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.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

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.


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).

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