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Living in a Nutshell: Posh and Portable Decorating Ideas for Small Spaces Hardcover – March 27, 2012
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From the Back Cover
A fireplace on wheels?
A chandelier light by Xerox?
A shrink-wrapped designer closet?
These are just a few of the more than one hundred innovative projects in Living in a Nutshell, a DIY guide of decorating ideas that fool the eye into seeing and believing a little lair is larger and more glamorous than its four walls. Here are fresh ideas for enhancing every living area of a tiny space. All are simple, affordable, portable, and big on style. An illustrated survival tool kit as well as extensive listings of untapped, off-the-beaten-track design resources and a select buying guide round out this invaluable book.
About the Author
Janet Lee is an Emmy Award-winning television show producer, styling and producing for leading home decorators, entrepreneurs, and designers such as Martha Stewart, B. Smith, and Thom Filicia. During her ten years as a senior producer for The Oprah Show, she worked closely with such style greats as Nate Berkus. She has also been a home décor producer for Lifetime Television's Our Home and was featured on camera as the show's weekend decorator, demonstrating chic, easy DIY projects. She has also appeared on CBS's The Early Show, where she demonstrated her high-end-for-less décor ideas. Now a freelance producer, she lives in New York City.
Top customer reviews
Janet Lee's book is a refreshing change. The spaces shown are genuinely cramped with few architectural merits - finally! This isn't one of those glossies that hype small-scale minimalism by showing off white-on-white rooms with a murphy bed and a wall-to-wall view overlooking Rio. It is likely that at least one of the 100+ ideas in this book will work for your space if you give it a chance.
Now, this isn't for the faint of heart. The colors are vivid; if you like Jonathan Adler's Happy Chic books then you'll love the colors here. If you were hoping for something more neutral... well, give color a try anyway. Many people stick with pale tones thinking it'll make their tiny room look bigger, and buy small neutral pieces that won't overpower. This results in a perfectly fine room with as much personality as a dentist's office. If you've done your best but your little home still looks wilted, get this book. Even if you don't want to do every project, it might spark some ideas.
Still, I have mixed feelings about this one. Though quirky and vibrant, there's a kitschy shallowness. Part of me says it's not pretentious because nobody will really believe your logo-stamped jute rug came from Hermes or that Louis Vuitton monogrammed your filing cabinet. Anyone who takes it too seriously just isn't cool enough to get the irony, right? But grown-ups with aesthetic influences that extend beyond pop culture and designer labels may find the couture tributes a little trite.
The styles are on trend, barely. The Hollywood Regency details work, and your hipster staples are covered: repurposed paint-by-number art, Pantone boxes, letterpress blocks, etc. Spray-painting trophies is apparently a Thing now. But I'm pretty sure that ornately framed posters of chandeliers were on their way out when Moraccan motifs began to replace damask print, and everyone who wanted a Keep Calm reminder has twelve by now. And surely chalkboard paint is over - or is that wishful thinking?
You'll pick up some good tips if you read the text, which is a shame because the smug writing starts to wear thin by page 8. It's written like a collection of perky magazine blurbs, and there's only so much of that I can take in one sitting. I half expected to see weight-loss tips and horoscopes in the back. Special hints are highlighted in chartreuse boxes that say, "Look, there's more!" As much as I tried to unsee them, I was begging, "Make it stop!" by the end of the book.
The subtitle is "Posh and Portable Decorating for Small Spaces." Portable? It's been awhile since I had a landlord who'd let me paint the living room black; many small spaces are rented and some of the ideas just aren't practical. Two different look-there's-mores tell us to apply fabric to wall/cabinet surfaces and "peel it off without a trace" when we move, but neither example does this. One involved removing stucco and wallpapering, and the other involved sanding and mod podge. If the starch idea is good enough to mention twice, why wasn't it used once?
Still, do check this one out if you like what you see in the preview. The book itself is prettily hardbound and delightfully arranged. It's a thick volume that feels good to hold and look through. The printing could be a touch better, but the images pop and the text is easy to read. This is definitely a gift-worthy book and would make a perfect present for a budding fashionista or someone moving into her first apartment.
Update: Adding a star. Several times I've found myself thinking, 'now where did I see that idea for...?' and it's been this book. Also, I forgot to mention that the resource section in the back is brilliantly useful. The author shares all her secrets: both how to make the projects and where to buy everything else.
There are some cute and simple DIY projects in here, which are great when you're on a budget but want to have those little details around the house that elevate your decor to a sophisticated level. And to my surprise the majority of the tips and DIY projects are actually quite time-less - although a lot of the decor in the photographs may date in a few years, the actual ideas presented are customizable to any style and time period, making this a valuable little book for anyone who wants to make the most of their small living space!
Most recent customer reviews
I highly recommend this book to young couples furnishing their new home!