From Watercolor to Table Runner: How Art and Nature Inspire Charlotte Nicole Designs

From Watercolor to Table Runner: How Art and Nature Inspire Charlotte Nicole Designs

Meet Charlotte Stanske — the artist behind Home to Harbour's collaboration with Charlotte Nicole Designs — and learn how she translates her artistic practice into serene, elegant patterns for everyday coastal decor.

Charlotte Stanske in her home studio, working diligently alongside her studio assistant, Hilde.

For Charlotte Stanske, art making has always been a family affair. In fact, she first put brush to paper under the guidance of her father, a talented watercolor painter.

Growing up in a creative household showed Charlotte from a very early age the power — and the possibilities — of art. And while pursuing an interior design degree at the Columbus College of Art and Design, she explored a wide range of mediums, from sculpture and pottery to oil painting to photography.

After 20 years spent applying her artistic eye in the world of corporate interior design, she was itching to get back to making art — which led her back to watercolor painting. It's the medium that anchors her painting and pattern-design business, Charlotte Nicole Designs.

"Watercolor is my first passion," she said. "It comes naturally to me, and it's a lot of fun! I love how mobile it is. Unlike oil painting or pottery, all the supplies you need for watercolor painting are easy to transport. I can bring them on vacation and easily stash them away."

As part of her design studio, Charlotte translates her nature-inspired paintings into patterns for wallpaper, scarves, and more. Photos courtesy of Charlotte Nicole Designs

For an artist whose work is centered on nature, that portability means she can sit down to paint whenever inspiration hits. And since relocating from San Francisco to northern New Jersey several years ago, she's enjoyed reacquainting herself with all four seasons.

"San Francisco has one or two seasons," she said. "It's pretty much spring all the time — or maybe fall without the leaves! I didn't realize how much I missed the seasons and being in the northeast. So when I started exploring art again, I gravitated toward nature and the seasons in my work. 

"Even just a walk in my neighborhood can inspire me. Just paying attention to the little details on a leaf or a cluster of seeds."

From networking to collaboration with Home to Harbour

The must-haves in Charlotte's studio: a clean working surface, art supplies, and a bit of nature's beauty.

Charlotte's deep appreciation for nature and her experience in art and interior design is tailor-made for the Home to Harbour aesthetic — bringing the coastal beauty of sand and sea to every room of your house. So it's no surprise that after Charlotte met our founders, Joyce Pokoy-Kurtulus and Stephanie Baumes, at Van Vleck House's annual Good Grows Here festival, creative sparks began flying.

"Good Grows Here and other shows I've been to are also great networking events for the vendors, in addition to promoting our businesses," Charlotte said. "On the first day, Valerie Fischer [co-chair of Good Grows Here] was like, 'You have to go see Home to Harbour!' And before I knew it, she came back with plates, glasses, and napkins, and started staging the pieces on my table runners and placemats I had displayed. Everything looked so great together!"

And after a couple of chats and emails, the idea for Home to Harbour's first design collaboration was born: a quartet of table runners featuring designs created from Charlotte's paintings. Why table runners and not tablecloths?

"​​A table runner's a more modern accent for a tabletop," Charlotte said. "Plus, they're easy to gift, since one size can fit most tables."

Joyce also sees table runners as must-have decor for any tabletop — indoors or outdoors. "They're so versatile — you can throw a beautiful runner on your patio table or a picnic table in the park. It's a lot more of a commitment when you're figuring out a tablecloth and making sure it fits your table's exact measurements."

Making the table runners a reality

The Charlotte Nicole Designs Hydrangea Runner  alongside some of Charlotte's exploratory watercolors.

With so many of Charlotte's nature-infused paintings and patterns to choose from, everyone agreed that two of her best-selling runner designs, magnolia branches and blue leaves, would be great additions to Home to Harbour's collections of elegant coastal decor. 

To bring to life two more patterns Joyce and Stephanie requested — gentle blue hydrangeas, the classic coastal flower, and another maritime pattern — Charlotte needed to start fresh with paper, brush, and watercolors. And finding the right subject for that final pattern required patience — and a bit of cosmic intervention.

"As an artist, you just have to sit there and let things jump into your head. And that's what happened. A few months ago, a friend of mine sent me some photos of a sea kelp exhibit she saw at a local aquarium. The more I looked at the pictures, I realized they presented a perfect color palette for Home to Harbour — the kelp's yellow okra against a lush ocean blue. I allowed the creative process to happen magically from there. I sent Joyce and Stephanie three designs, and that's when we landed on the one that we're all happy with."


The Charlotte Nicole Designs Magnolias Runner (left) and Sea Kelp Runner (right) alongside her watercolor paintings.

With all four subjects in place, Charlotte's next step was translating her paintings into textile patterns. And as opposed to the time-honored brush and paper used in watercolor painting, creating patterns means working with a more recent technology: Photoshop.

"Working in Photoshop makes pattern design so much faster," she said. "I don't have to paint 12 flowers in an exact checkerboard — I just have to paint one fantastic flower, or whatever the element is, and get it into Photoshop. And then the fun part for me is duplicating and moving that element around to see how that repeat would work. Is it random? Does it overlap? Is it just like a checkerboard? It's actually soothing, mesmerizing actually, to see the pattern come alive that way."

And now that Charlotte's designs have become enchanting table runners, we're beyond thrilled to offer these fabulous pieces at Home to Harbour. For Charlotte, the collaboration was a breath of fresh air and a perfect marriage of painting and pattern design.

"I'm very excited about the collab launch with Home to Harbour, since this is really the direction I want my artistic career to go. The other major collaborations I've had were commissions for wall art and paintings, so it's been a lot of fun working in a different medium. I'm excited to see these runners on people's tables!"

Explore the Charlotte Nicole Designs table runners at Home to Harbour

Clockwise, from top left: Blue Leaves Runner, Magnolias Runner, Hydrangea Runner, Sea Kelp Runner

Set an artful table all season long with Charlotte's serene runners. Whether you're prepping a formal dinner party, a sunset soiree on the patio, or a family picnic in the park, you'll love the way these versatile accent pieces elevate every occasion.

To see more of Charlotte's work, be sure to check out the Charlotte Nicole Designs website and follow her on Instagram and Facebook.