MEET TRUDY: A WALLPAPER GENIUS
(AND YOU CAN VISIT HER HOME)
Trudy hannan doesn’t do boring. Her character villa in the leafy Auckland suburb of Herne Bay is teeming with pattern and colour: bold wallpapers, jewel-toned velvets and quirky cushions. Trudy’s fun approach to decorating reflects her attitude towards life. As a one-year-old she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis and 16 years ago underwent a double lung transplant and since then she has chosen to look on the bright side of life at all times. “I try to find a silver lining in everything,” she says. “There are so many beautiful things out there that it’s easy to be inspired.”
Trudy and husband Gordon Trainer, an entrepreneur, moved to Herne Bay from the North Shore three years ago. Though the recently married couple had decided they’d had enough of renting, they weren’t actively looking for a place to buy. “We weren’t going to auctions and open homes every weekend. We were just cruising,” says Trudy. “And then Gordon just happened to see this house in a magazine.”
A serendipitous connection with the real estate agent meant a visit was quickly arranged. Walking through the 120-year-old villa, Trudy knew instantly it was the one. There was plenty of room for guests and the sunny square of lawn at the rear of the house was just big enough for Trudy’s two young nieces to run around. Best of all, it offered a blank canvas to which Trudy could add her own flair: “It was just perfect for us.” >
The circa-1890 villa was once the centre of an extensive orchard – a couple of gnarled fruit trees in neighbouring gardens are the only remnants – and had undergone several renovations over the years. The most recent work took place two years before Trudy and Gordon bought the property in 2010.
A developer added the light-filled kitchen, dining and living area that opens onto the expansive deck where Trudy and Gordon now barbecue (a recent dinner, cooked alfresco, included roast lamb and potatoes roasted – “of course,” says Trudy – in duck fat). The rest of the house was also modernised, though the spirit of the villa remained in the high ceilings and mouldings, picture windows at the front of the house and the original hardwood floors in the long hallway. >
“That’s what drew me to it,” says Trudy. “I always wanted a character home.” The villa was, however, very beige.
Trudy engaged interior designer Megan Poole to help with the villa’s makeover. As a self-described lady of leisure, it was important to Trudy that the house was perfect. “I don’t have children and I don’t work so my house is my everything. I spend a lot of time here and so it was really important to love it.”
She collected images to give to Megan, along with a brief heavily inspired by the luxurious, often quirky boutique hotels she and Gordon have stayed at here and overseas, such as the Nice Hotel in New Plymouth and the MGallery Francis Hotel in Bath.
Megan would turn up bearing books filled with fabric and wallpaper samples and designs for the bespoke furniture that now fills the house. “It was so much fun,” says Trudy. “I’d show her a picture and say, ‘I really love this’ and she would find it.”
Despite a predilection for colour (“I’m not a very neutral person”), Trudy doesn’t think she has a particular decorating style. “I don’t fit into one category. I like a mixture of things. I like colour and a bit of whimsy and for it to be fun but glamorous. And I love wallpaper.”
That’s something of an understatement. Wallpaper is a feature of almost every room in the house. >
Fuchsia details in the living room are backdropped by a graphic black and white design by Designers Guild, the guest bedroom – with its candy-coloured blinds and cushions – is dominated by a classic Fornasetti pattern and the hallway is papered with silvery damask. “Wallpaper makes such a difference to a room,” says Trudy. “It adds a sparkle.”
The main bathroom is one of the few spaces where the walls remain bare… but not for long. Trudy’s currently working on convincing Gordon. “He can’t get his mind around the idea of wallpaper in a bathroom.”
Indeed, though Gordon has mostly gone with the flow in terms of the decor (“I ran everything past him but he’s just kind of like ‘whatever’: he’s perfect. I don’t think I could have a husband who cared about all that!”) his downstairs study remains untouched (and equipped with a big-screen TV). “It’s a shocker,” says Trudy. “I don’t take guests down there.” Eventually, she hopes to transform it into a gentleman’s club-style salon featuring dark tones and wood on wood.
In the meantime she’s happy pottering about her colourful home, baking ( Bluebells Cakery cookbook is a current favourite: “I’ve done a couple of things and they turn out perfect, just like the picture!”), gardening and hanging out with her nieces. “I find little need to stress about anything. I truly choose to live a relaxing life.”
THIS PAGE (clockwise from top left) Trudy’s chaise longue was custom-made for her by Designers Collection and upholstered in Sanderson velvet. Gordon’s armchair was designed to accommodate his considerable height comfortably. Trudy bought the Wedgwood vase at Harrods; Jo Malone scents and candles perfume the house.
OPPOSITE Although Gordon would have liked a 50-inch screen in the cosy television room, Trudy put her foot down: “I’m not a big fan of a room being oriented around a television. I like other points of interest”; the mirror and silver leaf cabinets are from CC Interiors and the wallpaper is Persia Rococo Mirror by Zoffany.
THIS PAGE (clockwise from left) The hallway features Cole & Son Albemarle Baudelaire wallpaper; the English makers requested pictures once it had been hung as it was the first time the design had been used. Trudy bought the ducks in the bathroom “years ago” and they’ve followed her from house to house: “Everyone comments on them. When you’re sitting on the toilet it’s not what you expect to have two ducks looking at you!” The Designers Collection Annabelle chair in the master bedroom is upholstered in Delauney fabric by Unique Fabrics. Afternoon sun pours into the master bedroom.
OPPOSITE The custom-made headboard is a recent addition to the master bedroom, made by Window Design Interiors and upholstered in Catherine Martin fabric.
THIS PAGE (from top) Trudy and Gordon met seven or eight years ago when both were working at Ernst & Young. Fretwork around the veranda and a classic garden design underscore the period character of the home.
OPPOSITE Visitors love the colourful guest bedroom, which features Cole & Son Fornasetti Tema e Variazioni wallpaper and Trudy’s much-loved Lamb Chop stuffed toy.