Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home begins with what could be considered an exercise in obviousness: “Look around you. If you’re at home, chances are you see room for improvement.” Whether this is the understatement of the year or a mere nudge to mindfully edit existing décor, author Julie Carlson of Remodelista.com has us covered. Literally, with ideas on how to cover everything from sofas to walls (even books), and figuratively, with advice on how to deal with remodels or new construction, as well as small do-overs and spruce-ups. The book is a “start-to-finish field guide to creating your own domestic sanctuary.”
Photographs of 12 model houses will inspire readers, along with “hardworking” kitchen and bathroom user guides, and a chapter on DIY design ideas that are as simple as repurposing things we likely have on hand: tin cans, empty jars and clipboards, for example. “The Remodelista 100,” a buyer’s guide to “all-time favorite everyday objects”—from a Chemex coffeemaker to a Slack Dry Mop to Libeco linen—also includes brief histories, making the guide as fun to read as it is useful for shopping.
GET COLOR CREATIVE
Color has a surprising power—perhaps even the most power of any design element in a home. And, if you’ve ever flipped through a color selector or Pantone chart, you know that trying to find just the right one can be a daunting process. In House Beautiful Color: The Perfect Shade for Every Room, author Lisa Cregan and the editors of House Beautiful magazine present 10 basic colors (and variations) one at a time, and in a format that explores modern vs. traditional palettes, where to use each (floors, walls, accents, themes), intriguing thoughts on the personalities and histories of colors, a few inspirational designer quotes and a controlled avalanche of crisp photographs. This is part wish-book, part cautionary tale, perfect for helping you make decisions about your own space: Will you really love jelly-bean green kitchen cabinets, or would you prefer a mossy shade? Don’t try this one at home—someone already did, and gazing at the photograph should help you make up your mind.
TOP PICK IN LIFESTYLES
Pull up a chair—one that’s comfy and slipcovered or a sleek slipper chair (two of the entries in this book)—and settle in for an entertaining browse through 100 classics from the history of home décor. In with the Old: Classic Décor from A to Z, by design historian and “darling of the blogosphere” Jennifer Boles, allots two pages per entry, just enough for a bit of history (like the fact that the slightly kitschy sunburst clock you like at Target had regal roots in Louis XIV, the Sun King, long before it morphed into a geometrical Art Deco icon), gossip and, best of all, advice on using whatever it is in your own home, from acrylic (with a Lucite waterfall table I covet madly) to zebra print. Mostly culled from the 1930s to 1960s, this stuff, real or knockoff, still makes its way to thrift stores and antique malls, sometimes getting modified into new versions, which means ordinary folk can justify purchases by placing them in historical context. You need not be familiar with either the designer names dropped or the time periods mentioned to enjoy the book—just appreciative of what’s gorgeous, useful and fun.