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For fun, and on the suggestion of a friend, I entered my four-year-old’s room into Ohdeedoh’s ‘Small Kids, Big Color’ contest. What a kick to see it actually featured on the home page of that blog!  Apparently they only select a few and there are some amazing entries there, so I’m thrilled to be in such good company. If you liked the room when I first posted it here, feel free to vote for it here 😉 And check out some of the other entries – truly inspiring.

My son is beyond excited to have his room appear on the site – even if he doesn’t quite get how it ended up there!


I’ve had this image in my files for a while now, without realizing where it came from. Today, Apartment Therapy has a post about this room and others, all from L’Hotel Recamier in Paris.

While the canopy headboards are a bit much for me, I find these shots inspiring because of the use of geometric patterns (a favorite technique of mine for pulling a room together) and layered textiles in shades of blue and gray. This has to be a lesson in how to combine multiple patterns for a calming and cohesive look.

I also like the use of mirrors as part of the headboard itself. Admittedly, it wouldn’t work here in earthquake country, but if I ever moved anywhere else I’d definitely consider it…

As you might have guessed from my absence the past week or so, baby number two finally arrived! He’s a gorgeous, healthy little boy. We’re back home, getting into a routine and just getting used to being a family of four. In honor of the occasion, I thought I’d show you how the nursery turned out – having got it finished just in time.

If you recall from my earlier post, I really wanted to introduce wallpaper into this room. It had to be appropriate for a baby but last through his toddler years or possibly serve for an adult guest room or office one day (if we switch the rooms around). I settled on this Hick’s Hexagon by Cole and Son, thinking a geometric pattern would serve all those needs. I especially love the color – a really pure, clear, summery blue, which tones well with the paint (Polar Sky by Benjamin Moore).

Because I went with this classic baby boy blue, I felt the other elements in the room didn’t need to be overly childish. The wall decal above the dresser/changing table is child-friendly enough, without being cartoony. The rug is a gray safari pattern from West Elm and, again, will hopefully work for a more grown up room down the line.

Ok, now I know this rocker is pretty hideous. We bought it cheaply when my first son was born and it’s not exactly a style centerpiece. But it’s comfortable, which I know from experience is all that matters in those long, dark, sleepless nights! We looked everywhere for an alternative that we liked but cost less than $1,000. They are few and far between. We decided to keep it for a few months until the baby is sleeping through the night, then we’ll swap it for an ordinary chair, which is likely to be cheaper but infinitely more stylish. Much better than spending a fortune on a replacement rocker.

I’ve coveted this bamboo mobile for a while. You can find it online at various stores like Giggle or Branch. I found one in our local baby boutique. I don’t expect it to work as the main source of entertainment for a newborn – we have a musical mobile for that – but it’s something to look at while he’s feeding.

I also found this wicker ottoman at Pier 1 Imports for $30. I had considered a Moroccan pouf and found some stunning ones in tan leather. But, unfortunately, the smell of goat leather is just too pungent for a small, south-facing room – and way too off-putting considering the time we’ll be spending in here. Amazing the things you have to think of when furnishing a nursery! Who’d have thought smell would be a factor?

The elephant is from Restoration Hardware, the lamp from Lamps Plus and the clock was a gift from my parents.

The bedding is from Target. And no nursery would be complete without the plush toy shot! I know, you’re going to tell me I shouldn’t have anything in the crib. Don’t worry, the quilt and toys live elsewhere when the baby’s in the crib. I just couldn’t resist including them in the photo.

So, now that both kids’ rooms have been done, I’ll be able to get back to grown-up decorating only. Between feeding and tummy time, that is…

We’ve finally finished our son’s new bedroom and I can show you some pictures. It didn’t actually take that long to do – most of the room was finished in the first weekend because we’d planned it all out. But we had a few issues with the light fitting so I haven’t been able to take any photos. At last it’s sorted out so here’s the finished (well, almost) result.

If you’ll recall, this room is for an energetic three-year-old who absolutely loves red. I didn’t think an entirely red room would be wise given the energy levels we’re talking about here! So I went for this deep turquoise blue on one wall and white on the rest. The blue is Benjamin Moore’s Electric Blue. It’s really warm and looks lovely at night by lamplight too. Then we added red accents like the chair and IKEA cabinet (just seen on the left) to satisfy the client, so to speak (!)

I must confess to there being a high number of IKEA items in this room. The chair and bookshelves are both IKEA, but who can resist their pricing? I got my son to help sort the books into colors, which he enjoyed – and the effect is rather pleasing. I’ve been dying to try out a ‘rainbow of books’ but have had to hold off in other rooms because my other half isn’t keen (makes it hard to find the one you want apparently – I can’t sympathize because I remember the color of books before I remember their title). The pillow on the chair is from PierOne Imports.

The notice board is made from a $4 IKEA frame and some Japanese wrapping paper. It has little goldfish against a blue background.

The bed and bedding we already had (the truck bedding was from Target last year). But we added the two decals – chosen by our construction-crazy son – from Decomodwalls on Etsy.

The cabinet is one I’m sure everyone will recognize as the PS Cabinet from IKEA.

It’s probably not that suitable for a child as it only closes and opens if you can master the key mechanism. But, we billed it as a cabinet where he can keep secret things and that incentivized him to get the hang of it pretty quickly!

I love this little corner of the room. The lion and blue rabbit were both baby gifts and the dog was the first item we bought after finding out I was pregnant the first time. The painting of our son is by my mother-in-law and was a gift this Christmas. We just had it framed and it totally makes the room. We’re very lucky to have an artist in the family. I just love this painting because it captures our son’s expression so well.

I’ve been dying to get these kid-sized Ant chairs from Room and Board for ages. They come in orange, lime and white too but the aqua works perfectly here. The table is IKEA (again).

The cute Humpty Dumpty clock was a gift from my parents.

On the other wall there’s a dresser and closet. I’m thinking of adding wallpaper to the closet door – or at least a paper or fabric-covered panel with hooks – just to add interest to this corner. I also need to frame the poster of The Little Prince properly. But, you have to leave some things unfinished otherwise, where’s the fun?

The light fixture (the one we had issues with) is from Urban Outfitters. It’s called the Dreamcatcher light. I love the look of it, but unfortunately it only comes with a cord kit that allows you to plug it into a wall. Very odd seeing as it’s billed as a ceiling pendant. We looked for a replacement ceiling cord kit for ages but it seems they don’t exist. So we had to buy another (cheap) ceiling fixture and use part of that.

The curtains were here already – we had them made at The Shade Store when this room was a guest room. I’ve ordered woven wood blinds too, which will help block out more light and prevent early morning wake-ups in the summer. The rug is the one we had in the nursery and it has stood the test of time pretty well, so we probably won’t change it for a while. But when we do, I’d like a Zapotec rug like this one.

So that’s it. Our son loves his new room and now has plenty of space for his toys, books and clothes. He can spread out on the floor and play and then everything gets easily tidied away at the end of the day. And I get pleasure out of seeing that splash of bright blue every time I come up the stairs.

Next stop, the nursery and then the guest room – and only eight weeks to go before baby number two arrives! Will we make it?

Plans for the new nursery are taking shape. But, in terms of execution, we’ve yet to so much as dampen a paintbrush. I’m stalling because I want to wallpaper one wall but, as ever, I’m lingering over the choice of wallpaper.

We’re going for pale blue, not because I’m a traditionalist, but because the walls are already the most gorgeous shade of summer sky blue (bizarrely, the shade is actually called Polar Sky). It’s the color our first son had and I can’t bring myself to get rid of it yet even though he’s graduated to more grown-up tones (which will be revealed soon, I promise).

But I still want to switch things up a bit with the addition of wallpaper on a single wall. The goal is to keep the look simple and sweet, but to get away from the bland and traditional. Basically, I want a cross between the purity of this scheme:

(Photo by Chris Everard via Sarah Kaye Represents)

And the quirky vibe of this room (minus the skull of course):

(Via Houzz)

Yes, I know, hard to imagine. But trust me, it’s going to work (I hope).

So, back to the wallpapers. The perfect choice has to be right for a child’s room but also for a grown-up space as we might turn the nursery back into a guest room one day. So no trucks, trains, planes, dinosaurs, ducks etc. It has to work for a boy, not just a baby, which means erring on the masculine side. It has to be fun, but not hectic. And it has to be blue! I started with this: Cloud Bay by Rapture and Wright, in powder.

Problem is, when I got the sample it just looked, well, dull. Plus, the blue was too green. It’s also very tricky to source this in the US – there’s one distributor and it costs a fortune to have it shipped all the way from the UK. So then I considered this: Daydream in China blue and orange, by Wallpaper Collective.

I still love this one and might come back to it. But it might be just a little too childish for our needs. I can imagine getting cheesed off with the birds in a few years. Then I hit on the idea of a more geometric design. I have loved Vivienne Westwood’s Squiggle pattern for ages and now it’s available in wallpaper from Cole and Son. But unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be available in the US and UK suppliers won’t ship it here.

So, finally, I’ve arrived at what is hopefully the perfect solution: Hick’s Hexagon in blue by Cole and Son.

I’m excited about this one and hope that the sample lives up to expectations when it arrives. What do you think? Any other options I’ve missed?

With any luck, we’ll have the decision made and will be flexing our paintbrushes very soon, so watch this space…

A few years ago, my husband and I were on our way out for dinner when we spotted this stunning woodblock print in the window of a local gallery.

It’s of a Japanese dogwood tree and is by Hajime Namiki. The background is gold leaf and the tree itself and all the blossom is the most wonderfully-detailed woodblock print. Needless to say, I was smitten. Lucky me, a few weeks later, on my birthday, I was delighted to receive that very same print as a gift from my other half.

That first purchase started a small obsession. The next year we bought a small print of snow-covered alpine trees on a silver leaf background – unfortunately the only picture of it I can find isn’t great but you get the idea.

Then my sister spotted the dogwood print at our house and fell in love too, resulting in the purchase of this absolute beauty for her home.

I find these images so still and calming – they work perfectly in so many rooms and I find I never tire of them. If I had endless cash and space, I would buy a hundred more! Seeing as that’s not possible, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you.

I found all these images on this site, where you can buy the prints. But they’re all over the Internet so you won’t have much trouble tracking them down. (I said I loved them, I didn’t say they were exclusive!) These are all from the tree series, but there’s also the Fuji series with spectacular images of Mount Fuji, and a stylized dragon series.

If you’re tempted, perhaps there’s still time to drop a hint to loved ones looking for the perfect Christmas gift for you!

Our son recently turned three and is starting to outgrow his ‘babyish’ nursery. I’ve been thinking about how I’ll update his bedroom. To be honest, it’s a bit of a challenge. I want a look that will last a few years so it needs to be relatively age non-specific. But, then again, he’s only three so I don’t want it to be too grown-up for right now.

To add to the problem, he has an absolute passion for all things red. But everything in his room right now is pale blue. I’ve been wrestling with how to combine these two very different looks without it ending up looking like a Fourth of July parade. Then I spotted this room on Little Green Notebook, via Abbey Goes Design Scouting.


I absolutely love this room. It’s a home office, so obviously the requirements are very different to a kid’s room. But the strong colors and happy vibe are exactly what I’d envisaged for our toddler. They seem to sum up his personality instantly. Even better, this space shows that pale ‘baby’ blue and bright cherry red can look fabulous together.

So, I started putting a look together, using some of what we already have, and a few new pieces. This is what I came up with.

red and blue room

Ok, firstly, I realize the red here is a little more orangey. That’s more because that’s the shade of the items I was able to find in our price range. I actually like the orange tone, but a more ‘red red’ work work equally well.

The starting point was the red cabinet. It’s the Halogen Credenza in Lobster from CB2. It’s $499 so not cheap, but it has tons of storage space. And I feel that sliding doors are much better for little fingers than drawers or chests that open at the top. I also like this cabinet from IKEA PS, but am not so sure about the lockable doors and dentable metal build!


The chair is also from CB2 and is $699. That’s actually one of the most reasonably-priced chairs I found that still looked modern and stylish. It’s comfortable too and I know he’ll love it because, well, it’s red.

The rug is from Anthropologie and is $495 for the 5×8 size. I love the colors and the Ikat-style pattern – no kid-generated stains are going to show up on that thing! I also love this one, the ‘Ancient Languages Rug’ also from Anthropologie.


The storage unit in the center is my absolute favorite item, but, truth be told, probably won’t make the final cut due to price. It’s made up of Stella Stackable Storage Cubes from Q Collection Junior. At $365 per cube (with cabinet doors) and $315 without, it’s just way too pricey for a kid’s room. But I like the effect and plan to create something similar with an IKEA storage unit and some paint!

The bed is the one we have already. But I just ordered an Oscar twin duvet cover and sheet set from Pottery Barn Kids as most toddler bedding is too flimsy and small for winter. A twin duvet will be a little big but, folded over, it’ll work just fine. I love this set because it’s fun and childish, but not tacky. It’s not one that my son (or I) will tire of too soon. Here’s a closer look.


The little blue chair and round table are from Room & Board and are perfectly-sized for small kids. The ‘Jake‘ chair in blue is $50. You can get much cheaper ones but I like the idea of having this iconic chair shape in a child’s size. The table could just as well be a cheap coffee table from IKEA though, which is probably what we’ll end up using.

The window shade is from The Shade Store‘s Dwell Collection. I love this online source of custom blinds. We already have white drapes at the window and just need to update the black-out blinds. This fabric has pale blue giant polka dots so works well for a young child but won’t be too embarrassing when he’s 9!

And the best part of all is the fact that the paint color is the exact one we have in his room right now. Although you’d think ‘Polar Sky’ (from Benjamin Moore) would be a really cold shade, it’s actually a beautiful clear, warm shade with not a jot of gray in it. I did toy with going for a much brighter blue, like the shade in this room (via Flickr).

Blue room

I call this shade ‘Carrie Blue’ because it reminds me of the color of Carrie Bradshaw’s made-over apartment in the Sex and the City movie (there’s something wrong about taking inspiration from SATT for your kid’s bedroom!). If I find a chair and cabinet in cherry red instead of lobster, I may still take this route because it’s such a beautiful color and will last him until his much older.

Anyway, so what do you think? Any great items out there I’ve missed to complete this look? It’s going to take me a few months to get organized so don’t expect pics of the finished space too soon! But I will post them as soon as it’s done, I promise.

The portfolio of Australian interiors photographer, Sharyn Cairns, is a study in contrasts. Charcoal against white. Juicy red against deep blue. Fresh flowers against dilapidated walls. The result is quite stunning.

The first few shots below are a little moodier. I’ve never seen red, white and blue look quite so un-4th of July! That’s because the blue is more gray. I’d like to try this combination somewhere in the house but am not sure I could live with it every day.

Sharyn Cairns

Sharyn Cairns

Sharyn Cairns

Sharyn Cairns

The next few images are much brighter and lighter. I’d definitely find this much easier to live with. Just look at these cathedral ceilings with the chandelier.

Sharyn Cairns

I absolutely love this bedroom. That bedside cabinet is so stunning…

Sharyn Cairns

There’s nothing better than a chunky, grainy wooden dining table with white Eames chairs. The next dining room we have – this is what it should look like.

Sharyn Cairns

Check out Sharyn‘s portfolio for more.

The July issue of Elle Decoration UK features the home of Danish photographer, Ditte Isager. The apartment may be in New York, but you’d be forgiven for thinking it was in Denmark because the place is so light and fresh. What I loved about her place is the way it looks as though it has evolved over years.

Of course, since I can’t link to the magazine as it has no website (what is that??) I went off in search of Ditte’s portfolio. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Ditte Isager

Ditte has a way of capturing texture. The colors in her photos are very subtle, but the textures are the real stars. There’s an interior design lesson in there somewhere…

Ditte Isager

Ditte Isager

Elegant but unpredictable.

Ditte Isager

Who knew a pile of wood, some sticks and some leaves could look so great?

Ditte Isager

She also does beautiful travel photos – Alek this would be right up your street!

Ditte Isager

Ditte Isager

Ditte Isager

All photos by Ditte Isager, via Edge Reps.

I’m a bit of a coward when it comes to using dark colors in my home. Let’s face it, splashing navy blue or chocolate brown all over your walls is not for the faint-hearted. There’s always the risk that you’ll deaden the room, making it seem small and gloomy. But, done right, dark walls can look incredible. They can create a cozy cocoon-like space, make a dramatic statement, or convey calm and elegance. Here are a few spaces where it’s been done right.

I’m not exactly sure how to describe the color in this first picture. Sludge, maybe? It’s very effective on the panelled walls, giving what could be a rather traditional room a twist. It works well with the white bedlinen, which keeps the space feeling light and airy. Via Canadian House and Home.

dark wall bedroom

I love the midnight blue walls in this living room. This particular blue still has a lot of life to it and looks great against the pale sofa and chair. This room works because there are little flashes of white dotted around (the wall sconce, the vase, the lamp). Via Homes and Gardens.

Dark blue living room

Dark walls make a fabulous backdrop for a wall of art. The purple here just pulls this eclectic collection together. I love it with the yellow too. I’m not usually a fan of paint effects but, because the color is so unusual, the mottled walls here look pretty amazing. Especially against the slightly battered desk and retro radio. This is one cool room. Via Glimpse of Style

Purple office

Black walls! Who knew they could be so fresh? In Britain, years ago, there was a kids’ book that was very popular called ‘The Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 and a Half’. The eponymous Mole was a rather unfortunate, nerdy teenage boy. At one point, in an effort to cover up the childish wallpaper in his bedroom,  he painted the walls black. Trouble is, he didn’t quite cover the pattern – you could still see the yellow bells on Noddy’s hat (Noddy was a fictional character from a British children’s book). Poor kid. Point is, since then I’ve never been able to think of black walls as sophisticated or desirable! But this picture proves me wrong. It works brilliantly with lots of white furniture, symmetry and a bit of pattern. Via Homes and Gardens.

Black living room

The deep gray of these dining room walls is stunning. It works well because the many reflective surfaces keep the space lively. It also helps that there are plenty of windows so the amount of wall space that’s covered is actually very small. Via Gorgeous Shiny Things

Gray dining room

Speaking of reflective surfaces, I love this glossy peacock blue. It balances the bright orange well – and look how it reflects the lamp. This is one way to ensure your dark walls aren’t at all gloomy. Via House Beautiful.

Blue living room

I’ve been hording this image from Domino for ages. It’s a great example of how dark walls can be the perfect background for unusually-shaped furniture (the bed, the stools, the mirror).

green bedroom

Ok, this one’s a little more controversial. Dark brown in a kid’s room? Well, it’s practical at least. But I have to say I like this. It works because the wall is a quirky shape as a result of the sloping roof. And it’s lightened up considerably by the white letters. It helps that the room is pretty spartan too. Wonder whether it’s like that every day… Via Australian decor mag, InsideOut.

Brown kids room

Right then, does that give you the confidence to try some more moody colors? Or did you crack the secret of dark walls long ago? Share your pics if so.

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