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Helen Baker Home

I’m really pleased that the trend for gender neutral kids’ products has come across from fashion and is catching on in interiors too. It seems really daft to me that decor, accessories, furniture – even toys! – should be seen as only suitable for boys or for girls. Daphne is a real tomboy – she doesn’t suit girly clothes, and I quite often find myself gravitating towards the boys’ sections in Gap Kids, in search of something a little less twee.

Anyway, I’m excited to share this post with you. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed earlier in the week that I was sent the most gorgeous cushion from brand-spanking new fabric designer Helen Baker. Helen kindly sent it to me, along with her press release, but I promise I’d be writing about this lovely new brand even if she hadn’t.

So, why am I banging on about gender-neutral designs? Helen, another mum on a mission, wanted to design a range of fabrics that would work well for any gender and any age, perfect for contemporary family spaces. As she says herself on her blog, in modern times we all live in multifunctional open-plan areas, and we want those living spaces to be aesthetically pleasing to all its occupants, no matter how old. Her first collection aimed to address those needs. Oh, and better still, the designs take their inspiration from Cornwall, where Helen grew up.

So onto the designs. I have to say, I love them. They are right up my street – fresh, bright, cheerful and simple. I’m not a huge fan of fussy pattern and prefer clean lines and muted colours. The designs all feel welcoming and comforting – easy to live with – and also timeless.

There are six designs available in a range of colourways, but my favourites are the Cornish Clouds (on the lampshade above) and the Starfish (top picture). As for the shades available, I love the punchy hue of ‘Lobster’ as well as the soft green of ‘Rockpool’.

Other nice things to know are that the fabrics are printed in the UK on 100% natural cotton, using eco-friendly inks. Oh and there are cushions and lampshades to buy, as well as the fabric. Find out more on the Helen Baker Design website.

Accessories Decor

Sunday Shop: Perfect Prints

I haven’t really shouted much about it, but you may have spotted the Shop section of the blog (in fact, I know some of you have because I have seen the stats!). In here, you’ll find some of my top kids’ room picks, and best of all you can buy them directly from the site, without having to go off to each retailer directly. In case you’re wondering how this works, it’s thanks to a nifty little plugin called Showroom. It doesn’t cost you anything extra but I do get a (teeny) percentage from each sale made through this site.

Anyway, as it’s Sunday, also known in my house as Online Shopping Day, I thought it might be fun to do a little round up post of my favourite prints available through my store.

I’m slightly obsessed with prints! I have loads up in my office at home – I’ve tried to create a gallery wall of sorts, and I usually prefer them to ‘proper’ artwork. I do remember going a bit mad in my old flat with what my friend Amy calls ‘bossy art’ – graphic posters telling you to smile more often etc etc. I’ve moved on from the slogans though, and am now loving anything and everything simple, clear and striking. And there’s just so much wonderful artwork for children’s rooms out there…

Right, that’s enough from me. A picture speaks a thousand words and all that… Onto the shopping – enjoy – and do let me know which is your favourite! Mine is the very lovely Rifle Paper Co’s Noah’s Ark print, as pictured above…

Decor GTYR Loves

Portraits wallpaper by Hibou Home

I have this problem with wallpaper. I love it. I love all of it (mostly). But I find it really hard to live with patterns for a long time. When we moved into this house, there were feature walls galore in all the bedrooms, which we covered up with less floraly, more seventies wallpaper, as befits the style of the house. And I do love it. But I already want to change it. I think I just can’t stay committed to one design.

In Daph’s room, we have a very cool design by Mini Moderns (one day, when I get my good camera out, I’ll take some pics and do a room tour of Daph’s room for you all!). But when I was looking for wallpaper for her room, I did really fall in love with this whimsical design by Hibou Home.

Inspired by traditional ancestral family portraits, the design features delightful portraits of animal characters framed in olive leaf wreaths. They even have names. Yes, really. Of course they have names! My particular favourite is the hare, named Great Uncle Algernon (what else could he be called?!). However, I’m fairly sure that Daphne would love Aunt Maude, the cat with the pillbox hat, best.

The design is finished off with subtle gold accents, to add a bit of shimmer, and it’s very firmly gender-neutral too, which pleases me. There are also matching cushions in the range to complete the look. Gorgeous. Available from Hibou Home.

Decor Interview

Q&A with Little Knights Paint

The natural inclination when you’re expecting a baby is to grab the paintbrushes (or get your other half to) and decorate the nursery, but have you ever thought about the paint you’re using to do so? It’s widely accepted that paint fumes can have adverse affects on asthma sufferers and very young babies should be kept away from anything with harmful solvents in. The NHS advises people to choose paints specifically designed for use in children’s rooms, and so when I heard about a new paint brand, Little Knights, specifically designed for nurseries, I was intrigued.

I spoke to the founder, Mark Gardner, about the story behind the brand, and asked him to share some of his expertise…

How did Little Knights start?

I wanted to create the safest paint in the marketplace. We know people can get headaches or have sinus issues related to paint, and this can be even worse for young children whose immune system is still developing.

There are paints on the marketplace that sound safe because of their claim that the ingredients are ‘100% natural’, but they use things like casein, a milk produce which contains protein and bacteria. This can become a potential breeding ground for bacteria and mould, which can lead to chest-related illnesses and other problems.

Other products are marketed as “low-VOC”, but Little Knights is 100% VOC free, odour-free, completely solvent-free and antibacterial.

Can you tell us about your background?

I have worked in the coatings industry for 35 years and have made specialist products for all manner of applications, including anti-bacterial products for the NHS, schools and restaurants, giving me a unique insight into what is possible.

What is it that makes Little Knights stand out?

Every single pigment and resin we are using is completely harmless and VOC-free. The active additive is all FDA, EPA, HAC-approved and have non-hazardous certification.

Early in the development stage, one of the biggest chemical companies in the world introduced a brand-new resin that we are one of the first paint manufacturers to use. Not only did it help us to make Little Knights even safer, it contains a unique additive that absorbs formaldehyde (widely used in the manufacture of MDF furniture, carpets and curtains) from the air and chemically alters it to render it harmless.

Once Little Knights paint hits the watercourse system, it breaks down, meaning it doesn’t harm the environment when you wash your brushes out in the sink.

How did you come up with the range of colours?

There are sixteen colours in the range, inspired by the Suffolk countryside, and we worked with a designer to get these right. Although Little Knights was primarily intended to be a nursery paint, we felt it was important to introduce colours suitable for all the family and for every room. Every batch of paint is individually made and physically checked by eye.

Anything else that parents should know about Little Knights?

The boxes are eco-friendly. They are made from 100% recyclable card and are thicker than any other transport paint box, which means they should always arrive safely at a customer’s door. We use triple-lock tins so you can reseal the tin and the lid locks back on itself. There should be no mess or spills with Little Knights!

Find out more about the brand at the Little Knights website>