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Gesa Hansen’s Country Style: The Scandinavian-German Designer’s Family Quarters Outside of Paris

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Gesa Hansen’s Country Style: The Scandinavian-German Designer’s Family Quarters Outside of Paris

April 22, 2019

Back in 2014, when we last visited Gesa Hansen, she had her hands full: she was living with her toddler daughter in a Paris apartment and running her furniture line, The Hansen Family, a collection of Scandinavian-accented, minimalist oak pieces produced by her parents’ workshop in Germany (see A Furniture Designer At Home in Paris). “I come from a family of carpenters, designers, and architects,” Gesa always says, by way of explaining her impressive set of creds—which include a childhood in a tiny town in western Germany spent playing with wood, a design degree from Bauhaus University in Weimar (yes, still in operation), an additional degree from Japan’s Nagoya University of Arts, and a first job in architect Jean Nouvel’s Paris office.

Of late, she’s even busier: now working as an interior designer as well as furniture designer, with projects for her own line and for Villeroy & Boch and Skagerak among others, she’s married to Paris restaurateur Charles Compagnon and has three kids, ages 2, 4, and 8—and an idyllic life 36 miles south of Paris. The family home is a 19th-century stone compound in Courances, a village with a moated château and famous garden near the forest of Fontainebleau. Gesa plays polo; Charles roasts all the coffee and grows all the herbs for his restaurants, Le 52 and Le Richer. Come see.

Photography by Nathalie Mohadjer, unless noted, all courtesy of Gesa Hansen (@GesaHansen).

The compound was built in the 50s as a guest house &#8
Above: The compound was built in the 1850s as a guest house “for people who weren’t staying at the castle,” says Gesa. The former stable is now a garage/tool shed on one side and a coffee roasting station on the other.
The family had been previously living above one of Charles&#8
Above: The family had been previously living above one of Charles’s restaurants in Paris. Gesa says that after spending an afternoon at a friend’s place nearby, “we were so happy that we stopped at an immoblier and looked at two houses. I fell in love immediately, and we bought the second one.”
The house had been previously owned by a Swiss couple who &#8
Above: The house had been previously owned by a Swiss couple who “did a perfect job renewing the windows and the heating system,” says Gesa. She saw on that first visit that she could preserve the existing details while also “projecting” her own style onto them.
The foyer has its original stone floor and stucco walls—and a laid-back vibe that Gesa carries throughout.
Above: The foyer has its original stone floor and stucco walls—and a laid-back vibe that Gesa carries throughout.
Romy, the couple&#8
Above: Romy, the couple’s youngest child, plays on Ilse Crawford’s popular 2015 daybed for Ikea.
Gesa is currently at work on a hotel in Paris for the Orso group.
Above: Gesa is currently at work on a hotel in Paris for the Orso group.

Her mother is German and her father is Danish; they work together, along with her older brother, at the family furniture factory, and Gesa visits once a month to oversee production. She says to “just contact my mum”—via the Hansen Family website—if you have any questions about any of her pieces.

&#8
Above: “I was a little afraid of falling into the cliché of the white redesigned country house that you see in magazines,” Gesa tells us, explaining that as an antidote she looked at Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershoi’s portraits of interiors and photos of old English estates. “Our living room is pretty dark, so I decided to accept that and bring a strong blue into it.” She used Little Greene’s Bone China Blue and painted the brick mantel Little Greene’s Hicks Blue.

The sectional sofa—three Night Couches joined—and  Remix Coffee Tables are her own design, all made of solid oak. Photograph by Romain Richard.

Gesa preserved the room&#8
Above: Gesa preserved the room’s tiled floor. The corner near the kitchen is the dining area, furnished with her Remix Dining Table (with an inset central storage compartment) and new companion benches. Note the woven wallpaper: “The walls felt a bit cold, so I added Philipp Jeffries’s Juicy Jute in Baltic Blue; the texture helps so much to warm things up.” The photo of costumed figures is by Charles Fréger.
The checked kitchen floor is also as was, but Gesa redesigned the room with her friend Emiliano Schmidt Fiori. They heightened the ceiling and, in place of ragtag 70s cabinets, installed solid oak drawers and open storage: &#8
Above: The checked kitchen floor is also as was, but Gesa redesigned the room with her friend Emiliano Schmidt Fiori. They heightened the ceiling and, in place of ragtag 1970s cabinets, installed solid oak drawers and open storage: “my husband loves to cook and likes everything to be visible.” Photograph by Romain Richard
Gesa commutes to her Paris office several days a week. At home, she works from Ikea&#8
Above: Gesa commutes to her Paris office several days a week. At home, she works from Ikea’s cork-topped table and benches, another Ilse Crawford ensemble (sadly no longer available). An Olivetti Valentine typewriter hangs on the wall.
&#8
Above: “Our bedroom is designed with textiles from my favorite label, Pierre Frey,” says Gesa. The headboard is covered in Le Couple fabric, and the curtains are a velvet called Luigi. “It’s such a beautiful, golden light when the sun shines through in the morning.”
In the master bathroom, a paneled wall with cut-out shelving divides the sink area from the bath. Storage under the sink is hidden by a skirt in Pierre Frey&#8
Above: In the master bathroom, a paneled wall with cut-out shelving divides the sink area from the bath. Storage under the sink is hidden by a skirt in Pierre Frey’s Caraibes pattern.
The wall paneling, another original detailing, came in a dark wood. Gesa whitewashed it to brighten the space: &#8
Above: The wall paneling, another original detailing, came in a dark wood. Gesa whitewashed it to brighten the space: “since all my furniture is made of of wood, I felt it wouldn’t be missed.” A peg rail over the bath provides handy storage.
Gesa designed the horse headboard for her daughter Lou, who loves to ride.
Above: Gesa designed the horse headboard for her daughter Lou, who loves to ride.
The kids&#8
Above: The kids’ bath is blue and white, including the Artis basin, which is one of Gesa’s designs for Villeroy & Boch. The circular mirror is the Hansen Family’s Remix Mirror Kagami of oak with an inset ring that comes in cream, yellow, or navy.
The shower and sink backsplash are patterned with subway tiles that Gesa describes as &#8
Above: The shower and sink backsplash are patterned with subway tiles that Gesa describes as “ending like the frames of old photographs.”
The bathroom shower and sink fixtures are from Villeroy & Boch. Shampoo and soap bottles hang on the wall from metal loops.
Above: The bathroom shower and sink fixtures are from Villeroy & Boch. Shampoo and soap bottles hang on the wall from metal loops.
The house is surrounded by gardens and came with its horseshoe-detailed shutters.
Above: The house is surrounded by gardens and came with its horseshoe-detailed shutters.
&#8
Above: “The house had this immediate feeling of soul and the garden was as we wanted it to be” says Gesa. Go to Gardenista to read Everything You Need to Know About Hydrangea.
Charles&#8
Above: Charles’s herbs grow in beds with woven willow edging made by friends of Gesa’s parents. For similar options, see Garden Must-Have: Woven Willow Fences and Trellises and Hardscaping 101: Woven Fences.

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