In college, I had a theory that interior design is purposed to engage the senses. This was my mission statement as a designer going into the design industry. I felt there was more to it, though and couldn’t quite put my finger on it until now.
When I analyze my favorite childhood memories, I remember my surroundings the best. That’s what makes them. The metal and formica kitchen table at my grandparents house. The wooden swing on my parents’ back porch. The fuzzy blue carpet in the first house I grew up in. The cold laminate floor of our kitchen. The pink tiled bathroom at my family’s farm house.
I remember the exact colors, the exact feel, the exact smell. I remember eating Crispix on that kitchen table. I remember the sun warming my legs on that swing. I remember running circles in that blue carpet. I remember lying on that cold laminate floor in despair, telling my mother my woes. I remember the contrast of warm color and cold temperature in that pink bathroom. I imagine most people have similar memories.
What if we made our homes based on those things? Interior design becomes a legacy, a tradition in itself. I’m not advocating for blue carpet in people’s homes. But I do recognize the impact that our space has on our senses and by extension, our memories. I’m drawn to contrast and light, clean lines and color, mixed with textures galore because that’s what I grew up with.
Because just as I can remember my favorite memories, my worst childhood memories are deeply ingrained in me as well. It’s why I shy away from pastels.
I think I felt like pastels were forced on me. Like I supposed to be this sweet, innocent child, but I knew deep down that I was the furthest thing from it. I was clumsy, loud, tousled, and always inciting a riot. I wanted to be different. I was/am constantly searching for “different.” Until I figured out that no one liked different.
So there’s a dichotomy that exists within me. I wanted everyone to like my “different.” I wanted to be the right kind of different.
I value this concept of home. The memories that create a person are formed in their environment. This is why there are stereotypes about interior designers creating spaces that don’t resonate with the owners. It’s all things that they “should” like or want…and yet….they don’t. The designer failed to see the memories, the past that is present in each and every individual.
In this way, we form relationships. We see people’s deepest scars and greatest joys and give them a chance to heal and celebrate. Not just through giving them a home that they enjoy but guiding them to true hope - Jesus. Because it is rare that a friend will dig deep with someone and stay in the muck. Especially when it’s “just your designer.”
This kind of design requires a lot more than a knowledge of textiles and tile. It requires a full sacrifice of self.
It means follow up phone calls about someone’s loss of a child, about their 40th wedding anniversary, about their lay off, and all the things that shape us and ultimately shape our environment.