Caroline's Vintage Collaboration

Tween Room Tour

Child's name: Caroline
Age: 11
Location: Charlotte, NC

An avowed tomboy with a love of animals, crafting, and second-hand treasures, Caroline is a girl after our own heart. With her mom, Lynn-Anne, she not only collaborated on creating this wonderful room – which brings together her love of polar bears, penguins, stamps, and the color blue – she also helps run their vintage shop on Etsy.

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While Lynn-Anne, a professional interior designer, project-managed this room, she worked with Caroline to make sure the room was a true reflection of her spirit. And what a spirit it is. We love Lynn-Anne's loving description of her young client's personality:

Caroline is a tomboy (she never brushes her hair, and she plays soccer every recess with the boys), but she is also a girl who loves the outdoors and animals, who is brave and true and a fast friend, and who loves to read and create. I am always wearing a bunch of Caroline-created friendship bracelets. She conceived and made that whole origami cranery and hung it above her bed. And she spent a car trip to the lake last weekend painting a so-sweet picture of herself and her three brothers in a big tree.

Caroline has been dragged around tag sales and flea markets and interiors shops and auctions and even the Atlanta shows since she was very little, so she loves vintage. She and I have a vintage Etsy shop called Fergus and Me, and she is very involved in choosing things, taking photos, listing, wrapping, and shipping – she loves it. She also occasionally helps me write our blog, and she loves Flickr. Like me, she has to work to keep the collector in her in check: she collects penguins, stamps, tiny things, vintage children's books. (All my kids are collectors! Yikes!)

We asked Lynn-Anne to tell us more about what goes into designing a room for a design-savvy tween with a strong personality...

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Design Inspiration: It sounds a bit silly, but I'm first and foremost inspired by the space, the person it's for, the purpose. While I am a huge fan of various well-known designers, and I could happily spend all day (if only!!) reading design blogs and leafing through magazines, I don't emulate any particular style or designer. I suppose what I come up with is very much informed by my own history: I've had a foot in two worlds (the UK and the US) since I was a teenager, and I'm very aware and influenced by what's going on in Europe.

Favorite Element: The quilt. I was at the counter at a local secondhand shop, and a lovely older lady came in with this, wanting to consign it. It was one of many made by her grandmother in the 1930s. That quilt will be Caroline's forever. I hope one day she'll have it in her daughter's room (ahhh... sentimentality) and I'll always think of that lady and her grandmother when I look at it.

Second Favorite: Caroline loves polar bears and penguins. I think it stems from a long-ago thing, when we lived in San Luis Obispo, California. We used to live in a storybook-ish downtown Victorian, and we walked everywhere. She would always refuse to wear a sweatshirt on the way to the Wednesday night farmer's market, so we jokingly started calling her "the polar bear" and sometimes "the penguin".

Anyway, the polar bear oilcloth on the bed wall speaks to this obsession. I hauled it back from England in a duffle. (Come to think of it, I'm always hauling things back from England in a duffle!!) My long-suffering, slightly eye-rolling husband heavy-duty stapled it to the wall, and we painted the other walls in the same shade (Benjamin Moore's Jamaican Aqua) in order to keep the busy-ness under control.

Oilcloth works well as a wallcovering because it's weighty and doesn't have to be lined. It's also highly reflective, which works well where ceilings are low, as here, or where light is limited. In a kids' room, it also has the advantage of being very easy to clean. It's available in britain in an unbelievable range of designs (you don't have to just settle for florals or Cath Kidston), and is certainly available online. I've used it in other kids' rooms as a graphic element, and I use it every day on the Big Sur table in the kitchen (I have three or four cut lengths for tablecloths) because lots of painting and spilling occurs there!

And Third Favorite: The swinging chair, which came from Terence Conran's Habitat, a couple of years ago. I bought two, and wish I'd gotten more! I also like that little yellow tag sale settee. I sometimes come into her room to find her, her puppy, and three or four friends, as well as her little brother, all perched on or over that little settee, looking at stamps, or pictures.

(And I guess fourth favorite – possibly Caroline's most favorite – is that old, old shop metal cabinet. She uses it for craft supplies, iPod stuff, camera, paints, and, as I noticed the other day, a stash of thin mints!)

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Biggest Challenge: This room was pretty simple, but I guess the biggest challenge was making the bed that I bought when Caroline was two, as well as the Pottery Barn dresser, work in a room that I knew would have to bridge her real growing-up years – 9 to 13 – and keep her happy.

What Friends Say: My friends love it – especially if they know Caroline – as it captures the essence of her-ness. Her friends love it, too, and want the same thing for their room.

Proudest DIY: Not mine – it's Caroline's cranes, which I love. She's made a bunch for her little brother, too, and they hang in his room alongside models of the planets.

Biggest Indulgence: Not much indulgence here – everything is fairly "cheap and cheerful" as we say in Britain. The bed and the dresser were holdovers, the settee and the blue-painted cabinet were secondhand tag sale things, and the polar bear fabric is limited to one wall, and it's very affordable (except for the airfare!). The hardware-store cabinet was really from an old hardware store. The quilt was $150, but worth every penny and more.

Best Advice: Completely oversaid, but buy what you (or your child) loves. Don't buy anything mass marketed if you can help it. Buy vintage, as long as it's safe for your child. Look for the unusual and unique, and always use your imagination and your child's – boring decorating is just a failure of imagination!

Dream Sources: I'd love to go to India and Morocco and Paris and Stockholm and just rummage around.

Resources:

Polar bear oilcloth: John Lewis (UK)
Iron bed: Land of Nod
Swinging chair: Habitat (UK)
Dresser: Pottery Barn Kids
Knobs: Anthropologie
Paint: Benjamin Moore Jamaican Aqua
Settee: Vintage baker, from a tag sale
Vintage harp: Metrolina Flea Market, Charlotte, NC
White and chrome side table: West Elm
Cabinet: Secondhand shop, painted in Benjamin Moore's Jamaican Aqua (high-gloss metal and wood enamel); paper on inside back is Paperchase, available at Borders
Old metal store cabinet: Bought from hardware store in my neighborhood when it closed down
Quilt: Consignment/secondhand store (but I've had good luck finding these at antique malls; just keep your eyes peeled!)
Monogrammed and embroidered linens: All vintage, all soft cotton, from tag sales
Clip-on lights: Ikea
Sheepskin: Ikea
Stamps/stamp albums: At auction in the UK and collected by her grandma and aunts (one aunt works at Bonhams in London and they receive loads and loads of snail mail letters from all over the world with gorgeous, colorful stamps – hooray!)

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Thanks so much for the tour, Caroline and Lynn-Anne!

Images: Lynn-Anne Bruns

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