The Big Question

What was your childhood bedroom like? #NoJudgement

by Maxwell Tielman


The Design*Sponge community is filled with people who love design and, more specifically, design in the home. For each of us, this passion may have formed in a number of different ways—from magazines devoured during trips to the local bookstore, visits to a neighbor or relative’s beautiful home, or maybe the design collections at a favorite museum. Most likely, though, your first forays into home design and making your home more beautiful came by way of decorating your childhood or teenage bedroom. For many of us, this was ground zero for our interest in design—the laboratory in which we experimented, discovered new interests, and really began to get our hands dirty. Although many of our bedrooms were, in retrospect, nothing to write home about—temples to our favorite boy bands, places to hoard personal mementos, and canvases for colors we would never dream of today—they were no less formative or personally special. Today, we’re sharing some of our own memories of our childhood bedrooms and, readers, we want to hear about yours. The good, the bad, and the downright ugly—we don’t care! Like the Beach Boys said, “there’s a world where I can go and tell my secrets to, in my room.” This is a safe space. Spill. #NoJudgement. —Max

Grace: One word: GRAPEVINE. I wanted a pale purple room so badly that my mom finally gave in and let me paint it. But the theme didn’t stop there. I also had a grape-themed quilt, grapevine wallpaper border (we had a real problem with those growing up) and a purple lampshade. Let’s just say I’m glad I grew out of this one.

Amy: When I was eight years old my family lived in a small house in Southern California. It wasn’t big enough for all three of us girls to share a room but, as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of all invention, right? My Dad took down the closet doors and built a bunk bed inside the closet. Then, he built a top bunk/loft bed that stretched out on the opposite wall. Under that bed was open floor space and a dresser for clothing. The idea was to have the maximum amount of floor space available for playing since we certainly didn’t have room for a playroom. I was on the top bunk, as was my middle sister, and so to give my littlest sister something special of her own, my parents painted a rainbow with clouds and all of our names on the underside of the bunk above her. I wish I had a picture of that room. It was crowded but very special and even more special knowing how much sweat went into creating it.

Max: When my four-person family moved into a new home when I was nine, we made one massive error. The home, despite being larger than the ramshackle urban cottage we had just vacated, only had two bedrooms. My sister, ever the diva, was sure to stake her claim on one of them immediately, leaving me to make do with whatever leftover space I could convert into a makeshift room—a closet-sized “office” on our terrifying first floor, our laundry room (yes, that actually happened and it was LOUD), and an oversized section of hallway on our house’s second floor. I had even considered converting our musty old basement into a bedroom before I decided better of it. I’m not sure if this was out of guilt for leaving me more or less bedroom-less until I went to college, but my parents were pretty much on-board for any and all decorating ideas that I had—and boy did I have ideas! Throughout the history of my room-hopping career, I was known to have installed full-on, wall-to-wall shrines to my favorite obsessions du-jour: Ani Difranco, Harry Potter, The Spice Girls. I fancied myself something of an artiste, and the walls of my various sleeping spaces fell victim to this mentality, oftentimes covered in crayon scrawls, large-scale tempera paint murals, and later, Sharpie-marker graffiti left by me and my friends. Luckily (or horrifyingly), there is photographic evidence of a few of these bedroom incarnations, some of which I have included below. No judging!


Above: This particular “room” was located in a large alcove in the hallway of my home’s second floor. It was essentially missing a fourth wall, so I fashioned a “theater curtain” of sorts from thick paisley fabric for added privacy. Peeking inside, you can see some of my floor pillows (I loved floor pillows!) and my groovy little red TV that I got from Target.


Above: Another angle of the same room. This was my little “office” area underneath my loft bed. Next to my computer, you can see some super fancy-shmancy “candle-scaping” alongside my mini zen garden. I was super into candles and zen gardens at the time.


Above: This was one of my last room incarnations, located in my father’s tiny vacated office on the first floor of our house. I had the wild and, in retrospect, rather unfortunate idea of painting the room GLOSSY bright yellow and allowing my friends to tag it with black Sharpie markers. Let’s just say that the imagery swiftly degraded from pleasant little doodles to decidedly NSFW-territory. This room has since been made-over into something a bit more tasteful.

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  • What a lovely post! My mother always took extra-special care to give my sister and I creative, fun spaces. I remember she painted our favorite cartoon characters on the walls (this was waaay before decals existed) and made most of our decor, which was awesome. I remember going away as a teenager for the summer and coming home to a newly decorated bedroom that had tons of traditional Japanese details (I really liked Japanese culture as a kid!) Every couple years we decorated and did different things. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! :)


  • My teenage bedroom had an overstuffed chair upholstered with a velvet crazy quilt, a giant handpainted copy of Roxy Music’s ‘Stranded’ album cover on the wall . Scarves and peacock feathers were tied to the columns of the four poster bed. Instead of curtains I hung up white sheer dresses with rhinestones that reflected sparkles all over the room… my inspiration was the film “Performance.” The fact that it was always knee deep in dirty clothes only added to the ambience LOL.

  • seafoam green walls, black four post bed with white chiffon draped all about it. and LAVENDER everywhere else. it was too sweet for me. my favorite part was the iridescent hippie purple beaded curtains! YES!

  • My teenage bedroom was the size of a postage stamp. I kept my bed low, and on the floor, with tons of pillows. I was surrounded by candles & stacks of books. And, my walls were covered with subway posters of The Cure & Joy Division. It was my goth lair. #noregrets #nojudgement

  • Goodness, my adolescent bedroom was a spectacular ode to my first love, tie-dye. Bright blue walls with a tie-dye: border, rug, bedsheets/duvets on my gigantic bunk bed, and vintage 70’s tie-dye tapestries from my dad’s hippie days on the walls and curtains… not to mention the teenager who lived in it, who was known to wear tie-dye head-to-toe. Those were the days.

  • I think I had a light gray, wood paneling in my room, plus the basics: a bed, dresser, and desk. I used to tear out pages of magazines and hang them on my walls. So along with my peace-sign poster, I had hung up pages with people like: Jon Bon Jovi, Andre Agassi, and Dweezil Zappa :)

  • When I was 12, we moved. Before that my room was literally covered in Garfield posters (underneath a colourful retro farm scene children’s wallpaper:)). I was obsessed with becoming a cartoonist (or an inventor) and had Jim Davies little resume pinned next to my bed. I had a huge white ikea vintage steel bed, where my twinsister fitted in as well in times needed ;) and a huge old wooden closet, which used to morph into all kind of things at night…
    Half the bed was filled up by a monstrous white stuffed polar bear, which I named Cress, like the dog of the adventures of the wilderness family (the actual bear name of the movie “Samson” was already taken by my sister and her polar bear, so I took the dog name…)

    After moving I had a tiny bedroom right under the roof with sloping ceilings, door to door with my twinsister. I grew a bit out of Garfield (not cartooning), kept the steel bed, and was superproud of my life-size MacGyver Poster, which I collected bit by bit of our german teenage magazin “Bravo”. The rest of the walls were covered with New Kids on the block, The Wonder Years, Roxette, Kevin Costner as Robin Hood, Bruce Willis (at the times of Moonlighting) a film poster of Stand by me, and all kinds of 90-heroes and a Billy Joel Poster! I had a glow-in-the-dark- star sky over my bed and loved my extremly colourful terry cloth sheets…

    For a little while (when musically ambitious) I had a whole drumset set up next to my bed and nearly hugged the basedrum while sleeping.
    We had an attic tunnel which connected all the rooms to each other, which was the coolest hiding place when we used to play our favorite game : hide and seek in the dark. We actually still played it one time at my 16th birthday #NoJudgement

    My twinsister had a bunk bed and when my parents sold the house a year ago and removed the bed, the whole ceiling was filled with our Tetris High Scores we used to nail on the gameboy usually still up playing at 2am :)…

    PS: while selling the house, my sister and me had to dig through old childhood boxes from the attic and found (amongst other hilarious things) the hip of a life-size David Hasselhoff LOL…

  • MIMES. I had gray and white zigzag wallpaper, with a coordinating border that featured creepy mimes dressed in gray, slate blue, and maroon. I chose it myself at age 9, and I thought it was incredibly sophisticated. Doh.

  • I’ve had some whacky questionable colours. My first bedroom was half green (on the bottom) and half yellow (on the top) with a heart border in the middle… sounds delightful. It then went retro with orange and white walls and a hanging chair from IKEA, cream has graced my walls ever since…


  • I went from a white walled, tan carpeted void to an Oriental paradise during the summer of 6th grade. My adventurous dad painted three of my walls deep red (a bit overwhelming in an 8 x 7′ room) and the fourth a golden, faux-bamboo texture. My nightstand was a large oriental chinese drum we found at a thrift store, and my shelves were all painted red with gold trim. The icing on the Asian cake was this door curtain with colored, raffia stars framing the entryway. I was even given a bonsai for my birthday that year! It was a great escape from the hardships of middle school.

  • i had my own purple phase where my parents finally gave in and painted my room a pale purple with a purple and ivory rose border. that quickly gave way to * NSYNC posters and frogs. I was obsessed with frogs. i had a complete shelf full of them and anything that i could stick on my wall, i did. i had so many odds and ends stuck on my wall. it even spred into my closet and the front and back of my door. there was not an empty space left on my walls. you couldn’t even see the purple walls underneath.
    it was a hot mess, but i was so proud of it all.

  • In the 70’s, my room was yellow with daisies all over. It was such a great room to wake up in. In the 80’s my walls were covered with posters from every music group and actor possible. Yellow is still today my favorite color and when I ask myself why, I always think it is because of my bedroom as a child. A very warm and comforting feeling.

  • I really wish I had pictures of the many iterations of my childhood bedroom. First it was all pink. By the time I was about seven I was very interested in decorating my own space. I painted numerous times, cream, a very jarringly bright aqua, yellow and when I was a freshman in High School (1999) I convinced my parents to let me paint with chalkboard paint, so I could draw on the walls as much as I wanted. I also rearranged my furniture an alarming amount. I made a map of my room and then cut out little scale furniture and would see how I could move things and if they would fit. Sometimes I’d move things multiple times in one month. I’m so grateful they let me experiment with my space, sure the room may have shrunk a tiny bit from all the layers of paint but it made me so happy.

  • I was born in 1970, when I was a little girl I had a yellow room with one wall-papered wall with yellow, orange & pink toned patchwork styled wallpaper, sort of like a sorbet Holly Hobby. I had a white with gold trim canopy bed with matching bedside tables and dresser, very princess style. The bedspread and canopy where yellow, and I had a wicker chair by my window, with (gulp) green grass looking astro turf on the floor. haha! Compliments of my grandparents, and my cousin got the pink version of my room. :P

  • I started decorating at an early age. My Mom used to let me rearrange the furniture in the living room when I was 10 or 11. She was also supportive of my sister and I choosing what color the room we shared was and the accessories.

    I remember our bedroom being Pink,very early, with fashion dolls in frames on the walls. next was powder blue, and then finally green. One of the best memories was when my parents let us draw a jungle mural on one whole wall with colored chalk, because we were going to be painting the room a new color. We kept it that way for a month or two. I think we (I’m a twin)were in 6th or 7th grade then. Next we decided on bright lime green, with flowered comforters in shades of turquoise, blue, purple & green, we had Maple bunk beds and matching nightstands,and one dresser with pale green Faux antique frosted glass lamps, it was a small room. Later after leaving home I couldn’t imagine how we fit all our clothes into that small closet and single dresser.
    The walls were decorated with pictures and posters of interests as they came and went. I remember one poster of the zodiac done in that 1970’s Max Parish design, wish I still had that. I was into growing houseplants during high school and had them all over the house and my room, including hanging plants in macrame.

    I have always loved decorating and bought my first furniture pieces while in high school, a Thonet Bentwood Rocker and an antique 1920’s walnut vanity desk and mirror. I still have and use both of them today.

  • Hey there — not sure if this matters to you, but judgement is actually spelled judgment. One of my little ticks. Love this blog, so nothing but positive vibes!

    • Hey, Katie! Thanks for the heads up! This was not caught by my computer’s spell-checker or our copy editor, so I looked into it! It appears that the spelling is interchangeable throughout English-speaking countries, but it is more common for Americans to use the e-less option.

  • The next question is, how did our early “designing” ultimately influence our interiors as adults ? Or did it? My grandparents were REALLY in to wallpaper , so we always had it. From the fab (Vera patterns, foil abstracts) to the terrible (country hearts and Victorian florals in the 80’s). Now I have wallpaper throughout my house. Definitely influenced by my grandparents choices.

  • Oh man hunter green and mauve were the colors of my childhood bedroom. I wasn’t allowed to paint the walls (interesting my brother was several years later when he moved into that room) but you better believe I had mauve curtains, mauve/hunter green floral bedding, hunter green shelves and I even painted a small trash can I had in my room hunter green to match. AND angels…I collected angels for some reason at that time and there were TONS of them in my room. At the time I thought my room was completely awesome and perfectly put together. Looking back…oh how awful it was haha!

  • Bless my mom. My 2 childhood bedrooms were given her thought and decorative eye, and shock, I would use both in my adult home if redoing a guest retreat.
    First was pale yellow & muted Spode blue, white accent. “French Cottage-y” but little girl detail w/ accent & softness.
    Second- Tween to full teen: white, sepia, muted deep orangey pink in a tiny Liberty print.
    Both rooms centered around textile use & wall treatment. I Love You Mom~Your Timeless Beautiful Taste, continues to inspire.

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