House Crashing: Shock And Eww

When I was recently flipping through old albums with a friend (ah, college reminiscing…) I was seriously shocked and majorly grossed out by my grade school, dorm and first-apartment decor (not to mention my taste in clothing). And I’m pretty sure it’ll have you guys reeling too. Especially since most people think I’m the super neat folds-my-underwear type (fyi, I ball ’em up like everyone else). Ok, are you ready? This is my bedroom in 8th grade:


Granted you’ll have to look past my high-waisted airbrushed winking jeans (yes the other cheek featured an eye that was open), tie-dyed shirt and scrunchie. I have no defense. Except that I was born and raised in New Jersey and I got those jeans custom made “down the shore” and thought they were all artsy and cool. Yeah, I might severely regret posting this picture on the internet, huh? But let’s stop hysterically laughing and look at the background for a moment. Growing up I always wanted to be an artist so I guess it’s no surprise that I painted clouds on my closet doors and rejected crisp white trim for something a little more unexpected.

It should also be noted that I did all these DIY projects when my mom was working late so she’d come home to find my masterpieces (she was pretty good at feigning pride instead of horror, I’d give her a C+). So we can tell from the painted trim and closet doors that I’d grow up to love paint (check). But what does the beanbag in the corner and the stuffed animal hammock mean? Well I have floor pillows in the sunroom and a big hammock in the woods behind our house so maybe there’s a loose correlation. And we’re not even going to go into the seal poster. Not Seal the singer, an actual baby seal. Maybe that evolved into my love of white ceramic animals? Hmm.

And then there’s my freshman dorm room at FIT in NYC (holla). I’m super proud of my New York art school resume but I can’t say the same thing about my room. Sheesh.


If you look beyond the Slim Shady poster (again, I have no defense) and the fact that I apparently used to write on photos (hence the “room #1” label in pen above my bed), you’ll see a few interesting items like my denim bedding (yup I sewed a blanket with a bunch of old pairs of jeans that I saved up for years) and my fish shower curtain that I hung on the wall (I thought it was mural-like at the time, and I actually think if it went wall to wall it would have been amazing… for a dorm room). I also created a faux-crown molding effect all around the room with those free postcards you find next to bathrooms in NYC bars. I’m a total weirdo, huh? Maybe it was foreshadowing for this artistic crown molding creation years later…

But at least I was starting to repurpose things (something that definitely still makes me giddy)- and it’s a trend that continued in my very first solo apartment in Brooklyn (can you believe at 20 I was living alone in Brooklyn?):


Can you tell what happened to my beloved denim blanket? Well, when I upgraded to a bona fide duvet I turned it into pillows (see them stacked under my curbside-find chair?). And see that weird little pink lumbar pillow on the chair? I made that from an old pink satin sleep camisole. It was actually pretty cool up close but very strange none the less. This is when I really started to embrace home-related projects and I made those hanging hearts in the window with wax paper that I colored with red and pink crayons and baked in the oven for a stained-glass effect on the cheap (and I’m still pinching pennies almost ten years later, some things never change). Of course there’s the weirdly dark still life that I painted for wall art (how Adams Family of me). Although I’ve certainly lightened up over the years, I’m still making art all the time (from the stuff in our shop to the “Artsy Ideas” category on our How-To page). Maybe there are a few patterns after all.

So what’s the verdict? Are you guys appropriately shocked and skeeved? Are you still stuck on the airbrushed jeans? Yeah, me too. Did you think my dorm room would be all preppy and whitewashed and clean? I bet you did. How about what your rooms looked like back in the day… notice any patterns or trends that are still popping up today in your home? Did anyone else have that baby seal poster? Do tell.


  1. says

    DEFinitely still stuck on the “winking” jeans… absolutely hysterical. Though, if I’m honest, I know where some ‘telling’ pictures can be found of yours truly with her bangs hairsprayed to the nines (not to mention many other late 80s-early 90s atrocities). And sadly… I don’t think my style has evolved quite as nicely as yours.

  2. ChristinaMarie says

    My 8th grade bedroom and your 8th grade bedroom could have been friends…. although I didn’t have the winking jeans! Those are fantastic.

    My dorm room looked like someone threw up leopard everywhere, my best friend was my roommate and we picked out stuff together.

    My first apartment was all sorts of hand me down goodness and hand made art!

    It is so very interesting to see where your style has been… I should go look through old photo albums.

  3. Rebekah says

    I think we’d all be shocked at our younger version’s style — decorating, fashion, or whatever!

    I’m guessing you grew up in a Jersey shore town, then? I grew up on Long Island and then moved to Sussex County when I was 9… you know, the ONLY rural part of NJ.
    How did you cope going from NY/NJ to the south?? I’m still trying to cope with now living in Indiana… what a change!! I bet you miss the pizza, I sure do. :)

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Rebekah,

      I actually grew up in Parsippany (right near Morristown in Morris County) so it was central-northern Jersey but we drove “down the shore” to Wildwood every summer. Oh those were the days. The adjustment to Richmond has actually been pretty easy because when we left bustling Manhattan we really wanted a big change (a house, a yard, a dog) and as long as there was good sushi (check) and a few fun places to walk and shop (check) we were happy campers. Plus having a huge river to sun and swim all summer long is a total bonus. But I do still miss the pizza, and those NY bagels. Thankfully my mom still lives in NY so we’re back there pretty regularly.


  4. Jill Austin says

    LOVE the 8th grade room!! I have such fond memories of the same sort of thing. I had the same stuffed animal net thing in the corner of my room and MANY posters of cute animals. I even painted some orange flowers pink on my canopy bed, desk and dresser because I didn’t like the color orange. My mom still has all the pieces and I just admired my work recently before I painted pink over everything to use it in my daughter’s room….some things never change. :) Thanks for sharing that!!

    BTW, I would have sooo loved those jeans!

  5. says

    Those were the days. I remember the bad fashion and scrunchies all too well.

    I didnt have a baby seal poster, but I did have a bunch of postcards with baby animals on them that I used to frame my closet…

    I had one of those stuffed animal hammocks too, and a papazan chair. And a bunch of mis-matched furniture. Good times.

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Nicole- Scroll up for info about where in NJ I’m from. And I’m so flattered to hear that FIT is your dream school, so many people don’t even know what it is, so it’s always nice when someone knows and loves it! It really was an amazing experience.

      Teesha- Thanks for the bagel tip! I’m all over that. For now we’ve been getting by with Einstein Bagel at Stonypoint which isn’t bad. As for the big hair, I missed that by a few years. I was born in 1982 so I was in the wave of crimped hair during adolescence more than the big bangs (yes, I owned a crimper).

      Erin- We had no idea our living room was in that article on The Nest! We’ll have to drop over and check it out. Thanks for the heads up!


  6. Teesha says

    Go NJ, Sherry! I’m from Exit 10…HA….near Piscataway in Middlesex Cty. Not too far from where you grew up. I love the transition of room decorating. I also had the hammock of stuffed animals….and the bean bag chair. Loved that chair – LOL But I have a question….where’s the BIG HAIR? Did you not wear the big bang or big hairdo in 8th grade?????

    Yes, I miss the pizza and bagels too…I have managed to find pork roll (if you know what that is) in Ukrops. But for those “Yankees” here in Richmond, there is a bagel place in the West End where the owners are from NY – it’s called NY Bagel & Deli – good bagels!!!

  7. Rebekah says

    Remember those blow-up chairs that everyone had? I had at least two… they weren’t even comfortable. I don’t remember ever sitting on them.

  8. kate says

    Rad. Just rad. I had one of those stuffed animal hammocks, too, and instead of the freebie postcards I made a border out of my road-race/track/cross country bib numbers. Wow. Too cool!

  9. Carrie says

    Too funny! I def painted clouds in my bedroom growing up. Except I didn’t limit myself to the closet doors…oh no, I painted those things ALL OVER the walls–huge, puffy white clouds on a BRIGHT blue background. I thought it was fantastic. I’m sure my mother was horrified.

  10. Erin says

    You’re making me feel much better…there is hope for my previous decorating indiscretions!

    P.S.-Did you guys know a picture of your living room is on The Nest in their “5 Secrets to a Fab Living Room” article?

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