By: Pipper Weiss
A few years ago, men staked their claim on a corner of their house. A mini-fridge, a La-Z-boy and a universal remote control turned any basement alcove into the ultimate ‘Man Cave.’ Now it’s moms’ turn.
These days, many matriarchs are building makeshift kid-and-husband-free zones in their homes. For some it’s a place to work, for others it’s a place to do anything but work. “A mom takes care of everyone in the family, but she also has to take care of herself,” says Real Simple Senior Editor Nicole Sforza. “’Mom Caves’ allow her to break away from the world, even if just for a few moments, to check in and relax, de-stress, and just plain chill.”
But if you’re hard-pressed to find a moment’s peace, you’re also likely hard-pressed to find an inch of space. Good news: all it takes are a few easy steps to turn a standard nook into a Zen palace.
Step 1: Pick your spot. “A ‘Mom Cave’ can be anywhere from an unused closet to a guest room,” says Sforza. “You can also carve out space in a corner of an attic or a bedroom.” While your close quarters may seem claustrophobic, choosing a windowed area will help open up the space. “If a window isn’t available, hang a few mirrors,” suggest Sforza. “It’ll bounce light around and give the illusion of more space.
Step 2: Close it off. A decent sized-closet is an easy way to shut the world out. But if you’re short a door, Sforza advises using a room divider or screen. Or try a two-sided bookshelf which will double as a decorative storage space for books and files. Lori Remien, an Illinois teacher studying for her boards, converted a corner of her daughter’s room into an office with the help of a curtain from Ikea. It worked so well, she now uses the space for couch potato purposes. “It’s still a great retreat where I can watch the shows the rest of my family doesn’t watch,” she told the Associated Press.
Step 3: Choose your colors. Painting the walls or buying a small ream of wallpaper is an instant way to transform a space. But if that’s too labor intensive, just create a consistent color scheme with your chosen furnishings. Picking the right hues depends on the ultimate goal for your cave. If you’re looking for a meditative, relaxing space, warm blues and greens are proven calming influences. Bright, neon greens and yellows are said to spark creativity. But Sforza recommends going dark for a truly escapist feel. “People usually think that painting a small space a dark color will make it feel even tinier, but I think using a dark, rich color like a navy blue or army green, can actually make the spot feel cozier,” she says.
Step 4: Get comfortable. Your cave only needs one chair. But choose wisely: it’s your mom throne. The more pillows, soft textures and plush features, the better. Sforza recommends wing-back chairs or ottomans to give a feeling of being cradled. If you want to spruce up an old chair, cover it with a chenille or cashmere throw for a softer feel. You can even skip the chair altogether and get a small shaggy rug and few over-sized throw pillows to turn cave into a make-shift Marrakesh.
Step 5: Add personality. Whether you’re using your area to craft, study, write or simply veg out, the key is bringing in a few items that offer positive reinforcement. “Surround yourself with things you love—photo books that you can flip through for inspiration; a memento from summer; a photo from a favorite vacation,” says Sforza. Even a plant or fresh flowers will breathe life into a closed off space. But don’t overdo it. A cluttered area will become a source of stress. To create extra storage space, you can add a minimalist shelving unit or convert a few coat hooks into a handy place to hang your favorite decorations. And don’t forget to hang the most important decoration on the the outside of your cave: the “do not disturb” sign.