Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mom's Makeovers

Though she would surely protest that her tastes are humble and plain, my mom has always had a knack for decorating her home. In the years of raising her family on a single income, she didn't always have a lot of money to work with. But Mom has been DIYing since the days when sewing, sanding, and making from scratch were just part of a good day"s work, and she always found a way to make the best of what she had on hand.

In the golden years of her life, Mom sold our old lakeside home and moved to a brand spanking new condo in town.  As a part of that transition, she set aside a nice budget to surround herself with lovely things, and this new place has been practically picture perfect since Day One. 

However, Mom is also a classic tweaker. Like most decor mavens, she's continually rearranging artwork, swapping out seasonal elements, and bringing in new treasures to freshen up the mix. That updating energy has been part of her decor style all her life and continues to this very day. 

So it is with great curiosity that I've watched her home evolve over these past months, as her dementia has taken a firmer foothold in her brain. Each time I pull up her drive to begin a new visit, I take a deep breath, wondering if her chaotic mindset has finally begun to reflect itself in her home. 

The answer is a most definite no. Take a look at these freshly revamped scenes from my mother's house and see for yourself

^  Last August, Mom decided to restyle her living room mantel. She brought the art in from another space, and added the pewter candlesticks with the coordinating candles in a deep rich red. The ivy on the right, she pointed out, repeats the cascading effect of the planted window boxes in the framed street scene. And her new purchase, the rustic red oversize pitcher on the hearth, completes the Tuscan mood. 

^ A few years back, my youngest brother got Mom hooked up with a wall-mounted TV and so began her challenge of creating an interesting vignette that complements but does not fight the big black box. Starting with a pair of mid-century walnut dressers to ground the arrangement, she recently added two black-framed seasonal prints to relate to the TV, and layered in a carefully chosen handful of flowers, framed family photos, seasonal knick-knacks and an antique tea set. Oh, and on football Saturdays, she brings out that small hand-carved wooden M (for University of Michigan!), created by one of my brothers as a teen, to bring special luck to the gridiron. 

^ Back at the lake house, my mom filled this old plant stand with red geraniums and plopped it out on our shady back deck. When she moved to her new place, the stand was stashed in the basement and almost forgotten. But this last winter, when my mom noticed the new wave of succulent mania sweeping through her local mega-market, she carried it upstairs and brought it back to life. Within a few weeks of careful purchases including the plants, containers, and little gardener dude at the top, whom she adores, this look was complete. 

^ Last spring, after years of wrestling to grow annuals on her hot deck, Mom picked up these self-watering railing-mounted planter boxes. Simple, smart, and  styled with yellow marigolds and blue alyssum (which had worn out by September)), and accompanied by a pot of pink geranium, these boxes brought spunk to her view from summer right into fall. 

^ A field of red poppies on green stems, bright and bold ar the front and fading to gentle pinks and peaches to create the illusion of depth. My mom saw this oversize painting in a catalog last fall and fell in love. Though there are several small groupings of art clustered around her dining table, my mom chose to highlight this piece on a wall all its own. The effect is magical. 

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I'll be the first to admit that my mom's decor may not be everyone's cup of tea. Heck, sometimes it's not even my cup of tea. But for a woman who daily struggles to dress herself or even remember where she is, I'd say my mom's makeovers show remarkable clarity and cohesion of mind. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to help Mom decide on the perfect spot for her new Christmas pillow. Isn't it adorable?!

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