There are a lot of things I would try my hand at, but when it comes to interior design, I simply don't believe I have the flair. When we moved apartments, one of the most exciting spaces was the room we had selected for the nursery. It had a quaint window, and unique angled walls that we knew would make the perfect little space for Baby M. With the space ready and waiting, all I needed was the creative brain to bring the space to life.
A friend introduced me to Kathryn Hawkes of House of Hawkes. Kath is South African too, and the minute she walked through the door, I felt her warm personality and friendly charm - I knew that we were in good hands. On our first meeting, we walked through the space and Andrew and I shared the few bits of direction and preference that we had, and left the rest to Kath's creative mind.
A few weeks later, we were sent a mood board and that was followed by a phone chat about our likes and dislikes. Soon after the work began on transforming the room.
From painting to blind and wall paper installation - Kath sent me details of when to expect workmen and for how long - the rest was simple and stress free. Her suppliers were efficient, punctual and easy to deal with, and they worked neatly in our home.
The sourcing and selection of accessories and furniture was made over WhatsApp, and emails, and Kath took into consideration our heritage as a couple, and our preferences when sourcing items from our key focus regions - Australia, South Africa and the UAE. I felt super comfortable making suggestions, or having pieces we had sourced worked into the plan.
During our process of design and creation, I sat down with Kath and asked her about all the design details in our baby's nursery, as well as general tips for parents starting the project of a nursery. Here's what she had to say:
1. Where do would-be parents start when needing to plan a nursery?
These days, one need look no further than Pinterest or Instagram for a wealth of inspiration for nurseries and/or kids rooms.
2. How do you work out your budget - what are the areas to splurge and save in?
Budget is of course very client specific. Areas that I would suggest splurging on are (1) a good, sturdy cot (ideally one that can convert to a toddler bed) and an (2) excellent mattress. You can save on things like artwork and prints by purchasing digital download files from Etsy. There are so many amazing options available and it’s something you may want to change as the little one grows, so it makes sense to spend less on these kinds of things.
3. What are the key pieces that every nursery should have?
A cot, comfortable and practical changing table, a cozy rug and curtains or blinds with block-out lining so that you can create a dark room in the middle of the day. I would say that these are some of the key elements to start with. From there onwards, the sky is the limit with your choice of decor and accessories.
4. Are there any rules/tips to certain placements? (Like where to put your monitor/ what type of change table to invest in etc)
One good tip would be to check where there AC’s cool air blows before deciding on the placement of your cot and changing table. It’s good to have a small surface near your cot for the monitor and other pieces you may be fiddling with at the bedside (thermometer, dummies, bottle caps, etc.)
Baby Marty's Nursery
1. What was the approach with our nursery?
The brief was really very simple and open to creativity - I think your words were 'it’s a boy and I like greys’.
2. How did you settle on the color palette? (Walls / furniture etc)
I took your direction of grey and white and added touches of black, finished off with a few mint accents here and there. I think the overall palette is calming without being insipid. Being a rental, we also had to work with the floors and wood finishes that are already in place.
3. What were unique considerations (if any) with our nursery?
Whilst I tend to shy away from specific themes, there was a strong urge to incorporate lots of animals in the nursery, given your South African heritage and your hubby’s line of work. And I think we were able to strike a good balance with representation from South Africa, Australia and the UAE.
4. What are some of the unique aspects of the room?
I immediately fell in love with the animal prints I found on Etsy (Farmhouse Outlet) https://www.etsy.com/listing/459747590/safari-nursery-prints-top-hats-set-of-4?ref=shop_home_active_14) because they were dressed in hats and were something I had not seen before. My initial thought was that it looked as though these adorable characters had put on the Sunday best to meet the new addition. So cute!
"(With Baby Marty's nursery) we were able to strike a good balance with representation from South Africa, Australia and the UAE" - Kath, House of Hawkes
The mobile was custom made for Baby Marty by The Party (www.theparty.ae) - it represents some of Australia’s iconic wildlife.
The wallpaper is from a French brand I haven’t worked with before, Lilipinso, and is available locally from Caramel & Sun.
The wardrobe was sourced locally from Pinky’s and customised to our specific requirements.
Lastly, the DIY bowler hat!
5. Your black book of local suppliers that you suggest?
Ah, now you’re asking for all my secrets…. but I will gladly share ; )
For painting, it’s always, always, Jotun. The paint is safe for kids and the quality is amazing. I always opt for the silk finish, which can be wiped clean when your little one tries his hand at lipstick art. Dubai has so many fabulous boutique stores that stock all amazing brands for kids rooms. Some of my favourites include: The Bowery Company, Caramel & Sun, Nook, Emaan Home, Joba Mums & kids, Tribe, White Moss and always Ikea UAE.
About House of Hawkes
1. Tell us about the company and how it started?
House of Hawkes started as a simple as an interiors blog. Interiors have always been my passion and I started my website to share ideas, resources and suppliers with fellow expats. I found it really challenging to find things that I wanted when I first arrived here almost 12 years ago but over the years I built up a list of tried and tested suppliers for just about anything home decor related. One day a friend joked that I start a website to share this information so that she wouldn’t have to feel guilty about hassling me every time she needed the number of a painter or carpenter. She planted a seed that day and it grew from there. Once the blog was up and running, requests for interior design work started to arrive in my inbox. I remember explaining to my first client that this was just a hobby and that I was not qualified to decorate her home, but insisting that she loved 'my work’ and didn’t care, she refused to take no for an answer and I guess the rest is history.
2. Tell us about your background and projects you work on?
My background is not in interiors - before taking some time out to be a full-time mum, I headed up the Marketing & Business Development department for The Grooming Company (parent company of N.Bar, JetSet and 1847) for a good few years. In that role, I oversaw the design and installation of many new stores during Dubai’s rapid growth phase and it’s then that I realised just how much I loved a floor plan and choosing interior finishes.
3. What makes your design style and approach unique?
In this day and age, I don’t believe that any particular style is 100% unique - we all aspire to the imagery we see and love online and are all inspired to try a bit of that for ourselves, be it fashion, interiors or baking! I do however try really hard to understand the specific needs of each client and I approach designing their space with those needs and expectations in mind.
Working with Kath was an absolute pleasure - hear all about our nursery and get tips for yours in our video interview below.
There are so many items that you can source locally and abroad. I've dipped into Kath's black book of contacts and suppliers and we've created an easy to choose 'Shop the Look' guide that can be found in the Fashion and Shopping section of the blog. Access online stores, and list of the boutiques in the region that you can pop into for the perfect accessory to your space.
I could not be more excited to welcome Baby M into his beautiful space. I've already walked in so many more times than needed, and love sitting in that space.
Thanks, Kath - We could not be more pleased!
Have you started on your nursery yet? You can find Kath on the details below and do send in any questions or share your nursery pics with me - I'd love to see them!
House of Hawkes
Follow Kath and her team at @houseofhawkes on Instagram for tips and inspiration.
Photography: Natelee Cocks
Video: Vit from KB4East / Andre Van Heerden