Wayne, Ill., about 40 miles outside Chicago, is hidden deep in horse country. It’s not the first place you’d expect to spot a pristine disco ball salvaged from a London flea market. But among Caroline Scheeler’s many thoughtfully chosen treasures, it fits right in. The globe-trotting creative director and co-founder of Jayson Home, the Lincoln Park emporium of vintage and custom furniture and unique housewares (and its accompanying catalog and website), has lived here for more than two decades, an hourlong commute and a world away from the glittery city.
Scheeler, an Illinois native, decided to trade convenience for charm when she and her painter-musician husband, Joe Vajarsky, stumbled upon their 1940s Cape Cod-style cottage, the dwelling that houses said disco ball, along with a trove of savvily sourced European antiques and textiles. Scheeler grew up horseback riding, and made frequent weekend trips to Wayne in her 20s before moving there ever crossed her mind. But when a house within walking distance of her favorite barn came on the market a week after it caught her eye, she considered it a sign. Scheeler and Vajarsky, who was as smitten with the small town as she was, bought it somewhat impulsively and moved in in 1996. Nearly 10 years later, as their two children, Stella, who’s now 16, and Owen, now 19, were getting bigger, they added a porch, patio, family room and master bedroom, doubling its footprint and creating inviting spaces for reading, painting, making music and playing Monopoly. “It’s like you’re on vacation when you’re at our house,” she said. “In the summer, we’re constantly outside on the porch or the patio, and in the winter we live around the fireplace.”
With her work as an outlet for constant experimentation, Scheeler can embrace a more settled existence in her personal space. “I could make myself crazy bringing home a new sofa every six months,” she said, with just a tinge of mourning for all of the one-of-a-kind gems she’s left behind on her trips to Paris, Madrid and Barcelona over the years. But she’s content to sprinkle in the special details: “Every room has a little piece of personality from some faraway place that has found its way to Wayne, Ill. It’s a serious high-low mashup of all the things we love.”
1. Eclectic can be elegant
The family room of Scheeler’s home outside Chicago showcases the same vision — clean lines, prints and points of rich color — that she brings to her job. The washable white linen slipcover on her custom Lee sofa lives nicely with the family’s cat and three dogs. “I love OxiClean,” she jokes. “It comes out looking pretty darn good.” Bamileke stools from Cameroon stand in as cocktail tables, and a vintage Platner lounge chair looks luxe reupholstered in dark-paprika velvet. Scheeler bought the Beni Ourain rug in Morocco. The baskets, pillows and lamp are from Jayson Home.
2. Let walls do the talking
Scheeler chooses artworks that “add to the story” of her entire home. In a happy accident, an estate-sale portrait in the dining room completes the gallery wall along the stairwell when viewed from the foyer. She found the stair runner on the ground at the Spitalfields market in London, and “bought it for a steal.”
3. Mix old and new
In the dining room, a Venini glass chandelier is a modern foil to a vintage burl-wood cabinet Scheeler bought in Spain. The bentwood chairs belonged to her grandparents; the white ones she tossed right in the car and drove home from her store. The jewel-toned rug “works because it’s not trying too hard,” she says.
4. Connect with color
A blue-and-white rug and Behr Marquee paint in Heirloom Silver give the master bath a calm vibe; paintings in similar shades carry it into the bedroom.
5. Create backdrops
Walls painted in warm neutrals (like Farrow & Ball’s Wimborne White) show off striking pieces, such as the antique ikat textile Scheeler uses as a headboard. The disco ball brightens the room; the Alta lamp and Serge chair are from Jayson Home.
6. Make dynamic displays
One of Scheeler’s visual gifts is grouping diverse objects: “I start with a piece or two that feel like the stars, and build around them.” A 19th-century barn poster and dark oil painting anchor a gallery. An antique book resides next to a vintage can filled with paintbrushes. (Stella’s an artist like her dad.) The architectural model belonged to Scheeler’s father.