LYNDA HALLINAN’S budding young stylists
Lynda Hallinan takes her sons shopping for interior design accessories to introduce them nervously - to the art of home styling.
When I was growing up, my parents taught me that girls could do anything, although they drew the line at letting their daughters make any decorating decisions. Thus, for the first 18 years of my life, I slept under a brown candlewick bedspread in a room with pink paisley wallpaper and floral curtains that looked like they’d been tie-dyed in Fanta.
My sister was the first to rebel, bluetacking posters of James Dean all over her bedroom walls and purloining indoor plants – Boston ferns, maidenhairs and mother-in-law’s tongue – from other parts of our farmhouse. I soon followed her lead, glueing a poster of Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose to the side of my oak dressing table. Dad, it turned out, had no appetite for such destruction, and made me peel it off.
My interest in heavy metal was a short-lived teenage fad but all those years sleeping in a decor time warp could explain why, decades later, I can’t drive past an op shop without popping in for a retro fix.
However, as the mother of two boys, I sometimes wonder who will inherit all the Crown Lynn swans, enamel colanders, Temuka jugs, Salter scales, vintage tablecloths and other knick-knacks I’ve collected over the years. At five and seven, it’s too soon to say whether my sons have inherited their mother’s magpie genes or their father’s engineering preferences for function over form.
My eldest son Lucas’ class theme this year is technological innovation; his first homework assignment was to
“find something old in your house and write about its history”. He immediately set upon our 19-year-old cat, Snuffles, although I suspect the life story of a deaf and demented SPCA adoptee wasn’t quite what his teacher was expecting.
At seven, Lucas already has rather eclectic tastes. On his first visit with me to Troupes Vintage in Papakura, he developed a sudden and desperate desire for, among other things, a taxidermied koala, a pair of pewter candlesticks, a ball of artificial moss and a vintage brass bugle to decorate his homework desk.
On the way home, I downloaded and played the Last Post, explaining how this haunting bugle call is played at the dawn parades every Anzac Day to commemorate the lives of fallen soldiers. Old things, I said, all have a story to tell.
But what of new things? I took my children to The Warehouse next. Their mission, which they chose to accept, was to accessorise their shared bedroom.
“Your room, your choice,” I told them, but that wasn’t entirely true. I’d already opted for a grey (Resene Delta) and white colour scheme, with a feature wall of washable wallpaper (Dotty Dinosaurs from the Kerry Caffyn Wallpaper Collection).
“Lucas and Lachie's mission, which they chose to accept, was to accessorise their shared bedroom.”
Before we hit the shops, I reminded myself of psychologist Dr Robert
Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion. According to the self-styled “Godfather of Influence”, they are reciprocity, scarcity, authority, consistency, likeability and consensus. Which means that if I wanted to convince my children to buy cool stuff, I’d have to grease them up first (I promised a free-for-all in the toy aisle afterwards), act like a credible educator, then agree with every decision they made.
Not quite. As much as I wanted my boys to feel confident in their decisions, I didn’t want to come home with a hot mess of cheap mismatched accessories. (As it was, I had to quietly fling Lachie’s first choice of cushion – a gold and pink pleather pouffe – back on the shelf as we hightailed it to the checkout).
Entering The Warehouse, my boys immediately rejected Dr Cialdini’s principle of scarcity – the less there is, the more people want it – for unabashed consumerism. They quickly agreed upon a shaggy grey rug, a pair of oversized black polar fleece striped faux fur cushions, a herd of plastic dinosaur figurines, a contemporary clock and a footstool.
“The trolley’s full,” they declared, five minutes later.
There’s a famous Jesuit maxim, also attributed to the Greek philosopher Aristotle and the Roman Catholic missionary Saint Francis Xavier, that says: “Give me the child at seven and I will show you the man.”
But I can now say, with a fair degree of certainty, that if you give me the child at seven, I’ll show you his questionable design style, which may or may not include a $14.97 peacock blue, faux velvet, three-legged footstool and a pair of $8 silver crescent-shaped cushions.
PHOTOGRAPHY by SALLY TAGG • STYLING by LUCAS AND LACHLAN HINTON
Caption info - the print is called ‘The Construction Game’ by Kelvin Mann. It was Lucas’ first birthday present (his first word was digger).
ABOVE: Lucas with his vintage finds. The print is called "The Construction Game" by Kelvin Mann. It was Lucas’ first birthday present (his first word was digger).