Book Review – Habitat: The Field Guide to Decorating by Lauren Liess

Habitat - The Field Guide to Decorating

If you’re looking for an in-depth look at decorating and decorating-related terms, this is the perfect book for you. This book dives deep into decorating problems that you didn’t even know you had, and then it offers beautiful solutions to those problems.

Liess starts off the entire book with this beautiful quote by William Morris that sets the tone for the entire book:

“Every work of man which has beauty in it must have some meaning also; that the presence of any beauty in a piece of handicraft implies that the mind of the man who made it was more or less excited at the time, was lifted somewhat above the commonplace; that he had something to communicate to his fellows which they did not know of feel before, and which they would never have known or felt if he had not been there to force them to it.”

The Idea Behind the Book

The book’s format is based on a traditional field guide, which is an interesting take. The author talks about her own field guide she created as a child, documenting all the plant life near her home. She soon discovered that a field guide doesn’t just have to be about flora and fauna. The same concept could be applied toward decorating your home. This book is a great resource for those new to the decorating world and those who are a bit more experienced. After all, who doesn’t love a new decorating idea now and then?

Perhaps some of the definitions aren’t needed, as most people know what “color” is or what a “window” is, but I understand that it’s there for the sake of consistency.

Here are some of my favorite ideas from this book:

Determining the Focal Point

Before you even start decorating, you should be able to identify the focal point of the room. For some spaces, it’s in the architectural details, like a fireplace or a large set of windows that look out to an amazing view. These are natural focal points. However, some rooms don’t have one already built into the space. If this is the case, you have to determine with that focal point will be. Liess believes that “rooms are most striking when they have a strong focal point” (25).

Window Coverings (of course!)

How can I write a book review without mentioning the chapter all about window coverings? She provides a comprehensive guide to the benefits of each type of window covering, including roman shades, shutters, and wooden blinds. I loved seeing a designer’s take on the best window coverings. It provides a new perspective, one that’s backed by experience.

Beautiful Everyday Items

This section is all about finding beautiful everyday items, like cookware, cutting boards, or dishes. Things can be both practical and beautiful, so why not make them both?

The Truth of Emotion & Authentic Decorating

The best art was a truthfulness and emotion to it. That’s where the beauty comes from. That’s how you decorate authentically. Find artwork that speaks to you on a deep level. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, and don’t be afraid to let the artwork in your home reflect you.

Decorating with Confidence

What it all comes down to is confidence. There are accepted decorating rules, but the only thing that really matters is that your home makes you happy. Be confident in your decisions. As long as you’re happy, who cares what anyone else thinks.

Have you read this book yet? What did you think?