Paisly yellow, red, and green wallpaper with white window trim

Wallpaper + Memories

February 14, 2019

Growing up there are certain spaces we all romanticize. Maybe it’s our childhood home, a church, a home of a neighbor or grandparent. I have several of these spaces that live on in my head. They hold happy memories, and I’d be lying if I told you these spaces had nothing to do with the inspiration behind many a brilliant design idea. I have a catalogue of such ideas stored safely in the back drawers of my mind for just the right time and place. These spaces have built me. Back patios with rock walls hold memories of counting stars in the Ojai night sky with my Noni. A neighbor’s grand music room that leads to the jar of butterscotch candies on top of the grand piano, and if you caught Mrs. Knowlton at the right time of the afternoon you would get a lemon cookie to go along with that butterscotch. 

Most of these places are now unaccessible to me other than the pictures that remain in my minds eye. People have passed, or have moved on, things change. I usually much prefer the ideal spaces I have created in my mind with such dear memories. It is rare to return to a space you have romanticized as a child and see it just as you left it. But that rare occasion does happen. Last week I was able to visit one of these magical spaces, maybe for the last time. There were two things that came to mind when our close family friends let us know they were putting the family home on the market, wallpaper and memories!

framed portrait of ethnic girl on boho wallpaper and wood paneling

The home situated on the East end of Ojai was an extension of my childhood. Neighbors of my Noni, we would find ourselves through the orchard on a hot summer’s day down to their pool. We celebrated my Noni’s 85th around the same pool, and later one of my bridal showers. It houses memories, happy memories. The wallpaper has never changed, and why would it? The family has impeccable taste. I walked into the kitchen last week and was greeted by the same wallpaper. The furniture that remains is neatly stacked and categorized, parting remnants of a beautifully lived life. Little treasures. What remains is wallpaper and memories.

Framed art print of ethnic girl on boho wallpaper above wood paneling and dining room chairs

I returned home that day after our visit, sad. Sad and emotional that the one last piece of my childhood time spent in Ojai is drawing to a close. Sad that the space I romanticized all these years would be joining those other spaces in my back drawers. I was asking myself why is it we become so attached to the spaces that build us? What is it about the physical attachment? How do we move on or do we? How can a space hold so much emotion? Truth is I have no clue. Other than wallpaper and memories, and luckily we can take the memories with us. And that is what we do.

Dining room with wood paneling and boho wallpaper with framed black and white portrait of woman

We honor the space and those memories. We take the physical treasures that bring us joy and we work them into the spaces we live now. The spaces we are creating memories in for our children, and their children. We pass along these treasures hoping they continue to bring joy. Spaces without emotion are just space. Emotion, history, stories these are what makes a home, and homes build us. Wallpaper and memories build us.

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