INTERVIEW: Linda Barker at Boat and Caravan

Caravan Times editor Marcus Dubois chats to Linda Barker inside an Airstream 534

It’s not every day that you find yourself sitting inside one of the most iconic caravan designs, alongside one of the most well-known interior designers from television. Caravan Times sat down with Linda Barker for a chat after the author and star of BBC’s Changing Rooms had opened Boat and Caravan Show at the NEC. A guest of the Caravan Club, she entertained an impressively large audience at their stand before making a pledge to go caravanning in 2010. And despite being a touring novice, Barker knows her way around a caravan having performed a few makeovers in her time.

Last year a viewer of ITV’s This Morning was given a neglected family caravan by a friend to enable him to take his family on trips around the UK. Paul Cooper found however that the neglected Monza 450 had spent years on a farm as a home to chickens, and was in desperate need of refurbishment. To the rescue came his wife Julie who was watching This Morning and entered a competition to win a caravan makeover by Linda Barker. The designer spent an hour with a team of assistants and the end result saw the Monza fitted with new carpets, lighting, sofas and cushions, topped off with pink wallpaper.

Transforming a space is clearly an activity Barker relishes. She reminisces fondly on the makeover, which then reminds her of a previous refurbishment she undertook at a caravan show. “It was such a basic model, brand new, but I put an amazing shower in, and a whole bathroom, and a fabulous kitchen. It was so much fun!” When put to her that on purchasing a new caravan the majority of buyers look for the complete solution, Barker turns to praise the Airstream 534 that we are sitting in for the interview.

“Well if you get them like this (pointing to the Airstream interior) then you wouldn’t want to do anything. But if you have an older one or have bought one off Ebay, then there’s a joy to be found in playing around with it a little bit. It probably needs tidying up a bit.” She is quick to return to the American trailer as a design pointer. “I really think this Airstream is amazing! They’re top of their game really, the ultimate mobile home. You wouldn’t necessarily want to tweak these that much.”

So is there a different set of rules when designing a caravan interior? “It really is a different set of criteria. What I mean is, you shouldn’t be governed by the normal rules we use in houses. You should be led by what your individual look is, or the style you want to go for. With caravans, you’re not in them all the time – so you can go quite wild with a caravan. You should go for having fun!”

And having fun is what Linda Barker intends to do this year when embarking on her first caravan holiday. When asked for her favourite UK holiday spot, the newly signed-up member of the Caravan Club believes it is “probably North Yorkshire, as I’ve spotted a few nice Caravan Club sites around there already. I mean, you can’t help but notice them – now that I’m a fully paid-up member I’m seeing all their signs around all the farm gates.” But has her family signed up to the adventure? “You know, I think it’s very cool for teenagers actually. My 17 year old daughter is really excited, I think she secretly wants to pass her driving test so she can tow one away!

Before we say our goodbyes, Caravan Times poses the ultimate question to the interior designer. If you enjoy your trip this year and end up purchasing a caravan from new, would you leave it as it is, or would you customise it? Linda Barker breaks into a smile, offering an unequivocal reply.

“Haha! Definitely. I’d definitely tweak it…yes!”

Linda Barker was a guest of the Caravan Club at Boat and Caravan Show. For more information on the Caravan Club please click here