Mother may know best, but for many interior designers and organizing pros, Mother also knows design. Growing up with a mom with good taste makes it completely natural to absorb a strong style point of view. Whether it’s learning how to choose colors, arrange furniture, or find balance both inside and outside the home, there are some concepts that just stay with you forever.
In honor of Mother’s Day, we asked home decor experts to share the design principles they picked up from Mom and still embrace today.
Mom says: ‘Mix high and low’
Mom knew what eclectic was before you could even spell it—and piecing together items in a variety of prices is always a wise design decision.
Not every room needs the best of everything, says Drew Henry, founder of Design Dudes.
“My mom’s always urged me to mix high-end and less expensive pieces. She said to invest in larger, timeless items, like wood furniture and sofas, and then add in the lower end, trendy things like pillows and accessories.”
Mom says: ‘Reuse and repurpose’
Jamie Novak, an organizing professional and author of “Keep This Toss That,” says her mom had design sense and a practical eye. Her top tip was to repurpose items from around the house instead of buying new ones.
“The best advice I got was to borrow from other rooms in my home,” Novak says.
When setting up a buffet lunch, for example, Novak learned to seek out a candlestick from the living room and vases from the dresser in her bedroom.
“Instead of buying new things to use one time, my mom suggested stealing from other rooms since you already own these items and they blend together and work for what you need,” she says.
Mom says: ‘Break up matched sets’
A matchy-matchy look in a bedroom is both dated and uninspired, so why not separate pillows and accessories from a set and use them in other ways?
Novak learned from her mom that everyday decor can be redistributed for a fresher, modern look. “For example, take the extra throw pillows in a comforter set and use them as throw pillows on a couch.”
Mom says: ‘Art doesn’t have to be expensive’
Beverly Solomon of the eponymous design firm grew up in a family of artists who helped influence her career. Her mother liked to decorate with affordable fine-art prints, which gave her a solid sense of design every day.
“She would subscribe to artists’ portfolios, which were very popular at the time,” she explains.
If you’re not ready to invest in expensive art, seek out secondhand works from a flea market, pieces from local artists, or inexpensive prints on Etsy. Your artwork may not have cost you a small fortune, but that doesn’t make it any less special.
Mom says: ‘Fragrant flowers first’
When it comes to choosing flowers for your yard, Solomon recommends going with the ones that smell the best. She learned this firsthand when shopping for blooms with her mom, who would encourage her to pick the most fragrant ones.
“We didn’t have air conditioning, so we slept with the windows open—and she told me I couldn’t have sweet dreams if there wasn’t something sweet to smell when I went to bed,” she says.
Try planting flowers such as jasmine, lavender, or lilac.
Mom says: ‘Keep collections together’
“My mom collects teapots and mother-and-child figurines, and her feeling was they looked more purposeful grouped together instead of spread out in different areas,” she says.
Mom says: ‘Freshen the laundry room’
It’s no fun folding socks by yourself. But you can make it a whole lot cheerier with happy wallpaper or window treatments in your laundry room. Marcotte learned this trick at home: Her mom installed pretty blue and white paper in her laundry area, and then lined up coordinating pottery for a happy tableau near the washer and dryer.
Mom says: ‘Declutter daily’
While many of us did a massive clean sweep of our homes after watching Marie Kondo‘s Netflix show earlier this year, it’s important to tidy up on a daily basis.
“Clutter and disorganization drove my mom nuts,” says Marty Basher, a home design and organizational expert at Modular Closets. “She felt it was more important to declutter than to vacuum or dust.”
It rubbed off on Basher, who sets aside time each day to clear countertops, organize shelves, and pick up things from the floor.
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