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Making A House A Home
on 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.