An Early Design Influence

It was sometime in the 1980s, and our next door neighbors were redecorating their home.  I was friends with their daughter, and in those days we bounced back and forth to one another’s home.  So it was with keen interest that I took in every detail of their project, looking forward to seeing what was new on each returning visit.  Normal for a kid?  Probably not.

The fact now that I can see each room vividly fascinates me.  At the time I didn’t know I was cultivating a passion within me, but my inner fire was being fanned by their design process.  They chose a pickled hardwood floor for their dining and living areas with an inset ivory carpet banded with blue and peachy-pink.  The new sculptural sofas had pillows to coordinate with the carpet, and a Lee Reynolds painting hung above a console.  They papered their walls in the kitchen with a showy floral and bird pattern in blues and roses.

It was all very pretty to me, but I remember being struck especially with the gameroom that was off the kitchen.  My friend and I played a lot in the gameroom–chess at the bar or billiards…I’m sure we did a number on the felt.  But in the remodel, the pool table was traded in for a smaller bumper pool table and the other half of the room became a TV lounge.  I can remember being so excited at their choice to put in black and white checkered flooring, thinking even at the time that it was daring and fun.  It paired well with their wood-paneled walls and was just an overall beautiful graphic punch.  They layered a neutral fuzzy rug over the checks with a large square white coffee table.  The sofa was dark gray, and there was a Eames-like lounge chair in the corner.  One whole wall was the wet bar with mirrored walls, with a large stereo cabinet nearby.  And, they covered the windows with a textural ivory vertical blind.


It was the first room that really struck me.  It was all the pattern and textures: checks, wood, mirror, leather, carpets, lacquer, plush upholstery–enough to make a budding artist take notice.  And, I think the fact that the design was so classic appealed to me even if I couldn’t articulate that at the time.  It’s a strange, beautiful, mysterious thing to watch the passions build in young people, to watch the natural attractions occur.  I love seeing it in my own children and wonder what it is that is building in them.

So I am anxious to see if my memories are as accurate as I feel they are.  Time to check in with the neighbors.

What is your earliest design influence?


  1. Hannah says:

    My grandmother put floral chintz on anything that would sit still long enough. She loved needlepoint, old family photos, seashells and anything ocean-related (having grown up in Southern California). When she redecorated her parlor, she was most excited about the huge crystal chandelier, antique sconces flanking the piano, and mahogany bookshelves full of classic literature that she would never read. There was rose-colored carpet in her bathroom, and she had a huge collection of rocks and curiosities. My own style is not nearly as traditional, pink, or heavy, but I have noticed that I am heavily influenced by her. Anywhere that I can get away with displaying a cool rock, piece of driftwood, or tiny bird skull in a cloche is fair game. I like a solid transitional base with some modern quirk thrown in, and no room is complete without a tiny touch of floral (albeit balanced by modern geometrics).

Speak Your Mind