I have a friend who has an annual Mother’s Day ritual: she marshals her family as "day laborers" and, while she directs the "action," her husband and children clean out and organize the garage.
At the end of the day, the useless junk that has accumulated over the winter is gone, the shelves are wiped down and organized, the garden tools are oiled and ready and the trash bins are full. Maybe this is not every Mother’s fondest dream but, considering the state of my garage, it sure sounds good to me. I’d gladly trade a new piece of jewelry or a dinner out for an orderly garage!
In any case, this got me thinking about other creative ways to honor Mom. If the garage idea isn’t floating your boat, how about a "mini makeover" to spiff up a neglected corner of the house that would make Mom really happy! Here are a few ideas:
Best foot forward at the front door
The front entrance says so much about your house. Realtors always emphasize the importance of "curb appeal" and Feng Shui consultants remind us it is the critical "mouth of chi." After a long winter, it probably needs some cheering up and maybe Mom, too, would be cheered up if the family undertook a front door makeover.
To bring it back to life, bring in something that is literally alive – put out a pair of planters or hanging baskets (or both) filled with colorful flowers. Make sure any windows on or around the door are sparkling clean and sweep the front steps, get a new welcome mat, paint the door and you have transformed the entry. For added fun, buy a quirky door knocker and, if there is space, add a colorful bench.
How about making a special outdoor retreat for Mom? Buy her a special outdoor chair or for more luxury, a chaise. Fit it out with comfortable fabric cushions; outdoor fabrics have come a long way in the last decade – there’s an abundance of stylish, colorful, choices. (The venerable old fabric company F. Schumacher just released a new line of outdoor fabrics by Trina Turk which are very hip and quite reasonable to boot). Add a standing umbrella and a nice side table to hold a drink. Planters would be a nice touch too. Or, if you’re really feeling ambitious, how about designing a whole little niche garden just for Mom?
What’s the state of Mom’s closet? You can always buy her something to put in the closet, but what about the closet itself? I can’t think of any woman who doesn’t appreciate a beautiful orderly closet. If your Mom’s is less than optimal, how about giving her a closet makeover. Give her a gift certificate for a closet consultant to get the project going. I’ve heard good things about a number of companies who do this: California Closets, Alternative Closets, Closets by Design, Royal Closet are a few local ones. My friend, Scarlett Debease, combines closet organizing with wardrobe consulting; check out her website www.Scarlettnewyork.com.
If your funds are limited and you happen to be handy, you can choose an off-the-shelf closet system and install it yourself. Home Depot has everything you need or The Container Store sells the "elfa" brand closet storage system along with tips on how best to design and install it.
The home spa
I can really get into this idea. Without renovating the bathroom, can you bring the level up to a luxurious spa experience? Sure! First make sure it is squeaky clean, then bring in big new fluffy towels and a beautiful soft robe. Add new scatter rugs, scented candles, and a beautiful plant. Choose an assortment of fabulous soaps, lotions, and bath oils and display them on a pretty tray (men, seek the advice of a salesperson on this one). If there is room, put a small table to hold a book and a cup of tea by the tub. Well, you get the picture – add your own special touches especially for her.
Perk up the kitchen
If Mom loves to spend time in the kitchen, maybe she’d appreciate a mini makeover here. A new tablecloth with colorful mats and napkins for the kitchen table might be just the lift it needs. Adding colorful seat cushions is an extra nice touch. But don’t stop there – new potholders, new kitchen towels, and even a colorful new teakettle can add a real punch of color.
Don’t forget something underfoot: a cushy scatter rug in front of the sink is not only attractive, but it’s easy on the legs and feet. Consider a collection of decorative plates that could be hung or otherwise displayed, perhaps a new set of canisters or a new fruit bowl. You can probably find everything you need in a good department store like Bloomingdale’s or Macy’s, or even Target, and these days, it will probably be a bargain.
Maybe your Mom has her heart set on another area to make some changes – you can get the ball rolling for her even if you just buy an inspirational design book. All the women I know love to redecorate their homes; even my intellectual sister who is hopelessly "domestically challenged," loves it when I help her re-arrange her furniture or buy new bedding.
Undertaking a mini makeover does require more forethought and effort than buying a bouquet of flowers and taking Mom out to lunch but, wow, if you are inspired to go the extra mile this year, I’m sure she’ll be both very surprised and very thrilled. By the way, if you are a Mom reading this, circle the makeover of your choice and make sure it falls within the sight lines of some thoughtful family members!
Barbara Sternau is an Interior Designer with offices at 37 Main St., Tarrytown, NY