The other day, I received a copy of designer Stephen Saint-Onge’s book No Place Like Home. Many of you know, Stephen’s work appeared in a monthly ‘House Calls’ series in Better Homes & Gardens, and I always looked forward to his makeover features. He’s been named one of the top 15 Designers by House Beautiful.
When I first casually flipped through the pages of this book, nothing really jumped out at me so I put it down to ‘read later’. But then I actually started reading it, and I have to say, after finishing it, I gained so much from the sense and sentiments on the pages, especially Stephen’s insight on simple, clutter free family friendly design.
My favorite thing about this book that really surprised me is that it is written in Stephen’s voice, with his influences and thought process clearly apparent on the pages. I love in the ‘Introduction’ how he details his “very Norman Rockwell” small town upbringing, and how so often movies are his creative muse in design.
I love that too.
Inside the 170+ pages, you’ll find tips for styling bookcases, quick ways to bring personality to you home, tips for mixing fabrics and furniture styles, tricks for making rooms feel more spacious, and creating better flow in your home. It’s filled with pages of Stephen’s ‘Creative Thoughts’ on the best ways to make all of your spaces comfortable and inviting, from family rooms to kid spaces, and also make them work for the way modern families gather and live together. He is a father, husband, and homeowner with a fantastic sense of what families really need and want in their homes.
For example, with this formal living room makeover, Stephen walks the reader through the steps of transforming this space from blah to beautiful, from choosing the paint on the walls, to the layering of the area rug and properly scaled furniture, to the addition of the window treatments, and then the final accessories, all combined to bring warmth and style into this sophisticated but not stuffy living room.
You can view the video of this room’s transformation and hear Stephen’s voice as he walks through the step by step in this room’s makeover at BH&G.
Stephen worked his same magic on this cottage style dining space.
In the book are Stephen’s steps to giving this room a facelift where he shows how by adding wainscoting to the walls, painting the hutch, and energizing with a palate of crisp blue and warm yellow, the space is much fresher and more modern.
There’s an entire chapter dedicated to renovation and all the things a homeowner should consider before starting the process. This ‘after’ attic space was one of Stephen’s projects where the empty storage attic was redesigned into a functional home office filled with personality and style, but also to perfectly suit the homeowner’s needs.
He discusses all of the rooms inside the home in great detail, including the kitchen, and how to make it work best for the family, and also capture the feeling of the family members that live there.
My sole criticism of this book is that most of the images are darker and smaller than I prefer, I was even squinting with some of them. Maybe I need a new prescription? I even brightened some of the images you see in this post with my own software. I think with all the magazines and blogs I read, I’ve become accustomed to big bright images of spaces, and in my opinion, this book’s photographs could have been much bigger and brighter, but again, that is my personal preference.
What I do like about the photographs in the book is that they are taken by Stephen himself. They are not overly styled pictures of high end homes, rather they are images of real families living in real homes designed for real living, and that is what Stephen captures very well in this book.
My favorite takeaway from this text is the idea of a scrapbook style ‘Look Book’. I keep tear sheets from magazines in binders, but Stephen takes it further. He recommends keeping a touchable inspiration guide where you can write thoughts and store your favorite images and textures, and then use that as a guide for decorating your home.
I also have two copies of No Place Like Home to giveaway ! Simply leave a comment mentioning the one space you struggle with the most, and you’ll be entered to win! Giveaway ends Saturday April 23rd at 8 p.m. PST. Two winners chosen at random.