Customer Review

48 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars De-lightful, De-licious, De-lovely, November 10, 2011
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This review is from: The Perfectly Imperfect Home: How to Decorate and Live Well (Hardcover)
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. It synthesizes some of the best of the past, adapting and combining it with contemporary living today. It may inspire you, as it did me, to think about what constitutes your own ideal of a "perfectly imperfect home". What are the 10 adjectives that describe your ideal style? If one word is glamorous, what embodies glamour for you? A folding screen that 1940's stars are always changing behind in 1940's movies? It may provoke you to write down on folders your 10 or so favorite adjectives for style you love, and then start collecting photos of rooms, or elements of rooms, that include the ingredients which epitomize these adjectives for you. You may want to collect quotes by favorite designers on design elements you love, and consider combining them to produce your own book on MY PERFECTLY IMPERFECT HOME. (ELLE DECOR last week sent out an email on BLURB which, for as little as $10.95, will publish a personal bookstore-quality book that you design for your own coffee table or ottoman.)

Reading this book is an aesthetic delight and best experienced curled up in a favorite spot, with a throw, tasty beverage on requisite side table, and a fire or scented candles lit for an uninterrupted hour of sheer immersion in design. Here's a sampling of some favorite design insights from this book. You will have fun finding your own:

* Upholstered chairs are the backbone of a room. (Billy Baldwin)
* Every room should have a personality chair (Sister Parish)
* No more than three brown pieces of wood in a room (Sister Parish)
* When mixing patterns, connect through color and contrast through scale (Needleman)
* English furniture, all foursquare and sensible, was relieved by the delicacy of a French piece (John Fowler)
* I personally try to avoid all ceiling lights because I think that overhead light is a tragedy (Albert Hadley
* Make your home as comfortable and attractive as possible and then get on with living (Albert Hadley)

and one that may make you laugh:

* Every room needs a bit of ugly--"often an ugly color is introduced such as a faded black or drab, to give counterpoint to colors that are sweet and clean." (John Fowler).

Beautiful with a bit of ugly, stylish and sensible, your own vision of a perfectly imperfect home should be enhanced by this book. If you like the elements of style on the cover, you should enjoy the content inside.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 11, 2011 9:03:30 AM PST
A de-lightful review of a recent, creatively-designed book on decor that I am looking forward to reading.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 11, 2011 9:17:09 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 15, 2011 9:40:37 AM PST
L. M. Keefer says:
Linda M.:

Thank you for your kind words--this is one of my favorite design books that was published this year, as you can probably tell from my review.

Hope you enjoy the book and I look forward to seeing your review here, too.

Posted on Nov 26, 2011 12:45:27 PM PST
Kcorn says:
Convinced me to buy this book! And a review I enjoyed so much I read it twice.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2011 10:51:06 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 28, 2011 2:40:57 PM PST
L. M. Keefer says:
K. Corn:

Ah, thanks so much for your kind words--they mean a lot. The design world has been waiting with anticipation for this original book by the former editor of DOMINO magazine. There are plenty of great design books with photos of gorgeous rooms, which we all love. You want to approach this book differently, as a good read with winsome illustrations.

I read some of your reviews and found them so helpful. Loved the one about book regarding the young woman who moved to Chicago and tried to find a new best friend there. Also the kindle fire review and the comfort food cookbook. Am going to get those.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2011 3:19:56 PM PST
Kcorn says:
L.M Keefer - I have the Fire but also have an iPad and love both. I would suggest you check out the Kindle owners' forum to get a sense of how people feel about the Fire. for me, neither one is better than the other but I can't imagine having one without the other, at least for my purposes. The iPad is significantly larger but the Fire offers instant streaming of movies, especially thse on Amazon. Anyway, it is a purchase to research carefully to make sure it meets your needs.

I do love mine.
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