Living Space: Simple Steps to Transform Your Home (Book Review)
“Home ought to be our clearinghouse, the place from which we go forth lessoned and disciplined, and ready for life.” — Kathleen Norris
How do you feel when you retreat to your humble abode? Does your home help you feel rested and relaxed? Do you wake up and feel ready for anything? When you’re in the comforts of your home, do you actually feel comfortable and “at home?”
Most importantly, does your home actually reflect you?
Whether you want to re-organize and declutter your living space or simply design a more effective home office, (or avoid costly mistakes when doing any home remodeling), Kathryn Weber can show you how, in her book, Living Space: Simple Steps to Transform Your Home [Kindle Edition].
Living Space is a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) guide to re-organizing your home in ways that support your wants and needs. Weber helps you creates better energy, the feng shui way. But, it’s more than feng shui tips for your kitchen, bedroom, living room, and home office…
It’s a pragmatic guide to creating a home you love.
It’s truly transformational, and it includes plenty of action steps to transform your home into your personal sanctuary, a productivity palace, and a place of personal power.
It’s also worth noting that the foreword is written by Roger Hazard. He’s the designer and producer on the international Emmy-nominated “SELL THIS HOUSE,” “SELL THIS HOUSE: EXTREME,” and “MOVE THIS HOUSE.” Not bad for some endorsement of Weber’s work, right up front.
One thing I need to point out about this book is that you have to read it with the right mindset. It’s a book to explore practical ideas for home improvement, and turn those ideas into action. It really is about remodeling your home and it’s action-oriented. It’s not a theoretical book, and it’s not a dissertation on the virtues of re-decorating your house. It’s specific and it’s fast-paced.
With that in mind, let’s dive in and take a tour of Living Space in more detail …
What’s In It For You?
The tips in Living Space will help you make your office more organized, kitchen brighter, your living room more inviting, and your bedroom more relaxing. In addition to visual pointers, Kathryn Weber gives you practical advice on storage ideas, DIY upgrades, basic and professional kitchen appliances, organization, and room layouts.
Here is a sampling of some of the challenges that Living Space helps you with:
- How to design and re-organize your living space to better support your scenarios
- How to feel good and ready for anything when you’re in your home
- How to remodel your home on a budget
- How to avoid incredibly expensive do-overs and hind-sight when your remodel your home
- How to spruce up your entryway
- How to design a simpler, more effective, and easier to maintain kitchen
- How to create a better dining room experience
- How to create a living room that creates and enhances great experiences
- How to create a better bedroom
- How to design a more effective home office
- How to create a laundry room you can love
- How to create a more effective personal gym and exercise with a view
- How to create a more effective media room
- How to repurpose and take advantage of unused space
- How to dress up your porch in style
- How to rethink decorating your hallways
- How to put attention and interest on your fifth wall – the ceiling
- How to renovate the basement
- How to build a better “man-cave”
- How to create a wine closet when you don’t have space for a wine cellar
- How to create a cost-effective outdoor room
- How to buy the right kind of outdoor furniture
- How to create a flexible guest house by adding on by adding out
Chapters at a Glance
- Chapter 1 – The Kitchen
- Chapter 2 – The Living Room and Family Room
- Chapter 3 – The Dining Room
- Chapter 4 – The Bedroom
- Chapter 5 – The Bathroom
- Chapter 6 – Special Spaces
Here are some of the key features of Living Space:
- Action-packed. It’s very action-oriented. Every page is a blast of ideas and actions you can use to transform your home.
- Practical examples. The examples are easy to relate to, very down to Earth, and grounded in experience.
- Scenario-Based. Rather than a bunch of generic advice, Weber provides scenario-based guidance to make her examples more relevant.
- To the point. Weber doesn’t beat around the bush. She dives right in and speaks with authority.
- Visuals. The book includes visuals that show what some ideas might look like. You’ll see lots of ideas that you’ll want to actually do.
- Well-structured. The book is well-structured and easy to follow. You can read it end-to-end or flip through it like a reference and just jump to the room you care about.
Here is a sampling of some of my favorite nuggets from the book …
Who Living Space is For
It’s for anyone who wants to improve their home.
”These themes run through ?Living Space: Simple Steps to Transform Your Home. This book is
for everyone who wants to create the kind of house they long to come home to. It‘s about giving you ideas and suggestions for creating the look and functionality you want in the quickest, easiest, most value-driven way.”
Why Living Space
Living Space helps you navigate the world of interior design.
In the Foreword, Richard Harzard writes:
“With an all-encompassing approach to home design — ranging from room-specific decorating
strategies to ideas for addressing common stumbling blocks like clutter and pet management —
?Living Space is a valuable resource for any homeowner who has been overwhelmed by the
prospect of tackling a redesign project. Kathryn is an able and entertaining guide, taking you
though home design room by room and step by step. Her structured approach to design will
boost any nervous do-it-yourselfer’s confidence, and she overlooks nothing, even addressing
utility rooms and outdoor spaces. This book will be an invaluable tool as you navigate through
the world of interior design; it contains the information and insights you’ll need to create more beautiful, more personalized spaces.”
Your Home Needs to Reflect Your Spirit
Your home needs to reflect your personality and motivations.
Richard Harzard writes:
“But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that most successful designers play the role of therapist for their clients. They ask questions and listen intently to their clients’ answers. They take time to truly understand their clients’ personalities and motivations, because they know that the finished home needs to be more than just beautiful; it needs to be an accurate reflection of the owner’s
Reflect You, Not Your Friends
Your remodeling efforts should reflect you, not your friends.
Richard Harzard writes:
“It’s perfectly relevant. When undertaking a home design project, it’s easy to become distracted by how your friends and neighbors have styled their homes, the looks pushed by magazines and
catalogues, and your preconceived notions of how your home is “supposed” to look. It’s important to take a step back to honestly assess your needs and tastes, and remember that your home should reflect your personality, not anyone else’s.”
Happy Home, Happy Life
A messy home creates a messy life.
”Our homes need our attention because we‘re in a relationship. There‘s a saying that a parent is only as happy as his or her unhappiest child. And so it goes with our homes. When the house is a mess, we can‘t think and we feel frustrated. When our homes, like our relationships, are lovingly tended to, we‘re happy.”
Reinvigorate, Rejuvenate, and Offer Safe Harbor
Our homes need to provide intangibles beyond just shelter.
“We need our homes to reinvigorate us, rejuvenate our lives, offer safe harbor and provide the kind of place worthy of the most important people and events in our lives. It‘s the sweet, tender moments that make our homes more than four walls and a roof over our heads. They‘re the repositories of our dreams, tears, laughter and love, and the places everyone wants to go back to.”
All Homes are a Work in Progress
There’s always “room” for improvement.
”My house is a work in progress. I find that most homes are. Even owners whose lavish homes are featured in magazines face the same problems everyone experiences — from the dog chewing a costly oriental carpet to toys cascading through every room once little ones arrive. The only picture-perfect moment is when those pictures are taken. All homes, regardless of pedigree, need regular updates, maintenance, organization and repair.”
Boost Your Energy with Feng Shui
The feng shui of your home plays a key role in how you feel.
”You could describe the way a home looks and feels as its feng shui. After all, feng shui is all about energy. What‘s heartening is that routinely investing small amounts of time to maintain our homes brings peace of mind, enjoyment, pride, comfort, relaxation — and a big energy boost.”
Simple Steps Over Slash and Burn
You can take small steps to make big changes to your home.
“Maintaining a clean, beautiful, organized home is an act of love, but too often we try too hard, adopting a slash-and-burn approach. We think that acquiring more living space means we have to buy a new, larger house. The truth is that with careful organization, you can create all kinds of space you never knew you had. Even tending to simple maintenance issues can inspire a whole new love for your home. A case in point is a home being prepared for sale. Once the house is decluttered, spruced up with a fresh coat of paint and re-landscaped, it suddenly looks great again. The owners find themselves falling back in love with a home that was once too cluttered, too run down, too small, too ugly. They also feel better about themselves!
Creating big changes in your home doesn’t have to be labor-intensive or financially draining. In fact, I find some of the most rewarding improvements are the simplest and least expensive, like drawer organizers for your kitchen tools, or rearranging the furniture in conversational groupings.”
Design a Better Home Office
As more entrepreneurs work from home, Weber provides some great advice on making sure your home office improves your productivity.
”Not surprisingly, then, the home office has evolved well beyond a desk in the corner of the bedroom where you type out a few e-mails. Dedicated rooms are now required to support breadwinners and entrepreneurs alike. When they‘re set up with an eye toward organization and style, home offices make their users more comfortable, efficient and productive. Too often, a home office is a mish-mash of furniture taken from other rooms in the house — a major mistake. Although most home offices aren’t used for client meetings or even intended for outside visitors, that doesn’t mean they should be overly casual. In fact, a home office should look like an office, not like a spare room simply being used as an office. One of your first considerations when designing a home office is how you work. If you‘ll be
looking at plans or preparing reports, then a wide-open workspace is critical. If you spend lots of time on the computer, avoid the tendency to turn your desk toward the wall. While convenient
for using power outlets, this arrangement can make you feel boxed into a cubicle instead of an office.”
Your Backsplash Should be Easy Installation, Low Cost, and Quick Cleanup
Your backsplash can be a blessing or a curse. The worst mistake is to put up a backsplash behind the stove that is difficult to clean and maintain.
“Even though adding a backsplash is a wonderful DIY project, you’ll soon regret it if you don‘t pay close attention to practical matters such as whether the backsplash can be cleaned easily. Look for surfaces that allow fast and easy cleanup, especially if you‘re adding a backsplash behind the stove. Grease splatters are next to impossible to remove from porous surfaces like unpolished marble or tile. Some of the easiest surfaces to clean are sealed tile, glass tile and stainless steel. Metal ceiling tiles with pressed designs have also gained notice for their ease of installation, low cost and quick cleanup.”
7 Ways to Create a More Interesting Ceiling
Weber shares 7 ways we can improve our ceilings of any height:
- Add crown molding. Molding is a wonderful way to add interest and make a room look more
finished. There‘s even a crown molding with special corner pieces that allow you to join the ends
without cutting special angles.
- Add beams. If you have tall ceilings, beams can be added easily. Go to websites such as
fauxwoodbeams.com to buy artificial beams that are lightweight and easy to install. Or,
make your own beams with rustic wood.
- Create a scene. Low ceilings can especially benefit from this technique. You can paint a faux
sky quickly and easily with some blue, white, and gray paint. Shaky with a brush? Buy sky
theme wallpaper instead. Draw or cut out a branch of a limb crossing the ceiling for a look that
reminds you of dozing under a tree. Apply inexpensive white lattice over your ceiling sky and
you‘ll think you‘re outdoors in a gazebo.
- Get moldy. Apply small pieces of molding on the ceiling to create a pattern, such as a simple
strip of molding to frame the area around a chandelier. Or run molding about 12 inches in from
the wall. This type of molding can often be applied with glue; once it‘s up, paint the inset of the
pattern to make the design stand out, or paint the outside of the molding.
Molding can also be added about six inches below crown molding on the wall. Painting the area
between the small molding and the crown molding the same color will make your crown
molding appear to be 8 or 10 inches deep. This is an inexpensive way to make crown molding
look more substantial and expensive.
- Light up the night. Lighting is another way to add interest from above. Install crown molding
six inches down from the ceiling corner. Run rope lighting inside the crown molding. Have an
electrician install a plug at the top of the wall for the rope lighting and wire this to a switch. This
works well for tall and standard ceilings. In fact, in eight-foot ceilings, the lighting will make the
ceilings appear taller — something really nice in an area where you‘d like more space, such as
the dining room or living room.
- Get sconced. Sconces are terrific additions to any room because they add wall interest and
project light upwards. Because of this, they make standard ceilings appear taller.
- Add paint or wallpaper. Painting your ceiling a dramatic color creates interest quickly and
inexpensively. If your ceilings are low, paint them a dark color (such as blue, gray or green)
because these colors appear to recede. Good choices for high ceilings are bright or vibrant hues
such as orange, red, yellow or purple — all colors that come forward.
Get Outdoor Furniture that Lasts Longer
If you’ve ever had furniture that’s rotted on you, you’ll appreciate Weber’s advice about choosing durable outdoor furniture.
”If the furniture will be on a covered porch or veranda, shielded from the elements, there are more choices available. Seating sets are available that include sofas and side chairs. Hammocks and sling style seats are comfortable, but don‘t hold up as well as traditional style chairs that only need new pads every few years. Sling-style seats can also come out of the frame, rendering the chair useless.
If swings, rockers and other wood furniture appeals to you, go with teak. This durable, long-lasting wood ages well and withstands sun and rain. Teak is expensive, however, and should be
considered an investment. Wicker is another option, and with newer styles available in resin, you can have the wicker look without the upkeep. Resin pieces look nearly identical to the real thing
and come in a wide array of styles and colors.”
What more can I say? This book is a massive collection of insight and action. Use Living Space to make the most of the space you’ve got, and to create an arena that truly reflects you.
Get the Book
Living Space: Simple Steps to Transform Your Home, by Kathryn Weber is available on Amazon:
- Living Space: Simple Steps to Transform Your Home [Kindle Edition], by Kathryn Weber
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Image by Smirnova Ksenia.