A mother and daughter design team from Yorkshire have filled a gap in the market for luxury nursery fabrics. Sharon Dale reports.
Carolyn Parker and her daughter, Abigail Owens, are renowned interior designers specialising in top-end homes. Working on everything from country houses to contemporary villas, they are experts at sourcing the best of everything. While there have always been plenty of products to choose from, there was one problem area for the discerning duo.
“We really struggled to find luxury fabrics for the nursery. It was something I noticed even more when I had my own children,” says Abigail, who has two children and a third on the way,
The chance to fill what was clearly a gap in the market came by chance when fabric manufacturer Gainsborough invited Carolyn and Abigail to visit its historic mill in Suffolk. They were interested in seeing how the manufacturing process worked and were thrilled when the company asked if they would like to collaborate on a collection of nursery fabrics.
Founded in 1903, Gainsborough Fine Weavers and Dye House embodies over a century of British craftsmanship. Awarded the Royal Warrant in 1980, it designs, hand-dyes and weaves its own collections, along with bespoke fabrics for interior designers, private homes, palaces, public spaces and yachts.
“Mum and I adore fabrics, so we were in heaven looking through the leather-bound books in the archive. We found some beautiful designs of crowns, teddy bears, rabbits and flower baskets and a theme started to emerge,” says Abigail.
“After meetings with Gainsborough’s design manager, Dominique Caplan, and MD Emerson Roberts, we realised that our collection had a sense of humour and a sweet but cheeky rabbit started to make an appearance.”
The Bunny Gets It collection of nursery fabrics is woven in hand-dyed silk and cotton. It features royal crowns, bunnies, teddy bears, rocking horses and hot-air balloons.
There are five principal fabrics in soft pastel colours, all hand-dyed at Gainsborough and woven in silk and cotton with dashes of gold and Lurex.
There are also two co-ordinating fabrics: Candy Stripe and a Gingham check. Bunny Royale is cradled in a design of foliage and flowers and depicts rabbits, rocking horses and teddy bears wearing crowns against a background of shimmering Lurex stars.
Up, Up and Away features bunnies and rocking horses floating in striped hot-air balloons across a starry background.
Bunnies on the Run shows the rabbits racing up and down across the width of the fabric, while Cotton Tails features pairs of bunnies clinging to foliage. A robust fabric for upholstery is a simple repeating pattern showing a seated teddy bear wearing a crown.
Prices start at £159 a metre and it is available from Gainsborough’s showroom at Chelsea Harbour in London and from Carolyn Parker Interiors.
“It’s designed not to date and the colours are gender neutral. The fabric is exquisite and is made to last, so it is a good investment,” says Abigail.
The promotional pictures were shot at Carolyn’s home, where she has a nursery room for her grandchildren.
In timely fashion, the mother and daughter duo are also working with Heirlooms Linens on a 500 thread count collection of nursery bedding, which is due out in September.
“We knew from experience that it was very difficult to find top quality cot and single bedding and we knew there was a market for it. It will come with the option to have it monogrammed,” says Abigail.
She and Carolyn are also busy with projects for clients, including a villa in Portugal and a property in York. The business began 30 years ago when Carolyn launched the practice in Wetherby. It is now based at a former farmstead in Whenby in the heart of the Howardian Hills. The site includes Carolyn’s renovated farmhouse, Abigail’s home and a purpose-built office and showroom for the business.
From their Yorkshire base, they service clients all over the UK, Europe and America. “We travel all over but we love projects in Yorkshire as it means we can be closer to home,” says Abigail.
Carolyn Parker Interior Design, carolynparker.com. You can also see The Bunny Gets it fabrics at McKinney Gainsborough, Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, London.