West Ender Caro Toledo has a natural aptitude for creating beautiful spaces. Long before studying interior design and making a career as an interior stylist, Caro was already rearranging friends’ homes, and thought, “I might as well make a living from this.”
“If I see something that doesn’t feel right I can’t help it,” she says, “I’ll just move everything.” Caro’s professional portfolio comprises a range of residential and commercial projects including Dutch Courage Officers’ Mess in Fortitude Valley and The Fox Hotel in South Brisbane. Earlier this year she went into partnership with fellow designer Vanessa Cribb. Working under the name, Indigo Jungle, the pair do everything from full makeovers of residential and commercial spaces to styling for fashion and interiors shoots, assisting with choices of artwork, furniture and soft furnishings, as well as personalising and adding a homely feel to sets for films, commercials and TV shoots.
Caro’s own home in West End is a little hidden oasis. The charming old riverfront Queenslander is flanked by apartment buildings on either side; its narrow driveway the only clue to its existence. Caro first saw the house when she moved to Brisbane 11 years ago. It was love at first sight. “As soon as I saw the railing I just knew I wanted to live here,” she says. “There was just something about it.” It was another six years, however, before the house came to be hers. Since then she has filled it with a constantly evolving but perfectly curated collection of vintage treasures. “If I buy a new chair then the entire house is going to change,” she says. “I have to change everything so that the chair works, but that’s fine, I like change.”
Caro says she tries to be good and take something out of her home each time she adds something new, but minimalism is not her style. “I can appreciate that, but it’s certainly not me. I always find beautiful things. I just keep collecting.” While each of Caro’s things has a special significance to her, there are two pieces she is most fond of. Her Yves Klein Blue dot, which she adores — “I just feel completely calmed by it” — and a life-size bronze head, which she brought back from Cameroon. After seeing one in someone else’s house, she was determined to find one of her own. “The whole trip was about finding this Queen of Benin head,” she says. “And we did, we got it … it was in our travel bag when we flew back to France and at Customs they opened the bag and the customs officer just freaked out. We were going, ‘No, it’s alright, it’s a statue!’ It looks like a real head.”
Caro’s interiors advice to the more stylistically challenged amongst us is simple — surround yourself with things you love. “Your home tells your story so surround yourself with personal things. Make it comfortable. And if you can steer away from sticking to trends you’re probably more likely to enjoy your home longer.”
Words by Leah Carri
Images by Darlia Argyris