Hannah, born and raised in the charming port town of Grimsby in North East Lincolnshire in the United Kingdom, seemed destined to a life of glamorous artistic and creative endeavors. You could say that being creative was in her blood. Her mother is an artist and web designer, and her father designs and builds historical model buildings that are sold across the globe.
At 17, Hannah, left Grimsby to study photography, art and design at Sandwell College. Soon after, she moved to Manchester to work as an assistant photographer at an advertising agency where she styled photographic sets and sourced props for various catalogue photo shoots.
In the mid 1990s, Hannah transitioned from her career behind the cameras to one in front of the cameras. Hannah speaks of this time, in front of the cameras as a glamour model, as both a blessing and a curse. In part, her work as a glamour model allowed her the opportunity to travel the world and launched her foray into the entertainment world of television and music (She was in the top 70 contestants –out of 10,000 hopefuls- in the UK’s Pop Idol show.) where she worked with celebrities and moguls. She is also ever mindful that her stint as a glamour model upset a lot of people. But Hannah is quick to point out that even those who have tried to hold her past against her have only fueled her desire to be successful. She refers to her glamour modeling days as her “dark period”- a moment in time in which she was young and naive. Having met Hannah and becoming friends with her over the last year, I see the immense parallels between her and her musical idol, Madonna. Both are driven and strong, and leave no doubt that even on their darkest days that they will triumphantly emerge victorious into the light of success with no regrets as they look back at their path to stardom.
In 2002, Hannah was awaiting the arrival of her first child, and was more determined than ever to change the course of her life. While waiting for her new baby she set about decorating her home and quickly became frustrated at the limited selection of wall paneling products that would give her the look she wanted for her modern three-story townhome. She had set her heart on a loft style living space with walls dressed in old brick. Determined to make her design vision a reality, she and her baby’s father set about designing a paneling system. And, well, as clichéd as it may sound, the rest is history – a business was born. Dreamwall, Hannah’s entrepreneurial baby is now nine years old and quite the force in its niche.
Hannah is a star in the design community and she uses her status along with her various blogging outlets to promote young designers. From 2004 to 2006, she featured the work of new and emerging UK talent on her Dreamwall blog.
What inspired you to pursue this business?
I was living in South Wales in the United Kingdom in a modern three-story townhouse and I wanted to create a loft living look in the home, but couldn’t find a wall cladding system that looked like an old brick wall. So I set about and designed one myself, it was only when the prototype was installed did I realize that I had actually invented a new interior wall covering product. I then sought the advice of a local business enterprise who advised me with regards to the manufacturing process. Basically that is how Dreamwall was born in a short nutshell – I needed a product, couldn’t find what I needed in the market so I designed and created what I needed.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
I adore the rustic living look, so a lot of our wall panels reflect a rustic feel, from brick to slate and to stone panels.
Tell us about a favorite decorating or remodeling project.
I would probably have to say that the best decorating/remodeling project has to be how the inspiration for Dreamwall was born. I transformed my new build boring plain home into a fabulous New York style loft apartment. I also had great enjoyment being involved in the complete design work and project management for the first Dreamwall Showroom in 2006. I loved being involved in the whole design process from specifying products and managing the project from start to finish. The end result was exactly how I had envisaged it to be – it was just perfect, if I may say so myself; I felt very proud indeed.
What’s your personal design style? Has it evolved over time?
I love traditional over contemporary I guess that has much to do with the way I was raised. I love the rustic look mixed with touches of glamour. I adore collecting trinkets and adore displaying all my finds. I would say my personal design style has always been the same since I was younger. I like surrounding myself with things I love and not to what is the latest trend. I’ve never been a sheep always a Sheppard! What I like goes and no other way.
Describe your dream room.
My dream room would be uber-glamorous – think 1920s Paris. Full of Art Deco shimmer, dressed in beautiful rich fabrics and sensuous colors that exude sex appeal. I would love the room to be luscious and elegant. The furniture would be highly polished, plenty of mirrors and glamorous expensive lighting.
Many of us have a product we bought for our home-that now makes us think-”what was I thinking” – do you have one?
Oh, yes, I’ve done that probably one too many times. Usually when buying on impulse and purchasing something that shouts fashion victim and cheap! I once bought a hideous red cheap-looking nylon rug. I still look back and think yuck what was I thinking? And I can’t stand these cheap run of the mill wallpapers found in a cheap store with bold nasty flower patterns that are used as feature walls then teamed up with cheap matching ‘twee nick knacks’, to me it shouts NO STYLE!
What’s your favorite color ?
I love color – from interiors to fashion. I love bright, bold colors especially used in block patterns. My personal color LOVE is Green!
What are your five favorite pieces of home décor from your home or elsewhere?
1. A big gold Rocco mirror I purchased this from a local interiors shop – its heavy and looks the part. It certainly gets attention from people when they see it.
2. I adore my Art Deco standing lamp – the stem is twisted and it was a bargain find from a local antique dealer who I still think under sold me, but I’m not complaining it’s stunning.
3. I love my Victorian red spoon back chair that my parents gave to me, its over 200 years old, and it’s stunning. Ideally it needs recovering, but I love it the way it is. I love the fact it has history and is so glamorous. Antique dealers have offered me good money for the chair, but I will not part with it.
4. I love my six piece dining suite with matching red Louis chairs- its ultra glamorous. I found the dining set in a second hand shop local and bought it for next to nothing. It was a real bargain- a stylish find in mint condition.
5. A gorgeous Art Deco glass display cabinet that I purchased from e-bay (Of all places would you believe it?) which is stunning.
What’s your favorite room at home? Why is it your favorite?
I adore my landing area. Yes,a very random place but I designed it. The walls are decorated with a stunning bird and butterfly wallpaper that I had installed long before that pattern became a hot trend On one wall, is a picture gallery of watercolors depicting birds and butterflies, and sketches including artworks by my mother. In this space I have my book shelf – full of interesting books, lots of ornaments and tins illustrated with bird motifs (including a big old Victorian bird cage). To me the landing area is the prettiest spot in the house, and it’s a talking focal point. I love it. Just so pretty.
Hannah sitting alongside UK Designer of the Year, Lee Broom. Photographed at Lee’s Atelier in Shoreditch.
Who are your favorite designers?
I have so many favorite designers…this is hard to answer. I adore Scottish pen and ink illustrator Johanna Basford, she is so unique and her art work is incredible. I adore UK award winning Designer of the Year Lee Broom whom I got to meet last year at the London Design Festival. He is so talented and I adore his new range launched at Milan this spring. The collection is Art Deco inspired, quite simply it’s just beautiful and elegant. I’m a fan of the UK Mini Modern boys. I love the way they have been inspired by their childhood and have translated that retro funky inspiration onto wallpapers and decorative accessories. I could be here some time the list is endless. (Want to Know More? Hannah has featured many of her favorite designers on her DreamWallStyle blog.).
Do you have a decorating design or remodeling tip you’d like to share with our readers?
Try to recycle as much you can. For example: Before chucking away old furniture and buying new, see if you can customize the old furniture by recovering with fabrics, re-painting etc. In my case, I was going to chuck away an old pair of chest of drawers, but instead I bought some paint and upcyled the piece. It now looks like a new piece of furniture. It looks amazing and I saved a lot of money by upcycling instead of buying new. I also suggest turning to second hand stores for some inspirational finds that can be customized and upcycled. I guess it’s a personal matter of taste, but I like to stamp my personal design and ideas in my home and I can do that by customizing my furniture and decor – I think you shouldn’t be be afraid to just try it.
What are your favorite design and websites?
What are your favorite books and magazines?
- I love to read, and some of my favorites are:
- Living Etc
- Love London by Barbara Chandler. (Recently reviewed on this site.)
- FX Magazine
- Designer Magazine
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