The Inspiration: English Country Cottage + Suzani + Block Print + Beatrix Potter
If the “theme” for this nursery sounds a bit scattered, welcome to my brain. But as I’ve pondered all the possibilities for this nursery, I keep returning to old classics like spool furniture, hand block printed fabrics, and the Beatrix Potter books I loved as a child. The swirl of ideas seems to be coalescing around these themes. I want this nursery to have a cosy, old school vibe, but I’m keeping it eclectic and bohemian with plenty of pattern play. There are so many details I haven’t figured out yet, but I’ll walk you through the broad strokes.
How to make a basic room feel like it belongs in an English country estate?
Built-ins and moulding! We’re planning to put in a window seat with built in bookshelves on either side, plus wainscoting all the way around the room. A totally classic foundation for my rad trad nursery! Here are some inspo pics to give you an idea of the kind of built-ins I’m picturing:
For the sake of cohesion and flow, the wainscoting will coordinate (in style, not necessarily color- we’ll talk color in a minute) with the wainscoting in the hallway leading into the nursery:
Nothing says English Country better than block print and lots of pattern on pattern!
I’m thinking block print for the crib bedding and nursing chair upholstery (I’ll mix prints with different scales for a nice layered effect), and then maybe a stripe for the window seat cushion, and for the walls- a suzani or block print inspired pattern above the wainscoting. I was originally hoping to wallpaper this room, but the walls are horsehair plaster with a skim of stucco over top, and the cost of re-skimming the walls for a small city apartment that we’ll quickly outgrow just didn’t seem justifiable. So now I’m thinking I’ll fake a wallpaper look with a stencil. Depending on how ambitious I get, I may even continue the pattern onto the ceiling! Here are some of the block print fabrics I have my eyes on for the bedding and upholstery:
And here are some of the stencils I’m eyeing (pay no mind to the colors):
For a color palette, I’m feeling inspired by the warm creams and faded blues and reds of traditional suzani embroidery. I’ve always loved suzani and actually use an antique suzani wall hanging as a quilt on my bed. Here are some beautiful examples of suzani textiles:
I think Tallow by Farrow & Ball would make an excellent warm creamy base color for the room. Then I can use the faded reds, greens, and blues in the stencils and textiles as well as in a large vintage rug on the floor. You didn’t think I would pass up an opportunity to stick a vintage rug in a room did you? ;)
But what about the furniture?
I want to keep the furniture classic and old fashioned, the sort of pieces I can imagine being right at home in Beatrix Potter’s Hawkshead home, “Hill Top.” (My own childhood home is on a hill and my mother, an avid Potter fan, christened it “Hill Top” when we moved in.) The pictures above show views of the exterior, kitchen, and master bedroom in Potter’s home. I’m wild about this cosy blend of patterned walls, vintage rugs, wooden furniture, handmade quilts, and a touch of chinoiserie. So how will I achieve this look with functional and safety-approved baby furniture? First, I’m opting for a Jenny Lind crib. This is a traditional spool style crib that screams antique farmhouse. I’m hoping to find a natural wood version, but here’s a white model from Crate and Kids:
In lieu of a changing table, I plan to source a vintage dresser and out a changing tray like this one on top:
As for the dresser style, I love old Empire mahogany pieces and I’m also partial to faux bamboo.
So far I’ve only made one nursery purchase, but I think it’s a fitting starting point: A felted wool Beatrix Potter mobile from Etsy shop WoolenTenderness.
P.S. I should mention that we will be finding out the sex of the baby, but that won’t factor into my design plans because I think good design is good for both sexes!
I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas, so leave me a note in the comments!