By Lynn Byrne. A national survey recently showed that less than half of all mothers had a space at home to call their own. That is a shame, because as a mother of 3 teenagers (including twins), I know how important a place to recharge the batteries is to successful motherhood (and life for that matter).
Elaine Griffin has done 3 adorable rooms using affordable products from HomeGoods to show us all how achieving a little room of our own is attainable.
I am a big fan of Elaine, because I am just as passionate as she is about making good design accessible to all. I follow many of the same principals that she does on my projects.
And, as for spotting a bargain, I think it totally helps to know what the best stuff looks like—-there it is again, the Decor Arts Now manifesto: studying furniture periods and design history helps to develop that elusive “good eye” necessary for great flair, style and spotting a good deal, no matter what your budget. So keep reading right here.
Elaine and I had a nice little cyber chat that I want to share with you. It it packed with great design tips, including ones on color trends, styling your bookcases, storage and more.
But first, ta da! The Mom Caves that Elaine designed. Don’t you just love the cute titles that suggest her mythical clients.
Bohemian art lover
Travel Blogger (This one may just be my favorite because it shows that any Mom can have a spot of her own. Elaine carved this space out of a small closet. I am inspired to clean up my own blogging habitat)
1. Lynn: What was the budget for each mom cave?
Elaine: There wasn’t one, really — the idea was to develop a mom cave that any woman could have (mom or not!), no matter what size space she had to work with or her budget. Tip: When you can put a space together over time, it adds “faux dollars” to your project, since you can acquire bit by bit, according to what you have available to spend. And, BTW, that’s one of the things I love about HomeGoods (sugar, it’s my favorite new place in the WORLD) — you can find mindbogglingly amazing pieces (including fab designer ones!) at amaaaaaazing prices! Everything in the yellow closet mom cave, for example, is under $100, including the desk– ladies, it’s shopping heaven.
Lynn: I have to agree here dear readers. I have scored some fabulous stuff at that joint!
2. Lynn: What items came from HomeGoods? And related, where did the non HomeGoods items come from?
Elaine: Virtually every single item in my three inspirational mom caves came from HomeGoods, with the exception of the chaise and the bookcase in the pink one.
For those, I wanted basic nondescript pieces that would show off the killer crewel pillows (ladies, a must-have for Fall/Winter 2010!!! crewel is back with a vengeance for a little boho/hippie chic flavor!!!) and accessories I snagged at the store.
I also wanted to inspire women to really style up their bookshelves — the more varied the things you put on them, the chic-er they look! It’s about a mix of books (stacked vertically and horizontally), objects (display smaller ones in trios to add oomph), and don’t forget storage!
Tip: Shop outside the basket aisles for your storage boxes and bins, BTW — adorable ones are also in the bath, kitchen and office departments, too.
Lynn: HomeGoods is sooo affordable. That is fantastic.
3. Lynn: The palette for each space is on the bold side? What was your inspiration for each space?
Elaine:These are three colors that are trending right now, and I couldn’t resist! The peacock blue (Benjamin Moore 727) is the “it” color of the season; warm, mustardy yellows are looking fresh again, too (Ben Moore HC-9, Chestertown Buff). The fuchsia (RL Racer Pink) I could not resist — it’s the girliest color ever and one you’d be hard pressed to get a guy to agree to live in! Which he doesn’t have to, since it’s a mom cave!!
4. Lynn: Did you start at HomeGoods to see what was there and “work “backwards” in developing each room?
Elaine: Yes. Since my directive was to design three inspirational mom cave spaces, I took time really checking out the merch in several stores in New Jersey, and fell in love over and over again. Shopping HomeGoods is a thrill — you never know what you’re going to find there, and the prices really are incredible — I’m not exaggerating. Their selection of designer- and big-brand-name loot really is quite impressive, too. If you’ve never been to a HomeGoods, know that the store is instantly addicting, and you will forever be in there at least once a week for the rest of your life.
Tip: To max out your shopping experience, take your time and examine labels closely, cruise every aisle and shelf slowly (I say rush on the treadmill but never shopping HG LOL), and try to loop through the store twice, since you might miss treasures the first go-round.
5. Lynn: What do you think should be the launching pad for a mom when designing her cave, so that she achieves a professional looking result? What steps should she take?
Elaine: A mom cave is the space where the woman who nurtures everyone (mom or not) goes to nurture herself. So the first thing to do is to stake out space for your mom cave, whether it’s an extra room, a spare closet, a nook like a staircase landing, or even just three feet of space that you can carve out of another space, like the end of a dining room or along an empty wall.
Next, make a list of what you’d like to DO in your mom cave — the things that nourish and replenish you and uplift your spirit, whether it’s reading, blogging, crafting, scrapbooking, yoga, etc.
Then, lay out your space (furniture plan). You’ll need a place for you to sit, a place to store and organize your things (like a bookcase or shelves), and a place to work and produce (desk or desktop setup). Plan for girlfriends to visit (you’ll want them to!) — I’m wild about ottomans and benches that can be pulled up “to sit a spell” (I’m from Georgia) from under tables or along the periphery of the room in small spaces. Make your mom cave super-personalized — it’s the one room in the house you don’t have to have a committee meeting with your husband to decorate! So fill your walls with art and framed mementos that speak to you and make you smile when you look at them. Paint your walls a color that makes you happy. The goal is to walk in and go, “ahhhhhh,” and then close your door and exhale and replenish, even if you can only do that in 15-minute increments!
6. Lynn: With your book Design Rules (I have it), and with your affiliation with companies like HomeGoods, you strive to show people how good design could be accessible to all. How did you decide that you wanted to develop that niche?
Elaine: I’m glad you asked! The democratization of design is my passion — after faith and family, home is the most important thing we have. That goes for all of us, whether home is a gazillion-dollar mansion in the ‘burbs or a one-bedroom apartment for four in the ‘hood.
Doing 11 Good Works Makeovers for Oprah’s O at Home taught me the power of having a decorated space — Oprah always says “beautiful things lift you up,” and she’s right. Truthfully, hiring a high-end interior designer is a privilege of the wealthy, because we’re running businesses and by necessity we cost a fortune. Hiring a design legend like Peter Marino, for whom I worked, is a privilege of the very, very, very, very rich — Peter has almost exclusively billionaire clients.
My mother was an educator, and I’m definitely of the “teach a man to fish” school, too, so if you hire me, it’s important for me to teach you the “whys” and “hows” behind what we’re doing in your home. It’s never “just because I said so” — there is ALWAYS a “why this works and that doesn’t” behind a decorating option. And at the end of our projects, my “students” inevitably have learned so much and improved their “eye” so much that they can continue adding new elements and touches to their homes by themselves with brilliant success, which is my goal and makes me proud!!!!
I wanted to share that experience with the broadest possible audience I could, and thus “Design Rules: The Insider’s Guide to Becoming Your Own Decorator” was born. Because truthfully, once you arm yourself with a few tricks of the trade and timeless rules and proportions, AND spend time checking out magazines and designer showhouses and really exposing yourself to great design every chance you can, you really CAN do-it-yourself. And who doesn’t love being able to say “Thanks! I did it myself” when someone compliments our home?
Interior design is a service industry, and I LOVE helping EVERYONE create the home of their dreams, whether it’s doing the legwork for them, as I do with private clients, or equipping them with the tools they need to do it themselves, as I do with my book and morning TV segments and through projects like the mom cave for HomeGoods..
Lynn: Amen to that!
7. Lynn: In your “regular” design work, do you mix it up with “high” and “low” pieces? Does that appeal to your more wealthy clients or have they hired you to gain access to “to the trade” items?
Elaine: I’m not a “let’s just spend to spend” kind of designer with my private clients. I manage every project’s budget as if I were spending my own money, and we spend judiciously. We spend where we NEED to spend (you’ll never waste money on getting the best paint job you can afford, and the quality and selection of to-the-trade fabrics are impossible to beat), and we save where it makes sense to save (hitting HomeGoods, for example, for those “finishing touches” accessories that look like you brought them home from world travels; or their imported decorative art glass that is — and I’m not kidding — A TENTH of the price decorative glass can fetch elsewhere).
At the end of the day, the three things I’m obsessed about are taste, style and quality. Wherever I find them, at every price point.
Lynn: I completely agree. That is how I approach my own projects.
8. Lynn: I believe I saw on your website that you had a career in marketing prior to interior design. Why did you decide to switch?
True! After graduating from Yale, I was a publicist for nine years in NYC and Paris. I was wearying of publicity towards the end of that ninth year, and after a huge “Devil Wears Prada”-style blowout with my Vogue editor, I called my mother in hysterics and she gave me the best advice of my life. She said, “Sugar, why don’t you take a hobby you love and make it your job?”
Design had long been my second passion — I drove to NYC from New Haven to decorate my dorm room senior year! — and so just before my 30th birthday (am I giving away my age?), I went back to school, to the NY School of Interior Design, which has the best residential design program in the city, and then sent out 10 letters to the people I most wanted to work for. I got one answer back, from Peter Marino’s senior architect looking for an assistant. And the rest is history.
I wake up every day and am EXCITED to hit my desk (no matter how sleepy I may be).
Lynn: Design is my second career too. I started out as a lawyer and while I loved it (especially my time at Sotheby’s), I feel like decorating and writing about design and decorative arts is so fun, it never feels like work!
9. Lynn: Any other thoughts you want to share with me regarding the mom caves?
Elaine: I can’t think of any better time than now for the birth of the mom cave. We’ve all been turning homeward in the recession — this isn’t a season for the new car or the big vacation — and reconnecting with our core values and the things that matter most to us. We’ve already learned as women that “if mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy” and that “me” time is hugely important. Men have always had their designated spots at home (remember Archie Bunker and his chair???), and every man I know has a man cave. The birth of the mom cave means we now have a “me” space for our “me” time. And that’s fantabulous!
Lynn: I hope all my female readers are rushing right out to create their own spaces. Have fun gals!
For more on Elaine’s design process and mom cave how to tips visit HomeGoods.com
And if you want Elaine to do it for you, HomeGoods is sponsoring a contest where you can win a mom cave by Elaine using HomeGoods products. To enter visit: www.homegoods.com/momcaves.
Finally, Elaine’s book is available on Amazon.
Mom cave photos from HomeGoods.