Stella + the Stars' motto is 'small budget, big impact interior styling' and Emilie says Dh4K to revamp a nursery doesn't scares her - quite the opposite. Here's her game plan:
1. Get the big pieces from budget-friendly places like Ikea and Home Centre for the bed, changing table, storage and light fixtures.
2. To make a statement on the walls without breaking the bank the cheapest and most transformative way to do that is to use paint! Jotun have an affordable range of shades, which are also kid-friendly since they're washable, and it can cost as little as Dh500 to get a room repainted in a fun colour.
3. You can be as creative as you wish and instead of just sticking to a plain wall colour, create a design like mountains, stripes, clouds; everything is possible. Wall stickers are another great and inexpensive way to add pizzazz on a very low budget. Especially when you rent and don't want anything permanent.
4. To save on costs, instead of buying framed art prints, I usually recommend buying downloadable prints from Etsy and having them printed here locally (Desco is wonderful!) and buy cheap frames. This usually reduces the budget for prints by at least half. But it's more work of course!
5. Then I would splash the cash a bit on the final touches - a statement table lamp or neon light, a cool rug, some colourful storage baskets, and something personalised for example - to create a focus in the room.
Get the look:
Here's key piece you can shop to start building your nursery
Clockwise from top left: Malle Flag Chain Sweet Rose Mix, Dh140, Marmarland; Knatting set of baskets, Dh49, Ikea; Cushion, Dh129, Mamas and Papas; Set of two cloud tables, Dh500, The Bowery Company.
Clockwise from top left: Gulliver changing table, Dh345, Ikea; Set of three baskets, Dh590, The Bowery Company; Star storage box, Dh35, Home Centre; A Little Lovely Company Lightbox A5, Dh160, Just Kidding; Little Suitcase, Dh69, Caramel & Sun.
Emilie's tips on buying smart in the UAE:
Choosing the crib
It depends on your budget; brands like Stokke have some really clever designs that are a big investment but grow with your child, turning from a cot to a toddler bed and into a play house. If you want an option that won't break the bank then you can't beat Ikea; you can get a wonderfully minimalist cot bed for under Dh300. I also love how Home Centre has completely revamped their kids' collection this year and come up with some gorgeous, affordable designs for toddler beds. I'm also partial to lesser-known French brands, like Combelle and Laurette, who both have beautiful ranges of baby cribs and cots in a lovely variety of colours.
On buying a toddler bed
If you want to make one big investment that will last, I recommend getting a standard single bed and a bed guard. If you don't mind starting with a toddler bed knowing you'll have to move onto a bigger bed soonish then Caramel & Sun have a wonderful collection of kid's beds in a range of prices. The Tipi bed is one of my favourites as it's so fun and affordable. They also stock Love Joba's house beds, with a similar design to the one I had made for Stella. I like that they are floor beds and align with the principles of the Montessori style of early years teaching - the idea that a child should have freedom of movement, and should be able to move independently around their bedroom.
On choosing art or prints
I love creating little clusters of fun art prints in kids rooms, either above beds or desks. Another way is to display prints on wall shelves or ledges, which gives the flexibility of interchanging the prints or adding new ones whenever you like.
There are some lovely ladies who have launched kids' decor and accessories businesess in the UAE recently and offer some stunning options for custom designs. The lady behind Paperpop Decor can pretty much create any mural for a kid's room, while I recently worked with Rania from Tienda: you can give her a simple drawing handmade by your little one and she can turn that into a fabric and create anything, from blankets to cushions.
Emilie's top 3 interiors stores on Instagram:
From left to right:
"They have a fab range of soft furnishings and accessories - I love ALL their cushions and stuffed animal heads."
"Great nursery accessories - I just bought the new baby some gorgeous blankets from Mama Design."
"I love this UK brand for their beautiful wooden toys - they ship to the UAE."
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Portrait image by Aiza Castillo-Domingo