I’m really excited to share today’s post with you because I genuinely think it’ll be incredibly helpful. Like many new mums, I didn’t realise quite how important the window dressings in my baby’s nursery would be. Not only did they need to look lovely (of course!), they also needed to be safe and block out as much light as possible in order to maximise the holy grail of all parents: sleep. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware of The Nursery Blind Company when I was doing up Daph’s nursery and so we settled for paper-thin polka dot curtains from Ikea, topped off with blackout fabric suctioned to the window panes. Classy.
So yes, I’m really pleased to introduce Debbie Chan to you today. Debbie’s a mum, and her business does exactly what it says on the tin – I’ll let her tell you more…
How long ago did you start The Nursery Blind Company, and what inspired you to do so?
I started in 2010. I was lucky enough to be working for an interior design company and had access to all the beautiful fabrics and trims which were available. My own children were very young so I designed and made the Roman blinds for their bedrooms. Everybody who saw them loved them and I realised that lots of mums didn’t know where to start looking for something more creative, and also struggled to visualise how they would look.
We think that there is so much choice out there but in fact a lot of it is very similar and of poor quality.
So I thought it would be a good idea to design a small range of hand-sewn blinds that not only looked beautiful but would be available online and are easy for customers to buy at any time. A lot of my enquiries and orders come in during the night and I think it’s mums up nursing their little ones and browsing the internet in the peace and quiet.
Can you tell us a little bit about what you did before?
I had done lots of things before, and without realising it at the time, they all came together to help me. When I was much younger I was a children’s nanny for a European family and was surrounded by beautiful and stylish homes and children! Later on I professionally trained to make hand-sewn curtains and blinds and from there was asked to manage the soft furnishing department of an interior design company. Being a mum helps hugely as you understand the conflicting needs of parents and children. However it also can hinder as you become time poor!
Where do you start when designing a new piece?
I think as most designers will tell you – they are always looking out for new and exciting things. I always carry a notebook out with me and am scribbling away at ideas. I visit lots of trade fairs for inspiration and look at magazines and also Pinterest. Mostly though I am very mindful that the blinds have to be both beautiful and practical and I have to love them too. I think about trends but also about traditional styles and try to blend them both together. I gather lots of swatches together and make samples up to see what they look like when finished.
Lots of my customers return to me to make curtains and blinds for other rooms in their home and this has led to me offering a range of wool tweed blinds also with pom pom trims, which has proved enormously popular.
Which is your favourite design in the collection? And the most popular?
My favourite design is my newest one – with bunnies appliquéd onto the top edge – I love their little pom pom tails!
The most popular is the grey stars cotton print, with white pom pom trim, as it looks beautiful in both boys’ and girls’ bedrooms and blends with all the lovely soft greys that are so popular at the moment.
Which types of fabrics work best in nurseries and children’s rooms?
Smaller prints or stripes work especially well as windows in children’s bedrooms tend to be smaller. Cotton prints or weaves are also nice as they are natural fabrics and look good whether the blind is up or down.
Please share your five top tips for parents choosing blinds for nurseries and children’s rooms.
Firstly – is it safe? – when the new child safety recommendations came in a couple of years ago I spent a lot of time fully understanding the requirements and ensuring that everything I supply is compliant. There is a lot of confusion in the industry but all blinds now need to be supplied with breakaway devices so that a loop cannot form. It is really important to me that I only supply compliant blinds so naturally everything meets these requirements.
Secondly – Make it fun! As they grow up children’s rooms mean the world to them as they’re spaces just for them, where they feel safe, play with friends and have make-believe adventures. If you get the interior right it can inspire their imagination and creativity.
Thirdly – Make it practical. I use blackout lining on all my blinds and although it will never keep the room completely dark it will make the room dimmer for longer – especially important during long summer days. It’s also a signal to babies that it’s now time to sleep, which all helps with routine.
Fourthly – Try to make it flow with the rest of your house. It is so much easier if you decide on the fabric first and then choose the paint colour to match. I happily send out swatches as I realise how important it is to get this right. I personally don’t like cartoon characters etc. as they tend to be vary garish – and children quickly get tired of them. It can become expensive to keep replacing.
And lastly, Roman blinds are neater and less bulky than curtains – leaving more room to play!
What piece of kids’ design do you most admire?
I love built-in cabin beds that look like dens, or castles or even shabby sheds! They look great and I know from experience how many hours of fun they create.
When you’re not running the business, how do you like to spend your time?
Ha – well – there’s a question! When I am not ferrying my own children around to various events I do like to play tennis and I also learnt to sail earlier this year as it was something I had always wanted to do.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I love to hear when customers are delighted and some even send me pictures of their blinds up. Some customers have questions beforehand and may want guidance and reassurance especially if it is a first baby – getting the nursery right is a very exciting time! I like to answer questions very quickly and in a personal way as every customer is cherished, exactly as if they had come into a bricks and mortar shop.
QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS!
What’s your favourite…
Italy – I love the food!
…children’s interiors brand:
The Little White Company – excellent quality and value for money.
…way to relax:
Sunday morning with the papers (which are usually from the week before!). Sitting in the garden with friends having a drink or just reading a book in peace.
…thing about being a mum:
Enjoying the privilege of being a mum – there was a long time when I didn’t think I was going to be one, so now I enjoy and appreciate everything and just hang on and enjoy the rollercoaster!