From the May 2015 issue

Tips for Decorating Your Mom Cave

That’s right. Mother’s Day is on the horizon – and it’s time to take back your territory. Or at least a small slice of it. That’s the idea behind “mom caves.” Peppering Pinterest and touted by house gurus from HGTV to HomeGoods, this simple idea encourages moms to create an in-home oasis for that crucial “me time.”

Mary Liz Curtin, who runs the eclectic Leon & Lulu lifestyle/design shop in Clawson, is a fan. “We have such long days,” she says. “If you can find that one little refuge to just sit for an hour, it really makes that difference.”

We don’t all have space for a “diva den,” but a corner or nook will do. For Curtin, a mom of two, that’s the family room. There’s a space – complete with sofa, cozy blanket, candles and her pets – where she can nap or catch up on her laptop.

“You know that your stuff is there,” adds designer Donna Dettore with West Elm, the modern home décor brand that opened a store in Birmingham last fall. Keep it chill, too. Dettore, whose daughter is 15, advises: “Never have a TV in there.”

And, says Curtin, skip the guilt. “It’s perfectly OK to have a room when kids are not around,” she explains. Or, when her 21- and 23-year-olds are around, especially with friends, she confides: “Sometimes I hide in the guest room!”

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Need a little inspiration? Check out the pair’s tips for creating a “mom cave.”

Location, location. Whether the end of the couch, basement cove or crook of the deck, pick a place. Need space for a yoga mat? A craft desk? Think about what you want. In a pinch, even the bathroom works: “You can lock the door,” Curtin says (bonus: bubble baths). But be mindful about setting your zone – and time in it.

Sniff check. Don’t let it be a cave. “Make it smell good with candles,” Curtin says, or incense or oil diffusors with scented sticks. She loves Leon & Lulu’s citrus soy candles to make the room feel bright and clean (about 10 scents available; $8-$65).

Places for stuff. Try simple lidded boxes to stash your treasures, Dettore says, or wicker baskets. A small pocket or end table is a nifty way to keep books, craft gear or the iPad tidy – and doubles as a spot for coffee or tea (set those bevvies on a cool coaster; West Elm sells four ice-cool “agate” sliced-crystal coasters for $59).

Nest. Every mom cave needs a comfy chair with throw pillows. A footrest and a quilt or chunky blanket doesn’t hurt. Whether it’s a well-worn fave or splurge, choose a roost.

Window seat. Try and pick a “cave” next to a window. Sheer linen curtains still allow sunshine through while offering privacy. Or go bonkers with a fun fabric.

Pick your poison. “Definitely wine!” declares Curtin. A quirky bottle holder is a neat touch, complete with cool corks. “Even bad wine is better in a pretty glass,” she adds. “We have a flat-bottom glass from India. It can be safer, especially if you have kids that come running at you.” Meanwhile, you’ll find a vintage tea set in Dettore’s cave. Sipping a lavender blend from floral china gives Downton Abbey flair.

At your feet. “Create borders with a 5-by-8 rug,” Dettore says. “The Bello shag bohemian rug is my favorite.” These plush-wool West Elm picks start at $169. The idea is to create a physical space that’s yours.

Let there be light. Whether a desk light, sconce or over-the-top chandelier, never underestimate a “pretty lamp,” Curtain says. The Capiz orb pendants at West Elm are a bright idea ($149-plus).

Tiny touches. “Things that make you most happy don’t have a price point,” adds Wyndal Chapital, another Birmingham West Elm designer. “Pictures and postcards – things that make your heart sing.” String up a few in a funky frame. Or perk up the place with a fun flower vase. Try the hourglass-shaped Little Shirley ceramic budvase by Material Good at Leon & Lulu ($24.99, various colors).

Need a second eye? Request a free in-home consultation from West Elm to help with color, accents, furniture, fabrics and art, from shabby chic to vintage to eclectic.

Store details

Leon & Lulu

  • Address: 96 W. 14 Mile Road, Clawson
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday
  • Phone: 248-288-3600

West Elm

  • Address: 215 W. Maple Road, Birmingham
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday
  • Phone: 248-593-8200

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