‘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.’

Luana loves the simplicity of the kitchen, with a favourite canvas of Porthmeor beach by her mum on the wall. ‘I’d like to eventually change the worktops to quartz, adapt the island to create a breakfast bar and remove the extractor fan, adding one flush to the ceiling,’ she says. Photo: Katie Lee

Time for a change

In her bid to find the ideal house Luana, who also runs an interior design practice (, 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.’

Left: Off the kitchen is a door leading to another small patio area, where Luana sometimes has breakfast. ‘Along with the rear decked patio, there’s also a little roof terrace, so it’s nice having three different outside spaces’, she says. Right: The glass balustrade and open-tread stairs enable plenty of borrowed light to come through the large windows at the rear. ‘I picked a classic Scandi design table by Hay and teamed it with chairs from John Lewis & Partners that won’t date.’ Photos: Katie Lee

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.’

A dark feature wall painted in Dock Blue by Little Greene makes Luana’s artworks – including a framed glass box of memorabilia found in her late father’s sculpting studio – stand out, while creating a contrast with the lighter faux-suede sofa from Habitat. ‘I like a bold pop of colour, so the pink velvet cushion from John Lewis & Partners works well,’ she says. Photo: Katie Lee

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.

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Left: The wood burner was already in situ but Luana has painted behind to accentuate it. ‘I created the artwork myself many years ago from leftover paint, and it fits perfectly in this space,’ she says. Right: A trio of pendants from Tala Lighting make the most of the ceiling height and complement the glass balustrade. ‘I love the unusual split-level layout,’ says Luana. ‘It’s what originally drew me to the house’. Photos: Katie Lee

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.’

Left: Luana picked up the pair of Egon Schiele art prints at the Pompidou Centre on a trip to Paris when was 18, opting for a simple monochrome pendant light from Amazon with a Tala bulb to complete the look. Right: A long made-to-measure shelf provides a spot for an ever-changing display of prints and family photos. Luana has painted the bottom half using Off-Black by Farrow & Ball, which makes her bed from The White Company stand out, and the bee motif on the Timorous Beasties cushion is a symbol of Manchester. Photos: Katie Lee

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.

Left: Luana has had the Habitat metal bed in the guest room since she was a 19-year-old student. ‘I love their furniture,’ 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.’Right: Trailing plants bring verdant freshness and a softer element to the monochrome bathroom, which features wall-hung fittings to make the space feel bigger. Photos: Katie Lee

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.



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