ALL POSTS IN Book Reviews

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How are those New Year’s resolutions going so far? I’ll be honest — I don’t have any because I can never stick to them. Mainly because I get lazy and easily fall back into my old habits. Good, now that I got that off my chest, I’d like to reach out to those who are doing awesome and keeping their resolutions (or maybe those who need a little encouragement).

I’ve recently connected with Caroline Shannon-Karasik of Sincerely Caroline and she shared her new book The Gluten-Free Revolution with me. What I was expecting was a gluten-free cookbook. What I got was an easy-to-follow healthy lifestyle book. Not only does it make living the gluten-free and vegan lifestyle easy to accomplish , but it also includes yoga and pilates exercises, tips on what items and tools to stock in your kitchen and has simple homemade beauty recipes.

The Gluten-Free Revolution Book

After reading this book from top to bottom, I decided to share some of my favorite recipes with you.

See My Top 5 Recipe Picks

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A former partner of the legendary design firm Parish-Hadley, interior designer Brian McCarthy is a member of Elle Decor’s “A-List” of designers and is known for creating personal and distinctive interiors for an elite and very private clientele. Brian’s clients’ desire to keep under the radar means that he doesn’t often publish his projects, but in his first book, Luminous Interiors, he’s pulling back the curtains on nine luxury residences from all over the country.

Luminous Interiors by Brian McCarthy

Left: Luminous Interiors Cover | Right: Brian McCarthy photo by Peter Murdock

Inside, Brian showcases the refined eclecticism that defines his work. He’s passionate about collecting art and furniture, and for one project shown in the book, he took his clients on a grand tour throughout Western Europe — a total of 35 trips in five years! — to scout for the perfect pieces to fill their home.

Take a sneak peek at some of the luxurious and opulent homes Brian has designed for his anonymous clientele:

The Grand Tour

Luminous Interiors - Elegant Guest Bedroom

Photo: Fritz von der Schulenburg

This guest bedroom offers the ultimate retreat, balancing both opulent and rustic design styles.

Peek Into More Luxurious Interiors

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I’m a DIYer to the core. (Also see: Obsessive Craigslister, craft store aficionado, Pinterest project beta tester.) My first thought when I see a vase or a bookshelf or a wreath I like is usually “How can I make this?” But I’ll admit, I’ve always been a bit intimidated when it comes to upholstery projects.

So when I saw a lampshade-making class on the schedule at Altitude Design Summit, I decided to give it a shot. That’s when I met HGTV.com and Design* Sponge contributor Amanda Brown for the first time.

We started with funky, amazing fabrics you wouldn’t find in most big-box stores. After gluing the fabric to plastic backing, we clamped it around metal rings and embellished it with ribbon. I went home with a pretty amazing lampshade, and a desire to learn more about the craft of upholstery. (Come back to Design Happens next week to learn this process!)

Amanda Brown - Spruce Upholstery

Just a few short years ago, Amanda was just where I am: Eager to put her own DIY stamp on furniture finds, but not sure where to start. She enrolled in some upholstery classes, and before she knew it she had jumped in with both feet. She started rehabbing furniture as a side project; then started Spruce Austin to make her side job her day job. Over the last several years, she’s learned the tricks of the trade. Luckily, you don’t have to start an upholstery shop to learn her process. She wrote the new book, Spruce: A Step-By-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design to be the textbook she wished she had when she was first starting out.

Spruce Design Book

The book delves into the step-by-step process of revamping the furniture pieces in Amanda’s real-life living room, from a bold wingback chair to an upholstered ottoman to modern-lined sofa. It’s full of practical knowledge like how to find and use the tools of the trade, plus tips to choose the right fabrics and figure out the proper yardage for each project. There’s also a handy glossary to help you decode upholstery terms.

EXCLUSIVE: SEE HOW AMANDA PREPS FURNITURE FOR UPHOLSTERY

Along the way, she also shares some of her favorite furniture transformations, and fun moments from the upholstery shop. Here are just a few of the items Amanda and her staff have recovered while reupholstering pieces (no diamond rings or pearl necklaces yet, though!):

New Upholstery Book by Amanda Brown

Ready to start your upholstery journey? Meet up with Amanda and the Spruce team in person on their cross-country book-signing tour, or attend a workshop and learn to make your own bench or lampshade. Find her in HGTV’s stomping ground of Knoxville, Tenn. on Tuesday, November 12. (See the full schedule here.)

RELATED: MAKE YOUR OWN UPHOLSTERED DOOR

But don’t just take my word for it…see more design bloggers’ thoughts on the book here:

Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery And Design, is available now.

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The Knit Parade by Rebecca Rymsza showcases 12 original knitting patterns for motif sweaters from the creative team behind the Wheres Me Jumper brand. These patterns make a bold statement and encourage knitters to personalize their sweaters as much as they like. Each pattern is inspired by a song, ranging from musical notes (“On Repeat” by LCD Soundsystem), to a leopard print (“Me Jane” by PJ Harvey) and dripping paint (“Paint It Black” by The Rolling Stones).

The additional six customizable graphic swatches are practically begging to be played with. “Use one or use them all, however you like. You might be a polka-dot prince, or princess, and choose to stick to one pattern … or you might want to channel the Fresh Prince, circa 1991, in which case, we salute you,” Rebecca says in The Knit Parade.

Take a peek into the funky patterns you can expect. (Hello, handmade Christmas gifts!)

The Knit Parade Sweater Pattern

Pattern: Bad Girls
Inspiration: “Bad Girls” is a song from alternative electronic hip-hop artist M.I.A’s fourth studio album, Matangi, in 2013.

The Knit Parade Sweater Pattern

Pattern: Weather Experience
Inspiration: “Weather Experience” is a song from English electronic band The Prodigy’s debut studio album, Experience, in 1992.

The Knit Parade Sweater Pattern

Pattern: Are ‘Friends’ Electric?
Inspiration: The song “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” is by English new wave band Tubeway Army from the 1979 album Replicas.

Who’s ready to get out their knitting needles and speakers?!

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Made By Hand, the newest book by Lena Corwin, is a collection of projects based on the classes held in her studio. Her first book, Printing By Hand, showcases a modern guide to handmade printing with stamps, stencils and more. In her newest book, she decided to expand her curriculum and even invited some of her talented friends to teach classes on everything from dyeing and sewing to weaving and jewelry making. In 26 studio classes, Made By Hand introduces readers to ageless crafting techniques with modern projects. Take a look at some of my favorites straight from the book:

Lena Corwin's Made by Hand - Rotary-Printed Cloth Napkins

Project by Lena Corwin

Rotary-Printed Cloth Napkins: ”While planning this book, I spent time experimenting with printing techniques that were new to me, and I have become especially interested in the concept of rotary printing,” Lena says in Made By Hand. “When manufacturers produce rotary-printed fabric, a large cylinder is carved with impressions and is used to print on long, continuous rolls of fabric.”

To make a smaller rotating stamp, Lena attached pieces of foam to a rolling pin. The foam pieces soak up the ink, allowing the design to easily transfer to the fabric. Here, she chose a fun polka-dot design in neon hues to create napkins.

Lena Corwin's Made By Hand - Crocheted Garland

Project by Erin Weckerle

Crocheted Garland: To create this garland, Erin used three different doily patterns and chose muted, vintage colors. You can hang the garland anywhere around your home — on a mantel, headboard, window, etc.

Lena Corwin's Made By Hand - Crocheted Rugs

Project by Cal Patch | Braided rug, top; Crocheted rug, bottom

Crocheted or Braided Rugs: “For this project, Cal and I decided to show two great rug-making methods — braided and crocheted. Both methods use the same fabric but produce distinctively different looks,” Lena says in Made By Hand. “Braided rugs … have a classic, old-fashioned appearance, while crocheted rugs … look more modern.”

SEE MORE HANDMADE PROJECTS

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Interior designer Holly Holden is an expert in old-school design. For more than 25 years, she has been creating pretty, classic and tailored spaces for clients around the world. Then two years ago, her daughter, Alexandra, asked her: “How do I furnish my new house to look like a ‘big girl’ house?” Holly knew this question required more than just a simple answer; it elicited lists, tips and design advice “peppered with words like ‘pretty’, ‘proper’, ‘polished’, ‘refined’ and ‘well-proportioned’,” she said.

Now, after years of compiling examples, photographs and time-tested advice, Holly has created the handbook for creating an authentic living space, The Pretty and Proper Living Room. Here, Holly guides readers through the subtle qualities of creating this type of space while sharing the must-know no-no’s.

The Pretty and Proper Living Room Holly Holden

“Classic interior design, like good manners, never goes out of style,” Holly says.

The Pretty and Proper Living Room Holly Holden

This living room’s theme: elegant European refinement; old meets new and East meets West.

I spoke to Holly this week about her new book and her love of traditional design. Here’s what she had to say.

Kayla Kitts for Design Happens: Have you always been drawn to classic, traditional design? What makes this style so appealing to you as a designer?

Holly Holden: I was introduced to this type of design by my parents from day one, so on a personal level it is familiar and comforting to me. Speaking more objectively, this style of design is elegant and inviting. The finished product is a room that is memorable, but also comfortable — a room that guests do not want to leave! Additionally, there is a timelessness to this style of decorating, both in the sense that it has stood the test of time and in the sense that it is not going to fall out of fashion in the future.

OUR INTERVIEW WITH HOLLY HOLDEN

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Have you ever wondered who created the very first sofa? Or what Victorians brought home from vacations as souvenirs?  Design*Sponge managing editor and self-described bibliophile Amy Azzarito tackles the history behind household objects (everything from curtains to chandeliers to cast iron) and how those stories intersect with modern life in her Past and Present column.

Amy’s new book by the same name is full of dinner party-worthy facts — things you might not know now, but will be glad you learned. For example, sofas and armchairs just didn’t exist until the early 18th century,  when Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour began to popularize private spaces made for comfort, not just display. Watching a movie just wouldn’t be the same curled up on a straight-backed wooden chair, right?

Past and Present Book Review on HGTV's Design Happens

Part history lesson and part DIY manual, she pairs 24 essays about interesting moments in decorative arts history with thoroughly modern projects developed alongside design trendsetters like Todd Oldham, David Stark and ConfettiSystem.

I especially love this black-and-white headboard project designed by Eddie Ross: It’s inspired by the iconic jasperware pottery created by Josiah Wedgwood, which features white relief designs on a matte black surface. This modern version is made from a hollow-core door, white PVC trim and decorative moldings.

Black and White DIY Headboard - HGTV's Design Happens

I chatted with Amy about the collaborations and her personal style. Plus, try one of the book’s DIY projects!

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How does a luxurious interior design sensation like Miles Redd create a brand of “cozy glamour” and step into the world of design? It all started at age five.

“When I was a boy growing up in Atlanta, Ga., my mother had a copy of Cecil Beaton‘s book The Royal Portraits that I used to flip through for hours on end. The photographs are heavy stuff: Princess Elizabeth in ermine coronation robes, holding scepters; Princess Margaret in an immense tulle ball gown splayed across a red damask banquette. After that, there wasn’t a prayer for me; my five-year-old eyes had seen what appeared to be the height of chic, and there was no turning back, at least not until I had my own tufted red madness. It was my first glimpse of the great big glittering world to which I wanted to belong.” — Miles Redd, The Big Book of Chic

The Big Book of Chic

Miles was inspired by chic, elegant decor at a young age and remains drawn to the same style of living to this day. I truly believe you can learn the most about a person by looking at their photographs, and interior designers often convey their personality through their designs. Miles’ newest book, The Big Book of Chic (Assouline, 2012), does just that. It’s 300 pages long with 150 full-page illustrations, giving readers a glimpse into what inspires Miles and provides intimate portraits of a beautiful, sophisticated life. You know, a group gathered around a well-dressed table enjoying hors d’oeuvres and cocktails; an elegant man stepping off a private jet with his dog; and a photo of Princess Margaret in a luxurious tulle ball gown. Quotes from Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, Pablo Picasso, Henry James and Alexander Pope (just to name a few) are truly the icing on the cake of this beautifully-illustrated book.

Plus, readers can peek into several of Miles’ own townhouse and beach house projects in Houston, Atlanta, Millbrook and Locust Valley. What I love most about this book is that I can be staring at the details of an antique crystal chandelier on one page and turn to a picture of Miles in a tuxedo standing on a chair in a mirrored room.

Miles ReddCourtesy of Cameron Krone

Step inside the colorful, whimsical, inspirational, spirited and eclectic world that is Miles Redd.

The Big of Chic Interiors© Francesco Lagnese

“There are chemists who spend their whole lives trying to find out what’s in a lump of sugar. I want to know one thing. What is color?” — Pablo Picasso, featured in The Big Book of Chic

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If you’ve read the blog Young House Love at all, you know Sherry and John Petersik are real can-do people. They’ve completely made over a house and a half and chronicled their successes (and failures) for millions of readers in their signature fun-loving, no-nonsense voice.

But less than 5 years ago, they were remodeling novices too, muddling through their first project as homeowners. In short: If you’re new to home improvement, they’ve been in your shoes and want to help. That’s the idea behind their new book, Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love.

Young House Love Book

To the Petersiks, home design isn’t about the big reveals, it’s about the small victories. That’s why they worked to come up with  more than 200 home improvement ideas (most of which you can accomplish in less than a day) that range from easy DIY projects like recovering a dresser with wallpaper to shopping and storage tips to no-nonsense remodeling advice. A favorite: ‘A home-decorating decision is not going to save the world…or end it…it’s all going to be okay.’

RELATED: See Sherry’s Best and Worst Room Picks

As a new-ish homeowner who only recently began experiencing the angst (It’s been a month…why haven’t I accomplished more?) and satisfaction (I actually completed something!) that is DIY remodeling, I appreciate that the Petersiks have been there, done that, and lived to tell the tale. Their project ideas are pretty darn inspiring, too:  Why yes, I think I will paint a pattern on my stair risers and frame a collage of favorite ticket stubs this weekend.

I chatted with co-author Sherry to learn more about the book and get her been there, done that remodeling tips. Plus: Get two sample step-by-step projects.
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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.
Interview With Carter & Chance To Win Autographed Copy of Carter’s Way

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