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Michael S. Smith: Elements of Style Hardcover – November 22, 2005

3.7 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael Smith is one of Architectural Digest's 100 Top Designers and winner of Elle Décor's Designer of the Year award in 2003. His work is regularly featured in Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, Town & Country, W, and House Beautiful, among others.Diane Dorrans Saeks is the bestselling author of fifteen books, including Hollywood Style, and was a founding editor of Metropolitan Home and Garden Design magazines. She is currently Interior Design editor for Paper City and a correspondent for W and WWD. She lives in San Francisco.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Rizzoli (November 22, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847827623
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847827626
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 1 x 11.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #486,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is instructional and very well done. The "instructions" are in the photographs. Read them like paintings, which is how I think Michael S. Smith's rooms each look. There are 2 illustrations in the Amazon listing. Look first at the pictures of the room with the green sofa, then at the cover illustration. Then, please, read below & see whether you agree with me.

1. Pairs help to create a formal look: See the 2 leaf green lamps w/blue grey shades, 2 crystal sconces on end wall, 2 ornate crystal candelabra, 2 brass candlesticks on mantle, and 2 photos framed alike.

2. Echoes: Black fireplace box w/white surround & mantle echoes... the black & white photographs/sketches w/white mats & black frames and...the black piano next to all-white floor lamp; Painting of black curving figures on light tan background in brass/gilt frame echo the very solid black coffee table on the cream rug w/tan curving figures.

3. Use of Color in this Room: A subtle example -- There are 3 pieces of furniture with painted wood (excluding the piano): A chair with a cream/white frame, a table/stool in oxblood, and a settee with a blue grey frame. These are shades of the three primary colors. The colors of these 3 painted pieces together comprise the complete spectrum. The "color scheme" of the room as a whole also comprises the complete spectrum. The painted wood is a microcosm of this characteristic of the room. (And the complete spectrum gives us? ...Light.)

4. Gradations of Tints: The use of light-to-dark shades of each color gives a painterly quality to the room, softening the contrasts of colors and emphasizing the volume of the architecture, of the space.
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Format: Hardcover
No, not much instruction. How many instruction books does one need? I've read it once. I've looked at it thoroughly a dozen times. I'm sure I will look at it far more than that in the future. Yes, I have seen some of these photos in magazines. Now I can toss those and keep this forever. I see nothing wrong with the quality of the photos, as other reviewers have mentioned. If someone gave these reviewers a book on Van Gogh that did not have instructions on how to paint, would they toss the book in the trash, or would they keep it to look at the beautful paintings? I do not want any more instruction books on decorating. I want books to show me a mood, a subtle color, how lighting,paintings, or even floral arrangements can make an interior.
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Format: Hardcover
Michael S. Smith has been my favorite designer for a few years. I fell in love w/ the interiors he created for Cindy Crawford in Manhattan and Brentwood and also the home of Brian Grazer. Admittedly, some of the homes featured in the book are more staid examples of his work, and not as youthful and fresh as some of his interiors, but lovely and classic nonetheless. For pure Michael S. Smith eye candy, check out Cindy's new Malibu beach home, featured in Elle Decor (March 2006, I believe). Sheer design perfection!
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Format: Hardcover
So many designers seem to have a style that they like and that they repeat over and over in their clients houses. This is not the case with Michael Smith's houses illustrated here. One house will have the elegance that you would expect of a London town house. The next will have a rustic style more in keeping with the traditions of the American West.

Of course his budget exceeds that which most of us have. In one case he was thinking of a Portuguese quinta (a traditional manor house), so he flew to Lisbon to get some ideas. I can't say that I did anything like that when I was decorating.

The book itself is beautifully illustrated, with high quality printing using a matte finish paper that shows off the pictures very well without the glare of magazine glossy. The pictures were obviously made in rooms that were carefully prepared. There's not a dirty sock in sight, and I can just imagine what some of the rooms would look like after a five year old boys birthday party.
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Format: Hardcover
I love this book. It's another winner from Diane Saeks. It is gorgeous to look at and highly informative. The interiors are classic and timeless...immaculately constructed. Be they super smart traditional interiors or art filled modern rooms, they convey warmth and intelligence. The resource guide is invaluable. Ms. Saeks writing style is polished and informed as always. I find this book to be a great professional resource...five stars.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful book that displays a distinctive style, devoid of clichés, every room is different, yet speak with a singular voice. The designs are richly layered with a worldly style, while they convey a laid back California attitude. Nothing seems too precious and everything feels collected. I've had this book for years, refer to it often and find new ideas when I hit an inspirational block.

Michael Smith has been described as a classicist with an eye for detail and an aim for comfort. And the images in this book convey this point of view--every room can be dissected for the individual elements and when seen as a whole, there is something so welcoming, so soothing. His designs also have a historical and architectural point of view, they speak of a well read individual who imbues his craft with his depth of knowledge. Style and substance, a perfect pairing.
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