‘It feels like a Mediterranean retreat here’
August 7, 2023
After years living in London as a student at The Royal College of Art then a film and TV production designer, Luana Hanson decided to sell the Victorian terraced house in Twickenham she shared with her 14-year-old son, and return to her native Manchester. ‘I’d always enjoyed coming back up here for work,’ explains Luana, who has designed sets for productions including BBC’s Last Tango in Halifax, as well as winning a Royal Television Society Award for her work on Channel 4 drama It’s a Sin. ‘There are more work opportunities here now than ever before, especially in TV, so I was happy to move back up north for a new lifestyle,’ she says. ‘I wanted somewhere similar to Twickenham with a sense of community and good transport links to the city.’
Time for a change
In her bid to find the ideal house Luana, who also runs an interior design practice (luanahansoninteriors.co.uk), viewed 18 properties. ‘I viewed 65 potential homes when I lived in London, so to me it wasn’t that many!’ she admits. ‘The market was very buoyant though, so as soon as something came up for sale, it was being snapped up straight away.’
Eventually Luana found a modern three-bedroom eco home with solar panels in a suburb of south Manchester that was perfect. ‘I loved the open-plan, split-level layout, and it was full of light, which was so important to me,’ she explains. ‘Plus, it’s very green around here; there are 70 acres of meadows just down the road where you can go walking.’
Personalising the space
After tackling all the DIY snagging jobs during lockdown alongside her busy job, Luana has gradually worked her way around the house, replacing the bedroom carpets and re-painting the white walls with a combination of natural stone shades. And by opting for contrasting dark navy feature walls in the living room, kitchen and bedrooms, her cherished possessions and artwork can really sing. ‘My style is modern, clean, uncluttered and minimalist, but with an eclectic twist,’ says Luana. ‘I’m inspired by everything from magazines and Instagram to art galleries and exhibitions, and I often get ideas when I’m out recceing for shoot locations and looking inside people’s houses.’
Displaying old and new
Dotted around the house are several pieces with special meaning created by Luana’s late father, a sculptor who was head of studio at Madame Tussauds. They include a bronze model of Luana’s head from when she was six, and her son when he was eight. There are also coastal scenes by Luana’s mum, a painter and sculptor who lives in St Ives, as well as film and TV memorabilia from various projects. ‘I’ve framed some of Gary Oldman’s story boards, which he gave me as a thank you present when I worked on his film Nil By Mouth,’ she says. ‘And I have a cast of Alfred Hitchcock’s hands from 1979 that my dad was involved in creating, which I plan to put up in an alcove.’ There’s also a gold painting in the living room created as a test piece when Luana was designing Rifat Ozbek’s London Fashion Show in 1993. ‘We then gold-leafed an enormous backdrop for his catwalk show, in which Naomi Campbell, Yasmin Le Bon, Linda Evangelista and Cindy Crawford were all modelling,’ she recalls.
A message from the editor:
Let us help you create the home of your dreams! Get ideas & inspiration from Good Homes every month, delivered direct to your door. Visit goodhomesmagazine.com/newsletter to sign up for the weekly Good Homes newsletter.
~ Karen Walker, Editor, Good Homes
Choosing timeless pieces
Next, Luana wants to add more fitted wardrobes in the bedrooms and replace the wooden fencing at the front with glass balustrades. However, she’s not one for impulse buys or wastefulness. ‘You might want things, like an outdoor kitchen for instance, but you don’t actually need one,’ she says. ‘We live in a world of endless consumption, but I try to buy classic pieces that won’t date and keep them for a long time. I’ve had the Habitat sofa for about 25 years, for example, and the coffee table was originally maroon, but I’ve painted the top in the same stone colour as the walls.’
Life in a new city
Having started an interior design business in London, Luana is keen to share her expertise with homeowners in Manchester too. ‘My job had taken me to 18 different countries, and it was difficult juggling the travelling and long hours expected in TV and film,’ she explains. Her top tips include keeping a project diary, getting a detailed breakdown for any quote, never selecting a paint colour under artificial light and always having a contingency fund of around 20%. ‘You only have to watch Grand Designs to know that every project goes over budget!’ she says.
Luana has no regrets about moving and the new lifestyle her home affords her. ‘It’s given me space to entertain, an office to create in, plus it’s near the hustle and bustle of a lively, trendy street,’ she says. ‘I do tend to get itchy feet, and would love to go travelling for a year in a camper van, but I can always rent this place out if I do.
MORE HOUSE TOURS
- ‘I designed our home from scratch’
- Vintage finds give this Kent cottage reno a modern country vibe
- ‘We sacrificed some bedrooms to create a luxurious home’