My World at Home: Frieda Gormley of House of Hackney

SEE INSIDE Frieda Gormley’s PALM HOUSE meets MOROCCAN RIAD in Hackney, London … 

Dublin-born Frieda Gormley with her husband and co-founder of House of Hackney, Javvy M Royle.

Name: Frieda Gormley, co-founder, House of Hackney Address: Hackney, London My home: A three-storey 1870s Victorian semi with five bedrooms and three bathrooms The vibe: Maximalist

We bought the house nine years ago; it wasn’t a grand one and is a three-storey terrace house, off Wilton Way in Hackney, dating from the 1870s. We christened it Loddiges, a reference to the world’s largest palm house found in Hackney in the 19th century, which pre-dated Kew Gardens. Its hothouses were vast and our iconic “Palmeral” print is a homage to the exotic plants found there.

About a year ago we decided to renovate with the idea of creating a sanctuary and as a respite from our busy lives. Our aim was to bring the outside in and while we have a very small outdoor patio, we used shades of green to emphasise this, as well as orangery doors and Moroccan arches in lieu of traditional open plan rooms. The house had been divided into bedsits, we wanted to reinstate a lot of decorative effects which were missing, and bring it back to its Victorian state. We worked on the structural details with MRA architects as well as a local forgery – James Hoyle & Sons – replacing exterior wooden fencing and interior stair spindles with cast iron metalwork.

We each had different roles on the project – Javvy was in charge of spatial planning, opening up the flow of the space, while I was responsible for décor, which for me means layering textures. Having lived with white walls and Danish minimalism, Javvy and I craved colour. Specifically, we wanted to hang wallpaper but couldn’t find what we were looking for. So, inspired by the past, we launched our brand, House of Hackney and fortunately we seem to have had an intuitive understanding of trends. We seem to have touched a nerve with people – in an unstable world we feel people crave a connection with nature. As the brand has developed, the range has grown and our own tastes have evolved, with travel informing our designs.

My grandmother’s home in Dublin was also the inspiration for Loddiges. Peggy was on first name terms with all the antique dealers in town and though she lived in a modest house she had a good eye and the knack for layering textiles, whether it was a sofa swathed in velvet or a touch of leopard print.

We don’t aim to have a lot of possessions. For us, it’s about quality over quantity and accumulating cherished things and a few really good pieces.

To create more space in the hallway, Gormley moved a small powder room, adding Victorian arches. She hung Lincrusta wallcovering, painting it a natural écru, and a Moroccan light from Marrakesh. The bespoke stair runner is inspired by French decorator Madeleine Castaing’s iconic banana leaf print which Gormley asked carpet manufacturers Catry to replicate.


“A Victorian orangery was on our moodboard when we created the kitchen. Instead of a modern glass extension, which seems to be the norm in London, we kept the Victorian references. We launched our House of Hackney brand at our kitchen table and our lives revolve around it. The breakfast bar has Parisian café chairs by Maison Gatti. In the kitchen Javvy is the cook and is particularly proud of his collection of brass cooking pots; I am the cleaner.” Fittings include a black range and a Smeg Graphite fridge.

The office on the top floor is a tranquil spot to do some work. “We’re a low-tech home and prefer antique tables. The monochrome palette helps our creative process.”

“The living room can be accessed two ways. The central feature is our Navarino sofa set against Artemis wallpaper, and a painting of our children by Nicolette Vine. We have another of her paintings in the house and are also inspired by works of Alice Neel, Seydou Keïta and Matisse. We love hanging art on wallpaper though many are wary of this. The door at the back of the sofa is always a talking point. We kept it intact as we may reconfigure and use that entrance in the future. Other furniture items were sourced at antiques markets – Ardingly and Kempton.”

“Our bedroom has an Edwardian bed. One of the priorities was including fitted wardrobes as storage space was an issue. The only place you’ll find white in our house is on the bed. We love white bedlinen and invest in sets from John Lewis, Zara Home or Ralph Lauren and then add a great blanket. My grandmother’s cushions are on the bed.”

The main bathroom had a stud wall which was removed to create a bigger space. We painted it clay pink and decorated it with our Sumatra wallpaper, Palmeral towels and mother-of-pearl wall tiles from Tangiers by Mosaic Del Sur.”

Penny McCormick

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