Falling in love again

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Designer Hannah Nunn has rekindled her love affair with her old home after changing the layout and the look. Sharon Dale reports. Pictures by Bruce Rollinson and Sarah Mason.

when Hannah Nunn first moved to Hebden Bridge she loved her rented flat so much she bought it. Then her small children grew, the family gathered more possessions and her home became cramped and claustrophobic.

Hannah's piano and mandolin in the "music zone" of her multi-functional sitting room.

Hannah's piano and mandolin in the "music zone" of her multi-functional sitting room.

“We tried to make it work but it was hopeless. The flat was crowded and full of condensation and I started to really hate it, so we let this place out and rented a big maisonette nearby,” she says.

Now, several years on, Hannah has come full circle. Her daughter Ffion and son Euan are grown up and she has downsized back into the apartment.

It’s in one of Hebden’s tall, quirky properties that contain multiple dwellings and is built into the hillside with a shop below and a maisonette above. The flat is on one level but you step out onto a front street from her sitting room while the enormous main bedroom at the rear is high up with views over the bustling main road.

The bedroom is now a large, light-filled space thanks to a major revamp that helped Hannah rekindle her love affair with the property.

The kettle lamp is by Gilles Eichenbaum.

The kettle lamp is by Gilles Eichenbaum.

It had been split into two bedrooms but is now one that acts as both bedroom and a second sitting room. “This is where I spend most of my time. I love sitting in the chair by the window,” she says.

The old bedroom doors were blocked up and replaced with a set of double, folding doors that are almost always pulled back, allowing light into the windowless kitchen diner. The joinery work was done by Saul Freeman of freemanjoinery.com, who Hannah met when he turned up to help those affected by the Hebden Bridge floods.

The kitchen units are old but she has ripped out the wall cupboards and replaced them with oak shelves, which are less oppressive and brighter thanks to her colourful collection of jars.

The sitting room at the front of the flat is a darker, cosier space and includes a mini home office after Hannah had shelves and a desk area built into an alcove.

A vintage chair covered in Hannah's own design fabric

A vintage chair covered in Hannah's own design fabric

Her refurbished flat looks lovely and is also the perfect location for photographing her growing range of homeware. She and photographer Sarah Mason have just completed a shoot for her latest design, Charlotte’s Garden, which was commissioned by the Brontë Society to celebrate the bicentenary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth. It is made up of the flora in bloom around the Brontë Parsonage in late April, as Charlotte’s birthday was April 21.

Like the rest of Hannah’s designs, which include lighting, wallpaper and fabric, it has appealed to a national and international market.

“The first two rolls of wallpaper went to a lady in America and she was thrilled because she’s a Brontë fan,” says Hannah, who began her making career when she moved to Hebden Bridge after art college and a seven-year spell in Wales.

“I had my children quite young but I always had a need to create and make. I always say that my creativity is my third child. When Euan went to nursery I took a studio.”

The sitting area in the main bedroom with drawers by Ercol, Hannah's collection of houseplants and her Charlotte's Garden wallpaper

The sitting area in the main bedroom with drawers by Ercol, Hannah's collection of houseplants and her Charlotte's Garden wallpaper

She began making paper-cut cards that were snapped up by Liberty and Harrods and moved on to making highly original lamps using the same techniques.

Her prototypes, which included an ingenious tripod and shapes that minimised shadow, were a huge hit at the British Craft Trade Fair and have been sought-after ever since. They are stocked in shops around the country and in Radiance, the lighting and gift gallery that Hannah established in Market Street in Hebden Bridge.

The shop features lamps and lights by her and other designer makers and is now run by her daughter, Ffion, while Hannah concentrates on her designing and making career in a studio nearby.

Her own products feature in her home. Charlotte’s Garden is on the wall of the sitting area in the bedroom, while Meadow Grass is on the wall behind the bed.

Hannah’s move into wallpaper was inspired by a trip to Japan. She brought back a piece of handmade wrapping paper and framed it to hang over her fireplace. “It’s just so beautiful and set me off thinking about how I could create my own wallpaper. That naturally led on to producing fabrics,” says Hannah, who now has six designs in three colourways and is planning a new one based on a visit to Kew Gardens.

Her flat also includes work by other designer makers. There’s an old kettle on the kitchen worktop that has been upcycled into a light by Gilles Eichenbaum. The ceramic spoons on the wall are by Justine Allinson via the Snug Gallery and the little wooden flowers are by Anna Wiscombe via Radiance.

The sitting room with desk area. The picture above the fireplace is Japanese wrapping paper and inspired Hannah to produce a collection of wallpaper.

The sitting room with desk area. The picture above the fireplace is Japanese wrapping paper and inspired Hannah to produce a collection of wallpaper.

Hannah’s love of Ercol furniture is also evident. Her bed and the drawers in the bedroom are Ercol, as is her desk chair.

It’s also obvious that music plays a big part in her life. She has a piano, guitar, mandolin and ukulele and she likes to sing. “I’m also writing songs again,” she says. “I’ve written 10 since Christmas and I think it’s because I’m very content with the way the flat looks and feels. I am really happy to be back here.”

Hannah Nunn wallpaper, fabric and lamps, www.hannahnunn.co.uk; Radiance lighting, interiors and gift shop, radiancelighting.co.uk

Charlotte's Garden wallpaper in a subtle Heath shade

Charlotte's Garden wallpaper in a subtle Heath shade

Hannah's Charlotte's Garden wallpaper was designed to commemorate Charlotte Bronte's 200th birthday

Hannah's Charlotte's Garden wallpaper was designed to commemorate Charlotte Bronte's 200th birthday