The Perfectly Imperfect Home | by Deborah Needleman

The Perfectly Imperfect Home

The Perfectly Imperfect Home: How to Decorate and Live Well
by Deborah Needleman; illustrated by Virginia Johnson
(Potter Style, 2011, 256 pages)

My interest in interior decorating continues! The message of Needleman’s book is in line with how I feel – I want my place to look nice and put together, but I also want it to feel cozy and to quickly make people feel at home. Needleman offers tips on things you can do at home to make your place reflect who you are while also making it chic AND comfortable. The book is broken down in chapters that look at various elements like lighting and “cozifications” mixed in with chapters that are broken down by room. I got some good tips from her, especially when it comes to things like lighting and seating arrangements.

The Perfectly Imperfect Home didn’t offer as much new information as I’d hoped it would, it mostly just supported the mindset I already work with. That being said, this would make for a good introductory text if you’re looking at exploring changes at home. It will give you ideas while also helping you see that the changes don’t have to be huge to have an impact on how your home feels.

Remodelista | by Julie Carson, with the editors of Remodelista


Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home by Julie Carson, with the editors of Remodelista
(Artisan, 2013, 400 pages)

My design kick continues… The Remodelista book developed out of the website, This is one of the top sites for those interested in redesigning their homes and seeking out inspiration (if you haven’t already you should also check out!). The book is set up in chunks. It starts with “Twelve Houses We Love” that looks at the interiors of 12 different houses from California to England. You see how people have made their space their own and get ideas and inspiration from this section. We then move into some short chapters on kitchens and bathrooms since those tend to be the spaces people remodel most frequently and it’s helpful to get some insight. The book then jumps into “Design Ideas” – here things that can be done in a DIY fashion are highlighted to show you that it’s possible to change your home without doing a complete remodel and bringing in experts. The book ends with “The Remodelista 100,” a breakdown of 100 objects that the Remodelista editors love with the reasons why and where the objects can be obtained. A thorough list of “Resources We Swear By” is provided at the end and is broken down by resource type (paint, flooring, etc.)

This was a good book but the design aesthetic isn’t quite me so I don’t think I got as much out of it as someone else would. There’s an emphasis on mixing high and low materials (think Ikea mixed with $8000 couches) and clean lines with very little clutter. I personally prefer a homier feel, but I was still able to find inspiration with this book (and I’ll admit that the aesthetic highlighted is a very calming one) and I wrote down a TON of resources and websites that I want to check out (hopefully they’re not out of my price range). Check out the Remodelista site and see if the design aesthetic matches with yours, if so you’ll enjoy this book 🙂 FYI, actress Julianne Moore is a huge fan of the site and she wrote the forward to the book.

House Beautiful Quick Changes | by House Beautiful Magazine

House Beautiful Quick Changes

House Beautiful Quick Changes by House Beautiful Magazine
(Hearst, 2013, 288 pages)

Design book #2. This was a quick read because it’s basically just tips. I really liked it! There were great suggestions and most things were very accessible to someone working within the confines of a reasonable budget (read: someone NOT part of the 1%). There were also highlighted tips from various interior designers that offered some insight into why they felt certain things made for good design ideas.

With this book I wasn’t blown away by the images like I was with Kemble’s book but I was taking notes the whole time I read, nothing things I might want to try and websites to check out. The point of House Beautiful Quick Changes is to show you how easy it can be to update your home and that in turn inspires the reader to want to try things. I already told my husband about a few ideas I have and while he might not be excited about some of the tasks he’ll be assigned I know he’ll get there when he sees what we can do to make our place a little more “us.”

Black and White (and a Bit in Between) | by Celerie Kemble

Black & White

Black & White (and a Bit in Between): Timeless Interiors, Dramatic Accents, and Stylish Collections
by Celerie Kemble
(Potter Style, 2011, 256 pages)

So apparently I’m on a decorating kick and this book was the first of many that caught my eye. I’m a big fan of neutrals, and can always be counted on to be wearing black so to say this book spoke to me is an understatement. The premise of Kemble’s book is to demonstrate that it is possible to decorate your home primarily using black and white (and grey – LOVE it!). I thought the way the chapters were broken up made sense as Kemble explained ways to work this color scheme into your home. The pictures were gorgeous and I definitely got a few ideas. Given that I have two cats and have a hard enough keeping my condo clean as it is, the idea of going as full scale with this idea as I’d want is NOT a possibility. But, Kemble does offer a few tips on how you can start small.

I enjoyed the book and while some of the ideas/photos were definitely above my price-point I took pictures of certain things as inspiration. There was also a great list of resources at the end of the book to let you know places to check out, and they ranged from high-end to what’s accessible to normal people 😉 I also appreciated that the last chapter talked about tips to keep your new black and white world clean – because with these colors keeping things in good shape is key. The only “issue” I had with this book is that I felt there could have been more tips/suggestions on how to make some of the highlighted looks your own. They were great for inspiration but I think there needed to be a practicality element to the book and I thought that was one of the key things that wasn’t as fleshed out as it could have been. But even with that, this book is great eye candy, especially if you like the black/white palette.

The Honest Life | by Jessica Alba

The Honest Life

The Honest Life: Living Naturally and True to You by Jessica Alba
(Rodale Books, 2013, 272 pages)

One of my friends referenced this book a while ago so with the start of the new year I decided to look into some healthy lifestyle changes and requested The Honest Life from the library. Normally when it comes to celebrity lifestyle books I approach them with a grain of salt. Alba’s focus is on living “naturally,” so living in a way that’s eco-friendly and getting rid of as many of the toxic chemicals in our daily lives as possible. This means thinking hard about the food, clothing, furniture, cleaning supplies, etc. that you buy.

Alba’s motivation for taking this approach to life came when she got pregnant with her first daughter and started freaking out about wanting to keep her safe and in as “pure” an environment as possible. This eventually led her to start up The Honest Company with a focus on creating eco-friendly products that are high quality and visually appealing. While she definitely references her company a lot in these pages, she also recommends other products and companies so it’s not just one big advertisement for her business (though it does make you curious to check things out).

The book was accessible and there were a lot of really helpful tips I was able to take away. I liked that in addition to food and cleaning products she talked about beauty, parenting tips, fashion, and design. If you want to focus on living an eco-friendly life there are ways to do this in every aspect in your world. I’d recommend this book if you’re interested in this lifestyle choice. Like I mentioned, the book is very readable, helpful recommendations are made, and Alba includes a complete list of references at the end including contact information for all the companies/resources she talked about in the book.

Arts & Crafts Houses I | by Edward Hollamby

Arts and Crafts Houses I

Arts & Crafts Houses I by Edward Hollamby
(Phaidon Press, 1999, 184 pages)

Like Historic Arts & Crafts Homes of Great Britain, this volume examines British houses that give expression to the Art & Crafts movement. Its focus, however, is more on the unique architectural and structural qualities of these homes. It looks at Philip Webb’s Red House, William Lethaby’s Melsetter House, and Sir Edwin Lutyens’ Goddards. These homes are displayed in a variety of ways, including original blueprints and drawings, black and white photographs that show each of them in their original conditions, newer color photographs that show various renovations and give a sense of the current state of the homes, and floorplans and other detailed drawings which accentuate some of the unique features of each home. Numerous articles from a variety of authors provide historical and technical information that grants the reader a greater appreciation for both the aesthetic and technical aspects of these remarkable houses.