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Behind the scenes: Interior design

Mark Gale

Mark Gale



A lot of work and careful planning goes into creating the beautiful interiors of a McCarthy & Stone development. Interior designer Hannah Gernon explains how she arrives at the finished results

Hannah is the owner of Hannah Williamson, a West Yorkshire interior design company which also produces soft furnishings and furniture. Previously a homeware buyer for major UK retailers, Hannah used her experience to set up the company that majors on products ‘lovingly handmade in Great Britain’. Her soft furnishings are sold in quality shops all over the country, including Highgrove.

Hannah (pictured above) also works closely with McCarthy & Stone on its developments in the North-East region helping to transform a finished build or renovation into stunning homes. Most recently she has designed interiors for the renovation of Kenton Lodge, a Retirement Living PLUS (previously Assisted Living) development in Gosforth, Tyne and Wear, and for the new Retirement Living development of The Laureates in Cottingham, near Hull.

We start by discussing the local area, the demographic of the customer and the local environment with McCarthy & Stone. We put together mood boards with examples of paint colours, fabric swatches, and carpet and furniture suggestions.

Kenton Lodge was a renovation of an old school, so we took inspiration from the building. It has wonderful wood panelling, so we kept that and the original fireplaces in the homeowners’ dining room, function room and reception.

Above: Reception at Kenton Lodge

Home trends change a lot, often following fashion trends. We get inspiration from trade shows and what’s new on the market. Sixty is the new 40 and our designs need to reflect a new age of living for our homeowners.

We create interiors for two show apartments, to give an idea of how the apartment could look. Some people love the look so much they ask us to design their apartments for them, which we do. Below is a mood board and finished result for apartments at The Laureates.

At Kenton Lodge we wanted the homeowners to feel they were in a grand country manor hotel. We used subtle colours, such as duck-egg blue with a mink brown, and added a striped wool carpet that runs the length of the building to create that luxury feel.

Above: Homeowners' lounge at The Laureates

People have really liked the mauve and green colour combination in the homeowners’ lounge at The Laureates – those colours work so well together. Colours should be calm and restful, but not bland and insipid. We want to create vibrant, interesting colour palettes without becoming brash.

The planning of space is just as important as how we fill it. People need to be able to move around easily and feel comfortable in their new surroundings. For example, the homeowners’ lounges have a lot of activities and social gatherings, so we plan these into our design schemes.

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