1. Hi, please introduce yourself and your business.
Hello, I’m Lauren Devere, I’m one half of Little Grey Cells Design, which I run with my friend and fellow Mum, Jane Schofield.
Little Grey Cells Design is an inspirational Children’s Interiors brand which is simple, stylish and sustainable. Our mission was to create a brand that would appeal to both children and their design-savvy parents. ‘For the Child in You’.
2. What is the inspiration behind your products?
Ultimately we drew our inspiration from our own colourful childhoods. We selected a colour palette and classic childhood weather motifs which are evocative of the era we grew up in. Jane and I both love classic, timeless design so there is a definite Scandinavian influence incorporated within the retro style. We have chosen very simple, clean shapes and functionality is key to all the pieces.
3. Can you explain how your products are different from others on the market?
I think our collection stands apart from others on the market as it’s designed to appeal to both parents and children and it’s made to last. We believe that children's furniture shouldn’t be outgrown by the user. We are committed to designing furniture with crossover appeal which will last a lifetime. For example, our rainbow seat is an ideal play and learning space for the early years but works just as well in an adult environment, when the children are grown up. Our products are designed for contemporary living for the whole family. We have included a lightning bolt shelf which holds tablets and phones as well as books. We have also challenged product installation by engineering a shelf hanging solution which works across all the shelves, making them fully interchangeable and easy to install.
4. What materials do you use and why?
Born in an era where things were made to last, we weren’t prepared to compromise on quality or craftsmanship, which meant we were exacting on our choice of raw materials. With an increasing awareness of sustainability and deforestation we made responsible choices too and opted for European Birch Plywood. This engineered timber is beautiful and we celebrate it’s natural beauty by exposing and lacquering the edges. FORMICA was an important addition to the collection as it brings a clean, bright, retro aesthetic which appeals to our inner child.
5. You’ve recently won an award, can you tell us about it?
We were over the moon to have been awarded Gold for the Best Interiors Brand by Smallish Magazine. It was totally unexpected and we were humbled to have been sandwiched in between the leaders of the Children’s Interiors market, Little Bird by Jools and Mamas and Papas. We are delighted to have been recognised so early in to launching and we loved celebrating our win with so many other amazing Mum bosses at the awards in Kew Gardens.
6. What are the key elements to consider when buying furniture for children?
Firstly, do my children love it? Secondly, do I love it? and if the answer is yes to both of them, then, will it last? because I’ll want to keep it!
7. What do you think makes a perfect play space or bedroom for children?
I think an area that can grow with the child, that organically develops with them. I believe that if you keep the furniture simple it’s so versatile. I think colourful accessories are a great way of appealing to young children, but you can strip these back as the children grow up, the key is in the simplicity of the furniture design. Play spaces have to be multi-functional, an area to read, learn, explore, create, so it’s essential you find the right balance, stimulate not over-stimulate.
8. Do you have a favourite item in your home (aside from your products!) that has been perfectly designed for family life?The Tripp Trapp by Stokke. We’ve had it for eleven years and we won’t be getting rid of it. A while ago we even packaged all the baby accessories up to give to a friend, but the chair never followed as it still gets used by all of us, parents and kids alike.
Thanks for sharing your story and for your advice on creating spaces that grow with the child. We love your products as they practical, beautifully made and evoke a warm feeling of nostalgia. Keep up the great work, Lauren and Jane!
For more information on the products visit https://www.littlegreycells.design
1. Hi! Please could you introduce yourself and your business.
Hello, I’m Mel Weber and I recently launched my interior design studio, "Leo & Grace".
I specialise in designing contemporary babies’ and children’s rooms that the whole family will love. I started the business after the birth of my first child, as I really struggled to find modern and contemporary children’s decor that would complement the rest of our home.
2. How would you describe your interior design style?
My personal tastes are modern and contemporary, but I’m also heavily influenced by Scandinavian design. However, when I am designing a room for a client, it’s really important to me to ensure that the rooms reflect their own style and personality.
3. I love the way you design children’s room to fit with the rest of the home - how do you achieve this?
Thank you, this is always one of my biggest challenges when I’m designing a room. One of the things I really love about designing kids’ rooms is that you can be fun, playful and also experiment with colour in a way that you wouldn’t necessarily feel brave enough to do in the rest of the home, but the rooms should still always complement the homeowners’ tastes.
Typically, I try to pick up on colours and materials used throughout the rest of the home. Also, I don’t restrict myself to kids’ interiors shops so I might use a grown-up wallpaper for example, and then add artwork and soft furnishings to appeal to the kids.
4. What are the most important elements to consider when designing a children’s room?
Kids' rooms are often the smallest rooms in the home, and furniture has to work doubly hard to really earn its place in the room. I always try to look for multifunctional pieces, anything with built in storage is a winner. Another trick is to get down on your knees and look at the room from your kid’s eye level. This will make sure that you fit shelving and clothes rails at the right height so they can reach them and be more independent.
5. Can you tell us about a project you were really excited/proud to work on?
I’ve just started to work on my first teenagers’ rooms and I’m really excited to see how these come together. It’s going to be interesting as they can have more input into the design process, but we’ll also need to get mum and dad on board!
6. Have you seen any changes in children’s interiors over the last few years?
Without doubt, there’s a lot more choice when it comes to stylish children’s interiors and there are more, small independent brands in the market.
Instagram has been brilliant for this as a platform to give brands more visibility. I love introducing my clients to small indie brands they wouldn’t necessarily have found themselves.
7. What do you think are the main elements to creating a happy home?
For me, I would say it has to be artwork as it’s always a very personal choice and is a great talking point. Oh and a lot of laughter.
Thanks for your time and tips, Mel! What lovely rooms you have created.
You can find out more about Mel and her interior design work at Leo & Grace
Photography by Siobhan H Photography
In tribute to IKEA's founder, Ingvar Kamprad, who died yesterday aged 91, here's a look into some innovative Scandinavian brands who pioneeed family-centred design.
Scandinavian design, famous for its functional, practical, affordable approach, boomed during the post war period towards more informal living. These values, central to family life, are shared by companies who are still in production today showing the need and appeal of family focused design. Here's a look into a few companies well known and loved by families all over the world.
IKEA, one of the best-known furniture retailers, was formed in 1943 by Ingvar Kamprad. He observed that "most nicely designed products were very, very expensive" and sought to design well made, practical products that the majority could afford. The Swedish company's trademark functional approach was made affordable through the introduction of flat pack furniture customers assembled at home. In the 1970s, IKEA developed a more informal look using bright coloured fabrics alongside other textile designers to create homes with feelings of optimism and youthfulness.
The Tripp Trapp chair was designed by Peter Opsvik, a freelance furniture designer, in 1972 and manufactured by Stokke. His philosophy of "creating furniture to meet the needs of adults and children" is at the heart of family focused design. The chair that 'grows with the child' enables the child to join the family at the table whilst having the correct foot support is still as popular as ever with families today.
Lego was founded in 1932 in Denmark, meaning 'play well', a contraction of the two words 'leg godt'. Initially creating wooden bricks, they went on to be the first Danish company to invest in new technologies to manufacture injection-folded plastics in high volume. Lego ticks numerous family-friendly boxes; suitable for any gender, a range of ages, stimulating the imagination, improves fine motor skills and helps children understand the foundations of construction and design.
With January comes holiday adverts. Everyone is smiling, having fun in the sun and creating happy memories miles away from home. But what about now, during these bleak winter months at home? I believe we don’t have to wait for a holiday to spend quality time together, we can build it into everyday life.
Here are some tips on how to make some simple changes at home. Just don’t forget to take photos to capture the memories, just as you would on holiday.
Have a weekly family ritual
Whether it’s making a meal together, a games evening or watching a film together, doing something special every week helps create shared experiences and family memories. Rituals also help children feel loved and secure.
We all lead busy lives but taking the time to say hello or goodbye properly makes such a difference and makes people feel valued. It’s back-to-basics with politeness here but it’s often over looked with devices constantly demanding our attention.
Read to each other
Sharing a book is always beneficial, even at the end of a long day. It sets the tone for a relaxed time and it’s a great way to unwind and clear the mind away from any other distractions.
Spend more time in nature
Another way to free us from technology, getting outside is good for your health and happiness. Exploring new places, geocaching, cycling and walking are beneficial and fun things to do when you’re out and about.
Plan something together
Planning a day out, an activity or working on a project are all ways we to strengthen relationships and create memories. The most important thing to remember with any family time spent together is to enjoy it.
As it's National Bird Day today, I thought it was the perfect time to share the inspiration behind my British Birds design. As you might have realised by now, I love using silhouette shapes within my designs as everyone can identify with the forms found in nature. I believe Mother Nature is the ultimate designer maker as these shapes have evolved over time into the perfect fit for their needs whilst looking beautiful too.
I wanted to create a design that celebrated the common garden birds that we see in everyday life. Like many, I love watching birds from the comfort of our homes, busy with their daily lives with their recognisable colourings and cheerful birdsong. After compiling a list of the most common small garden birds, the first bird I drew was the wren as it has particular significance in our family. My grandmother was a Wren in the Second World War (the Women's Royal Naval Service) and worked at Bletchley Park as a Bombe Machine operator. The wren bird is part of the logo of the WRNS and so, as a tribute to her, I wanted to include it in the design. I've also included a Blue Tit, Robin and Blackbird, all seen in my own back garden keeping me entertained as I do the washing up!
Coinciding with National Wallpaper Week (2nd - 8th October 2017) Helen Baker is launching her first wallpaper collection 'Garden Life' alongside fabrics in the same designs.
Using silhouette shapes found in her garden and nearby local green spaces, Helen works them into simple and bold designs perfect for modern stylish interiors.
Garden Life was created to reflect the shapes and forms that surround our everyday lives and to bring some of the outside in. "These aren't the showstoppers of the gardening world but rather the more humble aspects of garden life that merit championing too. Less 'stopping to smell the roses' and more 'stopping to appreciate everything’.
Living with her husband and two sons means that Helen understands the need for designs that work for the whole family. With each of her designs inspired by nature;, from seedlings growing on a kitchen windowsill to buttercups in a nearby field, they are accessible and recognisable to any age or gender and suitable for any room.
It was her boys and her surroundings that sparked this collection. "I love the way children really notice and engage with nature everyday. It seems to be a skill we often lose as adults." It's this emphasis on simplicity and the appreciating the natural world that Helen believes is a way to create happy homes, one of the missions for her designs.
The five designs are Buttercups, Primroses, Birds, Seedlings and Honeycomb and the colour palette plays on contrasts creating an effective scheme using soft greys and greens and bold blues and yellows, all found in the natural world. They are available as fabric by the metre and wallpaper (samples available too) and lampshades and cushions can be made to oder in any of these designs.
Four weeks also, before #reclaimyourcorner had even been conceived, I found myself wanting to renovate several rooms in our house that had been neglected since moving in two years ago.
September felt like a fresh start, a sort of mid-point new year, and with my own children back at school I decided to make a few changes around the home. Not having the time, budget or energy to tackle a whole room I realised I had to think on a smaller scale. I stood in the most neglected room and set about sorting and restyling some shelves, moving the sofa to a different wall and, voila! I had created a lovely space that was just how I wanted it without having to spend any money and just using a fraction of my time. I had reclaimed a corner of an otherwise unused space.
Wondering if any other people might be in a similar position I put #reclaimyourcorner out there on social media with an explanation as to what it was all about. A month later I can't quite believe that there have been over 350 posts! Like-minded people have been claiming back spaces everywhere, from offices, hallways, playrooms, converted garages, bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms to even sheds! It really has been truly inspiring to see so many different entries and I've loved reading about each and everyone of them. Thank you to everyone that got involved and I hope you're still enjoying them!
Above: a selection of spaces people have been claiming back.
Before and after shots of my second reclaimed corner after being inspired by so many others!
And breathe…the kids are back at school, normal service resumes and there’s a hint of Autumn in the air, a perfect time to claim back a space in your home just for you. A place where the toys/washing/life admin hasn't taken over but instead to create a corner or part of your home that you can enjoy. It could be somewhere to have a drink in peace, read a magazine or simply a place that's filled with the things you love. So find or create a space that's important to you and share it at #reclaimyourcorner to be in with a chance of winning a Helen Baker cushion.
Each Sunday for the next four weeks, a winner will be chosen from #reclaimyourcorner to receive a Helen Baker Home cushion, helping you maintain your happy home. Simply follow @helenbakerhome on Instagram, like Helen Baker Home Facebook page and share you pics with #reclaimyourcorner or simply email your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck!
The T & Cs...
· The winner of the cushion giveaway will be announced each Sunday for the next four weeks starting on 10th September 2017. All entries will be counted until a winner is announced each week.
· Competition entries can be made via Facebook or Instagram or email at email@example.com
· To enter you must LIKE Helen Baker Home Facebook page or follow @helenbakerhome on Instagram and post your photo with the hashtag #reclaimyourcorner
· Winner will be contacted privately via Facebook Message or Instagram direct message. The winner has 48 hours to respond if they fail to respond another winner will be picked.
- Helen Baker reserves the right to decline publication of any photograph which is uploaded or amend titles or descriptions when necessary.
- By submitting your image via email or tagging @helenbakerhome and/or #reclaimyourcorner on Instagram or Facebook, you give permission for Helen Baker to publish on their website, social media and any future marketing activity
· The competition is open to residents of the United Kingdom aged 18 years or over.
· By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.
· No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason.
· This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Instagram or any other social media platform. The promoter is: Helen Baker (company no. 9523473) whose registered office is at 7 Clarence Parade, Cheltenham, GL50 3NY
It’s twenty years ago to the day since I travelled to Nepal to teach English in a tiny village school. I was 19 years old and wanted to explore some of the world before going to university and the idea of voluntary work overseas really appealed. My parents had travelled around Asia as students and said how friendly the people in Nepal were. Despite spending moths preparing for my trip it was a total culture shock for me on my arrival. I was a young girl from a Cornish fishing village navigating the hustle and bustle of Katmandu but the explosion of fabrics and colours really made a lasting impression.
My volunteer partner, Julie, and I travelled for ten hours on the roof of a bus(!) to a village in the foothills of the Himalayas nestled within rice paddy fields. This was to be home for six months. and we were to be living with the headmaster of the local village school, his wife and their two teenage sons in their home made out of dried compacted mud. After a few days of getting to know the area the Headmaster’s wife ‘Amar’ (Nepali for mother as she liked us to call her) asked if we’d like to wear sarees. We both agreed without hesitation and were honoured to wear the traditional dress for women on a daily basis. Ever since our arrived in Nepal I had been admiring the colourful saree fabrics with their intricate embroidery details and bold colours displayed on stalls and worn by women everywhere. However, we needed a masterclass on how to wear the 5.5m length of fabric. Typically, one end is tucked into a long cotton petticoat and then its wrapped around it. The next section is gathered/folded and tucked into the front, finishing another wrap around the body with the end part folder/draped over one shoulder. It’s such a simple, practical and beautiful design that one length of fabric can fit any size or shape of body yet everyone looks different depending on the design, colour and accessories worn.
Shopping for sarees was a truly memorable experience. Amar took us to the market in the local town where we browsed amongst the most beautiful fabrics. We chose plain coloured sarees to teach in and more intricate and elobarate designs for other days and special occasions. It was also the first time I had ever had bespoke garments by a tailor but it is standard practise when you need the fitted blouse to wear under the saree. In today’s era of buying off-the-shelf and mass produced clothes it's easy to forget a time when most clothes were made to measure in most cultures.
Amar and the other women in the village were very patient and helpful in teaching us how to tie the sarees but washing them was a very different cultural experience indeed. We joined the women by the local river on washday and started washing our clothes with a bar of soap that that had been given to us. The women all looked at us. We were struggling. We weren’t used to washing clothes and fabric by hand and explained, bashful and embarrassed, that we had machines to do this for us so never needed to wash by hand. The women kindly showed us how to do it whilst taking care not to damage the fabrics, especially the ones with embroidery. The sarees were left to dry on the rice plants in the intense heat and then we'd would work together folding them into neat fabric stacks. Watching the women make a domestic chore into a social activity was quite eye-opening. We’d then carry piles and piles of clean colourful sarees back to the village full of satisfaction and pride (once we’d mastered the washing!).
This may have been two decades ago but I have such vivid memories of the colours, fabrics and of the amazing women who let us be part of their community and taught me so much.
It’s no surprise why so many people head to the coast for a holiday. The sea air, crashing waves, warm sand, sun, light…the list goes on. So when a holiday comes to an end and it’s back to reality, it’s very appealing to want to bring an essence of the coast home with you but coastal interiors can have a bit of a clichéd feel. I love the coast but don’t really want nautical knots or compass motifs in my home.
I grew up on the north coast of Cornwall where the beaches are all about surfing, swimming and exploring rockpools, but where are these designs? This gap was the driving force behind my contemporary coastal collection titled ‘You can take the girl out of Cornwall…’ that uses bold, graphic design inspired shapes and colours found in Cornwall. Here’s a little guide on how to create a coastal look that’s up to date without a nautical knot in sight.
A good starting point is to think about hotel decor in coastal locations (you can see photos on hotel websites and in magazines). They will often have a ‘nod’ to the coast but don’t go overboard but rather have a ‘less is more’ approach. If you see a style you particularly like, work out which elements you are drawn to and see if you can create a similar look.
Often coastal interiors use white or a pale neutral as a background colour. This works well as a light and bright starting point for adding other colours within soft furnishings and accessories. Blues and whites are classic sea side colours that work well together for a timeless look. Calming colours that area found in nature, such as sand and shells, create a natural shoreline feel too. Adding a bold splash of colour, such as red or yellow, brings a sense of warmth and lampshades and cushions are easy ways to do this.
Horizontal stripes, echoed in the horizon, waves, cliffs and clouds, are another way to add a contemporary coastal feel. Using stripes in bedding, curtains, blinds and throws are ways to achieve this. As I wanted to create an updated stripe design within my collection used a Breton stripe design (my husband is half French) and added an iconic cloud motif. This result is simple and stylish look that can work in any room and isn’t limited to a coastal theme either.
Remembering the golden rule of less is more, it’s advisable to keep accessories to a minimum. Of course, you’ll want some objects to help create the feel but don’t get too carried away. I like to start with objects that mean something to me, perhaps some pebbles or shells collected from a beach trip. Items that are personal to you will keep the look more genuine and less clichéd.
Adding different textures and materials such as wood, baskets, rope and stone will help to add a subtle coastal feel. Pieces of driftwood or anything weathered really adds to a washed up weathered atmosphere.
Hopefully, by following some of the above you can create your own little slice of coastal inspiration that you can enjoy wherever you may live.
Fabric by the metre, cushions and lampshades are all available though my online shop
I was very fortunate to receive some EU funded business support to help me business get off the ground. Here's the full article. https://www.businesswest.co.uk/case-studies/wiltshire-entrepreneur-fills-gap-niche-fabric-market
Organised Jo writes a blog where she interviews a wide range of working mums with the aim of 'trying to bring order to working mum chaos'! Running your own business alongside family life is a juggling act but I am always thankful to have work that I can fit around my children as I explain further in this interview.
In the summer shopping section of the German edition of Country Homes, it features the Pebble Stack (Pepple Stack in German) cushion with the text 'Cushion Cover "Pebble Stacks" made of cotton with a print, reminiscent of beach stones from Cornwall.'
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 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 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.
Meet Smiley Bob, drawn by my 7 year old son on a scrap of paper. I loved the picture but wasn't going to keep it stuck on the fridge forever, I wanted to have something to that would last and look good too. So I turned it into repeating pattern on the computer, had it printed and framed it for his bedroom. But here's a competition run by Elobina for you to turn your child's artwork into a cushion simply by sending them your child's artwork, no computer necessary!
Follow link below for details on how to enter.
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.
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.
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.