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The Perfectly Imperfect Home: How to Decorate and Live Well Hardcover – November 1, 2011

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The Perfectly Imperfect Home: How to Decorate and Live Well + Domino: The Book of Decorating: A Room-by-Room Guide to Creating a Home That Makes You Happy + Decorate: 1,000 Design Ideas for Every Room in Your Home
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Potter Style; 1 edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307720136
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307720139
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 8.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Deborah Needleman is a terrific editor--of words, and now, of rooms and living spaces. In her very readable book, The Perfectly Imperfect Home, the author offers her advice and expertise on a very important subject--how to make your house your home. She includes succinct advice from the great decorators, sage commentary on what to keep and what to throw away, and valuable rules for what to add to a room to make it exactly right--for you and your family. -Martha Stewart
I used to think that my taste was so irredeemable and so rooted in some kind of male, post-college, National Football League time warp--I own a green velour couch!--that no one, not even Deborah Needleman, could help me. I was wrong. -Malcolm Gladwell

Beautiful in a similar way is Deborah Needleman’s PERFECTLY IMPERFECT HOME: HOW TO DECORATE & LIVE WELL (Clarkson Potter, $30), with Kalman-like illustrations by Virginia Johnson. Ms. Needleman, the editor in chief of WSJ Magazine and the founding editor of Domino magazine, has a terrific eye and a dry sense of humor. This is a decorating book for how we live today, and it’s for the 99 percent as well as for the swells. Chapter titles include: “Places for Chatting,” “Cozifications,” “A Bit of Quirk” and “Spots for Books, Drinks, & Feet.” This has the feel of a minor classic, and aren’t the minor classics so often better than the major ones? -Dwight Garner, New York Times Holiday Gift Guide

About the Author

Deborah Needleman is the Internationally known editor-in-chief and creative mastermind behind Domino magazine - a cultural touchstone that amassed more than a million subscribers in just four years. Now the editor-in-chief of WSJ Magazine, Deborah is a widely published expert on interior design, style, and gardening. Virginia Johnson's illustrations have appeared in books by Kate Spade and on textiles carried in stores such as Liberty, Barneys in New York and Net-a-Porter. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I gave this book to a friend of mine who is a great decorator...she was quite excited to receive it!
Julie K. Dolbier
They look great on the coffee table and the pictures are nice but this is a cover to cover type book and I have read it more than once.
Needleman writes that the point of decorating is to "create the background for the best life you can live."
Dan Herman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Dan Herman on November 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The Perfectly Imperfect Home: How to Decorate and Live Well by Deborah Needleman is a terrific resource for home decorators. Needleman writes that the point of decorating is to "create the background for the best life you can live." As a designer myself, I fully agree with this sentiment.

This book is the opposite of what a staged home would be like...(staging is when one creates a home to appeal to all and depersonalizes it.)

According to Needleman, one does not decorate simply to have a home look decorates to feel comfortable, to fit ones lifestyle--functionality, and to feel good in. "Decorating improves ones life!" She claims.

The reader is asked to decide what you want your home to do--what functions should it serve? Next, how does your home make you feel? With this information, you are guided in furniture and styling to make your home work best for you.

The goal is to make your home personal and comfortable and highly functional. she writes: "Luxury is simply what makes you happy."

The remainder of the book is divided into sections with many tips on how to make a functional, personal and comfortable home. Within each of the following chapters, these are discussed:

* Lighting
* The entry way
* Areas for conversation
* "A bit of quirk"--personalizing your space to reflect you
* "Spots for books, drinks, and feet"
* "Cozifications"
* Bedroom
* Bathroom
* "Glamifications"--wallpaper, objects
* "Dinners with friends"--making entertaining special with pretty objects and functional with a well stocked pantry
* Personal stuff
* Smells--adding flowers, scented things
* History--adding antiques, crafts

Altogether, I highly recommend this book.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A. Holmes on December 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book after listening to an interview with Needleman on a podcast I subscribe to. I watch a lot of HGTV and DIY, but beyond that I am very new to the consumption of interior design products, and every magazine I've bought on the subject only served to depress me about the lack of money and skill I have to reproduce the results in the photos.

Needleman's book did not inspire the same defeatism; in fact, it has energized me to redecorate my home on my own budget and to my personal taste.


- Needleman's writing and tone is accessible and interesting. She was just enough authority and technical terms to make me feel that I was in the hands of an expert and just enough joking and asides to keep the material from being dry.
- Love the water color paintings. Most magazines give you snapshots of someone's perfectly designed house, which actually limits your ability to imagine how you'd recreate the look or modify it for your own home. The water color somehow subverted that and was just beautiful enough to be inspiring.

- No chapter on home office
- The kitchen chapter could be more substantial (most of it focused on the dining area)
- In terms of class consciousness, I couldn't help but be regularly reminded of my staunch middle-classness at times, especially when being told that a certain candle from Italy is really the only candle worth having. Use of French was at times a bit pretentious.


I read this book cover to cover, and plan to re-read it as I redecorate my own home this spring.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful By L. M. Keefer TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is as refreshing and lilting as a Cole Porter song. The tone of it is a great mix of what the author loves best in design, and writes about: it's light, welcoming, chatty, quirky, comfortable, insouciant, cozy, glamorous, festive, personal and has a sense of history.

For design aficionados, it may read like a good novel. The winsome watercolors by Virginia Johnson add to the quirky charm of this book. They are frame-worthy and would be lovely on the walls of a reading corner, guest room or small bathroom. The watercolors of rooms are appealing the way a painting of a loved one is appealing in place of a photograph. You may enjoy guessing which rooms by designers the illustrations are capturing.

The star here is the text--the pointed point of view of the author Deborah Needleman who was founder of one of the most original design magazines DOMINO and is now Editor in Chief of WSJ MAGAZINE. If all design is opinion, she's got one; it has been informed by the pantheon of the first generation of great professional designers. They are quoted liberally in this book. We know them by their last names: Wharton, Fowler, Baldwin, Hicks, Hadley, Parish, Hampton and de Wolfe. English design is a strong bloodline in this ancestry which influences her philosophy. It combines with a bit of French elegance, and a touch of American democracy in decorating such as don't get hung up on the provenance of a piece as Hadley would say, and combine the handsome with the homely per Bilhuber. Needleman also has favorites in designers working today--some of whom may be on your list. It's an eclectic mix. It may prompt you to create your own list of designers whose works tantalize you.

If design is an expression of personality, this book is an expression of the author's.
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