Frieda Gormley and Javvy M Royle are unlikely to strike anyone as either minimalist or traditional—the husband-and-wife couple are, after all, the founders of House of Hackney, one of Britain’s most flamboyant and directional design labels. Take a walk around their London Fields townhouse, however, and it becomes clear that their home is both of those things. “Aside from all of the wallpapers and textiles, it’s actually a very classic blank canvas, with black-and-white Victorian tiles and dark woods,” Frieda explains. “Yes, there’s lots of color, but we don’t have a lot of ‘stuff.’ To us, the house feels quite serene.”
It’s hard to imagine, but when Frieda and Javvy first moved into their home in 2007, they painted everything white and decorated in Scandinavian style. “Working in the design industry, we gradually felt we wanted to add more prints, colors, and textures,” says Frieda. “But we couldn’t find anything that appealed to us. Doing this house was really the catalyst for starting House of Hackney.”
The five-bedroom Victorian property (which the couple share with son Javi, nine, and daughter Lila, six) is now awash with fabrics and wallpapers from the exuberant House of Hackney collection. Bringing so many together could easily have been overpowering, but Frieda and Javvy have made it work with a clever approach to color. “We like to decorate with gray off-colors rather than brights, and all the rooms are very tonal,” says Frieda. “People comment on how harmonious it seems. The blue bedrooms and pink bathroom feel peaceful, whereas our red family room is very energizing.”
Every day here is a celebration of confident, maximalist style, so the family tends to keep Christmas decorations to a minimum. Festivities center around the tree and an elegantly trimmed dining table. “Your tree is a manifestation of your taste,” explains Frieda. “We love a traditional Christmas with our own personality stamp on top. And the kids love making garlands out of our wallpapers!” Javvy’s passion for indoor greenery adds to the seasonal cheer. “Most of our houseplants are Victorian inspired to complement the house—there are lots of palms and ferns,” he says.
Though they’re clearly innovators, much of Frieda and Javvy’s taste draws on the past. They’ve worked lots of antiques into their home, and even their kitchen extension— designed with MRA Architects, who also worked on House of Hackney’s flagship London store—is a Victorian-style greenhouse space rather than a modern glass box. “We wanted to create a sense of nature but also inject beauty and humor into the space,” reflects Frieda. “Decorating our home is really a chance to play.”
Styled by Sophie Brown
This article was first published in the December 2018 issue of ELLE Decoration UK.