Apartment Space & Life Therapy

Category: Home Improvement
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Our Review

I am woefully behind on my reading.  The floor next to my bed has a stack of books as tall as Grace (and that is really saying something since she takes after her uber-tall daddy).  I've been catching up one paragraph at a time before I nod off each night and I'm finally ready to post about some of these.

I'm easily the last person on the planet to read "Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure."  I've been meaning to get to this book since right after Miss Grace was born.  It's easy to sum up this book in two sentences.

This book made me look at my space with fresh eyes.  This book gave me a lot of homework to do.

Let me explain.  The author of the book, Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, looks beyond the usual "pick up your stuff and paint your walls" mantras of other interior designers and organizers.  He bridges the practical and the philosophical in an entertaining read.  Not many books about home organization are entertaining.  But this book isn't JUST about home organization.  It's about living.  In a space that has the potential to be a calm and sane retreat from the everyday world outside.

According to Gillingham-Ryan, our homes are more reflective of ourselves than we think AND they also have the power to change our moods and our energy.  I totally believe that.  I've been in spaces that make me FEEL good.  And I've been in spaces that make me depressed and cranky.  This book tries to de-mystify those things about a living space that have that influence over us and how we can, in turn, influence our spaces.

Now, maybe that sounds a little too, I don't know, "whoo whoo" for some of you.  But the book also gives practical advice and step-by-step directions to rethink how you live in your space and what to do to improve it.  If you like small, tightly written snippets of advice and insight, or checklists and ideas, or very specific examples and stories, you will probably enjoy thumbing through this book.

What points were made that resonated with me?  Here are a few of them as I interpreted them:

-Eliminating clutter in our living spaces is much more than throwing things out.  It involves changing our approach to consumption.

-How happy you are with your living space can be affected by addressing issues related to infrastructure and maintenance, clutter, inconsistent style and the integration of purpose.  I applaud Gillingham-Ryan for not going in the direction that many makeover shows seem to go...just slap a new coat of paint on it, throw up a plywood valance and voila!  Agh.  I hate that so much.  Thankfully, this book seems to address some real core issues about maintaining a home.

-Buying more for less money is counter-productive to a healthy living space.  You want to choose the few really RIGHT things that work in your home space.  This might mean saving up your money for a really nice couch that costs a bit more than the three pieces of furniture you could get at Target and assemble with an Allen wrench.  (And which you might be trying to sell on Craigslist a few years later.)  This isn't to say that a bargain isn't really great!  But don't buy something just because the price is right, choose it because it is exactly what you want. 

-You don't have to dedicate all of your free time towards renovating your space.  You can tackle small projects in little bits of time here and there.

Obviously, there's more to the book.  Much more, but if you are interested, you need to check it out yourself or review the Apartment Therapy website.  Its target audience is the urban, apartment-dwelling professional, but there is a LOT of stuff in the book for everyone no matter where you live.

What would I change? 

Well, I think that the advice that this book gives goes beyond apartments.  There are great ideas in here for condos, cottages and houses as well.  So the title may turn away some people who would find this book very appealing. 

I would love more drawings and the addition of photos.  I get a lot from the photos on the Apartment Therapy blog, but I wish that Bantam had invested just a lee-tle more money on pumping up the visuals in the book.

Regarding the homework?  This book pushes you to take action.  Little chunks of action.  A lot of little chunks of action. 

I haven't actually implemented my own eight-step cure yet because I'm living in transition.  I am able to do certain things that are recommended, just not in the order that they are recommended.  When I am ready to tackle the whole house with this plan, I think I'd like an AT support group because I'm not sure I could stay on track with all of these to do lists without actual people holding me accountable.

Maybe these other housebloggers who are either reading the book or working The Cure can chase after me when I'm ready.

 

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