Karen Walker’s head jewellery designer shares her jungle-inspired nursery

This jewellery designer created a warm welcome for baby Arrow James using vintage finds, cute animals and her flair for colour and pattern

Karen Walker’s head jewellery designer shares her jungle-inspired nursery

At first Jade Leigh Kelly – brand director and head designer for Karen Walker Jewellery and first-time mother – didn’t intend to create a full-blown nursery. The guest bedroom in her Ponsonby villa was going to be a basic baby room with just the essentials. But when she started looking into all the things she’d need, Jade fell into a whole new world of interesting and beautiful furniture and objects. “I couldn’t resist the opportunity to create a fun and interesting space for baby,” she says.


What do you love to do most in this room?
My partner, Karl Henry, and I use this room a lot – changing nappies and feeding are a constant! I’m really happy with how practical and comfortable we’ve managed to make it; we have a really comfortable seat for feeding and a Himalayan salt lamp that gives a soft, warm glow at night time, which makes it enjoyable to be in there. Our favourite thing to do in the room is have playtime. At the moment that consists of walking Arrow James (pictured here at just 6 weeks old) around the room and pointing out all the different animals and making their sounds and telling stories.


What homeware stores or brands do you love?
There’s no better feeling than finding something you’ve been looking for at an op-shop or discovering things you never knew you wanted. Shops like Real Time and Flotsam & Jetsam are my idea of heaven. Trade Aid is another favourite of mine – they have beautiful handcrafted goods that have been made by artisans from around the world.

How did you decorate the room?
One of the first things we bought was the bassinet, made in Ghana by The Young Folk Collective. I love the set of drawers we use as the change table. It took me a while to find a unit the right size for changing – I found them on Trade Me. We sanded and painted them, some of the original brass handles were missing so we added some brass and hide knobs from Shut The Front Door.

How long did it take you to finish the room?
We chipped away at it, buying and making bits and pieces over a few months. It wasn’t until the last month of my pregnancy that we started to pull it all together.

What is your favourite thing in the nursery?
I really love the wallpaper I created. There’s so much to look at, lots of animals, bugs and plants. I’ve always loved old scientific illustrations and used copyright-free images to create a collage, taking the vintage kilim rug in the room as a starting point for colour. I made the collage using Photoshop and then got it made into a wallpaper by Back to the Wall (

I wanted something that was magical and fun, as well as educational. It was also important that it would be age-appropriate for a good few years to come. I didn’t want the space to be too dark as the base of the wallpaper is navy, so I put flecks of white throughout to tie the room together.

Are any other items in the room handmade?
I wanted to add texture so I made a few pom poms that I have hung over photo frames, and a wall hanging that’s made from lots of fluffy cream yarn. I plan to make a mobile for hanging over the cot and I’m thinking that will also have pom poms.

How does this room reflect the rest of your home?
My style is quite eclectic and bohemian. I love the clean lines of our mid-century furniture mixed with pieces from around the world such as Turkish rugs and cushions, African artwork and woven baskets, Moroccan poufs and Indian felt wall hangings. For me, it’s important each room feels homely and is somewhere you want to spend time.

How do you expect this room to change over time?
I have so many ideas of how this room could change and develop over the years, all still incorporating the wallpaper. Could it be cargo nets and a fort bed? I think it will naturally evolve based on Arrow’s interests but we still have time to think about all that. For now, we will continue to enjoy this space as it is.

Words by: Jessica-Belle Greer. Photography by: Helen Bankers.

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