Take a look inside Wonder and Rah designer Natalie Cardew’s dreamy home
It comes as no surprise that Natalie Cardew of Wonder and Rah favours a neutral home, made bright and beautiful with a careful mix of artwork and accessories. For this designer, whose prints adorn many a nursery wall, home is where it all begins, both inspiring Natalie’s work at the beginning of her process and acting as photoshoot location at the end. Natalie and her family – husband Chris, son Leo and daughter Robyn – have recently moved to this
home on the Dorset coast from Kingston. “It was a big move leaving London,” says Natalie, “but something we’d thought about for a while. My husband and I grew up by the sea and wanted to bring up our children in the same way.” But it was a juggle getting everything in place. “Chris had to move jobs and we were timing it with our eldest starting school – we moved the week before school started!”
Since then, Natalie and Chris have tackled the whole house, which needed cosmetic renovation. “The basic structure of the house was great – we loved the loft conversion and log burner,” explains Natalie. And the rest? “The downstairs layout didn’t work for us. The dining room and kitchen were separate – they screamed out for a knock-through and better access to the garden. There was a lot of yellow gloss woodwork and dirty magnolia walls, while four of the five bedrooms had loud, dated feature walls.” Natalie’s approach is to start with a neutral colour on the walls to act as a canvas for her ever-changing accessories. “I like a unique look to each room, but the house has to flow. I hate a disjointed feel.” So how does she achieve this? “I use shades of grey, from dark to light, from cool to warm. It’s a great colour to get prints and accessories to pop, too.”
With such a lot of work newly done, Natalie has plans to make things feel more lived in. “I’m desperate to invest in some vintage furniture,” she confesses, “as everything is mainly new in our home at the moment. I love the charm and character a vintage piece can bring, and I’m really into mid-century design. We have a G Plan co ee table, but I’d love a wooden Ercol sofa for the kitchen, so I need to get saving.”
With a business centred around artwork for children, it’s no surprise that the kids’ rooms are the most photographed part of the house.
“I shoot all of my work in Leo and Robyn’s room. I’m always having fun mixing things up! I move things back and forth between the kids’ room and our shared spaces all the time.” This flexible approach is having an interesting e"ect on Natalie’s work. “Now we’re settling into the house, I’m enjoying creating pieces for the adult spaces. I’d love to grow that area of my work, maybe move into homewares.”
Natalie describes her style as fun, patternfilled and eclectic. “It’s also really budgetfriendly,” she laughs. “With two small children and two cats, there’s little point investing in luxury items at the moment! Plus, I want the kids to feel like they can relax in their home.”
Any plans for the future? “I have a few plants dotted around but nowhere near enough. I’m obsessed with fiddle leaf figs and would love one in our hall.” Natalie’s love of changing things up also means her home is likely to keep evolving. “I like to be brave with colour and texture in my accessories,” she says. “It’s the cheapest and least risky way to work an interiors trend.”
Growing up in this “beautiful forever home” was the plan – for the couple, their kids and for the business. “I knew I’d use it for work as my home has always featured on my Instagram. But it has to be a fun and functional home for us to bring our children up in.” And that’s one ambition well and truly achieved already.
01 “My favourite room is the kitchen. It’s just so light and lovely in there now.” 02 The living room’s Atlas Beni rug from Olli Ella is Natalie’s pride and joy.
Daughter Robyn’s room doubles up as a shoot location, making it the most photographed space in the house.
01 “I want my home to reflect the people that live and thrive inside it!” 02 Natalie is totally obsessed with interiors, always scouring Insta and magazines.