Painting the dream

By Kathryn Carr

With only eight weeks to go until baby lands, the time has arrived to start thinking about decorating the nursery. When it comes to interior design, whilst I know what I like (and that the other half is happy as long as his extensive CD collection has a home and he knows in which drawer to find the unidentifiable bike parts he left on the arm of the sofa), the tastes and preferences of baby, are of course, as yet unknown.

We knew right from the beginning that we wouldn’t find out whether ‘Bump’ is male or female, and whilst I’m not the pink for girls, blue for boys kind, neutral colours, although clean and fresh, aren’t the most exciting. We’re also planning a house move which incorporates renting out our current abode, so on the advice of Phil and Kirsty, the whole two storeys has had a fresh lick of finest magnolia.

Vibrant colours and uniquiness
Our challenge then, is to create something interesting from something very plain. The solution came to me in a vision; that is, my eye was caught and drawn to the vibrant colours that decorated the ‘handpainted by poppy’ stand at a recent Baby and Toddler Show. Katy is the owner of the Wirral-based company which creates hand-painted murals, bespoke canvases and artwork for children’s bedrooms, playrooms and nurseries. Having browsed the shelves and walls of high street shops in the search for that something special to brighten baby’s room, I was yet to be inspired by a picture that would certainly be found on the walls of nurseries throughout the UK. It was the ‘handpainted by poppy’ promise of  bespoke paintings, each individually designed to fit any room and based on your own theme, that really appealed. Our child will be unique, as will the painting that will adorn their nursery wall.

We’d love to have a mural but with the premise of a new house, we’ve decided that will come further down the line, perhaps when the tastes and preferences of baby are well and truly known, and when being involved in the design of their own bedroom will unleash their creativity and tap into their imagination to shape a space that they will be proud of and respect. With the boxing up of our house on the cards, we’ve opted for something less permanent to cheer up the wall; something a little more portable in the form of an individual, tailored canvas for our very own little individual.

We’re looking to move to Hebden Bridge. We’ve felt a pull to this market town close to the Pennine Way, with its steep hills and fast flowing streams, popular amongst walkers, climbers and cyclists, and known for its unusually high density of independent shops. So like our chosen location, we decided, that without the opportunity for a consultation with baby, our painting should reflect Mum and Dad’s love of the countryside and outdoor pursuits, which we’re hoping baby will inherit. Like the town’s shops, the canvas is exclusive, distinct and original.

A picture is worth a thousand words
Whether you opt for a canvas or a mural, a bespoke painting certainly creates a focus. As the saying goes, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words.’ There’s so much to see in a painting and the ideas conveyed by just one still image are limitless. An avid reader, I‘m a big fan of books but equally, I love inventing my own tales and can imagine swapping printed sentences for my own words as I take inspiration from our picture and regale our baby with tales of what’s been happening in the parallel universe hanging on our wall. As baby finds their voice, I hope the picture will become the backdrop to their own imagination and at the end of a busy day, will encourage extra exploration from the comfort of their bed, lulling them into a contented sleep. I’m sure our ‘dog on a bike’ will soon acquire a name and there’ll be talk of his adventures, be it picnics in the park, splashing through muddy puddles or a spot of bug hunting in the forest.

I was immediately attracted to the ‘handpainted by poppy’ designs, understanding that they can help create an exciting yet comforting environment for a child. I also instantly regarded them as fun, educational tools in that they can be used to instigate conversations of colour and shape recognition.

The addition of a bespoke painting or mural to a child’s room not only benefits your ‘baby’, there’s plenty in it for you too. I love interior design and a few years ago gained a qualification via a home study course. I like things to look nice. I was worried as to whether my grown-up tastes would survive the transition to catering for a child. Our canvas from ‘handpainted by poppy’ has allowed me to stay true to my style and the bespoke option has presented me with an opportunity to continue to make tasteful choices – in my eyes anyway! What’s more, the made to measure nature of the designs means you can opt for something suitable for a small or a large area, create illusions of wider, higher or longer space and even add dimension and depth to a room by the power of a drawing. Our nursery began as a blank canvas and where we lacked inspiration, our painting has helped create a theme and transform the room, in one easy step. It’s amazing that just one piece can make such a dramatic change.

Encouraging positive vibes
Hand-painted murals and canvases are mood enhancing; they promote positive vibes and can magically encourage a playful mood whilst keeping a sense of calm. Who doesn’t want happy, relaxed offspring, especially when it comes to settling them in for the night?

Once we’ve established roots in Hebden and baby’s graduated from pushchair to pushbike and has ascertained their own ‘likes’, I’d love to see them graduate from decorating the fridge with their mini-works of art to having an input in the redecorating of their bedroom. Whatever they’re into by then, helping to create a wall mural will make them feel quite the little grown-up. In return for this gift of independence, I’ll expect a room that it is kept clean and tidy, but more importantly, hopefully encourage their ability to express their individuality and inspire them to use their imagination. But for now, as our child grows and learns that they are the only person on the planet with a picture like theirs, created at the request of Mum and Dad, I hope they will realise the significance of how important that makes not only the painting, but them too.

For more information and to view what handpainted by poppy can create for you, go to

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