Style your home for summer

In the same way we change our clothes with the seasons, I like to do the same with my home. Theses can often be very small changes that don't involve reaching for the paintbrush but rather by adding a new cushion or two or some well chosen accessories. Here are my top tips on styling your home for summer.

Natural materials
Summer conjures up a mix of bright sunny days and being outside in the natural world and your interiors should reflect this too. Choose natural materials and textures such as cotton fabrics, wool, wood and stone. These help bring the natural outdoor feeling inside your home. Also plants and flowers add to a natural feel so incorporate them where you can.

Fabrics
Stripes are a classic and timeless pattern choice for fabrics. They echo the horizontal lines found at the coast, both in the sea and sky and I added a graphic design inspired cloud motif to create an updated version of the seaside stripe (above) which I call Cornish Clouds. Here are samples from my contemporary coastal collection perfect for curtains, blinds and light upholstery projects. Available on my online shop at £48 per metre. 

Colours
Many coastal inspired interiors use white or very light muted colours as a backdrop or wall colour. You can add warmth and a sense of energy through bold pops of colours, such as Lobster red, Saffron yellow and Atlantic blue found in my colour palette. Small items of homeware such as cushions and lampshades are a quick and easy way to inject colour and print into a room. 

Accessories
Here’s where you can have some fun and reflect your personality. Try junk and reclamation shops for old items that fit with your look. I bought this old blue wooden surfboard for under £5 as it really fits with the various blues within this room. A few themed accessories are fine but beware of the clichés and going over the top. Once you have changed a few items you’ll be able to sit back, relax and imagine you are on holiday, at home! 

For more contemporary coastal interior inspiration have look on my Pinterest board.

West magazine interview

West magazine featured me as their interview piece last weekend. This also involved a photo shoot with James Darling photography on the cliffs near St Agnes, very close to where I grew up, the perfect place show the area that inspired my contemporary collection 'You can take the girl out of Cornwall'. 

24 questions from 24 fingers

24 fingers are a London content marketing agency who recently interviewed me for their blog. Emma, the company owner, asked me 24 questions ranging from what gets me up in the morning to what advice I'd give my younger self. So grab a drink, get comfortable and have a bit of a nose into my self-taught unconventional career path.

Festival Fever from Bath Life

Festival season is here, especially with last weeks heat wave and Glastonbury (watched from the comfort of my sofa, I must be getting old...) but I do love the colourful outdoor living lifestyle that comes with these summer months. How lovely then to have my starfish cushion featured in Bath Life's shopping guide to all things bright and bold. 

Grey, orange and white - cool colours for an older boy's bedroom

I'm very happy to have joined the writing team of the online design and interiors magazine The Idealist. My first article is about a makeover for my nine year old son's bedroom and how we chose the colours and furniture suitable for an older boy's needs. 

You will also see the labrador fabric I designed for a roman blind and cushion in his room in the same grey, orange and white colour scheme, perfect for growing boys.

https://www.theidealist.com/grey-orange-white-bedroom-makeover/

Collection review by These Four Walls blog

I first met Abi who writes These Four Walls Blog at my launch event last month. I could tell she was passionate about interiors, design and travel, including Cornwall where she was going on her upcoming honeymoon, As you can see from her gorgeous website and Instagram feed, she has a beautiful minimal style and is inspired by Scandinavian relaxed living. Abi chose a Cornish Clouds cushion in soft grey Mizzle which looks very much at home with her love of grey interiors (she says herself that she has an obsession with grey!). It was lovely to meet Abi and you can read her post on my collection and an interview here.

My Demelza Poldark moment

I was recently asked by a magazine editor to come to Cornwall for a photo shoot. The photos were to accompany a forthcoming feature on myself and the inspiration behind my debut collection ‘You can take the girl out of Cornwall’. I happily agreed to travel from Wiltshire to Cornwall as I could spend time with my family who live there and also to enjoy being by the sea for a few days. Who doesn't love a trip to Cornwall?! I was asked to suggest a location that meant something to me for the photo shoot and Wheal Coates was the obvious choice. It's an old mining engine house on the north coast, a stone's throw from St Agnes, the village where I grew up.

The view from Wheal Coates is postcard perfection and on a clear day you can see for miles. The area around Wheal Coates was used for filming part of the popular BBC series Poldark, with the engine house and surrounding mines representing the family estate known as Nampara Valley. Winston Graham, the author of the Poldark novels first published in 1945, wrote them while living in Perranporth, a neighbouring village of St Agnes. This whole area is steeped in mining history with many engine houses still visible today. It is said that the character of Demelza was partly based on Graham's wife, Jean, who would offer details for his characters being a very observant woman herself.

Wheal Coates engine house with Chapel Porth beach beyond.

Wheal Coates engine house with Chapel Porth beach beyond.

This stretch of the coast also has significance for the Cornish legend of Saint Agnes, who the village is named after. When I was around 10 years old I played the part of local heroine Saint Agnes in the first ever community re-enactment of the story, now an annual event known as Bolster Day. I had to save the village (of clay houses made by local school children) from Giant Bolster, a giant puppet who rolled large stones down the cliff to demolish the houses. The procession and performance takes place on the cliffs between Wheal Coates and Chapel Porth beach where, according to the legend, Saint Agnes tricked Giant Bolster into bleeding to his death.

So, it was on a blustery morning on this same coastline that I thought of the fictional characters Demelza and Saint Agnes, both strong and  determined women who were dependent on this local area to save their livelihoods. As a fabric designer I find myself looking at the details found in nature for my designs so it’s no wonder that I too was inspired by the Cornish coast having grown up with these stories and scenic views on my doorstep. That’s proper local inspiration right there, even for me who’s now living ‘up country’, as the locals say. 

My contemporary Cornish inspired collection of fabrics, cushions and lampshades are available on my website. 

The view from inside Wheal Coates looking out.

The view from inside Wheal Coates looking out.

Social Butterflies interview

Ever since I set up my own business I've enjoyed reading the interviews with inspiring women on the Social Butterflies website. It features successful women business owners and who also happen to be mums. This involves serious multitasking and something that I find myself doing on a daily basis but I'm in good company with these entrepreneurs. So I was very honoured to be interviewed by Amy for the website. You can read the interview here where I talk about my change in career and give tips on how to style your home office. 

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Feedback and features, one month on

The last month after launching Helen Baker Home has flown by and I'm thrilled to share some of the positive feedback and features I've had. 

 The online interiors magazine The Idealist featured me as one of their Modern Heroes which is such an honour. You can read the interview here and find out what inspires me including who are my design heroes too.

Charlotte from the brilliantly titled 'Go to your room' blog that finds the best in children's interiors has written a lovely review on my collection. Have a read here.

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Rachel from The Ordinary Lovely has written a lovely post on how my fabrics fit into her family life. 

Launch day and press release

After months of preparation, design and just a few late nights….I’m so pleased to announce the launch today of my fabric design business and my debut range ‘You can take the girl out of Cornwall’. Here’s my press release with all the details. So pleased to share it with the world - I hope you like it!

Press release

Helen Baker launches debut fabric collection: ‘You can take the girl outof Cornwall’

New Bath-based designer takes a fresh look at contemporary, vibrant Cornwall

Bath, 2 May 2017: New designer Helen Baker today launches her first collection of modern Cornish-inspired, contemporary fabric designs. Called ‘You can take the girl out of Cornwall’, the range draws on natural influences from Helen’s native county but aims to inject fresh life into Cornish design ideas.

As a mother of two young sons, Helen’s fabrics are gender neutral and family friendly - summed up by her strapline: ‘The fabric of modern family life’. Her debut range is designed and printed in the UK using eco-friendly pigments and natural fabrics. The outdoors-inspired collection, which includes colours such as Mizzle and Saffron and patterns such as Pebble Stacks and Surfboard Scallop, gives a contemporary representation of Britain’s most westerly county.

The idea for the collection came about when Helen moved from Cornwall to Wiltshire 18 months ago and, looking to bring some of her coastal influences into her new home, she started to search for furnishings. But she was disappointed to find time and again only tired, clichéd representations of Cornwall featuring wooden boats and small harbours. A world away from Helen’s own experience.

“I am proud of my Cornish roots and really wanted something in my new home to represent this. But I didn’t want nautical knots, quaint sailing boats or anchors; I wanted contemporary, bright, design-influenced Cornwall of today", Helen says. “After a long time searching and not finding what I wanted, I taught myself digital and surface pattern design (I was a complete novice) and a year later, the collection was complete.” 

Always creative, Helen formally ran a home craft business, Sew Coastal, after taking the decision to stay at home full time when her second son was born. When her husband’s work prompted a move from Cornwall to Bradford-on-Avon, near Bath, Helen decided to develop and grown her design skill-set. She originally trained and worked as a primary school teacher. 

An entirely self-taught designer, Helen’s ‘You can take the girl out of Cornwall’ range reflects her keen eye and impeccable attention to detail - for example the Surfboard Scallop pattern uses the exact dimensions of a surfboard to ensure true authenticity. 

“My debut collection 'You can take the girl out of Cornwall…’ is me in a nutshell.” Helen says. “I was brought up in Cornwall and lived there on and off for 25 years. On meeting new people and saying where we had moved from it amazed me that so many had connections to the county. Everyone spoke happily about spending time in Cornwall and I saw how memories of a place, particularly by the sea, evoked positive emotions.” 

Helen adds: “I believe that rather than holding out to live the dream somewhere else, we should inject elements of what makes us happy into our present homes. Home is where you make it.”

The collection launches at The Makery in Bath on Tuesday 2nd May. The range will be stocked online at helenbaker.com Fabric by the metre starts at £58 cushions start at £45 and lampshades from £60.

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