Moms enjoy sharing with other moms, so this Mother’s Day we asked three local designers to talk about the one thing in their homes they love most as a mother.
Chalkboard paint seems to be a favorite. Two of the designers suggested covering doors with it.
The third turned her living room into a pseudo rock-climbing facility for her 4-year-old twin sons.
What one item do you count on time and again as a mother that you think others should know about? Go to facebook.com/kcstar.house.home to share your ideas.
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Jennifer Bertrand of Weatherby Lake, the season three winner of HGTV’s “Design Star,” says the chalkboard-painted door in her bathroom is a simple way to motivate her son, Winston, 6, to do daily chores and rituals that children often forget or avoid. The floor-to-ceiling chalkboard has boxes drawn for each day, Monday through Friday, next to tasks like brushing teeth, taking a bath, getting dressed and picking up toys.
Bertrand has a master’s degree in teaching and leadership from the University of Kansas and was an elementary school art teacher before becoming a contestant on “Design Star.” She knows a thing or two about motivating children.
“When you’re a parent and craving structure in your life — because everything gets crazy when you have kids — you have to figure out ways to stay organized,” she says. “And part of it is giving Winston goals to work toward and not necessarily giving him a reward for accomplishing each one, but giving him visual way of noting his accomplishments each day.”
Winston was born with lymphatic and venous malformations in his neck, face and chest and has had about 20 surgeries to correct them, Bertrand says. He has a feeding tube and works with speech and occupational therapists for fine motor skill and muscular issues.
Bertrand also paints tabletops with chalkboard paint so it becomes an activity table before and after meals. The best part about chalkboard paint, she says, is that it’s quick and easy.
“The best tools and projects don’t have to be something that take two weeks to build or a lot of money to make,” she says. “A lot of people think it has to be a huge Pinterest project, but sometimes less is more.”
Bertrand jokes that one day she’ll change Winston’s goals to things like “do the dishes” and “mow the lawn.”
Elizabeth Rishel of Kansas City, a kitchen and bath designer and owner of Orion Design, hasn’t had enough time yet to figure out what parenting tool is indispensable in her home — her first baby was born just seven weeks ago. But she plans to do something similar to Bertrand’s door.
“A few years back I created a magnetic chalkboard in a client’s kitchen,” Rishe says. “It also happened to be a really cool barn door. I would love to have a large magnetic chalkboard in our home as a place to post the latest artistic creation and for our daughter to draw and be creative as we prepare evening meals. It would also be handy to post calendars and important notes. I have my eye on the perfect place in our kitchen for it and it won’t be long before we tackle this project.”
A word of warning: Although you can create a magnetic chalkboard by applying a magnetic primer paint beneath the chalkboard paint, several bloggers have had mixed results because some magnets won’t stick to it. One solution is to use sheet metal on the door and paint the metal with chalkboard paint.
A special corner
Katie Ott of Lenexa, owner and designer at Kitchen Studio Kansas City, 520 Avenida Cesar E. Chavez, created her favorite thing about a year ago after reading the blog of “an amazingly creative mom about a playroom she created for her son.”
Ott, mother of twins Michael and Felix, 4, and Sofia, 17 months, turned her unused formal living room into a similar playroom, only she added a rock-climbing wall.
“It has a toy storage area, bean bag chairs for reading books, a dress up area and a creative drawing area complete with a chalkboard, dry-erase board and a felt board with cutouts for practicing putting shapes together,” Ott says.
“I was able to create the rock-climbing wall for less than $100 by using specialty climbing rocks that I found online and anchoring them to a piece of plywood.”
She wrapped the board in sturdy fabric to make it safe and attractive and attached it to the wall with bolts. She also placed a thick gymnastics pad under it.
“The boys love it, and their little sister is already trying to climb the wall with them,” she says. “I love that I can say that my boys literally climb the walls in our house!”
Ott believes that children need an area that is just for them.
“It doesn’t have to be a whole room, just a small corner that is filled with their favorite things will do,” she says. “It helps them understand ownership and take pride in having a fun play area.”