Monday, August 12, 2019
Published 2014 by ABRAMS
Source: my copy checked out from my local library
Focusing on nine different rooms (including her own recently purchased Manhattan apartment), Lara Spencer shows readers that all it takes is planning, shopping know-how, and a little imagination to create beautiful and comfortable homes that reflect their personal style. She takes readers through the step-by-step process of overcoming the challenges of the room, offering helpful tips and lessons along the way. She identifies the design dilemma; comes up with a decorating plan; makes a mood board for inspiration; compiles a shopping list; scours flea markets for furniture and accessories that fit the bill; restores, repurposes, and reinvents the pieces she finds, giving them new life; and brings all the elements together in the gorgeous, finished space. With illuminating before, during, and after photographs of her DIY projects and the room installations, Lara demystifies the decorating process and allows readers to envision endless possibilities for what they can do in their own homes.
I’ve long been a fan of Lara Spencer’s HGTV show Flea Market Flip and I’m always impressed with how creative the contestants on the show are (although I can’t say I always like their ideas!). So when I saw this book was available from my library, I figured it was something I would enjoy.
I wasn’t wrong. But then I wasn’t entirely right, either.
When I finished, I had to look up when the book was published because, honestly, it felt a little dated to me. I was a bit surprised to find that it was only five years old but then I imagine that many of the rooms highlighted were actually decorated some time before that. Still, there were only a couple of the finished rooms I really liked and I’m sure that I would have felt the same way five years ago. Most of the time, I felt like it was all just too much. Too much color, too many patterns, too much “stuff.”
My other issue with the book, as with the t.v. show, is that, while there are some great ideas here for ways to use or reuse flea market finds, many of them require a skill set that I just don’t have. It doesn’t do me much good to know that a metal piece might easily be transformed, for example, if welding is required. Sure, I could do some research around town and try to find a welder that would take on a small project but I’m not sure it would be worth the time or money. The same holds true with reupholstering furniture. Spencer does include a guild at the back of the book that gives cost estimates to have some of these kinds of jobs done, which is helpful to have when you’re considering purchasing a piece of furniture. For example, maybe you find an old sofa with great “bones” and it would cost $3000 for something comparable new; with that guide to show you that it will probably cost $1500 to have it reupholstered, you’d know that it was still a good deal.
Still, there are a lot of great tips in this book, particularly for those who are considered completely redecorating a room. Some seem pretty obvious (understand the way you will be using the room before you buy anything); other ideas are less obvious (Spencer bought a set of small tables for the tops only to be used as frames for artwork). Some of the tips are just great reminders of things I already knew (use fabric to line the inside of a hutch to add color and pattern). There are also sections of general information to keep in mind when on the hunt, including one of flea market rules, style inspiration for each room, and some suggestions for things to keep an eye out for that always make good additions to a room (huzzah for the suggestion of old books!).
Despite what I said earlier about not really liking all of the finished rooms, nearly all of them had something I liked about them and decorating ideas I do think I could manage. One piece was a clock with a really terrific frame but the clock didn’t work; they took out the clock piece and put in a mirror. Voila - really cool wall hanging for a really low price with very little effort. Most importantly, this book reminded me that my flea market/thrifting/picking can really pay off – now to put that inspiration to work!