London House

The Knowledge

My London House with Emma Gurner

May 30th 2023

This month we sit down with interior designer Emma Gurner to find out a little bit more about her career, her latest lighting collaboration and we get a behind the scenes look at her North London home.

Let’s start from the very beginning, tell us a little bit about your design studio and how you entered the world of interior design? You set up your own studio in 2016, at an early point in your career. Why did you make the leap, and what advice would you give young designers who want to follow in your footsteps?

Folds Inside was set up in 2016 originally as an online interior store. My past experience includes working as an interior stylist for magazines and I’ve been involved in the interiors industry for over 20 years. There was never really a leap into it becoming an interior design studio but more of an organic transition, as clients began to ask me to help them style their homes. Over the years I have completed Interior design courses and immersed myself in the industry and Folds Inside has grown and developed to be a successful business working on beautiful residential projects. I would advise young designers to get work experience at a design studio and make sure to visit as many of the trade shows as possible to familiarise themselves with brands, products and new technology.

How would you describe your style?

I love to combine different styles and enjoy using bold colour, pattern and a mix of old with new. Every project I work on is very much dictated by the client and the property. The most important thing to me is to reflect the owners character and to add that personal touch.

You have designed your own home, tell us a little bit about the process?

I’ve been living in my home for 12 years with my husband and two daughters and it has very much been an ongoing project, updating the house room by room as the kids have grown and needs have changed. We began by opening up the ground floor and knocking through two of the internal walls to create an open plan layout. This has added so much daylight to the space which has become a bright, functional and sociable area. Upstairs we tend to re-decorated a room a year! This year I think we might tackle the family bathroom!

What are the key things to consider when you’re planning the layout of a house?

It sounds obvious but the most important thing is to consider how you want to the space to work to suit your lifestyle. For example, do you want to have a large area for your family to congregate? Do you entertain? Do you need an area to work from home? Do you want an en-suite or walk in wardrobe? Another key thing to consider is natural light. Ideally you should try to maximise natural light where possible. Perhaps you could install a large window or a skylight. South facing rooms with more natural light would be ideal for open plan kitchen spaces whist a north facing room with less natural light would be better suited to a cosy snug.

Can you take us on a tour of your modern Scandinavian Style home? What was your starting point for this design? Did you create different design narratives for each room?

The starting point for the design was to work with the beautiful original features that the house was blessed with, such as the marble fireplace and original sash windows. We wanted to create a contemporary and light feel to the downstairs and by knocking down internal walls and installing a large picture window in the dining area the space became filled with natural light. I’m all about having a bit of fun with design and have added pops of colour and pattern with art, bold furniture and unusual accessories.

Upstairs the bedrooms were designed to reflect the person. It is important to have some continuity with each room but I don’t believe you have to stick to the same scheme throughout a house. To me that is quite boring. And so each room does take on its own personality. I also wanted the girls bedroom to have some longevity so this was also considered when designing their bedrooms.

What is one of your favourite rooms in the house?

My en-suite bathroom is my sanctuary. It’s the most calming room in the house and our most recent renovation. I love the cool blue zellige tiles against the terracotta floor which gives it a mediterranean feel.

What is one of your favourite items in your home?

I love my art. I find the painting above my fireplace by Andre Lundquist very spiritual and I also love the painting above my burgundy sideboard by Wolffia Inc with its pops of colour and playful shapes which is so uplifting.

How is designing your own home different to designing a clients home?

The main differences are that I have taken on my own home on a room by room basis, whereas client projects tend to be whole house all in one go. The other difference of course is that client projects reflect who they are and are often a collaboration of thoughts and ideas.

What tips would you give someone if they were to design their own home?

Plan everything! Have a budget in mind and make sure you have spreadsheets in place. I would always start with a moodboard of thoughts and ideas as a starting point to determine the style direction. This is a great way to get creative and of having a visual reference.

Do you have any inexpensive tricks for updating a room?

Paint is always the most inexpensive and effective way to update and transform a room. And you can use paint in so many ways, from painting furniture, colour blocking certain areas to painting whole rooms. A favourite paint trick of mine is to highlight woodwork including skirtings, architraves and doors in a darker tone to the walls. This is particularly effective in period properties where the woodwork is more ornate.

You recently launched a lighting collaboration with House Of (pictured above) how did this collaboration come about?

That is correct. I have used lighting by House Of in a number of my projects and our aesthetic is very much aligned with our use of bold colour, shapes and clean lines and so the collaboration came about following a very positive meeting!

Tell us a little bit more about it?

They asked me to design a collection for them and was given a completely open brief. I wanted to focus on colour as my starting point as this reflects both of our companies aesthetic. And so the collection Colour Contrasts was born. It is a play on different colour combinations within a single fitting. I looked back to classic and antique design as the inspiration for the shapes, giving them a contemporary twist with the use of powder coated metal as the main material. The collection will be available to purchase via the House Of website the first week of June.

How do you use lighting in a home to create different moods and effects?

It’s important to incorporate different options within a lighting scheme to allow for moods to be created. For example, as well as general lighting, an option to have a feature light above a dining table would create a lovely ambience for entertaining, illuminating artwork to give more of a focus and thinking about task lighting for cooking or reading are all layers to be considered. I also love to incorporate lamps and wall lights for a soft, ambient light.

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