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Use What You Have Decorating Paperback – October 1, 1999

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Perigee Trade; Reprint edition (October 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039952536X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399525360
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 7.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (147 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #295,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Finally, finally, a practical home-decorating book for the reader who is not a millionaire! Rather than call in a professional design consultant to tell you which walls "must go" and throwing out everything you own in favor of new and expensive designer fabrics, furniture, and fixtures, Ward starts with what you already have and makes dramatic transformations by arrangement, use of color, and a few inexpensive additions of objects or materials. Her idea is to use what you already have and like, and operate on a budget you can afford to make your home more satisfying and aesthetically pleasing to you without being a slave to passing trends, fads, and radical transformations that end up making you feel like a stranger in your own home.

Among the many tips and guidelines, Ward starts with the top 10 decorating mistakes that professionals all know about, but that anyone can recognize and fix. She covers diagnosing problems that jar the eyes, offers suggestions on items to banish and others to borrow from elsewhere in the home to create more visual appeal, talks about how to shop for furniture that will work with what you already own, offers tips for new homeowners and people just starting out to make older furniture work in new spaces, and covers the kinds of dramatic improvements possible through the use of the right artwork, accessories, and lighting. This is a great gift book for newlyweds, new homeowners, or anyone interested in creative, lively home decorating without breaking the bank. --Mark A. Hetts --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Ward, founder of Use What You Have Interiors, shares her ten design considerations, such as making a comfortable conversation area, identifying a room's focal point, and using light correctly, for transforming homes into livable, attractive spaces. She devotes a chapter to each of these principles with before-and-after pictures of clients' homes, identifying what the problems are and how to correct them. In each case, she includes a list of what was eliminated, borrowed from other rooms, or bought. Focusing on living and dining rooms, Ward concludes with a brief discussion of kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms. Never advocating a particular style, except for an uncluttered look, her book will be a practical purchase for public libraries.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I really wanted to like this book, but unfortunately it was very disappointing.
A. L. Coffey
This book saved me (or maybe I should say "earned" me) a great deal of money each time I had to sell in this downturned housing market.
J. Sipkens
I now "own" her ideas and can re-create a great home with any room layout or furniture.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

175 of 184 people found the following review helpful By Justus Pendleton on April 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
A better title for this book would have been "How to Rearrange Your Single Purpose Living Room If You Have a Fireplace And Nice Furniture to Create a Comfortable Conversation Area". She talks exclusively about living rooms and 90% of the problems she shows are solved by moving the furniture closer together so people can hold a conversation comfortably. And not just any living room but a certain kind of formal living room. Almost every room she shows has a fireplace and has a very regular geometric shape. How do I create a focal point if my living room is an octagon with windows on almost every wall and no windowless wall is big enough to put a couch under? Only one room she shows has a television in it. How do I create a comfortable conversation area that also lets me (and my guests) watch television? How can the fireplace be the focal point of the room if I also have a television in it? What if I live in a 800 square foot apartment and don't have the space for the strict separation of duties that she seems to advocate? What if I don't have a family room to put the television in? What if I don't like my furniture or want to add to my collection? While I find her low-cost use-what-you-already-have approach a nice alternative to the spend-$20,000-and-change-everything approach, sometimes just rearranging your furniture and art isn't going to cut it.
Instead what we get are 10 basic design guidelines. And I do mean basic. I honestly have to wonder about all of these people who have fireplaces and don't use them as the focal point of the room. While it seems like what she says is just common sense, I suppose there is some good in having it written down. It just seems like it isn't really enough information to fill an entire book and then charge $16 for it.
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92 of 95 people found the following review helpful By And You May Find Yourself on October 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
The most useful feature of this book is the list of major decorating mistakes: the author illustrates them clearly, so you can see why they are mistakes, and offers simple, inexpensive solutions. The before-and-after black and white photos of unmistakably real homes (first two pages: what's wrong here? overleaf: how did we fix it?) are very convincing. You'll get a lot of basic knowledge out of this book: how to create a good conversation space, how to create "flow" in a room, how to avoid visual clutter, what to do with collections. Her method of presentation teaches you what questions you need to ask yourself in order to show your own furniture and space to its best advantage. Which is what decorating is all about, right?

I have a few quibbles: why does Ward assume that only men are interested in good hi-fi equipment while women would be happy with anything that doesn't interfere with their decorating scheme?? I beg to differ... Her style is generally rather "feminine" - she'll encourage you to use lots of pillows and throws - which isn't for everyone.

The only major gap in this book is how to use colour to improve the look of your space. She's of the "white and/or beige is best for all rooms" school. Boring, boring, boring. Myself, I'm fixing to paint my dining room red.
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52 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Gregory on February 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
I found this book to be extremly helpful because it guides you through creating a visually pleasing home that is also functional by rearranging items that you already have. So many people have beautiful things in their home and expensive furniture, but do not arrange these items so their rooms "work". This book gives you practical advice that you can really implement in an hour or two. It fullfills a need that is overlooked in most interior decorating books.
This book does not focus on interior decorating as a whole or the components that are traditionally addressed in interior decorating books(picking a style, a color theme, window treatments, picking furniture and accessories). This book concentrates on the arranging portion of decorating. The book does not contain color photos (However, I did not find that to be an issue and actually found black and white to be helpful in this case because it didn't distract me from the topics). If you are looking for a book to guide you through the overall decorating process, you will be disappointment with this book. Check out Better Homes and Gardens New Decorating Book for a complete book on interior decorating. However, if you are looking for a book to help you arrange your stuff, then you will be absolutely thrilled with this book and the results you produce.
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn Cooper-Smith on January 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The genius of this book is that it gives you a firm foundation for any decorating you want to do, and you can do it WITHOUT SPENDING ANY MONEY! This book is the first and last word on furniture arrangement for non-professionals, and it doesn't tell you to buy new furniture before you start. This is not a comprehensive book on the whole decorating/design process, but it does teach by realistic example, it's thorough, and it's easy to understand. No, there are not a lot of color pictures, but color is not the point of this book. The photographs feature the sort of furniture and rooms that most of us are dealing with, rather than fantasy rooms that few of us can afford. I found it very helpful to see the bare bones without having every detail planned out for me. I do wish the author had ventured beyond the living room--perhaps most people request a re-design of their public rooms. However, what I learned certainly helped me to plan other spaces in my new house. If she ever does a book on other rooms of the home, I'd stand in line to buy it. I agree that some of her ideas are arbitrary, and I don't buy all of them. I have to admit, however, that removing the photographs and odd objects from our bookshelves considerably improved their appearance. This book is a wonderful companion to other decorating books you may all ready have or plan to buy. And it may save you a lot of money!
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