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Showing 1-10 of 60 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 77 reviews
on August 13, 2009
have spent every minute poring over my copy of DOWNTOWN CHIC since I got it , which chronicles the design evolution of Robert and Cortney Novogratz of NYC, and their seven (!) kids. It is a combination of cool ideas that work for anybody who wants to upgrade or change their living environment, and a great aspirational story from people who seem to be able to have it all. Darn them! Personally, the book really spoke to me when it constantly urges the reader out of their safety zone when it comes to home decoration. Try a bright color of paint, dare to have mismatched chairs, mix cheap pieces with your fancy stuff. And don't settle for something boring and predictable just because you are parents! Or have a heart attack if there is a scuff or a stain. There are plenty of helpful hints, like how to get rid of clutter, and while I don't really have the time or the budget to travel the world looking for design objets, finding flea market treaasures is an activity I can do close to home and on any budget. Robert and Cortney have written a fun and funny book chock full of ideas of how to have the home of your dreams, with or without lots of cash. Their ideas are easily translatable to anybody to go boldly into home improvement, letting us know where it is fine to cut corners and where it isn't. I love this book and not at all ashamed to admit I needed a kick in the butt to get my unrealized dreams about my own living space to a place where I now feel I can actually make it happen.
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on June 1, 2010
The name of the book, and the style that the Novogratz's are advancing is NOT downtown chic. For example, this book features two homes in the country: one in the Hamptons and one in Brazil. No, their style is something else. It's a new mix of eclecticism and functionality. It's kid friendly, outrageous and full of humor. Mix this with some real style twists and you have Hot N Cool. What' s currently artistically Hot and a way of decorating with it that is undeniably Cool. Really, it's NOT chic, per se, it's just way cool.

There are some really fabulous ideas for families: like building a setting for a trampoline IN the ground. It's at ground level so kids can run and jump right on it, and if they bounce too high, well, they hit the ground sooner than the trampolines that are about three feet up in the air. This is such an obvious construction it's brilliant. And the domed chain-linked rooftop basketball court! I mean, why wasn't this done earlier? It's so beautiful and functional!Fab!

It is this sort of elegant problem solving that makes their style so innovative. Now, they are not perfect, for example, in the show on Bravo, they have located their laundry room on the fifth story of their five story house. What a schlep! Especially for a mom with SEVEN kids! I'm surprised they did not incorporate stackable washer/dryers in a couple of the bedrooms or baths. This would have been helpful, but for some reason they did not realistically address this in their current "Bravo" house.

Still, the most outstanding feature of this book is the way this dynamic duo celebrates rambunctious kids with the kid art and the kids using spaces to show decor should be family friendly. Kids, in short, are incorporated into the decorating ideas and functions. What also is amazing is the absence of clutter, (or maybe they just manage it well). The rooms and spaces are always airy, not overwrought. They succeed in being spacious but not sterile.

The Novogratz's have made a real contribution to millenium decorating. It is a new way to look at both art and functionality sans a materialist acquisitiveness or an in your face conspicuous consumption. Afterall, when they finish a house they are on to the next! They don't hold tight to their stuff; they are willing to part with it and seem to say, "this is who we were at this time, we may be someone else tomorrow...". Life and decorating are about the process. It's the journey. As such, there is nothing staid or so formal that you don't feel the fluidity of time or energy in a space. The family is always consumately in command of the space, not the other way around.

This "weightless" quality to their lives and decorating is one that is cutting edge and fitting for our time. In the end, the Novogratz style teaches us to just take risks, throw "rules" to the wind, be kids and imagine crazy outlandish things you REALLY want to do, like playing basketball inside your house, or having a real scoreboard in your room! And most of all: just have fun - houses and homes are to be enjoyed and celebrated.

This book, complete with the iconic photo of Madonna's head on a pillow with a cigarette in her mouth, which they have suggestively hung over a bed, is evocative of a romp in the hay with no commitments. Except to some real taste and style. Take the journey and examine this book. Have a romp with no remorse.
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on July 13, 2010
There is light at the end of the floor plan when it comes to Sixx Design's very intuitive Robert and Cortney Novogratz! Their book, "Downtown Chic" shares some great and helpful hints, while at the same time impressing us with the end result of the skilled efforts of Robert and Cortney's work. The photographs are beautiful and the inclusion of cherub angels in decor, were exceptionally moving. In reading this book, I discovered that their vision is a family one, and this book feels like it is just the beginning--the first chapter in a long story that will grow as their family grows. My only regret is that my copy isn't signed...but I eagerly wait for more from this dynamic duo!
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on June 22, 2011
I checked this out of the library thinking I'd flip through once and return it, as I do with most design books. Instead, I kept renewing until I realized I needed to own it. My design style isn't as urban as the Novogratz', but the design lessons still translate. Since buying the book, I've been inspired to get a few fabulous light fixtures and use beautiful (but inexpensive) maps, mirrors, and contemporary rugs to define my space. It's amazing how much difference a few hundred dollars can make to the look of a room when you focus on the right things.

Although there are three names on the cover, this book is clearly written from Cortney's perspective, and I enjoy her approach. She gets things done with a mixture of charm and grit. The book follows her adventures starting from the first Novogratz project. She isn't afraid to say how they chose inexpensive white shades for all the windows in their first project, or to describe how to avoid making some of the mistakes they did when they were starting out. This is a huge contrast to most design books, which focus on the glamorous (and expensive) end result only.

Some of my favorite parts of the book are the two vacation homes, including the areas for a swimming pool and soccer. Simplicity can be beautiful -- and functional! -- and cost many thousands less than elaborate stonework, tile, jungle gyms, etc. If you're in a shopping rut, the resources section in the back is also a huge help.
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on June 14, 2010
A few weeks ago I discovered the TV show 9 by Design and decided to check out their book Downtown Chic.

I love this book.

This book does more than just show you cool photos of interior and exterior design. It tells the story behind each project as well.

It also doesn't hurt that they are one of the coolest families around. Robert and Cortney Novogratz live in New York City and buy run down properties nobody else would consider and renovate them and decorate them.

Oh, and they also have 7 kids.

The main theme of their show and book is that you can bring charm to any four walls and it doesn't take money to do this - just some creativity.

They give tips for visiting flea markets and many of their finds were purchased at bargain prices.

Even though they live in these fancy houses until they sell them, they struggle with the economy just like the rest of us and get mightily stressed over money. That plus their down to earth demeanor makes it possible to watch the show (and read the book) without dying of jealousy.

They like doing unexpected things... my favorite is the glass garage door off the kitchen that opens up into a small courtyard:

Other unique ideas: not using concrete or tile near a pool. Just let grass surround the pool. They also installed an in-ground trampoline at the country house. Much safer and not an eyesore the way regular backyard trampolines are.

For someone like me, who lives in Madison, WI - not exactly New York City - in a 1950s house that, while it may have its charms, would never be described as chic - their book is the encouragement I have needed.
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on April 27, 2010
Do you really need another "how to" book that'll show you how to make your rooms look like a Pottery Barn catalog when you could spend your time with something like this, a book that will inspire you to make your living space a place that will surprise you and comfort you and even make you happier? This is not the book for someone who thinks that you have to go to Paris to find something wonderful at a flea market. It's for the rest of us who know that you don't. Love it.
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on December 3, 2014
This book was a huge disappointment. I love interior decorating. I buy tons of magazines, and read tons of blogs. Perhaps, I failed to read something somewhere along the line. I watched the Bravo TV show on this couple's work, and was blown away by their creativity and decorating. I was hooked. They were urban bohemian lifestyle in NYC. The book is more a resource on how to buy property, how to hire contractors, how to re-model, and where they found items. I was expecting pages of gorgeous decorated rooms. Doesn't happen. Bored me stiff. Live and learn.
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on December 21, 2011
I just received this book today and I'm halfway through, devouring everything and sad that it's almost over. I hope Novogratz are working on another book because I find them and their ideas inspiring. I never saw 9 by Design but I did find their Home by Novogratz show one Saturday via On Demand and watched all 13 episodes in one sitting. They taught me that it was okay to have fun with the space in which you live. Back to the book....granted, I cannot afford to travel to Europe, let alone pack a container full of finds and ship back to the U.S. but you can very easily translate that idea into scouring your local flea market and thrift stores. I love their tips on blogs to check out, places to shop etcetera. I really love this book, my only complaint is that I didn't find the Novogratz sooner where I could have attended a book signing but I'm thrilled to have found them now.
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on June 30, 2010
I watched the series on Bravo TV and really enjoyed it and wanted to see and learn more. This book gives you more about what this couple was thinking when purchasing properties, gutting them and making them their own. You get an honest and down-home feel for their concentration in design and art and how they mix new and old pieces to create new, inspiring, and livable works of art.

I read pieces of this book while raising a family and working, and I love every chance I get to disect the photos and learn what to do, how to not get conned by "contractors" and laugh at mistakes and try not to make them myself. The book is another way to inspire those creative types that like art, music, design, travel, color and things that motivate and make you grow and learn. Would recommended it to anyone interested in these things.

Now if they could have a 2nd season of 9 by Design I could relax. :-)

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on May 20, 2010
Thanks to Cortney & Robert for giving me some inspiration to continue working on my own home! Your book is so motivating! I have put together my wish lists and am going to start working on a small, project-by-project basis. The "Contractor Checklist" is a great resource. I have always hated homes that looked like showrooms. For one thing, I am much too eclectic than that and, plus, they just don't look functional to me. I am of the belief that homes should look lived in and have art everywhere, which is how my home has always looked and I love it!

THANK YOU for putting me back on my creative track! Your show is fantastic and I am glued to the TV when it comes on. My best to you both and your GORGEOUS family!
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