Meet Kristy Berry and her Vintage Caravan

‘Get me to an op shop, vintage store or market and I am in heaven!’

Kristy Berry is living the vintage lover’s dream.

Born and raised in Parkes, NSW, Kristy is the owner of the popular store Colouby Creations. She and her husband Colin live in a home filled with vintage goodness, on three acres shared with a menagerie of animals – and a homemade skate park. They built their own home and they also know how to put their skills to work to bring old vintage gems back to life. Miss Violet Rose, their stunning 1963 caravan, is a piece vintage perfection that will be familiar to anyone who has visited Parkes.

Her love of vintage is deeply tied to family connections, and as Kristy explains, she loves it ‘when people walk into our home or my store, they all have a connection in one way or another to the pieces. I love to hear them say that they remember their parents or grandparents having something similar.’

Kristy dropped by to talk vintage caravans and a love of the mid-century:

What draws you to vintage and mid-century memorabilia, style and history? Do you remember the moment when you realised you were into vintage?

We are such a throwaway society now, and to think that there are pieces out there from a generation that ‘held onto things’ so to speak, amazes me. The 1950s and 1960s had homewares that lasted and china that was only used on special occasions, therefore it has lasted until now. I’m a fifties girl at heart. I love to sew, crochet and decorate cakes. Most of these I learnt from my Nan. I recently bought a 1975 Kombi van, who I named Mabel, which was my Nan’s nickname.

I think I have always been a 1950s girl for as long as I can remember. I bought my first piece at an auction with my dad and still have that dressing table. Get me to an op shop, vintage store or market and I am in heaven!

What can you tell us about your 1963 vintage caravan? Where did you first come across it and what have you done to restore and refurbish it?

Miss Violet Rose is a 1963 Wayfarer Road Liner, made in Australia.

She is named after my Great Grandmother on my Mum’s side. She was such a lady and that’s what I wanted Violet to be. I had been looking for some time but just couldn’t find the ‘right one’, then I was on Facebook one morning and BAM, there she was. A Sydney Pin Up Photographer had her for sale and I knew I had to have her. So my Dad and his mate hit the road for me and picked her up. That was October 2012.

In mid 2013 I started to pull her down to restore. I wanted her finished by January for the 2014 Parkes Elvis Festival Parade. We were lucky her outside plywood was in really good condition and didn’t need replacing, so we stripped it all back and she was painted in three different shades of violet.

We removed the aluminium Stucco and J Mould from her roof, back and front and were lucky enough to find a manufacturer to make the same stamped pattern Stucco as the original we pulled off and J Mould. The only other thing on her that we had to replace was the Perspex front corner windows, these had gone quite milky. Her inside was just a lot of cleaning, polishing the window frames and handles with metal polish and painting. We were really lucky to find enough original 60s flooring tiles to go back in her. She still has the original ice box, gas cook top, table, wardrobe and bed.  With the massive effort of help from a few friends, we finished Violet at around 3am on Saturday, making it to the parade by the 10am kick off!

My Nan and Pa owned a caravan park when they first moved back to Parkes in the 60s, So my Nan was quite mortified to think I had bought one. She would quite often ask ‘Why would I want one?’. I think after cleaning them at the park, she didn’t quite see my love for them. But I was lucky that Nan got to see Violet finished just before she passed away and she loved her as much as I did. Nan was my biggest fan and she was always the first to see my creations and vintage buys. I miss sharing things with her. We restored a brother for Violet a couple of years ago, called ‘Oscar’. We turned him into a mobile coffee and bar, but sold him in 2015.

But Miss Violet is with me forever. She’s like a child. I don’t think I could part with her.

I understand you have an impressive vintage collection. Can you tell us about it?

I have acquired a number of vintage kitchen hutches over the years and yes, they are full. Mid-century cabinets and sideboards from the 60s are a weakness too, I think I have maybe 6 of these.

I also have a huge soft spot for Lefton, Napco and Enessco china pieces. These were made in Japan in the early 50s and more readily available in the U.S, so it’s taken me quite some time to find all the matching sets in my collection. These are quite kitsch, cute little pieces for the kitchen – teapots, cookie jars, salt and pepper shakers, all to match. My favourite by far would be the Lefton Bluebird series, they just have the cutest little faces! I’m searching the world for the final piece in this collection, a musical tea pot. This is proving really hard to find. I would have a couple of hundred tea cups and saucers, my first from my Nan when I was really young. I have many from people over the years who have given them to me from their families, so these are quite special.

My three most prize possessions would be my Mum’s Mum and Dad’s original 1950s table and chair sets along with my Nan’s ballet style ball dress and my Dad’s Mother and Father’s smoking stand, with the ashtray and matches holder.

I even have a full 1950s kitchen, it’s in storage as I really have no clue where it’s going to live at the moment. My ultimate dream is to one day have a 50s home and restore as original.

I love when people walk into our home or my store, they all have a connection in one way or another to the pieces. I love to hear them say that they remember their parents or grandparents having something similar. It’s a great conversation starter.

See you at the Parkes Elvis Festival, Kristy…

Photographs copyright of Berndt Sellheim. Renovation images courtesy of Kristy Berry.

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