For Women Only

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News
  • A growing number of women are creating their own at-home retreats
  • Unlike man caves, they're cozy, intimate, and for mom only
  • Comfortable seating, adjustable lamp, small table are musts

I adore my family, but I'll be honest: I treasure "me" time.

"Me" time is a rare chance to disconnect, breathe, and take a break from my harried, never-fully-together, daily juggling act.

But what about "me" space — a dedicated space just for you at home? We've all heard of man caves, but a growing trend these days is creating a special space at home just for women.

Whether they're called a mom cave or lady's lounge, it's a space where a woman can put her feet up, or work on projects in solitude, surrounded by her own sense of style, says Kristie Barnett, a Nashville-based interior designer and blogger known as The Decorologist.

"A mom cave is meant to be a restorative place, not like the man cave, which is usually a social center that is tricked out with a big screen TV and electronics," Barnett says. "A mom cave can be a sewing center, a wrapping station, a place to write, scrapbook, craft, host a book club or just sit and read. Or all of the above."

Plymouth interior designer Cheryl Conway of Conway Interiors, who designed a women's lounge called "Mom's Time Out" at this year's "Design 2 Ways" at the Michigan Design Center, says she's absolutely seen an increase in the number of female clients looking to create a small space just for them.

"I often ask my clients — who are primarily women — 'Where is your space in the home?' And they often don't have one, so when I bring that question up it starts a conversation."

And who says it has to be an entirely separate room? A woman's retreat or lounge can be a spare closet, corner in the master bedroom suite, or nook in the basement. It's about carving out a special space.

Conways says design-wise, a mom's getaway doesn't have to be complicated.

"Even if it's not a whole dedicated room, it could a dedicated corner in the bedroom, or repurposing some things in the living room or dining room," she says. "It doesn't have to be full room. A lot of times it's just a corner. (But) I think it's important that it's a space dedicated to mom."

So with Mother's Day approaching, let's explore these special spaces and how to create them.

A piece of peace

Barnett says there are significant differences between man caves and a woman's home retreat.

"The man cave generally embodies all things we think of as masculine with dark, rugged decor and overstuffed leather furniture, gaming table, bar and media center," Barnett says. "The mom cave, on the other hand, is filled with light and things that make her happy. It is meant to be a place of peace and privacy."

Conway says she's working with a client now in Birmingham — a mother of four — on a special "getaway spot" space off the master bedroom just for her.

"She just recognized that she needed a spot to go that was away from the visual and every day noise of her children and her responsibility," says Conway.

Creating a mom space requires a few essentials, she says: comfortable seating, a table, possibly a small bookcase, and good lighting. If you don't have a window, get a table-side lamp that has different settings — a brighter setting for crafts or projects and a lower setting for relaxing.

"Stay away from overhead lighting," which tends to be harsh, says Conway.

And if it's possible, an ideal element to any mom's space is a door.

"Ideally if you can shut the door, that's great," she says.

And if you have a collection of some sort — whether it's books, art, or antiques — incorporate it into the space.

"Use the space to enjoy your collection," says Conway.

For some women, it's nice to have a small television in their space.

"A lot of times we have these big media rooms with these big televisions," says Conway. "And sometimes its nice to have a small television in a little more intimate space."

Keep calm

As far as the color palette, Conway says it should be feminine and calm.

If you have a favorite color, bring it in, she says. "If you can't put it on the walls, put it on a throw or the chair —make it personal to make it yours."

Conway's "me" space is one corner of her home office. She has a comfortable chair near a window and a table with a lamp. Nearby is a basket filled with some of her favorite home decor magazines, which she loves to peruse for ideas.

Barnett's personal mom cave is an extra bedroom with white walls featuring light green and pink accents throughout.

"Choose a piece that serves as inspiration for the entire space," she says. "It can be a rug, artwork or object that speaks to you, then take color cues from that item to pull the room together."

Barnett says no two mom caves are the same "because they are so personal."

"Ideally, you want at least one comfy chair to sit and read, with a table or desk on which to do paperwork," she says. "If a mom cave is going to be used for sewing, you need to find a place to put the machine. If it's going to be used as a wrapping station or scrapbooking place, you need to have a work surface and place to store the supplies."

And new furniture isn't a must. Vintage furniture from flea markets, garage sales or your own home can be repainted and repurposed. Usually, the smaller scale of older furniture works better in a modest mom cave.

"A mom cave is much more than a multipurpose room: It's a space that is meant to feed the very soul of the one person who is often the heart of a family," Barnett says.

Universal UClick contributed to this story.

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Mom cave must-haves

■Comfortable seating

■Small table

■Lamp with different settings

■Soothing color palette

■Books, crafts, scrapbooking supplies, anything Mom prefers