Teenage Bedroom: Susie Ghahremani

by Janet Varney

If you’ve set foot in a Design Sponge-worthy, brick-and-mortar boutique in the last 10 years or so, there’s a good chance you’ve seen some of Susie Ghahremani’s charming work. In fact, if you’ve browsed Etsy with the intention of finding detailed, whimsical animal-centric art, I can almost guarantee you’ve crossed paths with one of her hedgehog pendants or squirrels playing guitars. I’ve been a fan of Susie’s for at least a decade, and I had the pleasure of working with her on an art installation back in 2010, when she created some custom pieces for the outer-space-meets-southwestern theme. So I’m especially excited to share Susie’s Teenage Bedroom hopes, dreams, and decor with you. Enjoy, and thanks, Susie, for sharing! (Full disclosure: I was adding links to this post and accidentally bought this enamel otters pin!) —Janet Varney

*Click here to see Jasika Nicole Pruitt’s teenage bedroom…

JV: How much sovereignty did you have over what your room looked like — were your parents hands-on or hands-off?

Susie Ghahremani: We moved into a house that had some very 70s decor choices (shag carpeting, olive green bathrooms). I adored the flocked velvet wallpaper in my room, but my parents understandably felt my room needed a contemporary makeover and it received devastatingly white walls in the early 90s.

But that meant now tape held to my walls.

I discovered I could tape things up on the wall, hang clotheslines and create my own space.

This is the only photo I have of my old bedroom in Chicago. It was all drawings, music posters, and set lists on my walls.

My teenage bedroom, circa 1997, Chicago. The drawings on these walls aren’t by me, though. The only poster I recognize is for the album release of Pavement’s “Brighten the Corners.” I took up photography, shown here with my dad’s vintage Pentax.

I distinctly remember that the teal plastic bin is full of letters that overflowed from my desk drawers. I am still really into snail mail.

When I was a kid, my mom promised me that I could paint a rainbow on my wall when I turned 13. I have an extraordinarily good memory, so when I turned 13, I reminded her of this promise to let me paint my walls, which she wisely denied ever happened — classic mom tactic. So I took to the only surface I could paint and not get grounded for: the result is this dragon painting on my mirror, painted when I turned 13 (and was really into dragons?), pictured here with me at 17 (and was no longer into dragons).

Did you ever have to share a room before or during your teenage years?

My older sister and I had a shared walk-in closet that connected our rooms like a secret passageway and which was the site of much teenage feuding. We once had the store-bought equivalent of a tin-can telephone that ran through our closet, between our rooms. There was a dividing line between our halves of the closet, but my sister couldn’t stand to look at my messy half, and that was the result of teenage feuding, too.

How tidy were you? How often did you have to clean your room?

I was a packrat. CDs were all over my floors, all the time, in various stages of liner notes being read. I made zines and had paper clippings everywhere. I precociously used a typewriter.

My family is really tidy and I think I drove them all crazy.

What did your room reflect about your personality at the time?

It probably reflected what an introvert I am. It was so completely my habitat, where nowhere else in the world was.

What was hanging on your walls, and why?

Those free music posters you used to be able to get at record stores [hung on] my walls, and setlists from shows I had been to. Name tags from every time I went to Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind. Pages ripped from sketchbooks.

Pretty similar when I moved to college:

Providence, 1998. Superchunk, Elvis Costello, Stereolab posters. Pictures of my cat. Muppets lunchbox and acoustic guitar. Yep.

Only now I had photos of friends because, as you saw in the photo from 1997, I took up photography.

I’ve always been into drawing and painting, but I was (am) obsessed with music and that was nowhere more apparent than on my walls.

How much time did you spend in your room, generally?

It’s kind of hard for me to remember. I listened to music 24-7. I was in there a lot to talk on a Telemania novelty phone and practice playing the bass and draw. But I didn’t have a TV or a computer or the Internet in my room, so I spent a lot of time in the rooms with technology, too.

I was an introvert, so I was home a lot/almost always.

Door open or closed? How important was privacy?

Door closed, so I could play music louder without bothering anyone. My parents and siblings have always been really involved in my life and know everything going on with me, so I’ve never really had or felt the need for privacy. Except when I was on the phone. “HANG UP THE PHONE!!!”

What color were the walls?


What kind of furniture did you have?

I had a collection of French provincial mid-century furniture my mom got at an estate sale. My mom was really into that style of furniture, so all my siblings and I had it in our bedrooms. I wish I still had that set — I have a similar, but not as cool, one in my room today.

How’d you feel about your walls and floor?

I loved both when I was really, really little and the carpet was yellow and the walls were flocked flowers of all colors. Even the ceiling was tinted ecru.

This is really similar to the flocked wallpaper I had when I was a kid:


The 90s room makeover was devastating — teal carpet and, inexplicably, a teal ceiling. White walls. My sister’s adjoining room had the same color scheme. Our rooms were super 70s and in need of fresh paint after years of “crayon wars” (throwing crayons at each other, in a time before Mr. Clean Magic Erasers)…but teal…

Did you have a good way of listening to music in your room?

I had one of those all-in-one CD player tape deck things, and a record player that didn’t have the proper pre-amp so you had to run the volume up all the way to hear it.

Did you keep a journal? Box of keepsakes? Where did those things live?

My closet was full of keepsakes. Every drawer overflowed with paper in the form of zines, letters, photos, drawings. I even had a ton of crafty things in progress in our super-70s finished basement. My parents moved from Chicago while I was in college, I don’t think much of that stuff was perceived as keepsakes and survived the move, but I still have some of the really important stuff — like this Instagram.


What was your closet like?

Full of vintage clothes, and overly full — much to the dismay of my organized sister who shared it with me.

Were you envious of any friends’ rooms?

I feel like I was envious of all of my friends’ rooms. They had so much space, and they were even allowed to choose their wall colors and keep clothes on the floor.

Was your room a place where you and other friends gravitated?

Other than band practice at my best friend’s house, I spent a lot of time on my own. I didn’t really have people over unless they just showed up, which they sometimes did.

Would you have changed anything about the room?

Paint color, of course. As an adult, I realize it’s the easiest thing you can do to instantly love your house a lot more. Also, for such a nature lover, it’s kind of sad that my bedroom was the only one in our house that faced the street and not the woods. I once caught a work crew watching me change through my bedroom window. It was horrifying.

If you could have one thing back from your teenage bedroom, what would it be?

That furniture set. Or actually, the one before it that was given to my brother — a light blue stained-wood set with hutch bookcases and some tiny, inexplicable wooden drawers. It just seemed to hold everything.

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  • I’ve been following Susie’s work for a while! I love seeing her featured on d*s – especially in such a cool series! I can’t wait to see who else is profiled!