Stocking stuffer: A new Apartment Therapy book shows how real people turn houses into homes.
Thousands of books have been written about home decorating — from Edith Wharton to hgtv. Most of those begin in the middle. It’s rare to get a prequel but why not? A new book from the landmark website Apartment Therapy – Apartment Therapy Complete + Happy Home (Potter Style, $35)— starts when you leave an apartment to hunt for a house and even identifies common home styles. That can come in handy when a realtor asks what you’re looking for.
Most of us know AT as a favorite website for the under 40 generation who want to share ideas, get great sources, and see what their peers do at home. The book, authored by founder Maxwell Ryan and the executive editor Janel Laban, has the same breezy accessibility as the website. At the same time, the authors don’t make light of the term “complete.”
Successfully presenting solutions as options, not must-dos, they create an arc for analyzing, planning and deciding as someone moves through the various stages of home acquisition, from setting up through nestling in. For first timers, or the indecisive, there is a discussion on how to maintain the house and make repairs, down to a basic list of supplies for the cleaning closet. In other words, apartment therapy has moved on to whole house therapy.
The book is a delightful, easy read, featuring 75 rooms. Contributing homeowners are listed in an index and many sources for various items in the photos are provided, most notably paint color.
But what I like most, and why I would give the book as a gift and keep a copy for myself, is that it explains how to turn a house into a home. And by covering a wide variety of decorating styles, that isn’t based exclusively on aesthetics.
The big plus is how clearly and easily it drills down through essential details that many home decor bloggers love to write about. In the lighting section, a page on bulbs explain the differences between compact fluorescent, LED and halogen bulbs — one of my pet topics. It has a diagram that shows how to judge wattage and lumens — electricity used vs light given off. Much of this information isn’t obvious but makes life easier when you know.
The proliferation of home decor blogs and internet design sites prove that good taste isn’t limited to professional decorators and designers. There many talented and artistic people whose homes should be seen. That’s certainly true of “the dramatically different country den” [top], a dark-gray historic Texas cottage room with wood plank walls painted in Benjamin Moore’s “Black Knight.” The owners, and architect and a garden designer, saw a similar color in a “small East Coast pub” and went for it. Set off beautifully by the pale beige Florence Knoll sofa and leather chair from Crate & Barrel, it’s a wonderful room.
Color comes up early in the book for obvious reasons. “You want to choose a palette that makes you feel happy in every room,” the authors note wisely. No color is happier than orange and in Mary and Lou Castelli’s New Jersey kitchen, it’s as delicious as sherbet. Ikea cabinets and Corian counters kept the budget modest. Making the color work hard was left to the orange tile Eurosplash composed of 1-inch dots. (Dal tile’s Color Wave collection has Russet Orange glass dots). Powder coating cabinet hardware to match the tile was accomplished by a metal fabricator (empiremetal.net) in New York City. Those handles are unforgettable though there’s nothing fussy. Just good, clean design with maximum impact.
Another room that shows the richness of ideas in the book is “the sophisticated nursery.” Created for Jessica and Scott Davis’ daughter Lucy, the salmon and gray color scheme is sweet and tranquil while exotic touches taken from Moroccan design add subtlety and great details. A Walmart crib couldn’t look more elegant than it does against the Sherwin-Williams “Repose Gray” walls. Curtains were home made using material from spoonflower.com, which allows buyers to design their own patterns. The pinkish lantern print looks very fresh and even is basic enough to survive after the crib is replaced by a big-girl bed. The authors point out about the artwork, “you’ll be spending just as much time in this room as your little one, so you should pick things you, too, will enjoy looking at,” which, for me, includes the Fasciati glass lantern from shadesoflight.com. Great advice for creating a home that does make you happy.
(Source: Text and photos courtesy of Apartment Therapy Complete + Happy Home decor book by Maxwell Ryan and Janel Laban; photos by Melanie Acevedo. Used with permission.)
You also might enjoy Dark Rooms and Gender Neutral Nursery
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