The trouble with many glossy design books is that they get our hopes up with images of endlessly inspiring rooms—then let us down by offering little in the way of advice on how to actually create those looks in our own humbler homes, where there are peanut-buttery fingers and fur balls and bank-account balances to contend with.
Design and business mavens Lee Mayer and Emily Motayed are sympathetic to this plight—after all, this is the duo who launched Havenly, the online platform that offers professional interior design advice tailored to real-life rooms and budgets. So, when the sisters set out to write a design book, they knew they wanted to include plenty of actionable tips, lessons, resources, and “room recipes” that even the least design-savvy readers could use.
In Design the Home You Love: Ideas, Inspiration and Practical Advice for Developing Your Personal Style (Ten Speed Press, 2021), Mayer and Motayed have created an interior-design crash course that covers all the fundamentals you’ll need to put together rooms that look magazine-worthy yet feel like you—all while honoring your budget. Part I of the guidebook looks at the big picture, offering advice on auditing your rooms to understand what you have and what you need, and on sprucing up old pieces or shopping for new ones. Sprinkled throughout are lighthearted illustrations highlighting everything from sofa styles to clever furniture arrangements, plus budgeting tips and charts, and examples of real-world products you can buy. There’s a chapter devoted to all things color—color theory, perfect palettes, tried-and-true paint hues, and help finding the right shades for you. And a must-read section on space planning covers the areas where most novice decorators go wrong—scale and proportion, symmetry and asymmetry—and offers special advice for making small spaces look and live larger.
Part II helps with the fun—and challenging—part of dialing in your own style. Is it modern farmhouse, California casual, or do coastal spaces float your boat? Each section defines a style—arming you with the info and terminology you’ll need to articulate it—then provides a “recipe” for the foundation pieces, accessories, colors, and textures required to create it.
Part III is the reward for all your hard work: styling tips that’ll get your sofa, mantel, bookcases, coffee table, and more ready for their Instagram close-ups. Because there’s an art to this, there are diagrams illustrating how to group pillows, advice on selecting statement pieces and filling shelves (“For a fuller look, bring the books to the front edge of the shelf rather than pushing them to the back,” a pro tip instructs), and even steps for stocking a bar cart with style. Rounding out the book are pages of frequently asked questions and design conundrums—How do I hang a gallery wall? or Help! My living room has curved walls—and helpful responses.
Throughout the book, splashy, full-color photography from Havenly’s personal collections brings the design concepts to life. Practical though this guide may be, it’s gorgeous enough to display front and center on your (now perfectly styled) coffee table. havenly.com
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