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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon December 11, 2012
In 'American Beauty' professional decorator and tv personality Thom Filicia tells a heartwarming and personal story of his strong ties to the Finger Lakes Region of New York State and narrates how those ties developed into purchasing a modest vernacular house on Skaneateles Lake and how he used his professional design skills to make the place into a real home. More than most books of this kind, this is a case study of a single set of house problems. We see a meaningful project from start to finish rather than 'best of' snapshots of a decorator's over-all work. The photographs in this book, made mostly by Eric Piasecki, are clear, colorful and evocative, showing the pre-project house, the atmospheric lake side location and giving insightful views into every room. There are plenty of these pictures for the reader to look at and to think about but each of them and all of them are grounded in a strong sense of reality and of place. Extra touches in the book tell the story of the rennovation crew and even Thom's dog(s) add life to the book's pages. In fact, we are left with the impression of what a photo essay would be like of a PBS 'This Old House' project, complete with its 'side bars' on the local community.

The author talks the reader through the process of finding the house, evaluating its possibilities 'Renovate or Obliterate,' 'Picking Your Team'
(selecting an architect and builder that know the community and working with the community and its local laws to add something useful to its housing stock.) A wide range of decorating and design tips are presented in a very down-to-earth manner. Highlighted blocks of text include: Pricing a Fixer-Upper; Adding Dimension (curing a 'flat front', adding drama to an entry, evaluating roofing materials, accenting windows and linking the roof line to the body of the house), differentiating the country home from the city home and sub-chapters on each of the main parts of the project (Doors, Walls and Wall Treatments, Fireplace, Windows Inside and Out, Floors) and a room-by-room presentation of the project's issues and how they were resolved.

Thom Filicia comes across as a real person in this book who is leading a real life. There is nothing about him of the 'precious' decorator to the rich and famous. While our budgets will likely not equal his, the same concepts apply to rennovation and to working with an architect and contractor on new construction and on any other home makeover. The final aim is to make a home and a space in which your life can happen, your neighbors can drop in and your guests can be entertained. That is the explicit aim that Thom focuses on throughout this project.
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on January 15, 2016
Love Mr. Filicia's book American Beauty. Can't pinpoint why his design wows me, but it does. It's not pretentious but it's rich. I think an average income person can achieve a facsimile of this look by copying the forms and furniture placement. I read this book from cover to cover, the text is also interesting.
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on April 12, 2013
Renovations of an old home on a gorgeous lake near Syracuse is very interesting. If you've ever visited the area, you would enjoy excellent local restaurants and bakeries while viewing mansions, cottages, Criss-Craft vintage boats, "Old Money", and pretty gardens. The winters are fierce, but the rest of the year you'd enjoy the mature trees, the beautiful lake, and appreciation of days gone by. You can totally understand why restoring his home is a real labor of love. You may even "enjoy" the winter there.
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on April 2, 2017
Interested in a great story about finding and designing a beautiful home? This is your book (and if you ask me, it's the only one you need). This is not just a book to purchase and leave on your coffee table, it's one to savor again and again because of the abundance of information and strategies that are present. This is your "must have" book for design, inspiration, negotiation, photography and following your heart.
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on May 28, 2013
I highly recommend this book. I've been a fan of Thom's since the Queer Eye days but honestly wasn't expecting to learn as much as I did from this book. It made me see things from a designer's point of view that I had never considered before. For example, how to have a subtle theme to your home, as he does with a nautical theme. It comes from subtle things like the direction the wood paneling runs (to emulate a boat) and the stair railing being similar to a ship's railing, rather than 1,000 fish things slapped up all over the house like a tacky seaside motel. He makes a statement without shouting it. There are tons of pictures that really demonstrate how he pulled each room together and how to have some rooms tie into others while still maintaining their own identity. Truly a great read and something I will use as I redo my own living space.
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on November 23, 2012
Thom Filicia has done it again, another wonderful book. It is fun, as we start from the first look at the slightly dilapidated lake home to the final product after Thom works his magic. The text is engaging and informative, lots of pictures of the work in progress, and finally the fantastic finished product. Filicia does modern chic like no other. You will want this book for your decorating library.
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on April 10, 2014
Thom Filicia's design sense is AMAZING. What he did to this house is both inspiring and comforting. Being a designer myself, I know this renovation was pricey, but he makes the spaces feel so homey while being very highly crafted. I usually buy a design book for the images only but the content of his story is very fun to read. I have gotten 3/4 of the way through it and am purposely not finishing it because I don't want to be done. It keeps calling me though so i might have to dive in again this weekend.
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on March 12, 2014
this is a very contradictory sort of book,not my favourite decorating style,but full of well presented and selected photographs,with descriptive and informative text.
felicia explains what he had,where he could save alter and adapt,what options and why he chose solutions.
prose was clear and descriptive.
i find i am often pulling this book from my many design books and find lots of ideas ,both architectural and decorative.
as i have said.its not my favourite design style,but the book is so much more than pretty pictures.
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on October 2, 2013
This is a great book for any homeowner, or even if you are just looking for interesting fresh ideas to redecorate any space. Tom has interesting views which he shares on everything from architecture, wall color/coverings to small decorative touches. Some of his applications are a bit too eclectic for my taste, but this book helps you figure out your own taste and apply it to your space. He is also big on adding local touches from your area/town/city into your space - I love this idea. This book is so well done and a great coffee table display piece.
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on December 23, 2013
We went to a special fund-raising dinner for our library. The architect and the builder of the American Beauty were speaking. They were friends & acquaintances of many in attendance and who knew them...had worked with & for them and in general knew the "territory". We were happy to have read the book 1st. They of course autographed it. All in all good for us.
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