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.

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 Fabric by the metre starts at £58 cushions start at £45 and lampshades from £60.
Facebook: helenbakerhome



The Popularity of Pattern - polka dots/spots

The spot or polka dot pattern has remained in popular culture since its arrival (believed to be on swimsuit of Miss America in 1926). Two years later Walt Disney had Minnie Mouse in a spotty dress, then it spread to Hollywood actresses such as Elizabeth Taylor and Maryline Monroe and it’s still as popular today.

The word polka translates from Polish as 'Polish woman' and in Czech it means "little woman or girl" reinforcing it's place as an inherently feminine pattern in it’s beginning. In the mid nineteenth century Europe coined the term 'polkamania', describing the polka dance craze that swept the continent at the time. There only seems to be a tenuous link between the dance and spot but some believe the pattern reflects the short bursts of energy that the dance is based on. 

Today, this evenly spaced polka dot is linked with retro and vintage design whereas the modern reincarnation has broken this uniform mould. Ceramic pattern designer Emma Bridgewater says of her irregular polka dot "probably our most recognisable pattern, the irresistibly cheerful Polka Dot makes everyone smile!”. She estimates that since this pattern was launched in 2002, over two million pieces of polka dot pottery have been sold. The unfussy placement of these spots results in a more relaxed pattern suitable for any age or gender. 

Emma Bridgewater's Polka Dot pattern has been popular for over 25 years.

Emma Bridgewater's Polka Dot pattern has been popular for over 25 years.

Back to fabric, and more men are wearing spots than before. Just last week on the BBC's The Great interior design Challenge it's presenter, Tom Dyckoff, was wearing a t-shirt in a random spot pattern with an occasional triangle. Through this subtle addition of a contrast geometric shape it creates a contemporary pattern that works really well on men. 

It’s fascinating to see how patterns evolve and break the rules whilst retaining the vital element to still make it recognisable. I wonder what the spots next reincarnation will be? 

The popularity of pattern - stripes

From chinaware to fashion, fabric to beach tents, stripes have always been associated with the seaside but what's the secret to its popularity and longevity? 

Stripped down to its most basic shapes the coastal landscape is all about horizontal lines. As well as the literal horizon, layers of waves, sand, clouds and rock are all present at the coast's edge. Artists throughout history have been inspired by this ever changing scenery, along with the expanse of sky bringing light and space, two key features of creativity. Even looking at children's drawings the sky is usually drawn as a strip of blue at the top of the page and the ground a strip at the bottom; it's how young children represent the world as they see it from an early age. 

The iconic blue and white striped Cornishware pottery.

The iconic blue and white striped Cornishware pottery.

The history of the popular Cornishware blue pottery first produced in 1924 demonstrates how the trend for stripes has lasted for generations. A lathe-turning technique scraped away band of the blue slip to reveal the white ceramic underneath that resulted in the iconic stripe pattern. An employee remarked that this reminded them of the blue skies and white crested waves if Cornwall, and how Cornishware got its name. There are not many patterns that are so connected to a place and remain a constant in an fast pace world. Long live the stripe. 

Parenting colours Spring 2017

With a new year comes new colours. Pantone have released their Spring colour trends of 2017 with names such as kale, lapis and island paradise. Recently, I’ve had the fun task of naming colours for my forthcoming fabric collection so I thought I’d have a bit of fun by renaming the Pantone colours with names relatable to being a parent. Cold coffee anyone? 

A pattern from my childhood.

The pattern I most vividly remember from my youth was the Laura Ashley design ‘Cottage Sprig’ in poppy. My younger sister and I had it as wallpaper, curtains and bedding in our shared bedroom (this was the eighties, after all, where the trend was to have everything co-ordinating). It was the pattern I would see before going to sleep and on waking everyday in my early childhood years. I can recall tracing the flowers with my finger, noting whether the leaves went up or down in the design. I didn’t realise it at the time but it’s made a lasting impression on me and like to think from a young age I was drawn to pattern and design. 


I recently asked my mum about this pattern and why she chose it for our shared bedroom. “It was an appropriate design for you and your sister as young girls, being fresh and lively. The colours are strong but not overpowering and it takes the sprig theme and reworks it very simply. I still like it and would choose it again as it seems timeless."

I too love the design’s simplicity, use of strong colours, the subtle sense of movement and it’s timeless nature. These are the elements I strive to bring to my own designs but I particularly love the way pattern can influence people, including six year old me. 

If you’d like to read about the history of the iconic print (believed to originate from an old children’s book “Cox and Box’) have a read of this article from the Laura Ashley archives

Ten tips to decorate a children's room they won't grow out of (too quickly)

Image from Inside Out May 2015

Image from Inside Out May 2015

Decorating a child’s bedroom is an opportunity unleash your inner child and play with colour, pattern and texture. Children's bedrooms should reflect their personalities and be a place where they enjoy spending time whilst being a multifunctional space. Quite a tall order but if you get the basics right you can make a few easy changes as they grow without the need to fully redecorate every few years.  Here's ten tips to get you started.

Practical - Map out space for each area in the room; sleeping, playing, reading, etc . Have they still got floor space? I moved my son’s clothes to cupboard in another room so he had more room to play on the floor in his small bedroom. 

Furniture - Must be functional and accessible and you don’t need to have matching furniture ranges. Add interest with some second hand or painted furniture with contemporary styles. Remember there are no rules!

Comfort - From the bed that should be calm and relaxing to a cosy area to read a book or be read to, soft fabrics and textures help to create the warm comfortable feeling in a bedroom. 

Walls - Go for plain paint on the walls (either very dark or very light colours work well) and then add colour, interest and personality through art/illustrations/objects on the wall. These are easy to change as your child and their interests grow.

Floor - Whether you have hard or soft floors they need to be hard-wearing and easy to clean.  An inexpensive large rug to cover most of the room is a great idea of you have carpet you want to protect. 

Pattern - Keep the walls plain and use pattern and print for art on the walls, bedding and lighting. All easy and inexpensive to update in the future. 

Storage - practical, accessible and easy to use. Just as children at nurseries and schools have to tidy away at the end of each day, make it easy for your children to do so too. 

Ceiling - From babies to teenagers, it’s good to have something of interest up high. This could be garlands, mobiles, mobiles, strings of lights, a flag. It’s another area to add interest but is often forgotten.

To theme or not to theme? Personally I don’t like a room to be too matchy-matchy and think you can reflect a child’s interests through wall art and objects rather than every element in the room matching together. 

Involve them! It’s also worth remembering it’s their space, not yours. Once they are old enough talk to them about their favourite colours, animals, toys etc. They may be small but they have endless creativity!

Image from Inside Out May 2015 

Wiltshire inspired fabric designs - Wiltshire Windows and Wiltshire Berries

Moving to Wiltshire last year provided the opportunity to explore and be inspired by a new area. Here are two different patterns I've created inspired by Wiltshire. 

 I have always loved Liberty fabrics and was so pleased to discover a pattern called Wiltshire Berry. This leaf and berry pattern was designed for Liberty in 1933 by a designer with the initials DS and then redesigned in1968. I was inspired to create an updated contemporary version using the similar colours but in a different leaf and berry pattern.

 I have always loved Liberty fabrics and was so pleased to discover a pattern called Wiltshire Berry. This leaf and berry pattern was designed for Liberty in 1933 by a designer with the initials DS and then redesigned in1968. I was inspired to create an updated contemporary version using the similar colours but in a different leaf and berry pattern.

Liberty's Wiltshire Berry pattern

Liberty's Wiltshire Berry pattern

In Bradford on Avon where I now live I was struck by how the stone of the buildings was the same (honey coloured Bath stone) but the windows were all different. I started taking photos of various windows as I was out and about and then decided to make them into a fabric pattern. 

In Bradford on Avon where I now live I was struck by how the stone of the buildings was the same (honey coloured Bath stone) but the windows were all different. I started taking photos of various windows as I was out and about and then decided to make them into a fabric pattern.