We talk interiors for children with Room To Bloom's Ursula Wesselingh
Today, we have an interview with Ursula Wesselingh, interior designer and founder of Room to Bloom, a design service dedicated to interiors for children. If you're planning your baby's nursery or are wanting to know what we're going to be seeing in the most stylish children's rooms in 2019, read on!
Hi Ursula, first up, can you please tell us a little bit about how you came to be an interior designer?
I entered interior design 15 years ago. I had studied art and theatre design in college and then went into media. My career started to turn further away from the art I loved, so I decided to take the bull by the horns and follow my heart. I enrolled in an interior design course and before the year was over, I was offered a job at an architectural practice. It really felt like coming home, and I’ve never looked back.
And why the focus on children's rooms in particular?
I discovered early on that I loved designing children’s rooms the most. In art you have to follow what you love. I have very fond memories of my own childhood bedroom, growing up on a farm in the Netherlands. Perhaps I am to trying recreate those memories for other children?
When I started out as an interior designer, children’s rooms weren’t getting much attention here in the UK. There is plenty of evidence how interiors affect mood and performance. Kids are just as sensitive to their surroundings as grownups, if not more. So, I thought I could use my skills in a design area that seemed quite neglected, and do my bit to change things.
Which has been your favourite project so far?
That’s too hard to choose! I’ve loved working on many projects over the years. My favourite projects are for clients who love my signature style – I love the collaborative process and it’s so much easier when there is a synching of minds.
How does the design process work, from being approached by a client to revealing a finished room?
I begin by finding out as much as possible about the client’s wishes, and practical things like how the family lives and what the child needs in the room. This is the most important stage, as everything is based on it. Next I’ll start researching the scheme and work on the space planning, which I then present as a concept design.
From there I’ll work closely with the client to develop the scheme until every last bit of the room has been planned and decided on. Usually we install the design in steps, carrying out works and decorations first, then installing furniture and soft furnishings, and finally styling the room. This gives clients time to see how everything fits and make more informed decisions about the final details.
It’s more of a slow reveal really, not the “ta-da!” moment like you see on television.
Let's talk schemes and themes. What do you think is going to be popular in 2019?
I think things will start feeling softer this year, and more colourful too. I love the warm neutrals that you see more and more of - skin and earth tones instead of the super high contrast monochrome schemes that were so popular over the last few years. I’ve never been a huge fan of that. Stronger colour like indigo, deep greens and ochres are going to be popular as well I think. And the seventies are back – who thought brown would be hip again? Rattan and plants became hugely popular last year, and I think that will stay this with us this year. I also see more and more kids’ rooms decorated with wooden toys and other accessories.
Another trend that I hope will make it this year are tonal schemes – I’ve always been a fan of these and use the technique a lot. It makes a super calm backdrop for the clutter that comes with kids.
For soon-to-be-parents who don't want to jump on a particular trend, what advice would give them for their baby's first room?
Practically, I’d say keep it calm and neutral. It gives you and your baby a peaceful place to retreat to and also makes it easier to adapt later on (sooner than you think!). But it’s equally important to follow your heart when it comes to decorating. So make it a place that gives you joy every time you enter the room.
Embrace all things baby or future-proof the room? What would you do?
I’m all for creating a neutral base and then style it with age-appropriate accessories to create the mood I’m looking for. That way the room will naturally evolve.
Which GLTC products would you recommend that would be great in a nursery but would also work well as children get older?
I think GLTC is generally great on storage - and that you can’t have enough of! I’m a big fan of baskets to keep rooms looking tidy and love their rope storage baskets, they are the perfect neutral colours. The large ones are great to hide big clutter (all those soft toys!), the small ones fit in cube storage or on shelves, making things look so much calmer.
For books, I really like the Greenaway bookcases. They’re great for displaying the most beautiful books, and are fantastic for creating a little reading nook at any age. The book storage carts are super cute too, as is the library table.
And do you have any nursery 'must-haves'?
Hmm, I’m a sucker for vintage wardrobes and find those super useful to hide all manner of things. I also really like wallpaper in a nursery to give the room focus – but I’ll admit it’s not strictly a must-have.
Shared bedrooms are a tricky one for parents. How would you go about including each child's personality in the room?
Sharing can be tricky, but decor wise I’d keep it fairly simple. I usually start with a neutral scheme and then give each child a corner near their bed that they can personalise. A shelf to display favourite things, cushions that make their bed cosy and sets it apart from the other’s, giving each child some personal storage space; that’s my approach.
Do you have any childhood memories to share about your own bedroom as a child?
I remember I took an active interest in decorating my room from an early age. I have fond memories of the blue and white room that I created with the help of my mum. We found a “white” (cream) offcut of carpet, some blue and white fabric that my mum made curtains from (I still have them), and blue and white striped wallpaper. We also painted my bed and drawers blue.
I had a shelf and a letter tray with lots of knick-knacks that I liked to display, which I then culled so only blue, white and brown items remained.
My favourite knick-knacks that did not meet the colour scheme, survived the cull thanks to some blue tractor paint that I’d found in one of our barns. Ha-ha, talk about matchy-matchy!
And finally, what makes a happy home for you personally?
A happy home for me is a calm space, harmonious in colour, tidy, with fresh flowers and good light. I love sitting on my sofa with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and just looking at what’s around me.
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