Three Generations of Design & Decorating


By Nikki Brown, Art & Photography Blogger


Growing up I always respected my mom’s taste in decorating, but I wanted to develop my own style. It was my form of rebellion. My mom was classy and elegant, so I was messy and bohemian. My mom’s colors were white, cream, and taupe, so mine were crimson, teal, and gold. To her credit, my mom was never dismissive and always respected my bold choices. Now that I’m older, I find myself drawn to her taste. I appreciate the way subtle cream and white palates allow for bright colors and intricate patterns to pop, and I’ve begun to incorporate many of my mom’s design tips into my own decorating. I was curious as to whether she felt the same way about her mother.

Itzchak Tarkay (1994) “Holiday in Cannes”


A couple weekends ago I had the chance to spend some quality time with my mom and grandmother in Phoenix, Arizona. I took the opportunity to ask them about their decorating secrets. Here’s what I learned…


  1. Always have a touch of black
  2. Display collections for a personal touch
  3. Don’t be afraid to mix patterns
  4. Create space for conversation
  5. You can’t go wrong with fresh flowers 


I quickly realized how personal decorating is for the three of us. My mother mused, “you can appreciate other peoples’ style, but it’s not yours.” My grandmother added, “home has to be comfortable.” My grandmother’s favorite photograph is a black and white picture my uncle took of a great oak tree outside my grandparents’ farmhouse. My mother also prefers photographs by family, often from our travels – like a church on a distant hill in Eritrea, or vats of burgundy, marigold, and amber-colored dye in a Moroccan market.



“Buddhist Monks” by Juanma Agundo Carrizo


Our discussion soon evolved into other topics, like growing up, motherhood, and women’s rights. My grandmother shared that the “loudest” art she owns is a Tarkay print of a woman outside a café. She bought it about the time the woman’s movement began; she liked the way the woman was portrayed, vibrant and full of life. Interestingly, my mother also has a Tarkay print. Perhaps I should have one as well to carry on the legacy.


“Gambia 2006” by Jerome De Lint


My mom and grandmother both agreed their tastes have evolved over the course of their lives. We all laughed remembering the trends of earlier times – the retro-striped couches of the ‘70s, the floral wallpaper of the ‘80s, and the glow-in-the-dark ceilings of the ‘90s. Our reminiscing made me wonder about what decorating choices I’ll look back on in twenty years and chuckle over. As my grandmother said, “we get surer of ourselves as we grow older.”


 “Cuzo” by Juanma Agundo Carrizo


What decorating tips and design secrets did you learn from your family? Feel free to share your stories. Also be sure to check out the artwork on NiQOO for inspiration. 


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