I didn’t always pay attention as a child, but my mom taught me a lot about design.
In honor of mother’s day, I thought I would share what my mom taught me about design. Her inspiration snuck in through everyday living in my childhood home. Mom inspired me whether preparing the house for entertaining or planning a renovation or hunting for antiques. Her keen eye, love of art and natural elegance influenced me more than I knew at the time.
1/ Embrace gently used treasures that tell a story.
It seems like the treasures that mom acquired told her story, where she traveled and what she valued. She collected mother and child statues as well as teapots. A large curio cabinet displayed the statue collection, making a colorful splash in one location. The beautiful teapots also provided function, since mom used them to sip her favorite hot beverage.
Mom got me hooked after years of strolling antique shows and festivals. When she bought antique furniture or collectibles, she probably didn’t equate that to recycling. It’s really no coincidence that I do what I do.
2/ Mom taught me that layering collections and knowing when to edit takes practice.
Since my mom collected over 69 years of marriage, things naturally moved around. And, at year 50, they moved to a smaller home where she could play anew. I helped mom make some decisions but most of all she pointed and I placed. Mom enjoyed her new home and it proved a great set-up for her later years.
3/ Don’t be afraid of change.
I think I felt more loss when they moved than mom did. How can we leave our old house behind, I thought? Mom was excited to decorate a new house and she embraced the change. I have to keep reminding myself of that as Mr. F&F and I consider downsizing. Home is where the heart is, as the old saying goes. We will do our best to make our kids feel at home just as my mom did by creating a cozy area for her children to visit and stay.
4/ We did not live in a museum but we lived alongside beautiful things.
Everyone felt comfortable in our home and mom loved to entertain. Mom maintained the house but with a relaxed feel. Parties were a common occurrence whether a casual meal on the patio or a more formal affair inside. Mom knew how to make guests feel welcome and her home reflected that.
5/ Lifelong learning is a worthwhile exercise.
Whether attending her bookclub or Questers meetings, my mom never stopped learning. She introduced me to historical home tours and I chose to go here for my thirteenth birthday. We later became docents together here and I loved passing on this important history of my hometown. Reading about history and architecture have become very important to me largely due to my mom’s love of learning. Did I mention that she went back and finished her bachelor’s degree in her 40s?
6/ Creative pursuits are also worthwhile.
Along with her design talents, my mom also sewed and crafted beautiful decoupage pieces. I remember fondly when she made beautiful, seasonal tablecloths for her parties. I decided to make a tablecloth for a Christmas party one year. My friend, Steve, stopped by and seemed shocked that I even owned a sewing machine. I mostly mended clothes but my mom had instilled that can-do spirit and a love of creating things.
7/ Be yourself and think outside the box.
Mom didn’t follow trends and neither do I. Classic, timeless decor and staying true to yourself never goes out of style. I remember when mom put silk fabric on the walls and gave a paint-washed effect to wood panelling. I am sure some of her friends thought she was crazy but that’s how she rolled. But the effect was unexpected, gorgeous and welcoming like mom herself.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you wonderful women, the unsung heroes plodding along and hoping you’re making a difference. Sometimes you don’t know how influential you are but know that your children get it, albeit later in life. My mom taught me about design and I am forever grateful. Love you, mom, a bushel and a peck. xo
Read here for another tribute to my mom.