Forget magazines, Instagram is my go-to destination for shopping inspiration. From fashion to home to those things that you never knew you needed until you saw them and then KAPOW you have to have them NOW – it’s a brilliant showcase for style. It’s where I’ve made a number of great finds including, most recently, Wonder & Rah, a gorgeous brand selling original design-orientated wall art for children’s rooms by the very talented Natalie Cardew. Of course, as soon as I saw the pictures of the home she shares with husband Chris, son Leo (4), daughter Robyn (2) and cats Biffy and Whitney, I knew we had to feature it and ask her more about her decorative style and how she got Wonder & Rah off the ground…
When and why did you set up Wonder & Rah?
I started Wonder & Rah 6 months ago, in search of a creative outlet whilst at home looking after my children Leo and Robyn. What started as a hobby has swiftly moved into a part time job and I hope it will continue to grow and give me the career change i think deep down i was looking for.
Where does the name come from?
My husband claims to have come up with it! From my recollection it was more of a joint epiphany. We were chatting about how the word Wonder perfectly captured the idea of child like imagination and possibility, and the rah, well at the time it was literally my children’s most over used phrase.
How would you describe your illustrations?
I find it really hard to describe the style as its always evolving, but I’d probably say they are contemporary, abstract and fun. Almost every design begins life as an original painting. I work on a variety of textures and colours, and then use various software to adapt them and create the collage. My aim is to create cool children’s prints that are more design-led and less twee.
How long have you lived in your house for?
We’ve been here for just over a year now, prior to that we had moved every year for 5 years! Sounds crazy, I know, and whilst we are quite impulsive people, it was more driven by the impossibility of buying a house in London. Our last house was a real renovation job, which enables us to upsize to where we are today. At the time, I was pregnant with Robyn, working on the other side of London and decorating in the evenings. I look back and think, ‘how did we do it?!’
Did you have to do much when you moved in?
This house felt relatively easy compared to the last renovation, but it still needed a new kitchen, downstairs flooring and painting throughout. The bathroom is next on the list, but we need to get saving for that!
How would you describe your decorative style?
I love so many different styles and I think my home reflects that. It’s eclectic, including some Scandinavian, some mid-century, some bohemian and some industrial – all in good measure!
Where do you shop for the home?
Depends on the budget, the majority of the furniture comes from IKEA – I really do love that place (luckily so does my husband) and its hard to justify anything more expensive when you have toddlers and cats, but I also love the ceramics in Anthropologie and Habitat, the rugs in LaRedoute and Urban Outfitters, ebay and gumtree for a mid century fix and then all the fantastic small businesses I’ve found through Instagram – homeplaceonline, GoAesthetic, olliella, velveteen babies, lalalovesdecor…there are so many. I also love pretty much everything by Ferm Living. My mum spends half the year living in France, so we always end up getting something for the house from all the amazing markets over there.
The Living Room
Design-wise what did you want to achieve in your living room?
Just a light, comfortable, calm space. The Sofa and chairs are both from Ikea in my favourite grey upholstery that goes with everything, and the cushions are a combination of Habitat, Fine Little Day and Ferm Living. The rug is the best-selling design from La Redoute, such great value for money. And, the prints… where do i begin! Even before starting Wonder & Rah I was print obsessed, in the living room we currently have prints from my favourite artist – Egon Schiele, the amazing print designer Coco Lapine and some of my pieces of course.
Do you have any tips on displaying wall art?
I could go on and on about this topic, I have such a combination of methods throughout my house. Some of the more Egon Schiele prints have been professionally framed, you can really tell the difference, but it is very expensive, which is why I only have a few pieces that were lucky enough to get that treatment. I’m obsessed with the Ikea frame department, they have such a great selection and amazing prices. Hema and Tiger have also just brought out some lovely wooden options. I also love poster hangers, which are another really affordable way of displaying art.
The Play Room
We only have a playroom as the children currently share a small bedroom. When Leo starts wanting his own space, we won’t have it anymore, but then I get to decorate two kids rooms!
The Canopy is from Numero 74 from ScandiMini, the ‘Play’ acrylic sign is by La La Loves Decor, the storage basket is from Olli Ella and the tiger cushion is from Ferm Living. The kitchen is from IKEA, the Rainbow Drops Garland from Velveteen Babies, cases from Kids Boetiek, cups from Buddy and Bear, and the prints are all mine!
Do your children influence your designs at all? Have they ever asked you to draw something for them?
All the time – Dino Roar was born out of Leo asking for a dino print in his room and me not finding any I liked.
LEO and ROBYN’s ROOM
This is a lovely room. I notice that it seems quite gender-neutral colour-wise, which I love. Is this what you wanted to achieve or did it just evolve this way?
The children share a room at the moment so it naturally evolved in a gender neutral way, allthough I am a massive fan of gender neutral toys and clothes. so it would have been similar even if they weren’t sharing.
The Ice Cream garland on the wall is from Velveteen Babies, one of my all time favourite businesses I’ve found through instagram. I have 4 garlands in total! Each piece is hand stitched by Coral the owner and the quality and design is just perfect.
The gold open eye sign is by La La Loves Decor. I really love this brand too, Kelly offers a whole host of fun and cool pieces for childrens rooms, she’s also constantly evolving her range so there’s always something new to get excited about.
The Spare Room/Office
I work from Wonder & Rah HQ which is/was my spare room. Any guests are now used to sleeping amongst the paper, printer and poster tubes! I was a merchandiser at Kurt Geiger before leaving to have my daughter. A very different world to illustration. It was my responsibility to drive profitability through range planning, stock management and trade. I guess it’s a funny combination that my strengths lie in maths and art, but merchandising definitely fulfilled my mathematical side. I actually studied illustration at university and up until that point was mainly art-focused, so it’s something I’ve always missed and it’s been really cathartic to get back to it. Ultimately, the common theme between both jobs is retail.
Thanks Natalie! You can check out more of Wonder & Rah’s amazing designs on Instagram (@wonderandrah)