

SB:  You had an exciting collaboration for DXV American Standard earlier this year. Can you tell us more about that and what’s next for Meredith Heron Design?

MH:  Thank you! Working with DXV and the team from American Standard has been exceptional. I have been working on a new line of wool and silk bespoke area rugs for my own collection which we should receive our first shipment of over the summer which is incredibly exciting. I also have a very big and exciting collaboration that I will be sharing in the relatively near future but have to stay Mum on the subject for just now. I am a terrible tease yes but I promise the wait will be worth it!!! Building a brand is very much like birthing a baby and raising them into a child and beyond. It’s rewarding, frustrating, isolating, scary and exhilarating often within the same day. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

 

*all images provided by Meredith Heron Design

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Read full story By on June 10, 2014 in Bathroom, bathrooms, brass, Features, interior design, Interiors, interview, Interviews, Kitchen, Living Room, wallpaper

Dome Pendant Light Trend + Houzz Feature

disclosure: This post contains an affiliate links, which means Simplified Bee receives commission if you make a purchase using this link.

white dome light over table

Large dome pendant lights. They are being used more and more throughout the home including in dining rooms, kitchens and even bedrooms. The sleek, clean design had definitely increased in popularity and was the topic of an article recently written by Mary Jo Bowling on Houzz. I was thrilled to have my little breakfast nook (below) featured and talk about the design trend too! Here’s one quote taken from the article.

Simplified Bee Kitchen Nook with trellis wallpaper

Dome pendant lights more understated than some over-the-top or frilly fixtures and they are kind of like the little black dresses of design, in that they can be dressed up or down to go with anything. – Cristin Bisbee Priest via Houzz

chrome dome pendant light

I often get asked who made the dome pendant in our nook. It was by Arteriors, but has been discontinued. If you are searching for something similar though, this chrome dome pendant light is a good alternative.

happy decorating,

cristin

*first image via Noe 

Spring Sale - 336x280

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Read full story By on March 31, 2014 in breakfast nooks, design trends, Features, houzz, Interiors, interview, Kitchen, lighting, simplified bee portfolio

Family Friendly Home Design by Abbe Fenimore

Recently Abbe Fenimore, the style savvy Dallas-based interior designer behind Studio Ten 25, shared a home she created for a busy family with three boys (and a dog)!  The family-friendly design combines vibrant colors, rich textures and multi-functional, durable furnishings. Here’s a peek at some of the rooms and a few questions I asked Abbe about the beautiful design. Thanks Abbe for sharing with Simplified Bee!

family-friendly living room design

Simplified Bee: What inspired the color palette? 
Abbe Fenimore: Before the redesign, this home featured what we call the “Texas Tango” color palette. Lots of dark rust, sage green, over the top floral arrangements, and bulky tapestries. The homeowners wanted a fresh, updated look that reflected their transitional style. We chose a mix of turquoise, chartreuse and white accents to brighten the space throughout. For the master bedroom, there was an added focus on glamour, which we achieved with a deep teal on the walls, mix of velvet and linen fabrics, bold graphic patterns, and black and marigold accents.

contemporary living room with turquoise accentskid-friendly living room design

SB: Which items were selected with kids in mind? 
AF: Most of the furniture was custom made, so we were able to select pieces with kids in mind. We opted for heavy duty stain treated or outdoor fabrics, both durable enough to withstand three young boys and a dog. Another critical component to the furniture selection was versatility and storage. The homeowners wanted their space to transition easily from an open play space for the kids during the day, to a pulled together adult space in the evening. Extra seating in the form of x-benches and ottomans with storage for toys were easy pieces to help in achieving both of these objectives.

turquoise tufted ottoman

SB: What is your favorite design element? 
AF: The custom tufted ottoman in the living room! It has hidden casters and a removable top with a wood tray that’s perfect for toy storage and entertaining.

stylish storage for kids toysturquoise and gold bedroom designkid-friendly dining room

And by chance something caught your eye, Abbe has a few of the decor items featured in her project for sale now at Shop Ten 25!
 
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Read full story By on October 22, 2013 in baby and children, bookshelves, contemporary decor, family rooms, interior design, Interiors, interview, Living Room, living rooms, upholstery