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

96 customer reviews

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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 + The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful
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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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Potter Style; 1 edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780307720139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307720139
  • ASIN: 0307720136
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 56 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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81 of 86 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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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Sophie C. Sensat on June 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
From the title, I was expecting this book to be a refreshing look at the obsession with perfection that so many of us have toward our homes, and a reminder that no, we don't have to be perfect all the time, and neither do our living spaces. Maybe with some awareness that not everyone has the time or money to make their homes look fantastic, and some basic advice for making things look good without spending all your time and energy on decorating.

Sadly, it seems to be filled with just as much this-is-what-you-MUST-do advice as other home decorating books. A few pages in, I was already overwhelmed with rules and extremely specific "advice" I know I'll never be able to afford to follow. I should be symmetrical, but not TOO symmetrical. I should fill my home with beautiful things, but also add "a bit of ugly." I need Egyptian cotton sheets that were made in Italy, and if I'm unlucky enough not to have my own "in-house laundress," I can "treat" myself to getting them professionally washed and ironed. Ironed! Life is far too short to waste time ironing sheets.

It's pretty obvious that this, like so many other decorating books, is written for people with much more money than I will probably ever have. Did you know that ottomans are "a personal matter between me and my upholsterer"? I can't even imagine saying the words "my upholsterer" with no sense of irony. I suppose the words "founding editor of Domino magazine" on the cover should have tipped me off.

The watercolor illustrations by Virginia Johnson are gorgeous, and I like that they're drawn and painted rather than photographed. It makes this book unique, and also lets your imagination fill in the details rather than thinking "okay, I have to have THIS chair and THIS wallpaper," etc.
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