Interior design nurseries might seem something of a contradiction in terms to anyone who has spent half an hour scrubbing crayon off the wallpaper. But with the bewildering array of children's fabrics, furnishings, and wall-coverings now available, to say nothing of the choice of furniture and nursery equipment - from wipe-clean plastic to the wooden variety currently filling antique shops - more and more people are turning to the professionals.

Dragons of Walton Street 23 Walton Street SW3 (071-589 3795). Mon-Fri 9.30-5.30, Sat 10.30-4.30.

Traditional, nostalgic, classic - a Rosie Fisher nursery is something of a status symbol. Her hand-made furniture and co-ordinated fabrics are adored by parents who want their children's rooms to look like children's rooms. Customers as diverse as Princess Diana and Rod Stewart know that, whatever their own life-style, their offspring are growing up in a cocoon of soft pastels and pretty prints that most children only find in the pages of Beatrix Potter. Prices for individual pieces start from pounds 54 for a hand-painted chair to a hefty pounds 2,600 for a child's double four-poster bed. A complete room costs from pounds 3,000 to upwards of pounds 20,000 for one like that recently completed for King Hussein's twin grand-daughters, customised down to matching toothbrushes and dressing gowns.

Sue Symons (081-958 2046) works fromhome at 33 Regent's Court, Stonegrove, Edgeware HA8 8AD.

When Sue Symons started over 20 years ago her customers, all double-income couples, wanted something pretty with matching everything and nothing out of place. 'Years ago it was all murals - people didn't want their children's paintings on the wall because it would spoil the effect. Now I find kids' stuff everywhere - the room is just as nice but the design is a background on which children can impose their own personalities.' She charges pounds 400 a room for a design presentation and upwards of pounds 10,000 for something over-the-top with imported fabrics, co-ordinated accessories and antique furniture.

Mary Louise Johnson (071-371 9529) works from home at 21 Elthiron Road SW6 4BN.

Most of Mary Louise Johnson's clients are working mums with more sense than money. 'It is often their first child, they haven't got the space to devote a room totally to a nursery so they want somewhere that can double up as a spare room.' Happy to work around existing furniture she chooses fabrics which are 'fresh and pretty' - confining the babyish to borders which can be removed or painted over when outgrown. Describing herself as 'horribly practical', she uses zip covers, machine-washable fabrics and easy-to-wipe floor coverings, limiting current trends such as Thomas the Tank Engine to replaceable duvet covers. Hourly consultancy rate pounds 40, redeemable on orders over pounds 1,500.

Helen Barnes (0737-241 549)works from home at 17 Somerset Road, Meadvale, Redhill, Surrey RH1 6LS.

For a unique children's room, Helen Barnes will design, make and paint everything from furniture and walls to blinds, curtain fabric and lamp shades. A versatile muralist, Barnes can transform an empty space into anything from Toad Hall to Toy Town. Using a team of carpenters, she recently turned a bedroom into Wonderland with wall murals, customised furniture, hardboard reliefs and window pelmets (she'll even do the Arsenal-Chelsea Match, complete with a giant football bed). Prices start at pounds 65 for a hairbrush and pounds 200 for a simple toy box to pounds 5,000 for a complete room, 'but everything is negotiable'.

Carolyn Warrender PO Box 360, SW1 (071- 821 5661).

Carolyn Warrender has specialised in the design of nurseries since the birth of her own two children. 'Considerations not paramount in the rest of the house are essential in a child's room - safety, durability and the changing needs of a growing child.' Long established as an interior designer working with, among others, Colefax & Fowler and Laura Ashley, Warrender pioneered dry-brush stencilling, which became an Eighties' fashion phenomena, before returning to interior design. She offers a mail-order design service: for pounds 65 a room she does an over-all scheme, samples, soft furnishing designs and a folder with information and sources. She also encourages people to make their own use of the vast array of furnishings available. She runs regular one-day workshops and for pounds 75, including lunch and materials, will give you the expertise to design your child's room yourself.

The children's room

Interior Decorators & Designers Association, Crest House, 102-104 Church Rd, Teddington, Middx TW11 8PY (081-977 1105). Sue Battey marries inquirers with designers from a list of members.

The Nursery Windo, 83 Walton Street, London SW3 (071-581 3358). Mon-Sat 10-5.30. Excellent range of fabric and wallpaper designs from bright but tasteful trains to tartan prints. Wallpaper pounds 13.75 a roll; fabric from pounds 16.95 a metre. Also matching accessories, from a basinette and cover (pounds 350) to a bathcap (pounds 11.75).

The Nursery, 103 Bishops Road, London SW6 (071-731 6637). Mon-Sat 10-6. A treasure trove, from beautifully restored wooden furniture to toy soldiers. Most antique toy boxes and high chairs here have been painted by Lura Mason (0403-253527) who also does nursery friezes and restoration of anything from a Victorian crib to an Edwardian rocker. An antique toy box costs from pounds 320 and murals from pounds 400.

Design Line (071-792 0100). Mon-Fri 10-4. The interior decorating help-line was set up by Nicolette Pelley and Cathy O'Clery to answer almost any decorating inquiry . The service is free (subscribers pay pounds 95 a year).

Finding your way around the nursery decor options

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