APARTMENT THERAPY by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan [Book 2 of 2011]

I’ve never been one for interior design. I tend not to decorate, and though I appreciate well-designed things, I rarely feel compelled to you know, design them. Curious then, that this week’s book is a popular interior design book/manual called APARTMENT THERAPY: the eight-step home cure by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan.

Why I Decided To Read It: Staying with Delia Hauser the last time I went to Brooklyn was nothing short of a revelation. Her space is a work of art, and though I spent less than 24 hours in it, it made me want to explore the world of design. Also, we recently moved to a town home, so I do have somewhat blank slate available to me. But why APARTMENT THERAPY? Well, Delia’s apartment was featured on Apartment Therapy’s website last year, so I knew that I could easily trust their brand’s taste levels.

What It’s About: Though this book is ostensibly for apartment dwellers, it’s really a book about how to decorate your home in a mindful way that suits your practical, emotional, and aesthetic needs.

What Makes It Different: A lot of interior design books try to push you toward their aesthetic. This one wants you to find the designer within. It basically teaches you to design from the bottom up.

What I Loved: As someone who has a lot of designer friends, and even went as far as to marry a designer, it felt like I was finally getting some insight into how my friends and husband do what they do. The books also has all sorts of interesting advice, which I’ll cover in the Interior Decorating Lessons Learned section.

What I Didn’t Like: Supposedly this home cure is meant to be dispensed in eight weeks, but unless you have absolutely nothing else to do for two months — which is not case for most of us, I don’t see how anyone could pull off the ambitious plan Gillingham-Ryan sets forth for us. I’m doing this as an eight-month cure and would have appreciated if the book had put forth attainable goals.

Decorating Lessons Learned:

Commit to small luxuries: I love the advice about gifting your home with fresh flowers every week. It made me realize that I’ve always wanted to be a weekly fresh flower kind of woman, and it’s one change I could make immediately while working on the rest of my eight step cure. Later on, the author encourages us to start making more meals at home, which is another sort of luxury — especially in regards to time, but might, like the flowers, help me build a more loving relationship with my home.

Check out the flowers that I bought and arranged myself, placing them in a glass pitcher to make the arrangement more dynamic -- a choice my MIL didn't necessarily appreciate when she wanted to make iced tea. Oops...

Keep your space clean. I’ve never been one for tidiness, but I like that the author starts you off with a small cleaning plan of simply vacuuming and mopping, then builds up to a bigger practical plan that I don’t think will make me feel like a resentful 50s housewife.

Steal ideas. It’s been fun to look at spaces after having read this book. The author insists that there are design ideas to be stolen from everywhere. So now when I enter a nice hotel lobby, I don’t think, “Oh, this is a nice hotel.” Instead I think, “How can I steal some of these ideas and make them work for my space?” More than anything, this book teaches you to really appreciate the design that it all around you, and in doing so, makes the world a much more interesting place to observe.

To Whom Would I Recommend This Book: Friends/Spouses Of Designers, Those Who Have Yet To Discover Their Own Aesthetic, Anyone Who Has Just Moved Into A New Home, Anyone Who Hates How Their Home Looks But Can’t Quite Figure Out Why…

Click on the book cover to buy it at Amazon!