Were You Scarred for Life by Your Mother's Decorating Style?


"What horrible decorating crimes were forced upon you during your life and how did you learn to cope with the resulting mental trauma?" That question, posed on GardenWeb's decorating forum by user udontknowme, brought it all back: Traumatic memories of my childhood bedroom with the bubble gum pink-striped wallpaper, where the stripes alternated with rows of little hearts and flowers. The matching bedspread and curtains paired with rose-colored wall-to-wall carpeting. I used to have nightmares about that wallpaper. And to this day I still can't have anything pink in my home.

Why my mother picked that wallpaper or color for my bedroom, I guess I'll never really know. And I'll probably never get over this aversion to anything pink. This is why I'm so relieved to have found a support group of sorts for people suffering from a similar form of trauma. I realize now that there are more of us out there than you think, women and men, who survived their mother's decorating choices and lived to tell the tale. Here are some of their stories:

An Aversion to Green

"My aversion to green began at an early age during the '70s when avocado green was all the rage. Now, you can call this color whatever you wish: sage green, avocado green, baby poo-poo green—it's all the same to me. And I will forever associate this color with our kitchen and the horrible recipes my mother dragged from the bowels of Woman's Day magazine and the like. Vile concoctions such as 'warm milk and grape juice mixed together' or the ever popular 'canned pear halves filled with huge globs of mayo and topped with shredded cheese.'" —udontknowme

How Hot Pink Can Hurt

"While everyone else on the planet was into avocado, my grandmother and my mom were into hot pink. Grandmother laid hot pink, multi-shag wall-to-wall carpet and put a hot pink silk-covered, cream-trimmed French sofa on it. Mom fell in love with grandmother's carpet and also laid it wall-to-wall in three rooms (in a two-bedroom, one-bath matchbox house) and put one of those mid-century modern turquoise naugahyde couches on it. I can count on one hand how many pink decorative items I own, none of them are larger than 5" x 5" and none of them can be described as 'hot pink'." —greenthumbfish

Brown Is Bad

"I had a happy childhood (in the '40s and '50s) and great parents and, for the most part, good memories, but must admit that a particular wallpaper with huge flowers on a brown background embarrassed me in front of my peers for years, and might still figure in my nightmares." —hostagrams

Shag Carpeting Sent Me to the Emergency Room

"In the monument to tacky '70s decor where I was raised, we had orange shag carpeting. If my memory is correct, it must have been three-and-a-half feet thick. There was no vacuum known to man that could suck up the debris that hid in that carpet. My younger brother and I would play junior archaeologist and excavate entire prehistoric villages in the depths of that carpet. One midnight shuffle to the potty found me finding a sewing needle that was buried deep within that carpet. Unfortunately I found it with my foot and somehow managed to shove the entire thing right up the ball of my foot, necessitating a trip to the emergency room to have it removed." —udontknowme

Plastic. Enough Said

"Plastic. Everywhere. Plastic covers on the sofas. Plastic-wrapped lampshades. Plastic counters. Plastic fake tile wallboard in the bathrooms. Plastic fake wood. I twitch a little when I think about it." —laxsupermom

The World's Largest Bulletin Board

"We moved into the house that scarred me for life in June 1975. I had a bedroom that was wallpapered in brown grass cloth on three walls, with the fourth wall being covered entirely with 12" x 12" cork flooring tiles in alternating shades of tan and brown. It was the world's largest bulletin board." —trk65

Did You Vacuum Rake the Carpet?

"[W]hen the '70s hit, we went mod. We moved into a house that had smoked glass mirrors covering the large wall in the sunken living room and light green shag carpeting that we would actually rake to make it stand up before company came over." —auntjen


Who Knew My Parents Were Hip?

"When I was growing up in the '80s, my parents had this awful orange and brown wall hanging—fabric stretched on a wood frame. It was huge. In my mind, it seemed like it was 10 feet tall, but in reality, [it was] probably only 3' x 4'. It reminded me of some tiki-tribal thing, like eyes staring down at me. I was so embarrassed to have my friends see it. As an adult, I learned that it is a classic Marimekko pattern called Kaivo. Who knew my parents were so hip?" —mom2reese

No Cool Colors

"When I was 7, for Christmas and my birthday, my parents decorated my room for me. Basically I got nothing that I wanted. I wanted purple walls, carpet and a purple and white gingham bed set for the white canopy bed from Sears. According to my mom, purple was too cool a color for a north-facing bedroom in the cold Northeast. So what I got was yellow and orange floral wallpaper, an orange carpet, orange and white gingham, and a canopy stained in a dark brown. I hated it. I hated yellow for a long time... However, now I am sitting in my new great room with pale gold clay walls and an accent wall of warm terra-cotta orange clay with pale gold carpet with persimmon accents." —gldnfan

Gilt Is Not Good

"I grew up thinking I was a member of the Russian royal family. Everything was upholstered or gilt-covered. My mom loved anything cushy, fancy and gold, including the swirled mirrored tiles, gold accents, gilt-covered picture frames, frequently re-upholstered curvy furniture from the '40s ... long, huge, thick draperies with some weird pinned-on tassels (gold) and a frighteningly gold-painted curio cabinet containing, yes, gold tchotchkes of various sorts... Imagine my consternation when I learned that the crown I was wearing as part of my first-grade Halloween costume was not real. I still struggle to understand who I am. Am I a princess or not? I ask this frequently while I am cleaning the bathroom floor." —marciag

Check out more stories of post traumatic stress brought on by mom's decorating on GardenWeb.

photo: s. errico/getty images


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