Past & Present Book Event & Giveaway

by Amy Azzarito

It’s finally warm here in New York, and I’m so excited to celebrate spring and the publication of Past & Present by driving down to one of my very favorite places this weekend – Terrain in Philadelphia. If you’ve never been to Terrain, it’s worth the drive. It’s such a magical place. (Definitely make reservations for brunch!) We’re going to be making a project from the book. It’s one my favorites designed by the amazingly talented Caitlin Mociun, who was inspired by Native American trade blankets when she created this napkin ring project.

While researching all of the moments in decorative arts history for this book, I was continually reminded of my own personal design history memories. I remember stumbling across a book called Life in a Medieval Castle on my mom’s bookshelf. I was surprised to discover that rather than stories of fairy princesses and knights in shining armor, it was a book about how people actually lived in castles – what they ate, what they wore, what their furniture was like. It was the first moment that I discovered design history. I also have more personal, less historic memories of designing my teenage bedroom – mauve paint, floral wallpaper border, and a white iron daybed. Today, we’re giving away two copies of Past & Present. To enter, please share your first design memory – the first time you paid attention to interior decoration or the first bedspread you picked out or when you decided to decorate with your favorite color. . –Amy Azzarito

Image above: Illustrated cover by Julia Rothman, with central motif taken from Shanna Murray’s decal project in the book. Book design by ALSO, Photograph by Max Tielman

Event: Past & Present: Native American Napkin Ring Workshop
Sunday, April 14
Time: 1am–3 pm
Location: Terrain/914 Baltimore Pike/Glen Mills, PA 19342
Details: We will be making these Caitlin Mociun napkin rings (image above). Caitlin was inspired by the strong colors and geometric designs of Native American trade blankets.
RSVP: Tickets are $15 each. Please reserve your spot here if you’d like to attend.

Image above: Photography by Ellen Silverman Photography, Prop Styling by Randi Brookman Harris

Suggested For You


  • The first time I was able to really make my own design choices, I had been moved into my parent’s unfinished (read: concrete block walls) basement in my junior year of high school. Our family was growing, and I was given full reign over the basement to keep me from complaining! I made the bold decision to buy a bunch of different colors of paint, have all of my friends over, and invite them each to design their own concrete block and pain it however they liked. Over the years, new visitors to the house would each be given a block and paints, and my room was filled with murals and memories of friends and good times. It was incredibly special to me, especially when I would come home from college.

  • My first design memory is how much I hated the color pink! The walls of my childhood bedroom were painted a dusty rose color that I could not stand. After years of pleading my parents finally agreed to repaint. I spent weeks choosing the perfect color, one I still love every time I go home to visit. I’ve since made my peace with pink as well.

  • When I was 11 I moved into my own bedroom for the first time (before having shared with siblings). The carpets were a dusty pink, and I painted the walls grey and put up a wallpaper banner of horses in lavender and sage green. I covered the walls in posters of fairies and the Beatles, hung the window with star garland (the wire stuff from craft stores) and I LOVED it. It was hideous, but everything, as an 11 year old, that I wanted.

  • The first time I remember paying attention to interior space and organization, I was six and I had just cleaned my room. I had a radio and I remember putting it right under my bed, flush with the mattress, then lining up all of my toy horses right next to the radio. I put a few more things away (as much as you can have for a six year old), looked around and felt that everything was in its place. Maybe it wasn’t so much thinking like an interior designer, maybe more of an OCD thing… but my mom says I have always kept my room, and nowadays, house, uncluttered and neat. And yes, in my teenage years, there were numerous wall collages and painted murals. Luckily I had parents who didn’t mind taking me to Home Depot to pick out paint every couple of years.

  • At the age of 8 I finally got to stop sharing a room with my twin sister. But my new room, once an office, creeped me out. It had a high sloped ceiling that made me feel small, tan walls, and awful dark green carpet.

    But for my ninth birthday, a transformation! My room become a Lion King jungle paradise. My mom made me colorful jungle bedspread, painted the walls a bright green with one that was a bright red/purple and put up bamboo-like window shades. She found cheap animal masks to hang on the walls, and also painted my light switches fun colors. That was the first time I noticed what color did to a space, and how making something yours could make it feel like home. My parents had trouble getting me OUT of my room, as I wanted to live in my Jungle Land forever.

  • My first memory of designing a space was my “office” when I was 8. It was a closet in the garage that I organized with bins full of craft supplies and tools lining the walls. I painted a metal desk yellow and hung beads to make a doorway! Fun times!

  • My family will never let me forget the first time I stepped into the role of “designer” and tried to paint my own room. My parents let me choose colors. I assembled a crew of friends to help and then we set to work. I had chosen what I thought would be a beautiful soft yellow and had planned to use blue to accent it. After the second coat of yellow went up, I started realizing my mistake. I had chosen colors that were MUCH darker than was tasteful. After the blue accents went up my room looked like a tent at the Ringling Circus. My parents were gracious and complimented me on our neat paint job and then swiftly set to choosing a new color. That room is now sage green and is much more pleasant than the previous choice.

    It’s ironic that I’m still the person family members come to when they’re choosing paint colors. They may never let me forget it, but I’m glad they have all realized that I’ve grown into better taste as I’ve gotten older!

  • I wasn’t allowed to decorate my room growing up, so once I bought a house I went wild! Rooms were dark green, burgundy, bright yellow, etc. Looking back on it, it was so ugly, but it was exciting at the time. Hey, it was the 90’s! : )

  • When I was about 9, I begged my parents to let me paint my room. It was still a peachy pink color from my nursery days, complete with a hideous Teddy Bear Picnic wallpaper. On a weekend trip to the hardware store with my parents, I snuck off to the paint section and picked out a soft blueish periwinkle color. When my mom found me, she agreed it was time and got a sample of the paint to try, which we bought the next weekend. I negotiated with my mom let me trade beds with the guest room, scoring me a white wicker sofa daybed. I remember telling her “It will make the room more open” — clearly something I had learned from her.

  • My first design memory is kind of an atypical one that I still reference today when designing my space. I vividly remember a book I read when I was really young about a girl who goes into the woods and finds a small cottage and makes it her own. I remember it describing everything about the cottage, from the the bricks to the sea shells that decorated it, and I’ve still longed to create a home that is as cozy, adventurous, and small as that space.

  • My first design memory was around the time of the ’76 Bicentennial Celebrations. My friends mother offered to teach the neighborhood kids how to sew that summer and gave us free reign over her fabric closet. I remember opening the door of that closet and all of a sudden, with my pulse racing and hands grabbing, I knew I’d stepped in to a magical place. Her closet was a no organizational winner but the thrill of trolling through colors and textures as rich as a candy store was our form of heaven. I later went on to earn a degree in textile design and every house I have ever lived in from that point has always had a magical fabric closet.

  • When I was about 13 or 14 or so, we visited the winery my dad’s parents used to own. The current owners were generous enough to offer us a tour through both the public and private rooms of the winery — an incredible thing to see the buildings and landscape that helped shape who my dad is today. One thing in particular stood out: they were preparing for a small wedding later that day, and the dining room was already dressed for the occasion. A beautiful square room, the curved white walls were painted with trees on all sides reaching for the ceiling, and the long central table was decorated simply with a white linen cloth. What really stood out — and has stated with me ever since — was the simplicity of the table decorations. Simply put, it consisted of a long green vine stretching from place setting to place setting, wrapped at each place around the napkin (which was next to the plate) before extending to the next setting. It was so simple, yet so classic and elegant at the same time. And it has informed my aesthetic ever since.

  • I was a design late bloomer, but when you live in 10 houses with white walls before the age of 18, what do you expect? Two months before I left for college my parents moved into a house with colored walls, each room a different color, and I was beside myself contemplating the possibility. My room had deep claret walls, and I spent the rest of the summer looking for a duvet in a complementary pattern. My love of textiles and wall color has been omnipresent ever since!

  • It seems kind of late, but then we moved a lot as a kid bc my dad was in the military, so we were never allowed to paint the walls, and sometimes we lived in glorified hotel rooms, so: junior year of college, I lived in a dorm that was basically a cathedral. I loved it, not least because most of the rooms had a window seat. I bought this rug from Restoration Hardware (before it became the weirdness it is now) and my mother had these amazing pink/brown ombre sheets that she let me have, and just went nuts, buying a cover for the window seat, as well as pillows, and a paper lantern – it continues to be one of my favorite spaces I’ve ever occupied.

    Except for the ginormous Derek Jeter poster I hung over my bed because I had better taste in furnishings than sports crushes.

  • When I was 11 I decided I wanted an iron daybed with purple floral covers. What was I thinking?

  • My first design memory is vivid: I was about 7 years old and our family had just moved from a teeny home into [what seemed to me] a humongous house. I got all new bedroom furniture and my dad even made me my own drawing/writing desk because that was about the age I started those passions. What I also discovered is that I enjoyed drawing my room possibilities out on paper, and then trying to move everything around and creating it in real life, including drawing up my own artwork. It was a ton of fun and something I could never tire of! =-)

  • My first design memory is when I was fairly young. I begged for a Strawberry Shortcake room when I was around 7 years old. I picked out pink paint (that my mom constantly regretted letting me choose) and my mother made my sister and I beautiful quilts with appliqués of our favorite Strawberry Shortcake dolls.

  • My design memories all involve painting my bedrooms as a child/teen. At age 11, my dad helped me paint my room in my own handprints and footprints. We applied the paint to my hands/feet, and he lifted me up with his arms and “walked” me around the walls. At 16 or 17 (at a new house), a friend of mine helped me paint my favorite song lyrics in varying colors over my boring baby blue walls. I think the best part is how open my parents were to my experimenting. I hope I am the same way with my kids!

  • My first design memory was my room as a little girl. Lime green carpet, white canopy bed, and white and pink accented bedding. I know that the budget was tight, but my mother did her best to make it magical. Looking back, it was really, really nice.

  • When I was about 12 years old, my mom announced that it was time to repaint my room. Every room in our house was a shade of white or cream, but I wanted my walls to be yellow – my favorite color. My mom picked out a yellow so pale it was hardly a change from the existing cream walls. After much back and forth, I convinced her to move two shades brighter on the color chip. I like to think of that as the moment my penchant for bright pops of color began!

  • I don’t remember not having an opinion on interior design, but the first time I had control of it was when I got my own room. It was in the basement with dark wood paneling. I chose to paint the panels limey green, light blue and white stripes. I never regretted it! I chose a white comforter with big blue impressionistic flowers to go on my black rot iron day bed. It was my escape.

  • I remember helping my parents pick out carpet for mine and my sisters new bedroom. I loved staring at and studying the carpet samples, and they even ended up picking my favorite. I like to think I had something to do with that!

  • My mom let me design my room when I was about 12, and I decked out the entire thing in a sunflower theme. Sunflower bedspread, sunflower wall border, bright yellow walls. It certainly isn’t a design choice I’d make now, but I do love thinking about that room.

  • My first design memory was decorating my bedroom as a young teenager in the early 70s. I chose yellow shag carpeting, yellow wicker headboards and a wallpaper that was yellow, orange and olive green circles that looked like targets. My mother hated yellow and I think this signaled my first attempt at separation. I had a tv and a record player and I never came out of my room. I’m a graphic designer now and I wish I had some of that old wallpaper. My own teenage daughter has a pink and orange room. I guess the love of color runs in my family!

  • My first design memory is from age 7 when I decided I wanted a canopy bed and managed to staple a Beauty and the Beast sheet to my ceiling. My mom was amused, sort of. I didn’t understand why she made me take it down while we were trying to sell the house. I thought it added a lot to the room.

  • I think my first design “aha” moment came when I was 12. I volunteered to be a junior docent at an historic house in my hometown in NJ. It was while in the old kitchen/scullery that I really began to see how your surroundings — materials, light, everyday objects — could affect you. I don’t think I even knew what an impact it had on me at the time, but thinking back I can tell that that’s when my obssession with design, decor, and decorative objects began.

  • My grandmother was an amateur interior designer and I remember her coming over the 3 or so times we moved in my childhood and helping to arrange artwork on the walls or place furniture in a room. She even had the brilliant idea (especially to a 7 yr old) to use leftover wallpaper from my bedroom and inset it into a record cabinet front so my furniture would match my walls. Even now whenever my parents or I have to make a decorating decision, we say ” I wish Grandma N was here.”

  • My first design memory began when my parents decided to build a new house while I was attending high school. My Mom & I spent a lot of time together fine tuning the layout of the house plans, picking out wall colors, brick, fixtures, rugs, & furniture. This was a turning point for me; My Mom was finally beginning to listen to my ideas & appreciate the artist side of me that she never fully understood. And this was fully revealed when she allowed me to design my room around my favorite Jack Vettriano painting, ‘The Singing Butler’. With ivory walls, warm earth tones & subtle pops of a rich ruby red, the room reminds me of the romance the sky gives off right after the rain.

  • My first decorating experiment at about 12, decorating my “teen” bedroom. I laid down thrifted 1 x 1 mis-matched shag carpet tiles, it was a beautiful shag crazy quilt floor. I put together an entertainment center/bookshelf made with cinder block and wood shelves, and confiscated a vintage chenille bedspread from the linen closet. I loooooved that room, and so did all of my girlfriends. ;)

  • When I was eight I moved into a new house, and, though I shared a room with my younger sister who was two, I was allowed to decorate my own room. I decided to go with blue and yellow, a sort of starry night theme, because I loved the sun and moon and was always drawing pictures of them. I helped paint the walls a dusty blue and picked out some blue sheets with clouds on them. I also had my mom make curtains with yellow fabric and white stars. The final touch was glow in the dark star and moon stickers that I stuck in designs all over my ceiling! Unfortunately, I ended up not liking the wall color that much (it was too gray and not cheerful enough), but I didn’t get a chance to change it until I was in highschool!

  • My first design memory is when I finally got my own room in high school. The walls were in terrible condition and I had to use something to cover them up. I used maps. Some were from my dad’s travels in Europe, one was a map of Middle Earth (that I wish I still had), and one was a old (1960) world map used in a college. I still have that last one hanging on my wall now!

  • When I was 7, my younger sister and I were finally allowed to have our own rooms. She took over the old guest room and got to pick whatever color paint she wanted. I, however, stayed in our old room which just got repainted the same ugly peachy-pink color my parents had leftover from the nursery. I was furious!

  • My first design memory happened as a teenager. My parents said I could redo my wallpaper and pick out a new comforter. I looked at EVERY catalog (I’m totally dating myself with that admission) and finally picked a gorgeous cream-colored spread with a cool modern print. I was proud, although it’s a little “whiskey tango foxtrot” to me now. Then I picked this cool paper with a sponged effect to coordinate.

  • When I was 7 or 8, I was playing house in our basement. I remember setting up the living room and taking a vase and thinking in an off hand way, I’ll only bring this out for company — and then catching myself and wondering, what’s the point of owning something if you can’t use it all the time? This still pretty much dictates all my decisions about what I bring into my home. When my husband and I were picking out china, I asked him, can you picture yourself eating grilled cheese off this? No? We’re not buying it.

  • I had a lot of strong design opinions (I had a lot of strong opinions in general) as a child, but the first major moment when I was given the opportunity to make my own interior decor choices came when my parents built a new house, and I convinced them to let me stencil designs on my walls. To be clear, I don’t mean pre-made, small scale stencils like you can buy at the craft store. I took huge sheets of foam core and used a box cutter to cut out swirls and circles and used black acrylic paint to fill the corners of my pale green bedroom. It was a good idea, but the execution…well, I was 13, the room was eventually repainted, and I ended up getting a degree in Textiles, so I guess it all worked out in the end!

  • When I was about 13, I convinced my parents to let me paint and redecorate my room- it was the first time I had the opportunity to truly shape my space the way I wanted. I painted the walls and even some furniture myself, and picked out new bedding and curtains. Such a great way to express your personality and independence as a young person.

  • My first design memory was the experience of my first job as an interior designer. I got a huge job in charge of decorating a home with 30k! I blew the pants of the owners but threw myself into the hospital from the stress of the job. It was an amazing experience but I never want to take on that much work again.

  • My dad is a huge Frank Lloyd Wright fan, so we have lots of his works (replications, of course) in our home. These quickly became one of my first design loves.

  • I was 13, visiting my dad for summer break, and I was flipping through the JCPenney catalog (remember those?). I started clipping housewares I liked (down to the mattress and the cat dish!) and my dad gave me some of that old computer paper with the holes on the edges so I could glue all the clippings down to decorate an “apartment.” I still have it.

  • I had just come out of my punk rock phase at about 14 years of age. My room had been plastered wall-to-wall with posters and junk. In one day, I stripped all of the walls bare to see fresh, clean white. I ridded my entire room of junk and trinkets and memories that no longer served me in a positive or productive way. Since then, I still prefer clean, mostly bare walls and a minimum amount of possessions.

  • I’m the oldest of 3 sisters. When I was 10 I moved into my own bedroom. I loved pastels at the time. The carpet was an off-white shag which I loved. The bedroom I moved out of had HOT PINK walls so I was happy to paint my new bedroom a beige ’cause I thought pastels would look good with it. My curtains were a pastel green. I had a Michael Jackson poster as a focal point on one of the walls. I also liked butterflies so my bedspread had a beige butterfly print on it. I had (still have!) a mint green throw pillow with a little butterfly on it that I kept on my bed.

  • Like most of the comments above I was around 11ish and my design experiences began with tasks of cleaning my room. Having been the younger sister to a wild child I always strived to make things easier for my mom so I began “surprising” her with cleaning my room. In the process of cleaning I would decorate and arrange belongings. That feeling is still here today – maybe without less of the trying to please mom aspect – but that rush you get from a clean sweep and organization. Maybe thats why I’ve moved so much?! I love the feeling of new and new possibilities. Congrats on your book Amy, happy for you!

  • I was a Hippie kid and we moved around a lot, living in places as humble as a VW Camper Van and as grand as a 16-room Federalist mansion listed on the National Register…but mostly, it was a series of drafty Maine farmhouses filled with a strange mix of family antiques and something I call “midcentury melange” (part commune, part Sears Catalog hand-me-down). I learned not to get too used to a particular place, or even a particular arrangement of things in that place. My little sister, you see, had a passion for decorating that predated her ability to read. From the time she was big enough to move items around, that’s what she did. One of my earliest memories is coming home from playing outside and finding the contents of the bedroom we shared rearranged…with the diaper stand blocking the door. “It looks good!” was her defense. Once I squeezed past it and joined her in the middle of the room, I had to agree. Her choices were not always practical, but they did keep me on my toes…and they helped me develop my spatial sense, color-matching skills, styling ability, and the knowledge that even a small, inexpensive or no-cost change can make a big difference in your surroundings.

  • The first design decision I remember trying to make was the carpet in my bedroom when I was little. My mom brought home samples of light blue and light pink, fully intending to make the decision herself, but I got a hold of them and wanted to weigh in (of course). I honestly can’t remember whether I got my way or not, but the carpet in that room is still pink to this day. And in my teenage bedroom? Dark purple. :)

  • My first design memory is cutting up bits and pieces from family photos and using them to create a massive collage on my bedroom wall. My step-mother called me a narcissist for doing this, as many of the photos were of me from my childhood. Yes, I was a bit egocentric, as many teenagers are, however the process of collaging was almost meditative and I played with old photos and adhesives in my private journals thereafter. Nowadays, making art with photos doesn’t have to be secretive as my daughter and I create ‘layered expressions’ of our family and hang them on our walls!

  • Probably my first memory of actually wanting to decorate my own space was in middle school. My mom and I were shopping for a new “grown up” bedspread for my room, and I found this beautiful matte white with polka dots and hot pink and lime green flowers. I thought it was beautiful! I don’t know if my parents still have it, but it was basically the perfect bedspread. I still love those colors!

  • My first design memory was when my husband and I bought our first house. I was 25 years old and had never lived in anything bigger than a one-bedroom, downtown apartment. The first thing that I did was paint a red accent wall. To this day it is still my favorite thing about the house. It gave the house personality and made it feel like it was ours.

  • my daughter got me hooked on design blogs. i’m in my 60s. i always had sort of a latin look to my home, but i just painted one wall aubergine and got a fancy chandy and the sky is the limit1

  • I share a bedroom with my sister for as long as I existed, so there wasn’t any decor going on for quite a while… But once my mother decided that we should paint the whole house, about 5 years ago, that was when I made my mother pick all the colors I wanted for every room in the house. Now the main areas in the house are extremely light grayish purple mixed with white walls, my parent’s room are pastel green (is so soothing!!), my brothers bedroom is greyish light blue and my bedroom is lavander. My mother and I loved the result! My sister don’t really care about how it looks so I also added some art work on my room’s walls and rearranged the accessories and books on the shelves.

  • I was in about 7th or 8th grade and wanted my entire bedroom redone. I was and still am obsessed with the color lime green, and to this day I still don’t know how I was able to convince my parents to let me paint 3 of my walls granny smith apple green, and the remaining wall a deep rich dark purple! I think they were really skeptical about how the room was going to turn out, but everyone loved it when it was done. The dark purple wall was painted first and it made the room look a lot smaller but once the green walls were painted it was great. I picked a mint green (with rhinestones!) framed mirror from pbteen that went in the middle of the purple wall, and some cool blue on the outside green on the inside box shelves to hang on the green walls. I had purple hanging beads in my doorway, and from that moment on my room was my sanctuary. I loved it and was always really happy in there. I learned not to be afraid to experiment with color!

  • When I was 8 years old, I was absolutely obsessed with Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. I was more or less raised as an only child (my siblings are 20 years older than me) so I had to have quite the imagination and used to pretend to be both twins, switching back and forth. This led me to my first design memory – my eventual demand for bunk beds that I was then stuck with for the next 5 years, until eventually I stopped pretending to be a twin and donated the top bunk to my oldest nephew.

  • When I was in high school, my father found an old wooden desk in a factory that no one was using. I coveted it as soon as I laid eyes on its turned legs, wide spacious surface and multiple drawers. I had to have it. So, we brought it home and trudged it up the stairs. It wasn’t until then that we realized that it wouldn’t fit through the doorway. Undeterred, I begged my Dad to saw off the legs so we could get it in the room, promising him we could figure out a way to reaffix them. He obliged, we cobbled them back onto their base and I set about “antiquing” my new prize possession. No matter that the legs wobbled (not quite as solid as before said saw met said wood), I loved that desk and over the years have often yearned for it. Wonder who is enjoying it now?

  • To my mother’s credit, she gave me free reign to choose the color scheme for my room when I was about ten. I insisted on light blue and rust. Odd perhaps, but you know what? I still think it didn’t look half bad. :)

  • Lime green walls. When we first moved to Kentucky when I was in middle school, my mom let me design my new room. I chose lime green walls with white curtains and we painted my iron bed white. My mom has great design skills so getting to work on the room together, while she gave me the freedom to use my own creativity was such an awesome experience.

  • I remember visiting my Grandma and Grandpas house when I was very little. Their house had beautiful wood paneling, and 2 secret doors! One outside the bathroom, that went under the clawfoot tub, and one under the stairs. Both were beautifully crafted with glass knobs. Someday.. I will have little secret doors!

  • When I was 7, my friend’s family was building a new house. Her mom watched my sister and me after school. Everyday, we would go visit “The Lot”. I got to see a house built from the ground up and I was completely fascinated. It inspired me to be an interior designer.

  • Growing up, I always paid attention to patterns and colors but rarely had the opportunity to decorate my own space. My second year of college, I finally moved into my own place and I went ecstatic picking out my own decor. I have to say the kitchen is where I place the most emphasis on pretty patterns and hues. Especially since I layer in old vintage glassware I find at flea markets.

  • When I was in high school, I fell in love with an old wooden desk my father found in a factory. I was drawn to its turned legs, wide spacious desktop and 6 perfect drawers. I After promising him I’d fix it up, he agreed to let me have it. We dragged it home and up the stairs and only then realized it wouldn’t fit through the doorway to my bedroom. It would have been easier to just stick it in the garage, but I begged my Dad to saw off the legs with the hope that we could cobble it back together later. He obliged, affixed the legs with some screws and I was off and running on my “antiquing” project. I never did tell him the legs wobbled whenever I put pen to paper, it didn’t matter to me. I just relished my prize possession. Sometimes I wonder where that desk is today? I sure hope it found another humbled owner.

  • I was finally able to start making my own design choices when I moved into my second apartment. It was 110* in South Carolina and I drove 2hr to the IKEA in Charlotte, NC to attempt to outfit…everything. Being my first time moving into an unfurnished space I needed all things kitchen, living, and bedroom — on a grad school stipend budget. Somehow three friends and I managed to get a whole apartment’s worth of furniture into one jeep, nearly losing the couch off the roof on the way home. So worth it! so much fun, lots of great pictures, and many items I’m still using today.

  • My first design memory is from when my parents let me paint my bedroom when I was 13. I painted it lime green and jet black with one full wall covered in a sheet of bamboo. I thought I was pretty awesome then.

  • When I was 9 my mom bought our first house. The seller was entering a retirement home so she left several pieces of furniture including a bedroom set. It was a vanity dresser with large mirror, vanity bench, night stand, a tall dresser and a full size head board/foot board. All were mid c modern style Heywood Wakefield knock offs. My mom kept the the bed frame and I got the rest. I remember day dreaming about how I would arrange my room and drawing floor plans.

  • When I was about four, my parents built a house. I begged for my room to be painted pink and my sweet parents agreed. One day, we went to take a walk-though of the unfinished house, and my parents took me up to what would be my room. I walked in and the walls were an odd pink, almost purple. The bossy four year old me wouldn’t have it. I had to have the perfect shade of pink grace my walls. My patient mother went to the paint store to grab four different paint swatches and let me pick the one I wanted. To this day I’m still extremely picky about the color pink. Some things never change, right? :)

  • My Grandmother and my Mother were very stylish and unique when it came to decorating the house. My first memory of my style coming out was when I decided that I was going to redecorate my room…by myself! I was in 3rd grade and I wanted to rearrange my bed, dresser and my shelves. When my Mom came up to see what I was doing, she didn’t get mad or question my ideas. She jumped right in and started moving things around where I wanted them! It was very exciting to have her support my own decorating style. Every now and then I still get crazy and move things around at night or repaint right after I just repainted…I love the process!

  • My mother received a sampler of magazines and one of them was Elle Decor. I was completely struck by a Ralph Lauren ad. It depicted a bedroom done in white with a hi gloss epoxy floor in black. I had never been in a room that glamorous and so my design addiction was born…

  • Growing up Saturday mornings were designated for cleaning. My sister and I were responsible for cleaning our rooms and helping with a general house chore. Organizing and arranging our cherished possessions was something we took pride in and learning how to give a room a critical eye as well as the lasting value of taking care of your things has carried over to adulthood.

  • my first design memory happened in a museum, despite being surrounded by my mom’s beautiful decorating. it was the first time, i really thought about why they chose the color on the walls and why it coordinated with what i was seeing. ( it was also a pre-raphelite exhibition so the room was filled with deep blues, rich reds and purples — so it was completely enticing). but that exhibition opened up a whole new world for me.

  • When I was 8 we moved to a much bigger house. I got a room all to myself and my grandmother let me pick out some new bedding. That opportunity to actually pick something of my very own sparked the merchandiser in me. I was constantly rearranging my room growing up.

  • I think my first design memory is when at the age of 8 (aprox.) I tried to decorate the “house” my cousins and I had made in a tree. The house consisted in various pallets accommodated between the branches of the tree making a floor and three walls. I remember choosing some cushions, books and decorative objects from home and taking them up there to make it cozy. I even put some fabric as curtains. The day after, an abundant rain ruined my carefully designed decor project, my moms cushions, and my favorite books!

  • My first design memory was when I first got to choose my bedspread and wall colors. Since my name is Ariel I have always been associated with and loved mermaids and the ocean. I chose a blue bedspread with bright colored fish all over it with bright blue and yellow walls. Little did I know the bedspread would come and go and I would be stuck with those wall colors for the next 10 years, after I had grown out of my mermaid collection.

    I can’t wait to get my hands on this book, whether I win the giveaway or not! Wish I could make it to Philly!

  • When I was a teenager my parents let me paint my room teal. A dark, lovely, underwater teal. I loved it immensely – and to this day, teal is my go-to color for everything. Looking around the room now – teal flower pots, teal Union Jack pillow, teal throw, teal dishes, teal Pantone poster… it makes my heart sing!

  • I was just talking about this the other day! My first design memory is making my own “wallpaper” when I was around 8 years old. I was obsessed with seals (the animals) and saved every magazine and newspaper article on them (there were piles). One day I thought, “wouldn’t it be amazing if this was my wallpaper?!” My parents used to let me draw and paint on my walls so I figured it was the same thing to glue newspaper and magazine clippings on all of my bedroom walls. Obviously I found the strongest glue I could find, which was Elmer’s wood glue. Feeling so proud of myself when I finished, I ran to grab my mom and show off my first major interior design accomplishment. My mother’s horrified face as she laughed hysterically is something I will never forget.

  • After falling in love with these red and purple suede throw pillows while running errands with my mom, I decided I was ready to part with my Leo DiCaprio self-made wall paper and plaid everything decor, and planned a purple and red themed bedroom. So a few weeks later, I came home from school to find a scavenger hunt waiting for me that took me all around the house, only to end up at my moms car trunk filled with the lucious pillows I had hopelessly fallen for. I have the greatest mom.

  • The first design choice I made other than my childhood or teenage bedroom was when I was renting my parent’s second apartment at 19 and I painted one of the walls lilac. I was sure that when my mum came to visit she would kill me but she didn’t. After that the wall went red, grey and back to white, and some of the other walls changed colours too!

    Now I’m constantly thinking of what can be done to make a future home more homey!

  • I always had an affinity for interior design but when I was living with my family, my father (being a handyman) always took it upon himself to do the painting and everything for the house including my room. It wasn’t until I moved out to my very first apartment that I finally had free reign to do whatever I wanted, how I wanted. Within a week of moving I painted the living area of my tiny studio but I was still staring at white walls in my kitchen area. On a whim, I decided to just go for it and worked until 2am painting wide gray stripes on the main kitchen wall. The secondary wall became a solid accent wall with a gallery. It was a lot of hard work but it’s the first thing you see upon opening the door into my apartment and makes me smile every time.

  • When I was little, I shared rooms with my brother. It wasn’t till later, when the house was fully finished and space opened up that I got my own room. Nevertheless we had a pact, our bed and desk space is our own to do what we please with.
    So, my first design memory is decorating and organizing my desk, especially the bookcase which was also attached to my bunk bed which I turned into a boho chic little area with pillows and quilts – not that I had any idea of boho chic when I was 6, I guess it was just intuitive. As far back as I remember, I was always redecorating (no wonder I ended up in architecture school). I was very lucky though to have a mum that let me blow my stem off in room decor!

  • Just a few years ago, as a freshman in high school my room (to my mother’s horror) was a mess! 100% of the time! So one day she told me that if I cleaned my room I would have the freedom to design my own room! So as my mother expected, I cleaned my room (in record timing too!) but what she didn’t expect was that I would take weeks and weeks to figure out what would make up my dream room! The hardest part was the color scheme.. Finally I chose black and white. I painted the walls with black and white stripes figuring I may as well go bold since I wouldn’t have that liberty once I lived in a city apartment. I paired my black and white stripes with black and white damask bedding, black and white furniture, black and white pillows! Total pattern overload! My room probably looked chaotic to everyone else, but I never really cared because my interior design is definitely my preferred form of self-expression. And to this day I’m a firm believer that you have to take the time to design your home for YOU in order to truly take care of it (and in my case keep my clutter out of it!) because to this day, my room is always the neatest in the house!

  • My earliest design memories include collages! My love of collages led me to become a fifth-grade magazine/catalog connoisseur. I would wait patiently for my dad to bring home a new Hemispheres magazine from his United flights. I loved receiving the latest Metropolitan Museum of Art catalog in the mail. One time my graphic designer uncle even gave me one of those old stock photography books. I spent hours looking at the images, plotting my next collage.

    I recently had the realization that I now do the very same thing for a living (guess that should have been obvious)! Photoshop is such an upgrade from that sticky glue stick!

  • My first decorating love was my 3 story wooden dollhouse and its treasures. I routinely re-arranged the room locations and the furniture in it. The bathroom usually ended up in the staircase landing if I decided the son and daughter should have separate bedrooms (their bunk beds could be stacked or separated into twin beds.) Sometimes I would empty the house, create “stores” with merchandise and have the family go “shopping” to redecorate their house. It was awesome.

  • There were lots of things I did not enjoy about growing up in my house, but I absolutely loved the look of it which contributed to my very strong attachment to my home. My mother did her own wallpapering and put a colorful large-scale print wallpaper on one wall of the kitchen and a mirror like reflective foil in the third floor bathroom. I have a picture of her on a ladder with my brother, whose bathroom it was, helping. My first memory of appreciating my mother’s design sense, and realizing that I too favored an eclectic style (we had a wicker chair in our living room next to the Steinway) was when I went back to visit my childhood home and the hardwood floors were covered with a pastelly green shag carpet to match the bedroom like wallpaper now in the living room and entry hall. The homeowners talked about how some previous owner had painted the stairwell walls a chocolate brown. “Can you imagine?,” they asked me. Of course I could. I had loved those chocolate brown walls painted by my mother.

  • The first memory I have of noticing interior design was when my parents would take me around country estates and manor houses for day trips. I remember as a child being completely taken with all the luxurious wall paper and beautiful quilts – I wanted to touch it all! That being said, the first time I got to decorate my own room I went for the brightest yellow and blue combo and I stuck beads to one wall – not exactly reminiscent of a country estate but I loved it (for a couple of years!).

  • I remember when I was quite young, my mom pointed the two Tiffany-like lamps in our living room, which were one of the only things she kept when her mother passed away. She explained that while my grandparents were rather poor, my grandmother had superb taste and saved so she could buy the best quality items, even if they were few. Each lamp has eight light pulls and my favorite “chore” as a little girl was to turn off the lamps.

  • Beaded curtains, incense sticks, Gemstone candle holders, and walls and ceiling plastered with photos cut out from magazines. Also, mural painted inexplicably in the BACK of my closet. Ahh teen rooms!

  • Love all the stories! When I was around ten years old my parents threw away an old ottoman style chair. So I picked it out of our trash and reupholstered it. My parents were so surprised when they found the chair in my bedroom with new fabric tacked onto it.

  • My first design memory involves A LOT of Laura Ashley at the ripe old age of 7. Floral, floral and more floral (which is funny because I was a complete worm-digging, football playing, boy torturing, dress shunning tomboy as a kid). I think I also wanted a carpet really badly because I had hardwood floors in my room and I was more concerned about cold toes than aesthetics. Now that I’m a renter, I LONG for the days of hardwoods in my childhood home.

  • I practically lived on my bicycle when i was growing up. At about 11, I decided my bike needed to reflect my personality, the real me. So I covered the Huffy logo with a big 60’s daisy decal. And a couple more on the fenders.

  • when i was about 10 i picked out a blue and white toile bedspread. i didn’t like the typical girly palette, but i wasn’t a total tomboy. the spread reminded me of a tea set and that fit so nicely with my alice in wonderland fantasies. that all changed when i discovered contempo casuals and bead curtains in middle school, although i’m not sure we can call that “design”

  • When I was about 13 years old I decided to collage on my dresser. I cut out 1″ squares of pages of magazines and collaged a swirling pattern along the entire facade of my dresser. Looking back now I am still proud of the work I did on that. And I still collage with magazine pages !

  • a cheap blue and white toile bedspread when i was about 10. it reminded me of a tea set, which made me think of alice in wonderland. i was so fashionable until i discovered contempo casuals and bead curtains in middle school…

  • I had a set of simple, wooden blocks which I would arrange on the fireplace hearth. I would play with them for hours, making all kinds of dwellings for my tiny rubber animals.

  • arranging my bookshelves with books, trinkets, a plant, then photographing it. in elementary school.

  • I used to use graph paper to make a scale map of my room and cut out little pieces of paper to represent furniture so I could see how it would look to rearrange my room before actually dragging everything around. I measured things in feet….my feet. I walked heel to toe along the length of the walls, my bed, my desk, so I would know how many squares to make them. I have no idea how old I was when this started; just that I can’t remember NOT doing it.

  • When my brother was born, my mom and dad moved me from the nursery into my own “Big Girl” bedroom. I can still remember the white wallpaper with tiny rose buds. It was a small bedroom but my mom tucked a comfy chair in the alcove by the dormer window. To me, I felt like the luckiest girl alive and that I was living in my very own doll house!

  • I remember helping my Mom pick out the wallpaper for an accent wall in my yellow bedroom when I was 7 or 8

  • When I was little I was obsessed with catalogs — especially my mom’s big, glossy Spiegel. One year, when I was maybe 5, I was allowed to pick out my own bedding for the first time. I had been ogling an über-girly bed set… pastel confection-colored sheets and toss pillows with white stripes or white dots and white eyelet ruffled edges. My mom indulged me — and we even wallpapered the wall behind my bed in pink-and-white stripes to match my new quilt! I felt so chic. As an adult, I opt for light linen coverlets in gray tones — but my love affair with catalogs persists!

  • For a long time, I let other people determine what the rooms around me looked like but when we bot this house, I put my foot down. I was sick of rental white. I now have green rooms and blue rooms. Gorgeous.

  • when i was young my father would bring home architectural digest magazines for me. i was so inspired by them that i would spend hours drawing up blue prints for my dream home. then i took it a little further by rearranging the furniture in my parents home. i was 10! my parents hated coming home from work to find that i had yet again gotten bored of the design of the living room, bedroom, etc.

  • My first sewing project was a decorative pillow for my room. I made the pillow by sewing two place-mats together and stuffing them. The place-mats were red with a white kitten on them. The stitches were large and loose (and pretty sloppy), but that pillow sat on my bed for years.

  • When I was younger my mom served as seamstress alongside my grandmother. As a result she became a retailer for American Girl Doll dresses. My favorite doll was Samantha (which I later received as birthday gift and I STILL have her to this day.) For some reason I was drawn to early 1900’s style as well as “Gone with the Wind”. Whenever we would go out of town I would ask my mom to take me to antique stores. I think I was enamored by the luxury of lace curtains, silk gloves, leather shoes, writing instruments- even old world cooking elements. Around my ninth birthday it was time for my parents to re-do my end of the house. Each of my sisters picked an age appropriate theme. I asked for a four poster bed and lace ruffle curtains. My mom being the genius she is was able to deliver such a feat. She didn’t end it there. As a surprise she made a lace canopy top for my bed. For Christmas I asked for antique writing papers, sewing elements, and hats. Today my husband tells me I was born in wrong century.

  • I suppose I would have been anywhere from age 2 to age 5, but I remember vividly some part of my (younger) brother’s room (wallpaper?) which was sunshine golden yellow, (and so much more so in the late afternoon sun), and I remember a cartoony animal pattern on it and the smiling lion was my favorite. Asbolutely cheery!

  • I have a visceral memory of my parents taking me to a new coffee parlour and choclatier that had just opened up in my largely uninspiring and isolated small town. Walking in, I felt like I had been transported to another place, out of my town, and into the pages of a magazine or the streets of a foreign place I had only dreamed about. I begged my parents to bring me back on a regular basis, which wasn’t a tall task as it served fantastic coffee and chocolate in its’ own right. One day I got up the courage to ask the owner behind the desk who had decorated the space because I wanted to decorate my bedroom like it! It was a slow moment in the shop so the owner took me aside and explained what had inspired her — she even told me the exact paint colours she had used! (It helped with the mystique of the place that the owner sounded foreign as well — to this day I don’t know if she was from Quebec or France or elsewhere.) I got home that day and put away all of my ‘little girl’ things — teddy bears, my little pony – and sat my parents down and said I wanted to redecorate. We went to the hardware store that weekend and bought the exact paints she had used and I planned out which walls I wanted which of the colours, the trim colours, and the placement of furniture. I LOVED that bedroom and kept it as such until we had to move away many years later. It was a defining moment as a young woman to realize that design can transform a space, experience, reality!

  • My first memory of really paying attention to design was when I was 11 and we moved; since we had more bedrooms and my room wouldn’t have to double as the guest room, I actually got to have a say in decorating it. I went with a white daybed and a comforter with big pink cabbage roses on it, and put it in the middle of the room with a bookcase at its back so I could have a reading nook in the far corner.

  • My first intentional design memories are recent – I’ve always liked to organize and clean and brighten things and make spaces comfortable, but last year my husband and I bought our first house and it was straight out of Pottery Barn. Everyone said they liked the colors/design/style and all I could think was “I want to change everything!” It’s still a work in progress, but the first time I leaned a big graphic painting on the wall above the fireplace I was hooked. Now I can’t stop designing and changing and brainstorming ways to make our home beautiful! Next up is helping my mom redecorate her living room and I can’t wait.

  • I have a visceral memory of my parents taking me to a new coffee parlour and choclatier that had just opened up in my largely uninspiring small town. Walking in, I felt like I had been transported to another place, out of my town, and into the pages of a magazine or the streets of a foreign place I had only dreamed about. I begged my parents to bring me back on a regular basis, which wasn’t a tall task as it served fantastic coffee and chocolate in its’ own right. One day I got up the courage to ask the owner behind the desk who had decorated the space because I wanted to decorate my bedroom like it! It was a slow moment in the shop so the owner took me aside and explained what had inspired her — she even told me the exact paint colours she had used! (It helped with the mystique of the place that the owner sounded foreign as well — to this day I don’t know if she was from Quebec or France or elsewhere.) I got home that day and put away all of my ‘little girl’ things — teddy bears, my little pony – and sat my parents down and said I wanted to redecorate. We went to the hardware store that weekend and bought the exact paints she had used and I planned out which walls I wanted which of the colours, the trim colours, and the placement of furniture. I LOVED that bedroom and kept it as such until we had to move away many years later. It was a defining moment as a young woman to realize that design can transform a space, experience, reality!

  • I have never yet been allowed to act on this design impulse, it has been through a couple of decades in the refining my vision. When I was three we were painting our house and my mom would take me with her to the local hardware store as she pored over paint samples. I don’t remember anything I said but I do remember wanting us to paint the house black. My mom remembers this as well and worries for my sanity, however, every once in a while I see a black house and feel vindicated. Someday I’ll get my own black house.

  • I grew up watching HGTV and reading my moms old Home & Garden magazines so I loved helping my parents with gardening and little home decoration projects, but when I was 7 my parents moved into a new house and they decided to let me design and pick the colors for my bedroom and bathroom. I was so excited to go to Lowe’s and look through all of the paint chips {I still love doing this} and I drew up sketches of where all of my furniture would go. I still remember the paint colors I chose – Sky Blue 2 for my bathroom and, my favorite color at the time, Green Apple 2 for my bedroom. After that I was constantly designing rooms for my dream home, I guess those little decisions back then helped spark my passion for interior decorating and why I became an interior photographer.

  • I won an Easter basket decorating contest put on by the ladies at my church. It was supposed to be a mother/daughter event but I did not trust my mom’s aesthetic as a sassy eight year old so I wouldn’t let my mom touch ours. The construction was awful, the pipe cleaner handle I tried to add to the basket popped off during judging but from what I remember of it, it looked adorable!

    I also set up my loft bed so that the bar that kept me from rolling onto the floor worked as a proscenium arch for the plays I put on for my stuffed animals.

  • Looking back at when I finally had my own room in high school and was allowed to paint it and hang the artwork for myself I probably shouldn’t have been allowed to. I like to think I’ve learned a thing or two since.

  • When I was little, my Mom and I lived alone for the most part, in a small Indian town in the foothills of the Himalayas. There wasn’t much design culture anywhere but my Mom always had an eye for good design, and our little apartment was always clean and full of colorful furniture and artifacts.
    The first time I paid attention to design was when I was 4 or 5 and I realized how much my Mom loved this one yellow Seiko alarm clock she had bought in Japan. It always stood in her bedroom and was the first object she saw when she opened her eyes. It was not only beautiful to her, but having had it for years, it was something that gave her security and stasis just by being there at its designated station. Oblivious to all this, I moved it one day to use in my room, and unwittingly caused a little stir in her. Sheepishly admitting her attachment, she explained the significance of that simple object to her as she replaced it to her bedside. Even today, 25 years later, the clock sits in her room, although she has to do some serious math to compensate for its messed up timekeeping skills (I think she adds 4 hrs to the time after 2pm of something), but she won’t let it go. And now, knowing how much that one clock has meant to her, all I really want from her in my inheritance is the yellow clock.
    That’s the power of good design!

  • My grandmother had these awful yellow curtains in her bedroom that made the whole room glow a sickly color. Hated them, and they really turned me off of yellow for a long time. I’m better now, though. :)

  • When my parents built their house when I was in middle school, I got to decorate my room – the first room I didn’t have to share with my sister. I looked through catalogs and fell in love with a Moroccan-inspired bedspread with deep reds, purples, and golds. I decided that a particular red-purple was my favorite color (ever) and painted the walls in it. I also remember pining for a chest from one of those catalogs. Of course, it was deep red and had a giant burnished gold butterfly clasp on the front. A few years later, one of my first “big” purchases (with money saved from working at a grocery store) was a chest-of-drawers. I still have both of those furniture items! And even after I left for college, the wall color stayed when my sister took over my room (it has the best view, overlooking a valley where deer love to play, so she “didn’t want it to go to waste”).

  • In the third grade I got really into the Sweet Valley Twins series (the younger version of Sweet Valley High, where the girls are only in middle school) and I was fascinated by their mother, who was described as a successful interior designer. I thought that sounded so glamorous, and decided that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up. That summer, my family went to visit my aunt in Minneapolis and I have vivid memories of spending hours wandering through the rooms of her house, making intricate plans in my head of how I would decorate.

  • I grew up surrounded by art as my parents owned a framing and antique shop. My earliest design memory was meeting a woman at the shop who told me she was an artist. My narrow-minded 7 year-old self asked, “what do you paint?” She explained, “darling, artists do more than paint! I’m a sculptor and I make pottery too.” She showed me some of her work, and explained that art is all around us, and talented people that work with so many materials make our world a more beautiful and interesting place to live. That really opened my eyes to art and design, and the memory has always inspired me in my artistic endeavors!

  • When I was little, I was such a bookworm, so my first design memory happened when my dad bought me my first bookcase and I spent the day arranging chapter books, trinket boxes, and picture frames on it. It was my first shot at interior styling!

  • I was moving to my first shared apartment after graduating college, and I picked a grey duvet cover with barely discernible alternating circles because I thought the grey would go with anything. It does, and I still love it to this day!

  • We were always around designers and creative people, growing up (and design stores; early Crate & Barrel imports had a massive impact on me). But the first design impulse came from my dollhouse. I was given furniture, and started to look for other furniture. Each room had a different character, and I even made some of the furniture myself (or appropriated; carpet samples and coasters became rugs and throws). I wallpapered the rooms with my dad, and we carefully picked the patterns out for each room. That was the first time I remember looking at furniture and seeing how each element of a room worked together.

  • When I was in my early teens parents let me paint my walls. I was very into Maxfield Parish at the time and painted a huge mural on the wall based on one of his paintings. They pained over it a few years later and I may have cried a little.

  • I was setting up my first bedroom that I did not share with my baby sister. I was about 10. I decided I wanted subdued orange walls with black and beige toile bedspread. I still love orange.

  • Life in a Medieval Castle sounds like my kind of book! I still want to live in a castle!

    My life has always been filled with so many projects, it’s hard to remember the first one. Some of my best design memories involve decorating discarded refrigerator & stove boxes my Dad would bring home– making them into spaceships and hobbit houses with my brother and sisters!

  • I remember seeing a room in a teen magazine I was reading which opened my eye to design. A teenager moved into the attic room and her mom allowed her to paint the room. She chose to paint three different colors to accentuate that the room wasn’t square and celebrated the oddness of it. I had to do it myself since my room had two alcoves and a sloping ceiling. I sat and decided to use my two favorite colors – robins egg blue and purple. I decided to have the trim, built-in drawers and doors have the opposite color as the wall and to top it off I was going to sponge the opposite colors loosely over the walls to make the room amazing (this was the late 90s). Well I took my graph paper and planed it all out, painted the trim and walls and then went to school on Monday. When I got home my mom looked really excited to see me. I was suspicious (with good reason!). It turns out that she and my grandmother had finished the sponging for me but instead of my vision they sponged and equal amount of the opposite colors and all the walls looked the same! My teenage heart was crushed, but happy to have family that loved me enough to help. Now, 15 years later, I’m finally ready to let go of my room and I’m going to help my mom paint it white.

  • I think I was 12 when I made my first quilt. It was a “puff” quilt and stuffing all of those little squares and sewing them together gave me time to plan out my whole room around that quilt. Furniture got painted and re arranged as well as all my books and stuff had their own places to be.

  • The first time I remember paying attention to interior design is when my four sisters and I were all sharing I bedroom. (I know.) Our parents told us we could pick the paint color. The four younger girls picked a ballet pink, and democracy won. I was not happy. We lived in that pink room, all together, for five years.

  • I remember as a young girl i always wanted to move things around in my room.
    In only a few years, it’s been white, pink, violet, green, blue, etc. My mom was patient and nice enough to paint it for me all theses times.

  • I must have been somewhere around 7 years old when I got to decorate my new room. I chose light pink for the top of the room, purple for the bottom, and Barbie wallpaper as a border between the two colours! I also wanted to paint all the trimwork dark pink, but we never did get around to painting it. I had a floral bedspread, that didn’t match the other pink tones, and a different floral patterned set of sheets- it all clashed wonderfully! Now I shudder to think of that room, but I loved it at the time. Thankfully my style has changed a bit!

  • The first time I remember paying attention to design was building massive forts in the family living room. Each sheet had to be draped just so and I would set up a lovely sitting room on the inside. I would place pictures and create mini sitting areas to make sure my fort guests would right at home!

  • I think I was maybe 6-7 and my brother and I shared a large attic bedroom. My twin bed was tucked under the slanted ceiling and every time I looked up I remember thinking these white walls needs something. I took a small trash can and traced circles into construction paper to make balloon shapes and taped them to the wall. It now reminds me of the little “inventions” my 5 y/o makes and tapes to her wall now :)

  • My first design memory is when I was about 7 or 8 and my mom let me pick out a pale yellow wallpaper that had pretty dancers in various costume for my bedroom. I think of this wallpaper often and wonder if it plays a role in yellow being my favorite color.

  • When I was a kid, I looked forward to the Ikea catalog coming to my house each year so I could pick out what piece I wanted to add to my room. I still love the Ikea catalog!

  • Oh dear… first design plunge… speaking of day beds, I wanted one so badly when I was in the 9th grade, so I turned by full size sideways against the headboard. I thought I could fool everyone, but instead my friends just sort of cocked their head sideways like a confused puppy would every time they entered my room. Never did get my daybed. sigh. But I want the book. Hence, my comment.

  • The old apartment we lived in when I was little — a long, long time ago — had big faceted glass door knobs. I thought they were diamonds and the most elegant things I’d ever seen.

  • Growing up I moved houses so many times that I was never able to make any permanent changes to my bedrooms. When I was 9 years old I discovered some of my mother’s home décor magazines and I was so inspired to recreate my own bedroom into something more tasteful and chic. Because I wasn’t allowed to paint my bedroom walls (I longed so badly to) I began to consider other ways that I could transform my bedroom. From a young age I loved to read so the idea of making my own “reading corner” came to me one day. I was excited to make this first project work, with the help of my grandma I created and sewed a bean bag that I could rest on while reading. I paired this with a silk cloth that I draped over my reading corner to create a canopy look. At the time I was so proud of my work that I failed to notice that the “canopy” blocked out most of the bed room light so I couldn’t actually read there at night. I was so wrapped by what I had accomplished from there I continued to transform the rest of my bedroom beginning with a much needed change to my Barbie bed covers. My mum seeing my interest and passion for design bought me my own kids room design kit and book that I still have to remind me where my design endeavor began. Now as an 18 year old I dream of in a few years moving out with my boyfriend and decorating our own apartment!

  • I have been arranging collections in my space from as early as I can remember. My stuffed animals and pillows were arranged just so; my books and found objects were displayed and used things collected far and wide to make my room in our many houses feel like home (we were a frequently moving military family).

  • I’m a woman of neutral-toned rooms, but my favourite colour is a soft aqua. I’d have accents of the colour here and there throughout the house, but when we were redecorating our bedroom, I decided that it would be the ‘aqua’ room. I love it so much! I must admit – it’s harder to get out of bed in the mornings, it’s so cozy and comfortable in there!
    Thanks for the giveaway, my fingers are crossed!

  • The first time I remember really considering design, I was in third grade. My aunt was staying with my brothers and I while my parents were out of town and we decided to make a dollhouse out of cardboard. We spent hours cutting, pasting, and rearranging the little cardboard pieces to make a house. Once we’d perfected the design and colored in wallpaper and rugs with markers, we decided to make furniture. I clearly remember sifting through my mom’s fabric scraps, trying to find the perfect upholstery for a tiny cardboard couch. I finally settled on an olive green fabric studded with little magenta flowers. We glued cotton balls to the cardboard frame and “upholstered” the couch with my chosen fabric. I thought it was gorgeous!

  • Aside from dressing up barbie and designing forts outside, my first design moment was when I was 11 and picked out new colors to paint my bedroom. My best friend and I painted our rooms at the same time and took the decision very seriously. We decided to share this beautiful yellow as an accent color and, after much deliberation, I chose a pinky/salmon color (which is horrible now, I know) and she chose a deep purple. We had wonderful parents who let us be creative however we wanted, which included putting contrasting hand and food prints on the wall and ceiling! Kids are confident with their design choices :)

  • When I was 8, my parents designed and built our 60’s modern ranch home and let me pick out everything for my bathroom! I remember being so amazed at all the possibilities and it took me a long time to decide on just the combination. I finally decided on white iridescent 1″ mosaic tile for the walls of my step-down bathtub/shower and light pink textured 3″ tile for the entire floor. It felt like I was bathing inside of a conch shell!! I have designed several bathrooms since then, but that is still my favorite.

  • our family moved into a new house when i was around 14 and had a fresh start in designing my own room!

  • As a tween, I fell in love with the Brady Bunch house. There were so many concepts that seemed so exotic (I know!) to my southern suburban ranch lifestyle. The jack and jill bathroom, the sunken office/den, the entry with double doors, the oven in the wall, even a finished attic . . . we just didn’t have those things in our neighborhood. I loved that house, and even still, the late 60s and 70s are my happy place in design. Not that I would decorate my house in avocado green and shag carpeting . . . but I do love looking at pictures of homes from that era.

  • The pattern is still embedded in my brain – large green/white/blue hounds tooth checked bedspreads with matching curtains!!!!!! Not only green but avocado green just like the refrigerator color of the era! And yes, I proudly picked this out along with some shade of green wall paint when moved to a new home in the 9th year of life. Was I given many choices though? Probably not. Luckily, my design choices have improved by leaps and bounds since 1965.

  • Probably when my mom suggested redoing my bedroom (after my sister moved into what had been a home office–giving me my own room for the first time!) and let me help make a comforter to match the blue wall color I had picked out. I think I was around 8 or 9 years old. We made a blue and yellow quilt together; that’s when she first taught me how to sew, a skill I now couldn’t live without.

  • Like many others, I’ll never forget the summer my parents let me tear down the pink floral wallpaper that had been up since the ’80s, and let me paint the bedroom myself. Tearing down the wallpaper was hard labor, for sure – for some crazy reason my mom had even wallpapered the closet!

    Nevertheless, I took my time picking out the color, and chose this neutral grey green color, which, to this day I think was a pretty sophisticated choice for a 17-year-old.

    Also – I’ll never forget the quilt I purchased for the room. It was a velvet royal purple striped quilt. Definitely a pop of color in that room! I just loved how it looked as if it were made of scraps from old formal dresses or something. I still have that quilt, and, now that I’m a seamstress and quilter today, I appreciate more things about the quilt than before – like the way the fabrics work together or that it is completely quilted by hand (a very time consuming detail).

    Thanks so much for the opportunity to share – and I can’t wait to take a look at your new book!! Fingers crossed that I can win a copy here. :)


  • I lived at home until I was married in May of 1980, I used to decorate and redecorated my bedroom all of the time. We bought a house and moved in right after the honeymoon…It was wonderful…I had an entire house to decorate. I had wooden pallets put up on the wall of the kitchen and bought S hooks to hand all of my pots and pans…it was very cool….way, way back in 1980!

  • My first design memory was sometime around middle school…I picked out an ivy bedspread and lots of gold picture frames (it was the 90s). I think what stands out most is ever since I have had clear visions about how to decorate my spaces

  • When I was 9 years old I relentlessly begged my parents to paint my room eggplant, or as I called it then “dark purple-y”. I also wanted all of the furniture in the room to be white. Not surprisingly, I ended up going to an art and design school!

  • My first design memory was when I was 9 years old and my mom worked with me to create my “big girl room”. I joyfully abandoned my peach nursery with faux-cross stitch alphabet borders and Little Mermaid sheets, for visions of a purple/pink/turquoise room. Lavender walls, floral curtains in pink, teal, aqua and purple (with a matching duvet). The curtains and duvet were made from some clearance sheets that my thrifty mother took advantage of. She also painstakingly used a stencil to create a border of flowers along the top of the walls.

  • We moved when I was five years old, and my new bedroom had built-in bookshelves and a large vanity and a walk-in closet. I remember thinking I was the luckiest kid ALIVE. It should have been the master bedroom, but my parents’ (smaller) room had the master bath attached. I might never have a bedroom I love as much. I wanted to paint it purple, and thankfully they nixed that idea.

  • My first design-related memory is when I started drawing the furniture in my house. I specially loved the hanging shelf my stepdad made in the master bedroom. Just some pieces of pine wood and knotted rope. I could stare at it forever.

    As I’ve grown up, I still make simple shelving units with treated pine and whatever is needed at the moment (special bricks with holes to hold wine bottles, or threaded rods to create custom heights), but I really hope one day I live in my own space so I can make my own hanging shelf.

    Oh! Also, during the same period I was drawing furniture (and trying to build arches with wooden blocks – that didn’t work), I draw a Christmas tree to send to my grandparents. Everybody laugh so much when they saw I had also included the power cord and the plug on the wall! It seemed so obvious to me, that was essential to the tree – no lights, no Christmas!

  • My first design-related memory occurred when I was 8 years old and my interior designer mother re-did my bedroom. She had wallpaper made of a poem I had written and put it as a border throughout my room. It was so fun, and made me much more aware of my surroundings.

  • This past summer I finally decided to design my little bedroom into something I actually love! It was an experience with picking furniture, repurposing what we already had, painting, installing shelves, and it’s still a work in progress!

  • My first design memory (which led to my degree also in Decorative Arts and Material Culture, at BGC!) is my mom helping me carefully cutout to-scale pieces of paper of all the furniture in my bedroom so I could rearrange it before we started lugging furniture. I think I did this at least 4 times in my childhood. My parents even bought me interior design software when I was in middle school – to indulge me more!

  • My first memories of interior design revolve around my bedroom when I was 12 years old. The centerpiece of the space was the queen size waterbed (haha). I still remember the noise the bed made when I jumped into it. I wanted the walls painted a sage green, with sponge work, and I hung beads in the doorway. Overall, it was a hot mess, but I loved it and still remember the details of it. After having matured, and purchasing a home, I have decorated with much more informed design choices, most of which are DIY. The Past and Present book will only enhance and inspire me more!!

  • When I was in fifth grade I found a really expensive decorative pillow at an antique/gift shop that my family frequented. It was a simple quilted muslin square with a tic tac toe grid stitched across the front; in each stitched square a different antique button had been sewn. I thought it would be the perfect thing for my bed. It was the first time that I remember knowing that I could make something just like it myself. And I did, using special buttons, too – some from my great grandmother’s sewing box, a monogrammed one from an old suit of my dad’s. My first true DIY venture!

  • In fifth grade I started sketching room layouts to space plan my dream bedroom. Then I would color everything in with colored pencils. Guess it was a sign because I ended up studying interior design in college.

  • It’s kind of a hard to pin down / nebulous time starting when I was 11-12 or so when I wanted to start “styling” my room. Reeeeally influenced by my artist mother!

  • At the age of four, I found a large piece of blue and pink floral seersucker fabric in my mother’s stash. Using nearly every last bit of that fabric, along with scotch tape and a stapler, I made my very first collection of clothing and home goods. The two pieces I most clearly remember are a skirt and a tissue box cover. What a defining moment for me! If only I still had some of that lovely fabric…

  • I used to sneak into my older sister’s bedroom and rearrange the furniture in her large dollhouse. When I wanted to change the room colors, I cut out pieces of colored construction paper for new walls or rugs. I used kleenexes for fluffy bedspreads. I took fearless chances because I knew I only had a small window to have control over that house. In the life-size world, besides temporary forts (and rooms made up of pillow walls and sheet ceilings, we weren’t allowed to make big room changes–6 kids of chaos and lots of hand-me-downs meant my parents set some limits as to room redecorating.

  • When I was younger, I always filled up any spare piece of paper with designs. Fashion, interior, buildings- you name it. It’s something I still do today, and identify with myself, and has expanded to tattoos, and furniture- two passions of mine.

  • I recently left all the roommates behind and starting living by myself. I think this was the first time I really had to focus on what my design taste was. I had to grown into my own. I had to make all the decisions myself. I loved it! It was nice to have every little detail represent you. You didn’t have to compromise or make joint decisions. I’m 26 and I think I just learned what design really feels like.

  • My mom bought me an unfinished doll house when I was about 6, and I spent the next few years saving up for the furnishings, the wallpaper, the moldings, etc. 25 years later, the doll house is still unfinished in my parents’ basement–for me the fun was in the design, and not the execution!

  • We spent winter holidays at what I thought was the ultimate Christmas house: my grammaunt’s (literal great-aunt / virtual grandma), in a tiny rural hilltown in Mexico. The bottom half of the house was painted bright tealy-green, top half white, thick bright-red stripe in between. The doors were bright red and had playful brass numbers on them as though the house was a motel (which it never was) including half-fractions (wacky!). There was a big poinsettia bush the size of a tree in the front yard. Antlers and deer imagery were everywhere including a hat-rack made of deer hoofs.
    It eventually dawned on me that the “Christmas theme” was total coincidence.
    Red, white, green, and gold were just the colors of Mexico, deer the local fauna, and poinsettias virtually a weed. The extremity of the coincidence still makes me chuckle!

  • Growing up, I loved magazines and really started noticing design in advertisements around 6th grade. I became obsessed with cutting out every cool image and started a collage on my bedroom wall. Soon I started adding drawings, stickers, locker signs from school, concert tickets, etc. The collage grew and grew to become a wallpaper covering 1/2 of my bedroom, and I kept working on it even when I was home on break for college.

  • My first attempt at design was my half of a room shared with my sister when we were kids. My aesthetic is natural, organic, textural–think pine cones, buckeyes, antlers, feathers. My sis has more of a mid-century vintage aesthetic. It was an interesting room!

  • My father was an architect and painted the floors of the old (1788) house we bought when I was five. Their bedroom floor was red. Ours yellow. Living room heliotrope, dining room blue, and because those two rooms had no threshold between there was rectangle lap join of blue meets heliotrope in open doorway. He built a wall with a puce painted window frame for balcony overlooking the stairs.

  • I grew up in the same bedroom until I was 18, and my mom wouldn’t let me paint (it was white…believe me, I asked!), move pictures on the wall, or even pick my bedspread. So what did I do? Rearrange furniture! I must’ve moved my bed, dresser, desk around about 15 times while I was in high school, and it really gave me appreciation for how a room’s composition can really change how it feels.
    Now I try to have no white walls…and (surprise!) my childhood bedroom still looks almost the same…

  • We just got our first home 6 months ago & it’s definitely been an adventure! I’ve always been had hand me downs and ikea furniture before, but now I’m actually trying to have things tie together. Cutting out little graph paper furniture stuck on notebooks & lists are definitely involved. Things on Design Sponge are a constant inspiration and ya’ll make it look so easy!

  • The first time I remember paying attention to design it was in my aunts childhood bedroom. It was an attic room with a full-wall mural of a tropical beach, palm tree and all. It was the 80s!

  • I always wanted a purple room. I remember when my younger sister & I got our own rooms, I finally got my purple room! I chose a light purple with darker purple trims, I didn’t get the darker trim that I wanted because it but it turned out looking great and I still have my purple room today. :)

  • I always wanted a purple room. When my younger sister & I got our own room, I finally got my purple room! It was light purple with darker trims, not the trim colour I wanted but it turned out looking great and I still have my purple room today. :)

  • I have a very coordinated room when I was a kid in the 70s. Big floral with orange, yellow, green and white. Bright green painted furniture. I knew the carpet did not go with it at all — brown and gold shag — but there was nothing to do.

  • I left boarding school at 18 and had my first solo, non family trip overseas…to Japan. My eyes were opened to such beautiful design, seemingly simple but intricate and meaningful. I fell in love with a place, a style, a way of thinking.

  • Even if this has closed I still want to share mine! sorry I am late — I was one of those 8 yr olds who asked for a bedroom redesign over a barbie townhouse for my birthday present..my design was a mushroom pink candlewick bedspread, beige & chocolate brown velour throw cushions. Mushroom pink handmade fabric light shade ( made by mum) with long tassles and the same lampshade with a white marble base , a pinewood desk ( i still have the spindle back chair- now painted white) & bedside table with custom choc brown and pink flower handle, and of course textured wall paper in beige, choc brown & mushroom pink paneled flowers. 3o odd yrs later I can still remember the feel of each of those elements. I still give myself house make overs for birthday presents !

  • is this giveaway still open? if so…

    i remember helping pick out colors and a bedspread for the bedroom my twin sister and i shared growing up. we went through several color schemes over the years, but it was always so much fun to get to help choose how our room would look.

  • I can remember so vividly sailing in Maine and all of the sails had different nautical designs on them. It was a race as I recall (I was only like 8). I remember aferwards going into the gift shop in the town of Castine and fnding a book on all of the designs. That was it for me after then, design forever.

  • When I was in junior high, my sister moved off to college and I got her massive room. In an effort to make it my own, I wanted to paint the walls fire-engine red. For some reason, despite her better judgment, my mom let me. It took them forever to paint over it when I moved out!

  • I begged topaint my room in high school and was granted this request so long as I did it myself. I picked a fresh soft green called New Peas that I adored and still adore to this day. My dad took the opportunity to teach my how to paint the right way and it’s served me well ever since.

  • When I was about seven my mom bought me new curtains – pink with swiss dots and ruffles. I was in love! Before that I hadn’t thought much about the decor of my room, but after that I did!

  • I remember being the only kid in my family interested in the attic. It was dusty and unfinished and smelled like old wood and secrets. I made it into my secret hideaway, outfitted with blankets and pillows I snuck up form the rest of the house. I would decorate it with knickknacks and drawings and hung a few ropes with sheets to make “walls”. I thought it was the most beautiful place ever. Looking back at it now, it totally was.

  • My first memory was when I finally got my own room and I could choose my own wallpaper and curtains. I guess in my teen years, I was always a bit of a tomboy and into science, so I chose curtains filled with rockets. My ceiling also had clouds and glow in the dark planets! Although, I’ll never figure out why I decided to put a middle wallpaper panel filled with pictures of dogs :/

  • When I was a kid I painted a HUGE Daffy Duck on my bedroom wall, which I eventually replaced it with a NY Yankees logo. My first interior design choices. :-)