Sunday, November 11, 2007

Apartment Therapy (Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan)

Apartment Therapy (the website) is a place for small-space living, with helpful tips for home decor, paint colors, storage, ecofriendly living, and all around cool camaraderie. Originally started in NYC, there are now separate online areas (San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles), so there's a little bit of local flavor. Apartment Therapy (the book), as its subtitle states, is "the eight-step home cure," designed to help turn your apartment into a home. The author (and website founder) Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, an interior designer, lives in a 250-square-foot West Village apartment so knows a little bit about living small.

I love the website. I get four of their blog feeds---Chicago, the Kitchen (which has a lot of great mostly vegetarian recipes), Home Tech (how we found the best way to hide all our home office cords under the desk), and Green (lots of ecofriendly tips, many helpful). Sometimes, however, I have a problem with the tone (there's a lot of anonymous "we" in their prose when I think it's really just the current blogger's opinion) and the focus is usually on modern styling, which can be somewhat limiting.

The book suffers from a few problems. First, it's a design book without any photographs. I'm not an interior designer, and hand-drawn floor plans showing me layouts of furniture do me little good. (I can't really tell the difference between the "befores" and "afters" with that kind of drawing.) Apartment Therapy the website has interested online participants join in on The Cure (as they call it) at least once a year, and I can get more out of their posted before/after pictures than I can from the book.

Second, this book is really focused at small apartment people, especially in New York. One week has a major task of cooking at least one meal at home. At least one? I see the good intentions behind it, but it's not applicable to me. Another thing he asks his readers to consider is getting rid of their televisions. Again, I understand we're talking very limited square footage here, but I find this request of his a little odd, given that he's been featured on at least two cable television home decorating shows (Small Space, Big Style and Mission: Organization).

Overall I find his use of metaphors a little too overreaching and some of the writing overdone (the couple who was having problems conceiving, and then once they revamped their bedroom the woman was pregnant. I'm sure it really happened, but it's a little cloying in the book), there are some very helpful tips in here, such as focusing on one room (easier to see what you need to get done, more likely to finish), what height to hang art (much lower than you think, though Jim thinks Gillingham-Ryan might be really short), some tips on furniture dealers, and what colors to paint certain rooms.

1 comment:

Maewen Archer said...

One meal a week? I've been trying to keep track of how many hours I spend in the kitchen every day -- four or five most days. Then again, I don't have a tiny apartment kitchen.

I love your table in the photo -- if I had that table it would have a block building, a plastic food tea party, and probably a discarded piece of clothing or two. The bottle and books would be lost. I miss decorative accents. Yours look lovely, though.