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Happy Memory Triggers

Better Homes & Gardens


E very summer when I was in high school two favorite of my ice creams were Daiquiri Ice or Chocolate Chip Mint. Not at the same time. Somehow when I saw this room, I was instantly transported back to those carefree days of summer where my biggest dilemmas were what swimsuit to wear and which ice cream to choose. Life was sweet!

Seeing this room, I could smell the fresh air outside, feel the warmth of the sun and the breeze coming off the lake at our house, and of course, taste the refreshment of my favorite summer indulgence, $1 ice cream night at the local ice cream shop. Memory triggers are powerful!

When a color scheme can make memories come back to you as if you were right there in the moment, we can see how important it is that we surround ourselves with the most happy, powerful memories we can access! Whether they are from our collections, family photos and stories, or even scents and yes, COLOR … all of these things can be happy memory triggers at home!

I am very much inspired by my senses!

What are some of your happy memory triggers?



  1. Jess

    Growing up we lived in an A frame house with a two story living room where the one back wall was all windows all the way up. I still get giddy over rooms and homes that have tons of windows and natural light – especially if they look into a bunch of trees like ours did. Something about it really takes me back to my childhood.

    • Melissa

      Whenever I see staircases that have two or three steps, a landing and then turn to go up the rest of the way I remember our childhood staircase…I was fascinated with it. Ha!

  2. Emily

    I really love that space, the color and all the windows and sunshine coming in.

    I have happy memory triggers from sounds a lot – music or just the sound of a screen door slamming – are things that can take me back to a moment in my distant memory.

    And I love driving by houses that remind me of the ones in the neighborhood I grew up in. There is something so comforting about that familiarity even so far from home these days.

    Happy Monday Melissa!

    • Melissa

      Happy Monday to you too! :-)

  3. Sandy

    Music is a big memory trigger for me. I can remember where I was the first time I heard a song, just about every time I hear it again. Also, when I work in the garden in a certain spot, I remember what I was thinking about when I worked there before, weird huh?!

  4. Conspicuous Style Interior Design Blog

    This is such a beautiful color! For me, driving over the bridge to Cape Cod, seeing the canal and smelling the salt water, is the most intense memory trigger for me of a wonderful childhood!

  5. Fairfield House


    My happy memory triggers are the smell of lilacs — my mother would always leave a fresh bouquet on my night stand after her spring cleaning.

    The room pictured above is gorgeous and like a scoop of chocolate chip mint ice-cream, so refreshing!

    Your Friend,

  6. Mallory

    Love this room! So fresh and fun for a summer day! The pillow with the swimmer is my favorite part!

  7. Flower Patch Farmgirl

    As visual a person as I am, I think I am most triggered by scent. Often, I can’t even put my finger on what the scent is. But there is a certain humid heaviness to the air that takes me back to lolling about under a shade tree with a stack of library books and a bowl of fruit. Ah – Summer!


    Lovely room! Usually music is my greatest memory trigger. Some english garden pictures will immediately transport me to happy memories too.

  9. Franki Parde

    That just makes me sing….and want to go swimming! franki

  10. Suzy

    That room is Daiquiri Ice come to life! My favorite icecream as a kid too..haven’t had it in years, but you made me want some.

    • Melissa

      Haa!!! Yes, it is!! And I need a scoop too!

  11. Amanda

    Oh, very true! I don’t have a sense of smell (really! not ever!), so I think my mind must take little snapshots. Whenever I see something that reminds me of a memory, it’s like hopping in a time machine. The cheerful colors in that room make me smile!

  12. Connie

    Oh I loved reading this post! Visual memory triggers ….ahhhhh!

    For a very long time, I’ve been in love with white sheers and I’m even more in love with them when they’re blowing gently in the breeze! I didn’t know/remember until last summer where my love for them came from.

    I was talking with a cousin about his grandmother’s house (my great aunt.) We talked about how beautiful it was and how she had this wonderful sunken living room…with beautiful white sheers! Oh my! When I realized THAT was where my love of white sheers came from, it brought back even more wonderful memories of that particular trip to my great aunt’s home in Montana, seeing her sheers blowing in the wind on a gorgous sunny fall day!

    To this day, even though I could have more elaborate window treatments (I’m a decorator and I sew a lot too!) every room in our little cottage has only white sheers, with simple white mini-blinds on windows that require privacy. When the ND winters are over (and even sometimes on a “warmer” winter day!) when we can open our windows to let in the clean, fresh air, I’m transported to Montana to my great aunt’s house once again as the sheers gently move in the breeze and the sunlight! And now I too have my own “white sheers” memories that have been formed in our little cottage in ND!

    • Melissa

      That is a great story! I saw a movie once where there were lace curtains blowing through open windows. I just was enchanted by that look! I wish I could remember the movie, it was a scary movie and probably awful, but those curtains! I’ll never forget them!!

  13. Jasmine

    My grandma’s house always smelled of onions, celery and carrots! It was and is still the best smell in the world. The sense of smell is the biggest memory trigger for me : )

  14. Tabitha

    I love experiencing my surroundings through all of my senses and the idea of incoorporating or celebrating a memory is even BETTER! I spent my first 20 years in Florida, near the beach, so anything beach-related is so refreshing and calming.
    I’ve lived in the Arizona desert for the other 13 years of my life so I love adding beachy touches in the summer, whether it’s shells in a hurricane, an ocean-scented candle, sea grass in a vase or hints of blue and aqua. We even bring beach sand back when we go to visit and just running my fingers through it is BLISS.
    Great idea! I’ll be thinking more about my happy multi-sensory memories for future decorating projects! :)

  15. charlotte in ID

    I love this room. I want to sit in it on a warm summer day and feel the breezes drift in.
    Old, worn, wide-plank, wood floors trigger happy thoughts for me. I’m not sure why, but whenever I see them, I feel like I’ve come home.

  16. Michelle

    This post has triggered an unusual response in me… Not having such a great/happy childhood… Happy memories seem few and far between. But one I can remember is the smell of dust & tinsel around Christmas time. Everyone in our family was happy at that time of year (as a holiday always followed Christmas) so dusting off the Christmas Decorations, always transports me back to a happy childhood time.

    So how do I, create beautiful memories for our daughter who is now 10 not just at Christmas…. but all through the year….. Does it just happen?

    Michelle xo

  17. susan

    Copper and real wood,right down to daddy’s special order Amish walnut paneling in the family room…the plate rails he made (some for me too), the corner china cabs he made for momma, and oooh, the shiny-brites & Czech&German glass ornaments from Grandma. The angel on top of the tree-i use a ladder now but it’s the same little angel he lifted me up every year. Barn&brick reds & pine greens (lying in the needles watching the sun filter in the pine grove), the bright gold of oiled pine&oak, the smell of fresh cut wood, fresh-mown hay & freshly oiled tack leather. Dark&warm in winter yet cool in summer, with sunshine streaming thru all the windows. Home. It’s how I want mine to be since I have to sell “home”. (sigh)

  18. Barbara

    As a child, I loved helping my mother hang our fresh, clean smelling laundry out on the line. I’d try my best to pin the laundry to the clothesline, it never looked as neat and crisp as the pieces my mother pinned up. There was something soothing about the ritual of hanging clothes out to dry; to this day, I love seeing laundry dancing in the breeze, it never fails to make me smile.

  19. Rosa

    I’ve been all about adding pops of color lately, so I’m feeling that pic! I just posted a DIY, so your DIY section is perfectly timed!!

  20. Karen

    That room is beautiful…the color just feels like the definition of summer. How fun. I love those 2 ice cream flavors too.

  21. Jen

    What a beautiful room. So peaceful.

    Campfires trigger happy memories for me. I always think about being a kid, going on family camping vacations and eating smores.

    Thanks for the time to reminisce.

    Jen @ chicagobungalov

  22. Charlotte NC Realtor

    I love the mint color in this picture… especially on the kitchen chairs! I really want to try painting one of my old wooden side tables a bright blue or green. Thanks for sharing!

  23. Midwest Magnolia - Melissa Lewis

    That’s so funny Melissa. I love Daiquiri Ice Ice Cream. I haven’t had it in forever and now I am suddenly finding myself with a hankerin’ for some. Love this room too, btw!

  24. Amelia

    My happy memory triggers are my favorite songs, the faces of my children, the places I’ve been since childhood, and romantic movies. I just can’t help recalling my past life when these happy memory triggers set in.

    Just two days ago, I heard my favorite song on the radio and I just can’t help myself – I smiled and blushed.

    Ohhh those happy memories. I will always treasure them with all my heart.

  25. moxiemandie

    That photos is beautiful! Such a sweet, summery look…

  26. Amy {The Idea Room}

    Songs always trigger memories for me. And yellow rose bushes. My grandma had one in her yard and the smell and sight of the roses always remind me or her and the countless hours my cousins and I spent in her yard.

  27. Girl About Town

    I was SO bummed when they discontinued daiquiri ice! And, that room reminds me of the very same thing. I still crave that ice cream flavor…on a sugar cone, of course. Lovely room :)


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