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

    Hilarious! Everyone’s tastes completely change from high school to adulthood so I can’t say I’m surprised by your rooms (after all you first painted your living room mint green!).

  2. says

    It was 1986. My room was decorated like something out of Prince’s Purple Rain. Kid you not. College was a bit better…Laura Ashley. But in a Laura Ashley threw up here kinda way. Everything matched, from bed linens, curtains, lamp shade covers, floor rugs, tissue box holder, toothbrush holder, soap dish, towels. Oh my.

  3. says

    Wildwood!!! Oh how I love the Wildwood boardwalk…airbrush shirts, mixed tapes, Curley fries..I wanna go right now! It’s only an hour and a half away!

    My decorating history includes a mural of Absolut ads in high school..I was so cool…then at my first house, I sewed quilters fabric (because it was cheap) onto the cushions of my grandmom’s old sofa and stapeled a huge piece of it onto the rest of the sofa…Klassy!

  4. Jen says

    I love you all the more now that it has been revealed that you are from Jersey! That first photo just took me back to my own NJ childhood (Sayreville), recalling my own room and those of my friends. I would have killed for those jeans!
    Thanks for this post — it made my morning!

  5. says

    Oh man, I was ALL about the: inflatable furniture, bean bag chairs, posters of my favorite ’90s boy bands, those door beads, lava lamp, glow in the dark stars on the ceiling, and incense.

  6. says

    Haha! My room looked almost exactly like yours did when I was in 8th grade..I had that exact stuffed animal hammock, and my walls were very pastel and were covered in animal posters :)

  7. Kristie says

    I’m coming out of the lurking woodwork to say…you are so brave. Those jeans are cracking me up! This was so good for a laugh. I grew up going to Wildwood, so it’s extra funny to me. :) Keep up the good work!

  8. Kerry says

    I am cracking up at those jeans, thank you for posting that picture! I was born in Ridgewood (Bergen County), moved to Pennsylvania for most of my life and am now back living in Springfield (Union County). The state’s not as bad as everyone thinks, although the fact that we basically invented “mall hair” makes me want to hide.

  9. says

    The pants are pretty good, but what really had me rolling was the animal hammock. I totally forgot I had one of those until I saw yours. Why is it that they were always overflowing… and each animal was so precious it had to be stacked just right? Wow… animal hammock… good times!

  10. Amanda says

    I did a similar border in my first dorm room. We used playing cards instead of postcards and wrapping paper from dollar store instead of the shower curtain… but same basic concept.

  11. says

    How hilarious Sherry! We all have those memories (and pictures)! I can remember being in middle school and deciding I was going to “refinish” my desk and chair (with Mom’s permission). Painted it all white- no sanding, priming, nada- just get at it with the white paint. The best part is that I then decided I would do freehand art, and I’m no artist! So, I proceeded to pull out Mom’s little bottles of craft paint in colors such as lilac, light pink, green, yellow, and blue, and paint large butterflies and flowers all over the furniture, paint all the spindles and edges around drawers in different colors…. Sheesh… what the heck was I thinking? Again, maybe some foreshadowing? Glad I moved on past that stage to some more grown up projects (still on the cheap)!

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