Playful Den Nursery
Play expert and mother of three Emma Worrollo has a runaway success with ‘The Playful Den’ and shares advice for bringing fun into the nursery.
Emma is a parenting a goddess. Big statement you might think but she is a Play Expert which means she is a parenting goddess simple! All kid’s need is safety, love and playfulness in their lives. If you tick the first two boxes but struggle with the third, then you need to follow her and check out her blog The Playful Den. She runs her own business with offices in London and New York, mother to two fun loving kids and one gorgeous baby boy Scout.
I could easily go way off topic with Emma and dive into building a business, parenting, home décor, moving near the beach, being a mermaid and more. But I will focus on why you are reading this; we want to hear about her nursery design and maybe some newborn parenting advise for good measure.
RB – When you found out you were expecting Scout, how long was it before your thoughts turned to the nursery?
EW – About 10 seconds because I love a room project, haha. But in reality, it wasn’t until I was about 7 months along before making any proper plans or purchases (I think it took me that long for me to believe we were having a third baby!)
RB – Is the nursery you have now what you first imagined or did you make some changes along the way?
EW – It’s quite different, but then I expect that. I am an ideas person and usually tend to have too many ideas in my head. I need to go through a process of sifting through them until I find the one that’s really singing to me. At first I had this obsession with the colours of the Fruit Salad sweets from a pick “n” mix, I really thought those would be the final colours, but they’re now not in the scheme at all. The room did however end up being inspired by the aesthetic of candy shops, so that must have taken there. That’s what’s cool about following your curiosity; you end up in the right place eventually.
RB How does Scout’s nursery compare to Phoenix’s?
EW – We were in a rental when Phoenix was born so we didn’t really do anything other than buy furniture and put prints up as it was a temporary flat. 9 years later settled in our home and more experienced, when designing Scout’s room I was really thinking about the toddler stage more than the new born days. Ultimately the baby stage is quite brief, which means I was thinking more about the practical needs of caring for a baby but equally about the room being suitable for story time, carpet play, low down surfaces and toy access.
“My dreams and goals are getting bigger all the time. I’ve always been a very ambitious person,
sometimes it doesn’t pay off but when it does the feeling is amazing!”
RB – Did you find out the sex or did you keep it a surprise, I can’t remember?
We did but didn’t tell anyone. I wanted a surprise but the big kids couldn’t wait! I think it helped them get ready for their brother (especially Indy who wanted a sister! She had plenty of time to get over that not happening!)
RB – When you designed Scout’s nursery where did you begin? What led the design?
EW – I started with those Fruit Salad colours and just started pinning from there. I usually start practical and choose the furniture required for the space and then move onto the details of the aesthetic. This is because I can get really carried away with concepts and I need to make sure I’ve ticked the boxes for practicality and am in budget with the main pieces before moving on!
As I moved through my ideas I noticed I was leaning into lots of Miami imagery – we’d been there in the summer when I was in the early stages of pregnancy and I was really happy with a Miami inspired palette so ended up with the idea of ‘Miami Sweet Shop’ as the theme circulating in my head.
I found clear acrylic domes for toy storage and book ledges as these gave me a sweet shop feel. I’ve later realised the colours i’d chosen simlar to those in the Honey Dukes sweet store, if you’re Harry Potter fans like us you’ll get it.
So much of my inspiration comes from places we visit, it’s like a memory mood board forms when traveling. You don’t even realise it’s happening, but it’s all there in your subconscious and when designing it can pour out.
RB -Do you mood board or Pinterest, or do you start with the first piece of inspiration and take it from there?
EW – I usually have some spark first and organically follow my nose. I like to pin abstract pictures of colours being used first rather than loads of images of the room type, that can sometimes box me in or limit my ideas if I go straight to finished rooms.
RB – As this is your third nursery to create what have you learnt that would really help first time parents?
EW – Definitely to think slightly older than a baby. I think baby décor dates very quickly. A child’s personality really starts to spark quite early and I think it’s nice to have something with a bit of the bubbliness and boldness of a toddler ready for them to grow into. This means looking outside of typical nursery décor for inspiration that can be very muted, mostly animal based and if that’s not what you really want don’t be afraid to do something different, there are no rules really, yet with nurseries it can feel like ‘this is they way you have to do it’. I really don’t think that’s true, do what suits your family aesthetic and vibe.
You also don’t need to babyify all aspects of the room, for example a large nappy bin is cumbersome and ugly. We just have a neat small Barbarita bin. Nappies only smell If you leave them for ages and we use nappy bags and empty it every other day – it’s much less intrusive and gross than the actual nappy bins! I also haven’t bothered with a changing table this time, we have a nice sturdy wooden change mat over the top of cot and it works perfectly without having to have a temporary piece of furniture which we don’t really have room for. I also recommend drawer dividers, baby clothes can get so messy so quickly in drawers as they are so small and hard to fold neatly, I love an organised drawer!
Babies are highly alert to contrasts so a big bold print near the changing area can really capture their attention, even more so than a mobile I think. The wall paper on ceiling hasn’t once failed in calming Scout down, he’s mesmerised! Equally, babies and young children love mirrors, it’s nice to have one up you can show them their face when you’re comforting them in their room.
RB – What are your top five tips for expectant mothers? Especially during lockdown?
1/Keep a check on your expectations, if you don’t overcook how idyllic you expect everything to be, you will always exceed your expectations rather than failing to meet them!
2/No one will tell you this, but humour is one of the most important gifts a mother can have. Watch comedy, find the funny in the craziness, giggle with your partner and take time to make sure you’re laughing at something. It really is the best medicine.
3/Showers and baths can be taken at any time, as can eating, its not a failure to do things out of routine, enjoy them and make them count whenever they come along and don’t worry too much about time for the first few weeks!
4/Be cautious with over consumption of news and turning to google every second. This will distract you from training up your intuition, which is the most important thing in a mother’s tool kit.
5/Do not rush your recovery. Consider yourself as someone with injuries who needs time and rest to heal. This will take weeks, do not try and speed it up, slowness is important, channel your inner sloth!
To find your playful side and to help harness your child’s, check out Emma’s blog and join her ‘parenting and thriving’ movement The Playful Den.
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