Browsing Tag

nursery

Interview

The Nursery Blind Company

I’m really excited to share today’s post with you because I genuinely think it’ll be incredibly helpful. Like many new mums, I didn’t realise quite how important the window dressings in my baby’s nursery would be. Not only did they need to look lovely (of course!), they also needed to be safe and block out as much light as possible in order to maximise the holy grail of all parents: sleep. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware of The Nursery Blind Company when I was doing up Daph’s nursery and so we settled for paper-thin polka dot curtains from Ikea, topped off with blackout fabric suctioned to the window panes. Classy.

So yes, I’m really pleased to introduce Debbie Chan to you today. Debbie’s a mum, and her business does exactly what it says on the tin – I’ll let her tell you more…

How long ago did you start The Nursery Blind Company, and what inspired you to do so?

I started in 2010. I was lucky enough to be working for an interior design company and had access to all the beautiful fabrics and trims which were available. My own children were very young so I designed and made the Roman blinds for their bedrooms. Everybody who saw them loved them and I realised that lots of mums didn’t know where to start looking for something more creative, and also struggled to visualise how they would look.

We think that there is so much choice out there but in fact a lot of it is very similar and of poor quality.

So I thought it would be a good idea to design a small range of hand-sewn blinds that not only looked beautiful but would be available online and are easy for customers to buy at any time. A lot of my enquiries and orders come in during the night and I think it’s mums up nursing their little ones and browsing the internet in the peace and quiet. 

Can you tell us a little bit about what you did before? 

I had done lots of things before, and without realising it at the time, they all came together to help me. When I was much younger I was a children’s nanny for a European family and was surrounded by beautiful and stylish homes and children! Later on I professionally trained to make hand-sewn curtains and blinds and from there was asked to manage the soft furnishing department of an interior design company.  Being a mum helps hugely as you understand the conflicting needs of parents and children. However it also can hinder as you become time poor!

Where do you start when designing a new piece? 

I think as most designers will tell you – they are always looking out for new and exciting things. I always carry a notebook out with me and am scribbling away at ideas. I visit lots of trade fairs for inspiration and look at magazines and also Pinterest. Mostly though I am very mindful that the blinds have to be both beautiful and practical and I have to love them too. I think about trends but also about traditional styles and try to blend them both together. I gather lots of swatches together and make samples up to see what they look like when finished.

Lots of my customers return to me to make curtains and blinds for other rooms in their home and this has led to me offering a range of wool tweed blinds also with pom pom trims, which has proved enormously popular.

Which is your favourite design in the collection? And the most popular?

My favourite design is my newest one – with bunnies appliquéd onto the top edge – I love their little pom pom tails!

The most popular is the grey stars cotton print, with white pom pom trim, as it looks beautiful in both boys’ and girls’ bedrooms and blends with all the lovely soft greys that are so popular at the moment.

Which types of fabrics work best in nurseries and children’s rooms?

Smaller prints or stripes work especially well as windows in children’s bedrooms tend to be smaller. Cotton prints or weaves are also nice as they are natural fabrics and look good whether the blind is up or down.

Please share your five top tips for parents choosing blinds for nurseries and children’s rooms.

Firstly – is it safe? – when the new child safety recommendations came in a couple of years ago I spent a lot of time fully understanding the requirements and ensuring that everything I supply is compliant. There is a lot of confusion in the industry but all blinds now need to be supplied with breakaway devices so that a loop cannot form. It is really important to me that I only supply compliant blinds so naturally everything meets these requirements.

Secondly – Make it fun! As they grow up children’s rooms mean the world to them as they’re spaces just for them, where they feel safe, play with friends and have make-believe adventures. If you get the interior right it can inspire their imagination and creativity.

Thirdly – Make it practical. I use blackout lining on all my blinds and although it will never keep the room completely dark it will make the room dimmer for longer – especially important during long summer days. It’s also a signal to babies that it’s now time to sleep, which all helps with routine.

Fourthly – Try to make it flow with the rest of your house. It is so much easier if you decide on the fabric first and then choose the paint colour to match. I happily send out swatches as I realise how important it is to get this right. I personally don’t like cartoon characters etc. as they tend to be vary garish – and children quickly get tired of them. It can become expensive to keep replacing.

And lastly, Roman blinds are neater and less bulky than curtains – leaving more room to play!

What piece of kids’ design do you most admire?

I love built-in cabin beds that look like dens, or castles or even shabby sheds! They look great and I know from experience how many hours of fun they create. 

When you’re not running the business, how do you like to spend your time?

Ha – well – there’s a question! When I am not ferrying my own children around to various events I do like to play tennis and I also learnt to sail earlier this year as it was something I had always wanted to do.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I love to hear when customers are delighted and some even send me pictures of their blinds up. Some customers have questions beforehand and may want guidance and reassurance especially if it is a first baby – getting the nursery right is a very exciting time! I like to answer questions very quickly and in a personal way as every customer is cherished, exactly as if they had come into a bricks and mortar shop.

QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS!

What’s your favourite…

…holiday destination:

Italy – I love the food!

…children’s interiors brand:

The Little White Company – excellent quality and value for money.

…way to relax:

Sunday morning with the papers (which are usually from the week before!). Sitting in the garden with friends having a drink or just reading a book in peace.

…thing about being a mum:

Enjoying the privilege of being a mum – there was a long time when I didn’t think I was going to be one, so now I enjoy and appreciate everything and just hang on and enjoy the rollercoaster!

Visit The Nursery Blind Company website, NOTHS page and Etsy page.

Interview

Lucy Gough, interiors stylist

Hello! Hope everyone is having a wonderful sunny Sunday! I’ve got a fab interview for you today, with the incredibly talented and lovely Lucy Gough. I’ve known Lucy for a while now – we were both working for the same magazine publisher and even though we were working on different titles, we met by the printer and got chatting! We hit it off and it’s been great to see Lucy’s styling career go from strength to strength when she went freelance.

When I found out Lucy was having a baby, I just knew the little one would end up with one of the most stylish nurseries around, and so I’m very excited to be able to share some photographs of it with you today, along with a little bit more about the mama behind it…

First of all, can you tell us a little bit about you, and your career!

Thank you so much for interviewing me for your fab new blog, Charlotte! I am an Australian-born, London-based Interior Stylist. I have been in London for eight years and I have been in the Styling industry for seven. I am lucky that I have been able to turn my hobby into my full-time career. I create imagery for companies to use for their advertising and promotion and I style and art direct photoshoots for magazines and various publications. I also style and design interiors of people’s homes and businesses.

What’s the best thing about being an interior stylist?

I love that most of my projects are only a few weeks long so I get the opportunity to meet many, many clients throughout the year and work on different projects of varying aesthetics one after the other. I also love keeping up to date on new trends and new designs all year round and sharing my favourites with readers of magazines and through my blog.

Talk us through your ideas for creating Arthur’s nursery.

It was very simple really – I wanted a gender-neutral nursery as we didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl. I have never loved the ‘blue for boys and pink for girls’ thing anyway so I went for a teal colour. My wife and I love to travel so naturally we hope that Arthur will be an an explorer too so we went with a mountain and hot air balloon theme. I found lots of leftover paint in my shed from previous photoshoots so I used what I had to paint the mountain mural on the wall. It took us two days to create his nursery and we got so excited about Arthur’s arrival while we were doing it!

What’s your favourite element of his nursery?

It has to be the mountains as they are so calm and uplifting. However, I also love the woven rug that I bought from West Elm which has a thick silver thread through it and the ceramic owl knobs on the Ikea drawers. Before we started on the paint and furniture we decided we needed to maximise space in the room (as it’s pretty tiny) so we put built-in wardrobes into the alcoves with shaker-style doors on the front. It’s amazing how much bigger they make the room look even though we essentially lost floor space. I suppose the floor-to-ceiling doors draw your eyes up to the ceiling so it feels taller.

Colourful cot sheet, Kip and Ko from Antipodream

Anything you wish you’d done differently?

I think we should have laid carpet down as a draft comes up through the old, original floorboards. We have tried to cover the floor with the large rug but I still think we may lay carpet before the next winter. I genuinely love everything else about the room though and I think Arthur is happy with it too!

What’s your top parenting survival tip?

Graze on food all day to keep your energy levels up! Parenting is hard when you are tired and hungry (the tired thing is inevitable but there’s no excuse for not eating.) And have a packet of wet wipes in every room. You never know when you are going to need them! Thirdly, make some mum friends. I was always one who dreaded the whole mum-group thing but in the end they are your most valuable asset to get you through your first year. I met my group through mum and baby yoga and we have a Whatsapp group and we talk all day about everything! They are such wonderful women. Motherhood can be very isolating and you need people in your life who are at exactly the same stage as you.

Who or what inspires you?

My mum. She is an amazing woman who taught me everything I needed to know about being a strong, independent and successful woman and mother.

QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS!

What’s your favourite…

…kids interiors brand(s):

There are so many! But my top two are:
Mokee – they have great furniture designs for small nurseries at Ikea prices.
Hedgehog is a wonderful emporium of kids toys, games and accessories.

…holiday destination:
Australia. Oz is so versatile, you get sun, surf, city, rainforest, outback and ski slopes all in one continent! But, then obviously I would say that as that’s my home. I also particularly love Barcelona as it’s easy to get to from London, it has a beautiful beach and there are cultural activities everywhere.

…way to relax:
Read a good book in bed with my phone on silent.

…thing about being a mum:
Watching an incredible little human grow, thrive and develop by the day. I absolutely love being a mum – it’s the best thing I have ever done!

Nursery photography: Georgia Gold

Chat

We need you!

Hello! A couple of bits of ‘business’ to discuss with you today!

You may have guessed from the picture and headline, but I wanted to do a little shout out to you all. First of all though, a big thanks is due. I’ve been so chuffed with the response to the blog since launching in March – I’ve had so many more visitors than I could have predicted, which is fantastic and hopefully means I’m filling a bit of gap in the blogging world.

So, I thought today I’d say: please don’t be shy! If you’re an independent children’s designer, get in touch! I don’t charge to feature brands, I genuinely simply feature products that I love and I love hearing from you all. So please do send me your press releases/stories – you can use the form on the Contact page to get in touch.

I really want to build a little resource here for new and existing parents to refer to when they’re doing up their children’s rooms/playrooms, so am constantly on the hunt for the most original and exciting new designs. And on another note, if you’re an inspiring mum or dad with an amazing nursery or children’s room to share, then please do drop me a line too – I’m always on the lookout for real room tours to feature.

Phew! The short version of all that waffle is: got something lovely to share? then get in touch! Please and thank you!

Secondly, we’re on holiday in Devon this week, which means that I’m going to have a week off blogging. I will be back next Tuesday 13th. It’s tempting to work while we’re down here but I think better for all our sanities if I have a proper break from t’internet. Especially with the horrible events occurring at the moment. And on that note, hope you and all your loved ones are safe – I’ll be squeezing Daphne extra hard today.

Furniture

Diamond nursery furniture from Urban Avenue

It’s not often that furniture takes me by surprise these days – having spent 15 years being sent press releases on everything interiors-related, I’ve pretty much seen it all. But I was really taken with the nursery furniture set by Spanish brand Alondra baby. It’s SO contemporary, so clean and yet striking, but also somehow so grown up – maybe not to everyone’s taste, but I had to feature it.

I love the fact that the press shots for this show the furniture in some ultra-minimalist waterside pad – the very antithesis of what most UK nurseries look like I suspect! And the furniture itself is on the (very) pricey side. However, if you’ve got the budget and you want something really modern, then it’s a pretty reasonable investment. The glossy white design can be used in an adult’s bedroom too and, in case you think I’m going mad, the cot turns into a cotbed and then – wait for it ladies and gents – a desk!

Yes, a desk.

It’s sort of genius actually. When you think about it, a chest of drawers is a chest of drawers, and a wardrobe is a wardrobe, but when you see matching nursery furniture sets, they’re often very ‘childish’ in design, and only suitable for kids’ rooms. Which means that as little ones grow up, the chest of drawers doesn’t suit their room anymore, and the wardrobe is too small. Not so with these pieces – they’re timeless, and the only bit of furniture you definitely don’t need as you grow, the cot, transforms into a desk, meaning nothing is wasted.

The drawers in the chest, and the doors on the wardrobe are all handleless, with a pleasing push mechanism to open and close. There’s even an optional changing kit available for the chest of drawers which attaches to the top of the chest and offers a choice of coloured changing pads.

What do you think? Is it a white gloss finish too far for you? It’s available from Urban Avenue.

3 Of The Best

Lightboxes

Now, I’m aware that lightboxes have become a little bit of an interiors cliche, because they’ve been EVERYWHERE for the past couple of years. Particularly the DIY letter types that you can customise with your own thoughts/shopping lists/mantras. They’re cute but they’ve become a little too ubiquitous methinks.

Daphne has four different sources of lighting in her room, plus a Gro Clock, so sadly I’m not sure we can squeeze anything else in. However, I am thinking of swapping her rather boring nightlight for one of these fun designs – if I can decide which…

Despite suffering a little from over-exposure, lightboxes are still a really fun way to add lighting to a kids’ room, and there are some really fab designs out there. As I’ve probably said a thousand times, I’m a sucker for quirky lighting and I love the fact that in a child’s room, you’ve basically got carte blanche to go a bit mad. Lightboxes are a really affordable way of doing this, and in today’s post I wanted to think outside the box (sorry, couldn’t resist) and go for something different. So, here are my top three lightboxes, if you’re looking for something a little more unusual (and can’t think what to spell out yourself!)…

I was sent a press release from Sgt Smith about their quirky personalised dinosaur lightboxes, and couldn’t resist them. There are a choice of colours available, and you can add your child’s ‘dinosaur’ name to the design. Handmade in Huddersfield, each lightbox has a wired electrical connection, and is designed to sit on a flat surface, providing a soft sidelight.

On another scale entirely, how amazing is this lightbox? From Oakdene Designs, it depicts Planet Earth in all its glory, and is probably designed for grown ups, but I think older children would love it. There’s also a moon version available. Very cool for any budding astronauts out there…

Last but not least, another beauty by A Little Lovely Company. The Lightbox Frame from This Modern Life is an interchangeable poster frame with LED lights behind, meaning you can change the look as often as you like. There are lots of sets of posters available – from cute animals like this little panda to inspirational sayings. It’s perfect for little kids who can get involved and choose which poster to display, but there are also some adorable nursery-themed posters available, so it works well as a nightlight too. It’s also currently half price – bonus!