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From the Home Front: Oh, the things our mothers taught us

My mother was never one to withhold wisdom regarding fashion and interior decorating, but the one piece of advice that always sticks in my mind is this: “If you find something you love, buy it in every color.”

Because you may never find it again.

She was referring to things like T-shirts and shoes as opposed to, say, sofas and chairs. But while I would remind her that this could be rather expensive, there have been times when I wish I had bought a comfortable pair of shoes in a second color – or, for that matter, in the same color.

Just to have a second pair at the ready.

There were a few other things she advised: Candles are best in white – or ivory. Paint samples, fabric swatches and pages in a wallpaper book should be examined in the way they will be viewed in a room.

By this she meant don’t place the wallpaper sample flat on the floor unless you plan to use it as a rug. Display it vertically, near the other samples you’re considering – fabric or carpet swatches, for example – also displayed in their proper positions.

Sometimes she would use a small potted plant to keep the wallpaper book open to the page she was looking at. Because, of course, every room should have a plant in it, anyway.

I decided to call a few creative women to hear the memorable advice on stylish matters they received from their mothers.

Among the responses:

• Local interior designer Erin Kent said it isn’t so much what her mother said but what she did. “She taught me not to be afraid of taking risks – to combine things that typically you would not. That gave me my perspective. It’s using things that historically were not used in a particular way – or combining a traditional and nontraditional style in the same space.”

• Local fiber artist Linda Collignon recalled this: “When my sister or I had a little tear in our clothing, my mother would say, ‘Oh, don’t worry about it. We’ll just stick a bead on it.’ And then she would embroider a little flower around the tear and put some beads in the center. I still do this every once in a while,” said Collignon, who runs her Raveloe Fibers business out of her mother’s gift shop, Kissel Country Tin in North Tonawanda.

• Susan Berger, owner of Flower A Day on Grand Island, said her mother believed in having quality wood furniture and taking proper care of it – “not like throwaway furniture today.”

“You invest in a good piece and you decorate around it,” said Berger. She joked, however, that she did not share her mother’s passion for pompom trims, the kind that hung from the edges of curtains and so forth.

“Now they’re back in style again. Talk about retro,” Berger laughed.

• Michelle Peller White, president of the Interior Design Association of Western New York, said she learned this from her parents when she was growing up in the ’60s and ’70s: “When you walk out of the house, look your best,” said White, who runs Chochkey’s commercial and residential design.

“My mother was a model and my dad owned the men’s clothing store Peller & Mure, so whenever we left the house, we were ‘dressed’, ” she said.

Of course, things are much more relaxed these days, she said.

But it’s something she will always remember.


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