In late April, Erika Dawkins, owner of Bon Ton Studio in Healdsburg, announced that she and her husband are expecting two babies. One is their second child, due in August. The second is a sister store to her successful homeware and clothing store.
In June, Dawkins opened the doors of Bon Ton Baby at the Healdsburg Plaza. The new store offers sweet finds for the little ones: blankets, storage baskets, clothing essentials and a selection of toys.
In her new store, Dawkins continues her winning design concept from Bon Ton Studio. She has combined neutral tones with pops of color to create a soothing aesthetic that also works well for decorating a nursery, while Moroccan baskets, leather poufs and dried flower arrangements have been combined with colorful cactus silk pillows in teal or rose pink, or Turkish towels. in shades ranging from yellow to poppy.
Dawkins prepared for the opening of Bon Ton Baby as she set up her nursery at home, the room that will be shared by her 3-year-old daughter and newborn baby. She took some time out of her busy schedule to share some tips on her process for designing and choosing items for both her store and her home.
Choose a color palette
“I always say with a lot of things, ‘Let’s try to keep it simple,'” says Dawkins. When decorating a room, she starts with a palette of calm neutrals – beige, white and brown are the base – and then adds restrained color. To add a few interesting elements, Dawkins lets himself “have fun with textiles and prints.” In her daughter’s room, for example, terracotta dolls (in photos and books) add warmth to an otherwise neutral color palette.
Keep things cohesive
At Bon Ton Baby, neutral colors and woven baskets set the tone. The look is then enlivened by soft colors: heather green, lilacs, blush shades, terra cottas. Dawkins steers clear of the gendered blue and pink and her store is gender neutral; there are no boards for boys and girls. To stay within her chosen color palette, Dawkins sometimes has to leave out certain items and pieces for her shop or her home. She had a beautiful red dress for sale at Bon Ton Studio, but it didn’t match the look of the store. The dress eventually sold, but it served as a reminder of how some pieces, while beautiful, just don’t fit a cohesive look.
Communicate who lives in the room
“First it’s a baby, then it’s a toddler,” Dawkins says of decorating a nursery. She likes to place shelves of books and stuffed animals at child’s eye level for growing children to reach. She also likes to furnish and furnish a room with storage in mind. “I’m a big believer in anything that has a home,” Dawkins says. She uses storage baskets, like the belly baskets she carries in both her stores, to keep the rooms organized. The baskets can be folded to create lower profile storage items.
Also think about your own comfort
Since parents spend a lot of time in their small children’s rooms, Dawkins recommends adding items to these rooms that make them more comfortable for adults. For example, a Moroccan pouf offers a comfortable low to the floor, where parents can sit at eye level of the child. As for the aesthetics, Dawkins recommends letting the kid’s space “work with the rest of the house” and not “go overboard with themes.”
Collect furniture and decor from various sources
Dawkins likes to mix high-end items with budget buys and a bit of vintage. “You just have to weave it all together and layer it,” she advises. For her nursery at home, she bought and installed the large items first – a birch wood crib, a white dresser (from IKEA) and a linen rocking chair. She then bought blonde wood planks from Target, and many of the remaining items—baskets, poufs, and linens—came from her own store. The room also features art from a local maker and pretty dried flowers from Design Em. “It doesn’t have to match,” Dawkins says of the decoration, suggesting opting for mismatched but well-matched pieces of furniture and decor.