Nothing brightens your day quite like being sent a lovely new home design book to pore over. With its regular pops of neon color, Home By Novogratz literally brightened my day, or at least my desk. First Impressions? The book is a beautiful read, the design is bright, clean, smart, and highly readable. Home By Novogratz is styled enough that you intermittently appreciate the design quirks and but not so styled that it detracts from the content – props to Eight and a Half, the book designers. I also appreciated the minimal philosophical espousing on design theory. Design is only one of many passions for me so reading ten pages on the metaphorical implications of using white paint vs. eggshell would have been too much to handle. That’s not to say they don’t give you an overview of their design philosophy, they do, they just keep it mercifully short and to the point.
The rest of the book is then broken down according to project. This layout was as follows: a “where we started” section that outlines the space, budget, client wish list, and the ultimate goals; the major design steps that occurred as they completed the project; either a “tips and tricks” section or a “How To” breakdown for a task that was featured in the project; and finally the budget analysis. I enjoyed this structure, it was logical and consistent. They also interspersed the standard steps with “Ask The Expert” panels that covered everything from lighting artwork to the importance of music to photographing kids. Lots of valuable information embedded in fabulous and fun design.
I’m notorious for my inability to effectively use a hammer which is why some DIY suggestions seemed unrealistic for yours truly. When they explained the best way to layer rugs or reinvigorate a flea market furniture find, I took mental notes. When they detailed how to rewire a vintage lamp and how to cover beams and columns in wood, I tuned out. The financial breakdown that closed each project was a feature I appreciated. It was useful to see where the money went, and to learn what percentages of the budget should be allotted for different expenses, based on priorities and goals.
By the end of the book, I had a pretty good sense of the Novogratz design aesthetic. Some design cues that appeared in all their outlined projects were: de-cluttering, custom woodwork, signature lighting, simple furniture, mismatched dining seating, vintage pieces, modern statement art pieces, and bold use of color. Their style is somewhat irreverent, and never seems to take itself too seriously. Their design process seems exactly as I would imagine them to be in person: functional, efficient, and down-to-business, but without sacrificing the elements of fun and style.
The best advice I gleaned from the book was this: “make every space feel like home, no matter how temporary your stay there.” This resonated especially with me as a new grad. I rarely took the time in college to design a space I truly loved as I never stayed in any one room more than two semesters. In retrospect, I wish I had; no place felt like a reflection of my personality. The mantra “I’ll do better next time” escaped my lips every year. Even now, after graduating college, I expect to move around several times in the next few years and find myself unwilling to invest any real time and money in my space. Well consider me “Novogratzed” (their word). I realize now that it might seem like a lot of effort to customize a room that will soon be someone else’s, but a living space affects your daily mood and outlook, and coming home to an area that makes you comfortable and happy every day seems worth the effort.
This design book is ideal for people looking to make dramatic changes to their living area, who aren’t afraid of color, and who enjoy a space that makes a real statement. The book is also pretty enough to be a coffee table book after you’re done perusing. Don’t, however, flick through this book if you’re having a bad hair day or any crisis of self-confidence. The Novogratzs and their seven children (yes, you read that correctly) are all ridiculously good-looking and trendy to boot. Reading this book gave me the urge to brush my hair and exchange my t-shirt for something bright with studs on it. Not that I did, but still.
I mean, honestly!