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Home Therapy: Fast, Easy, Affordable Makeovers    by Lauri Ward order for
Home Therapy
by Lauri Ward
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

I enjoyed Home Therapy. Ever since I started to read it, I've been walking around my house with new eyes, assessing, evaluating, and studying the layout. I must admit that I have never before read a book about home decorating or thought that it would be such a pleasant experience. Lauri Ward has changed my mind. Her book is in twenty-five chapters, that each present a small story about a room or two and the people who live there. She advocates using what you already own, rearranging, adding, and subtracting furniture or decorative items until the room is more attractive and pleasant than it was before. There are certain rules. She aims for U-shaped seating areas where people can comfortably talk without raising their voices and where tables are easily accessible for drinks. Sufficient lighting and balance are important. She really likes pleated duette shades that can be opened from the top or the bottom, and she believes in keeping accessories in their proper rooms: for example, a cup and saucer collection should be in a dining room or even a large kitchen, rather than the living room.

Lauri Ward's descriptions of the rooms are excellent, and are combined with pictures and floor plans. She begins each chapter by telling us a little about the person or family who lives in the home. Then she describes what she finds on her first visit, illustrated with a picture or two to show us what before looks like. She continues her story, explaining each step as she alters the layout, and then shows the after pictures. Presenting the finished room in color, while the first views were in black and white, may make the difference seem more dramatic. She often separates club chairs and ottomans, using the ottoman to fill out a U-shaped seating arrangement rather than as a comfortable place to put one's feet. I was also surprised to see ottomans used as coffee tables, but that makes sense to me since I use my coffee table as an ottoman, and it would be much easier to simply push the decorative tray to one side with your toes and relax. Her writing style is warm and friendly, and she seems like a nice person who really wants her clients to be more comfortable in their homes.

There were many good, sensible ideas that one might think most anyone could figure out, such as eliminating clutter. It is almost certainly easier for an outsider to separate the beloved clutter from the rest of the stuff, though. The author surprises the client and the reader with some truly novel solutions, that in many cases provide new ways to display things, while storing or moving to other rooms excess belongings that the client wants to keep. In one instance, she turned a tall bookcase on its side! Now if I can just decide what to do with my house. I keep thinking of things that she suggested and wondering if that would work. There are some great ideas in Home Therapy that could be helpful to anyone.

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