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The Accidental Influencer

You Never Know Where Sharing Your Passion Will Lead You

Meet Caroline Bivens, Topekan, wife, mom of four, designer, entrepreneur, influencer. Her home decor designs have been featured in popular magazines like Better Homes and Gardens, and Country Living. Her popular Instagram account has over 166,000 followers. Brands like Woodwick, Balsam Hills, Arhaus, and Lenox have reached out to her to showcase their products. Despite her apparent success, Bivens says, “I don’t think of myself as an influencer. I think of myself as a content creator, showcasing style and design tips.”

Her first opportunity to be creative with home decor came when she decorated her daughter’s nursery back in 2006. “I don’t have any formal training in design, but I’ve always loved it,” Bivens said. “I’ve always had an eye for it.” Over the years, her friends encouraged her and she continued to define her style which she describes as “vintage modern”. She started her Instagram page (c.b._designs) simply to share photos of projects she had done and home decor trends that caught her attention. “I gained a lot of Instagram followers that first year and it was very exciting,” she said. 

About five years ago, she had gained enough confidence that she decided to really challenge her interior design skills by participating in a Designer Showhouse - an annual fundraiser where local designers decorate an entire home and the public buys tickets to tour the house. Proceeds from ticket sales that year went to Child Care Aware.

Lately, she’s been busy remodeling her new home that she and her husband bought a little over a year ago in Auburn, just on the edge of Topeka. The home was about 20 years old and they planned to update the kitchen. Though they were only going to do a light refresh, when they found mold, it turned into a complete gut and remodel. Luckily, Bivens had lots of product manufacturers to reach out to and she was able to collaborate with many and feature them on her Instagram account. 

Her new kitchen features Naturally Aged Hardwood Floors from Southern California, Schmidt Custom Cabinets from Olpe, KS, and Sarto Countertops from St. Mary’s, KS. “From floors to doors to fireplaces to art…I reached out to anyone I thought would be interested,” Bivens said. “I really love promoting great products and I can introduce them to new audiences in a fun and exciting way.” 

She also enlisted the help of another local designer, Cyndi Haines from Heart & Home in Topeka, to create the new kitchen island. The old island was a triangle shape and didn’t allow her family to all sit together and chat easily. The new square island also allows Bivens to tuck her chairs underneath out of the way. “That was important,” Bivens said. “because I’m always taking photos, so having the chairs hidden under the island creates a much cleaner, less cluttered look.”

Her favorite piece in the kitchen, though, is the Italian range. ILVE is an Italian luxury brand with an antique style. “They just came to the U.S.,” Bivens said excitedly. “I chose the stainless and gold and I just love it. It adds so much character. It’s just so fun!” 

Her favorite spot to decorate are the brass and glass shelves near the corner window. “I’ve decorated them for the holidays, turned them into a coffee bar, a cocktail bar,” she said. “Maybe I’ll try a mini-succulent garden next.” Look for more photos of her kitchen this month, when her new home will be featured in Cottages & Bungalows Magazine. 

 Bivens believes that her gifts are given to her by God and that it’s important to share them with as many people as possible. “My dream job was to style for Pottery Barn,” she said. “But I realized not too long ago that I’m actually living my dream. I’m doing exactly what I love!” 

For more design inspiration, visit her Instagram page at c.b._designs.