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HGTV’s Carter Oosterhouse (host of Carter Can, Million Dollar Rooms and Red, Hot & Green) has a new book out for homeowners who want to tackle their home design challenges (with practicality, style and a bit of environmental responsibility). Carter’s Way hit bookshelves just yesterday.

Carter Oosterhouse

Available for purchase Tuesday, October 2.

Carter knows how intimidating home design can be. With his upbeat “you can do it” attitude, he shows readers how to create budget-conscious design elements that they can implement with basic tools and a little DIY experience. His mission is to bring people’s imaginations to life when it comes to home design.

In Carter’s Way, he decodes the principles of design, using specific examples and stunning photography. He also teaches readers how to be environmentally responsible by using green products wherever possible — without adding huge costs or hassle to the project. Each chapter covers a different area of the house, acknowledging the diversity of layouts in today’s homes.

Carter Oosterhouse

This room uses a black-and-white background to showcase two stunning purple chairs. Don’t be afraid to flash your style (as long as it makes design sense).

I spoke to Carter this week about his book and while I had him, I asked a few other questions as well. Here’s what he had to say.

DH: You talk about “The Million Dollar Perspective” in your book — that if you take on never-before completed tasks with a mindset of ‘If offered a million dollars to do this, I will find a way to do it’ — you’ll be certain to find a way to do the project. But how does a person come to the conclusion that they can’t do it themselves — that they really need to hire out a project?

CO: Some projects are better left to professionals. Unless you have a vast amount of experience with the two, I would leave plumbing and electrical to plumbers and electricians. However, my philosophy can even work with these as well. You can figure out how to handle electrical and plumbing, but you’ll need to do your homework,  your research and be a professional’s understudy for a while.

Carter Oosterhouse

Notice the uplights that draw attention to both the accent wall and the flowing, wall-mounted art.

DH: You are not a formally trained designer. How do you see that as impacting your design style? Do you feel you have some advantages over those who are formally trained?

CO: Everything I know about design has been self-taught. Because I didn’t have the background, I was able to see design from a different light. I knew that if I wanted to stay relevant, I had to get in the design space. I had to figure it out on my own.

I was on enough television shows as a carpenter to where I thought, ‘I can do this!’ When I was on Trading Spaces, I worked on a daily basis with different designers. Being a builder by trade, I know how to figure things out and make things work. The same applied for me in the design world. Trading Spaces had 14 designers — I dealt with constant changes. And, they each had different methods/styles/ways of doing things. I was able to absorb it all. Surprisingly, if you take enough notes — you start to learn a vast array of styles.

When it comes to design, my strong suit is dealing with homeowners. I don’t come to the table with a traditional or contemporary mindset. I come with a ‘What does this homeowner want?’ point-of-view.

Carter Oosterhouse

You can decorate with decals! You can find lots of decal suppliers online, and the potential designs are limitless.

DH: I like it when you say that just because you have money, that doesn’t mean you have style — that you’ve seen some incredibly ugly million-dollar rooms. Is there a common mistake that you see people making when they design a room (that transcends money)?

CO: Ha! Oh yes. People look at their banking account and think they have to spend all of what’s there on their home. Instead, they should look at the details of their project — what it is exactly that they want to recreate. Instead of being realistic and analyzing the details of space, they just make the decision to change the space. Homeowners need to understand, money can’t fix everything. They need to appreciate their space and go from there. What are the dead spaces? Does the room have a good flow? I constantly see it. People have a lot of money and they decide to scrap everything. Oftentimes, it’s just not necessary.

Carter Oosterhouse

Decorative pillows, a round mirror in a stylized frame, and tabletop accents really personalize this space.

DH: What do you see as the single, most common “missed opportunity” in home design?

CO: It is most definitely spacial arrangement. Homeowners overlook it altogether. They try to stuff too many things in one space. There’s not good flow in the room. Spacial arrangement is one of the first things you should consider. Just because you see and love a sofa doesn’t mean you should buy it.

You’ve been in a room where you immediately know something is not right. It’s an instantaneous feeling you have. The furniture is too big — things are too crammed together.  Your furnishings must be in balance with the room and each other. They all have to work together.

Carter Oosterhouse

A six-picture grid centered behind this sofa is hung so that the top row is at ideal eye level -- a concession to the sloping ceiling.

DH: What part of home design do you see as the best place to save a little money — and, on the flip side, where do you see that people should splurge?

CO: If you buy a $2 paintbrush, you’re going to get a $2 paint job. If you want things to last (furniture, appliances, cabinetry), you’re going to need to spend a bit more. But, items like throw pillows, fabrics — you don’t have to spend a ton of money. Those tastes will change over time (maybe even annually). Also, you can save on flooring! Flooring can be cheap! Nowadays, engineered wood flooring (I’m not talking about laminate) looks just as good as hardwood.

Carter Oosterhouse

The furniture in this space is well balanced -- no over-sized or too petite pieces to throw off the visual weight.

DH: My favorite part of your book are these “Carter’s Law,” no-nonsense boxes with real-world advice and tips. Can you give me your top “Carter’s Law” project for fall? What should folks be doing this time of year?

CO: It’s October! It’s fall! The holidays are upon us. This is the perfect time to focus on your front door and your front porch. Make yours stand out from the rest of the neighborhood with wreaths, cornucopias — whatever you want. Show your neighbors how much style you possess.

To enter for a chance to win one of two copies of Carter’s Way, signed by Carter Oosterhouse, leave a comment below. Just answer our question. Are you ready? Here you go: How do you go about styling (decorating) your home?

You may only comment once to be considered, and you don’t have to purchase anything to win; a purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Odds depend on total number of entries. Void where prohibited by law. Only open to legal residents of 50 U.S., D.C. or Puerto Rico, and you must be at least 18 years of age to win. All entries (comments) must be entered between 10:00 a.m. ET on October 3, 2012 and 5:00 p.m. ET on October 10, 2012. Subject to full official rules. By leaving a comment on the blog, you acknowledge your acceptance to the Official Rules. ARV of prize: $24.95. Sponsor: Scripps Networks, LLC, d/b/a HGTV, 9721 Sherrill Boulevard, Knoxville, TN 37932.

28 Responses

  1. Cheryl M. says:

    I didn't know Carter had a new book out. I will be getting this for sure as he is my favorite HGTV star.

  2. Julie says:

    I'll have this book before the day is over! I love Carter O.

  3. Melissa F. says:

    Great questions for Carter and he has such common sense advice. Big fan of his.

  4. Bobbi says:

    How do you go about styling (decorating) your home?
    Well, I'm just an average home owner who enjoys the creativity I see in decorating shows/books/etc. I share my home with my husband (20 yrs on 10-24-12!) and my mother. So we have 3 peoples styles to merge. I think weve found an ok balance between country, modern and man cave. At times I take little nuggets I see/hear and try them at home. But truely, my home is a place of function and comfort. Full of furniture passed down from family, and pieces I've added along the way. I have a true love of wood and stone, a respect for the time passed to create it in nature. It grounds me. Perhaps I'll take Carters advice and spruce up our front door/ entry area. Its quite ignored and UNDERWhelming! o.0

  5. Elizabeth Ford says:

    The $2 paintbrush/$2 paint job theory is SO true. It's well worth a little more money to get quality furnishings that will be around for a long time, as opposed to something cheap or cut rate that lasts only a season.

  6. Kim says:

    Looks like a beautiful book. Can't wait to get mine!

  7. Rose says:

    I think about the shows I watch on HGTV. When I think what would look good I go well they said not all furniture does not match and if you want to paint you don't necessary have to paint the room that color just use accessories.

  8. Kathy Pevine says:

    I've been doing a lot of pinterest projects to decorate my home! My new home office is almost all ideas I found on pinterest. I'd love to win this book for more great ideas!

  9. Diana says:

    Looks like this is going to be a very good book.

  10. Wendy says:

    My favorite episodes of Trading Spaces were when Carter was on there.

Grant DudleyGrant is the editor-in-chief of Design Happens and digital programming manager of HGTV.com. Despite growing up begging his mom not to ever drag him to another antique store, today his...

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