Going back to my roots | Why I struggle with Design

Friday, April 4, 2014

Last week I went back to the area I grew up in.  My daughter had a photo shoot and I had some time to kill.  We happened to be near the neighborhood I grew up in, so I thought it would be fun to show our other kids the home I had spent most of my childhood in.  I never expected it to bring back such a flood of memories. The homes around it had all changed color, and yet ours looked the same. I sat for a moment and reminded myself of how far God has brought us.  It was just the three of us back then, and my mom was the only parent I ever knew.  While she worked hard to provide for us, we had many moments of financial uncertainty.  Not knowing where your next meal would come from, or if you would lose your home because you’re unable to pay rent is a scary world for a child. 

We didn’t have a plush bedroom. There were no beautifully painted walls, perfectly placed artwork, or expensive looking light fixtures. We slept on a mattress that sat on the floor, in the basement, surrounded by cement block walls.   Cobwebs hung from the unfinished ceilings and we were within arm’s length from both the washer/dryer and garage door. We mixed boxes of powdered milk and ate whatever meals we could afford. I have vivid memories of people leaving boxes of food at our door.  To this day, I have no idea who left them, but I’m certain that God brought them there and we were never hungry.  My mom was a wonderful provider for us often sewing us clothes so we had something “new” to wear.  And though we had little, our faith, family, and love made life ok. 

As a designer, I struggle with my past and present life.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE design, but I struggle with the reality that many don’t even have a home to call their own. They worry less about what the perfect shade of color should be for their room and more about where their next meal will come from.  They are concerned about their children having a warm bed to sleep in and less about what fabric will go on the windows… A far cry from the design life I live where the money flows abundantly and people get upset when their furnishings don’t arrive exactly when expected.

Through my very humble beginnings, I believe God gave me an appreciation for all things beautiful.  The beautiful times we spent around our table, sharing a meal that someone else brought gave me a heart to serve others.  The simple trips we took up to the North Shore bonding as a family; my sister, and mom taught me how important family is… even if it meant just sitting around a bonfire and roasting marshmallow’s.  The little things we owned gave me an appreciation for seeing the potential in older things and making them new again.  The outfits my mom sewed for us, and the idea of creating something out of nothing would become a lifelong skill I would not soon forget. 

So friends, if this is your story, know that I understand.  I get what it’s like to be moving from rental to rental.  I know what it’s like to be cold at night and live where there isn’t an endless supply of food, but I also know what it’s like to be provided for.  It will be several more years before I knew what it was like to have a home to call our own, but even in the darkest of times, I was able to look around and find something beautiful. 


  1. Great post Stephanie! Thank you for sharing. You do have such a great of service. :) Miss you girl!

  2. Thank you for sharing your story Stephanie! I think yours is a great perspective for a designer to have and I completely agree that it's so tough to justify some of the design decisions we make when we know others don't even have a home. Thanks for being honest and real in where you're at!

  3. Thank you Nealy and Laura. I was a little nervous to hit "publish" but I believe this could be an encouragement to others who may have a similar story. <3

  4. Beautiful! This was wonderful to read! I'll find houses for all of the people who need one, and you can help me fix them!


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