"Young House Love" by Sherry and John Petersik

, Star Tribune

Design books push for personality

  • Article by: JURA KONCIUS
  • Washington Post
  • November 21, 2012 - 11:18 AM

While the list of authors ranges from rock-star decorators and style bloggers to TV personalities, the overarching message from their books is this: Your home should reflect who you are. So should the books you display in your living room. Here are our picks:

"Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love"

Richmond, Va., bloggers Sherry and John Petersik use their fixer-upper houses as labs for DIY improvements. The husband-and-wife team, who are self-described "cheapos," have a huge following on their friendly blog, Young House Love.

The book serves up no-attitude advice and step-by-step directions for lots of everyday projects, including dressing up an $8 flea market mirror or painting ugly kitchen cabinets. Your goal in life might not be to re-cover a lampshade or weave a twine headboard. But that could change after reading the Petersiks' upbeat instructions. (Artisan Books, $25.95.)

"The Things That Matter"

Ever since Chicago designer Nate Berkus began appearing on Oprah in 2002, his name has been associated with room makeovers that reflect the lives of the people who live in them. In his second book, Berkus presents houses that tell the stories of their owners.

For him, that's more important than the color of the paint or the width of the crown molding. Berkus, in a very personal chapter, reveals how he is connected to the leather rhinoceros head and the chunk of malachite in his own New York place. Then, he invites us into the homes of 12 others. Through those stories, he hopes to inspire readers to celebrate and decorate with what is unique about themselves. (Spiegel & Grau, $35.)

"Home by Novogratz"

How do you decorate a surf shack? The Novogratzes would know. The hip, urban couple -- with seven children and a knack for interiors that combine the bold and the beautiful -- have become a brand.

Robert and Cortney Novogratz propelled their lifestyle and talents into an HGTV show, a home furnishings collection for CB2 and now this book, which chronicles their vintage-meets-modern design style. Twenty of the couple's projects, from a cramped condo in Queens to a mod bedroom for triplets, highlight the Novogratzes' talents. Realistic budget analysis estimates for each project show the cost of looking awesome. (Artisan Books, $35.)

"The Collected Home"

In his second book, Washington designer Darryl Carter explains how he creates his refined yet rustic spaces. There are ideas for hinges, moldings and paint colors. Then there is something deeper and more personal.

"In collecting your home, you are sharing the story of your life," Carter writes. His own widely published homes are treasure troves of weathered yet striking art, antiques and architectural salvage. Carter explains how he elicits clues from clients about what speaks to them, as he works with them to create their rooms. If you're ready to curate your place in a meaningful fashion, this book will guide you in the right direction. (Clarkson Potter, $45.)

"Barbara Barry: Around Beauty"

Anyone who has ever met Los Angeles designer Barbara Barry knows she's someone who cares deeply about every little thing, from how to properly arrange a tea tray to how to display arugula in the fridge. The goal for Barry is always beauty.

In this, her first book, she uses stunning photography and carefully composed prose to explain how you can achieve her well-ordered, almost Zen lifestyle. If you let Barry be your life coach, you will learn to simplify and elevate what you have. The photos of the flower-filled bedside tables, crisp linens and carefully composed firewood stacks make you feel calm just studying them. (Rizzoli, $65.)


If your life is lacking in glamour, flip through the latest book by Beverly Hills designer Kelly Wearstler. Her decoration of high-profile boutique hotels, as well as her stint as a judge on Bravo's "Top Design" series, brought national attention to her bold personal style and her talent with textures, colors and gilded rococo mirrors.

The Wearstler inspirations offered in this book are more in the lavish photographs than the text. She illustrates how some of her large projects using mixed materials such as marble and crystal can be recomposed in a smaller environment. By the last page, you might just be tempted to invest in some purple leather chairs, mirrored doors and studded metallic walls. (Rizzoli, $55.)

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