August Book Review: Apartment Therapy Presents

by moderndomestic on August 16, 2008

These days, it seems you can’t turn on the TV or pick up a magazine without being bombarded with decorating advice—often involving things like “Tuscan” wall treatments, “French country” stencils, “zen” water features, or something else that makes me wonder if the secret goal of the TV decorating industry is to turn our homes into themed hotel rooms.

In a world run amuck with questionable decorating advice, it does the soul good to stop by the Apartment Therapy blog,
one of my very favorite online interior decorating and design resources. Unlike the decorating TV shows with their teams of carpenters, or magazine articles featuring million-dollar lofts, Apartment Therapy focuses on design and decorating solutions for real people in real homes, on real budgets.

So when I found out that the Apartment Therapy team had a new book out called Apartment Therapy Presents, I had to pick it up. The book is a compendium of one of the blogs’ best features—virtual “house tours.” The tours consist of photos of well-designed, but real homes, as well as a short interview with the home owners.

For avid readers of Apartment Therapy, Apartment Therapy Presents won’t give you a lot of new information
—as far as I could tell, all the homes featured in the book were also featured as house tours or contest entries on the blog. But for people like me, who have only been reading the blog for the last year or so, it’s nice to have the house tours collected into one volume, especially as it includes some homes that I hadn’t seen before.

The styles in the homes range, but even with my limited design knowledge I could see that they tend towards modern, which is consistent with the style of the Apartment Therapy blog and community. I loved the sleek, clean modern look of many of the homes (especially Gregory and Emily’s SilverLake Sanctuary), but I wish that there had been a bigger range of styles in the book. Modern style is one something that I love in theory, but when I actually decorate a room I want something that’s a little warmer and more eclectic. I definitely appreciated the homes that had non-modern design aesthetics—especially Bri and Chad’s Fab on a Budget and Turquoise’s directional shift—but there could have been more.

The biggest problem I had with the book was that it didn’t have a decent index.
The index only sorts houses by region, and houses aren’t listed in the table of contents or the index with their cities. So, if I wanted to find out which apartments were in the DC area and which local design resources they used, I would have to look at each individual house. It may seem like a small thing, but a good index makes a book much easier to use as a practical design guide.

Also, if you’re the kind of person that gets overwhelmed with ideas when seeing beautiful homes then be warned: this book may give you a near heart attack from the torrents of creativity it will provoke. I finally had to limit myself to only looking at it in 10 minute increments, lest I get too excited with all the things I wanted to do, yet didn’t have time to do, in my own place.

The bottom line: the book is a great inspiration source, especially if you’re into modern design, and it has some good design resources. However, the lack of an index makes it difficult to use as a practical resource. Still, it has some excellent design eye-candy.

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