Interior design duo Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead – aka 2 Lovely Gays – have created a bed linen range, just in time for National Bed Month, inspired by their new Forest Hill home. The Resident catches up with the pair and their collaborator, Molly Freshwater of the Secret Linen Store
Words: Trish Lesslie
If proof were needed that Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead are ahead of the design curve, it came courtesy of Pantone. When the world’s leading authority on colour heralded Rose Quartz and Serenity as the top shades for 2016, the pair had already presciently chosen almost identical shades for their first bed linen range, a collaboration with the Secret Linen Store, which goes on sale this March but was designed almost a year ago.
Still, it wasn’t a colour chart that inspired the three new duvet cover and pillowcase designs. The couple’s muse has been the Victorian, four-bedroom Forest Hill home they moved into last January, which has shifted their design aesthetic from Scandi-influenced simplicity and signature use of bold colour.
‘Our last house was much more slick and clean, but after moving in here we’ve slowly become more and more in love with the little period features and that has taken us in a different direction,’ says Jordan who, like his partner in life and business, was an actor before the pair found their design mojo.
‘We loved the colour palette of the house instantly, but we put a slightly more sophisticated twist on it,’ he adds. Indeed the rather Pepto-Bismol pink of the elegantly-proportioned hall has been somewhat toned down to a soft candy shade for Florence, a pattern inspired by the Florentine marbled papers the couple found hidden in a cupboard in the house.
The pair have also reinterpreted the hall’s anaglypta wallpaper into a fresh play on a classic geometric pattern on Mary, named after the previous owner. ‘Anaglypta has this real charm,’ says Jordan, who was runner-up in BBC2’s Great Interior Design Challenge. ‘It sometimes makes you think of granny’s house, but we fell in love with it.’
The textures the pair discovered in their home after stripping back layer upon layer of wallpaper and paint inspired Moon, a lunar-like design in muted tones
With a camellia flower at its centre, the design also references the long-established flowering tree at the entrance to the house that was planted by the eponymous Mary. Wanting to ensure all three linen sets had unisex appeal, the couple chose to create the floral design in a soft, Serenity-like blue.
The textures the pair discovered in their home after stripping back layer upon layer of wallpaper and paint inspired Moon, a lunar-like design in muted tones. ‘We were fascinated as bits of plaster came off the walls, revealing textures and patterns that had been hidden for decades,’ says Jordan.
With the house proving a seemingly endless source of inspiration, it’s hard to believe the couple – who also co-own St David Coffee House near Forest Hill Station – had no interest in the property when it first came to their attention. ‘An estate agent we know came into the café saying we had to see this amazing place,’ says Russell. ‘But we’d just finished our last house and weren’t looking for another big project, so we said “no way”. But she came back insisting the place was perfect for us, so we eventually took a look.’
The estate agent was right. The 2 Lovely Gays – a moniker affectionately bestowed on them by friends and inspired by the post code of their first shared home, 2LG – decided almost instantly the house would be their next big venture. ‘Our initial plan was to dive in and do what we did on the last project – rip everything out and do it quickly,’ explains Jordan. ‘But as we started peeling back the layers of the wallpaper and seeing all these other things we stopped in our tracks.’
There is more than a sense of serendipity in how the 2 Lovely Gays formed their collaboration with The Secret Linen Store, too. As Russell and Jordan were moving into their new home with their beloved dachshund Buckley, Molly Freshwater, who founded the Secret Linen Store with her sister three years ago, was searching for a design collaborator.
I was looking for someone that wasn’t going to try to do something similar to what we already offered
‘I was looking for someone that wasn’t going to try to do something similar to what we already offered,’ explains Molly, who happens to live just a few streets away from Russell and Jordan. ‘My hand is quite mid-century – big shapes, quite bold or white – but these guys have got a very different style.’
When a mutual contact introduced her to the design duo, everything clicked into place. ‘We threw some ideas around and working together seemed like the perfect thing to do,’ says Molly.
Russell agrees. ‘Some of our clients had raved about the company and we’d already incorporated some of their designs into our projects,’ he says. ‘We’ve always loved the quality of their products and the fact that the business is local is a plus, too.’