Monday, August 29, 2016

Book Review - Love the House You're In

"40 ways to improve your home and change your life."

A few weeks ago, when J was gone on a three-week field exercise, I wondered over to a temple of solace, also known as Barns and Noble.  I was feeling sad and restless, missing Jeff, and wanted a new book to keep me company at night.  As I wandered the aisles looking for something to catch my eye, I decided I wanted a book on home improvement.  I was planning spending my free time while J was gone painting, organizing, and rearranging (something that's got the double benefit of being engaging and time-consuming, while being easy to leave at any moment when things come up).  Eventually, I picked up Love the House You're In by Paige Rien.  The book particularly caught my eye because it proposed to change the way you think about your home, and looked to have good advice not just for homeowners, but also for renters.  Since we don't own our house, and since we have a max two years left here in Fairbanks, I had hoped it would have some good tips on what to do without needing an addition or to tear out a wall.

Well, I was not disappointed.
This book is divided into 5 sections, each looking at a different aspect of the home.  The first two sections are all about reflection.  The third is about 'style'.  It's in quotations marks because the author hates the word style and what it implies.  The last two contain practical advice about decorating a house.  Overall the book covers every type of room and every big decision that needs to be made.  There is advice on elements of entry, on lighting and paint colors, additions and throw pillow.  For such a short book, it really has everything.

Here are the parts of the book that were most helpful for me:

  • Part One:  So, Who are You?
    I know it's kind of cheating to have the entire first section be the number one helpful thing, but this section is exactly what makes this book unique.  It doesn't ask "do you like traditional furniture?" or "What is your budget?"   Instead, the chapter goes through different aspects of a person's history and identity, such as travel, hometown, faith, etc.  As such Paige asks us to think about who we are, so that when we get to  actually changing our home, we have a firm grasp of the things that make us happy, so that we may show them off in our home.  This chapter inspired me to take out a tile we received at our wedding from storage.  This tile says "happiness is being married to someone Polish"  and has a couple in traditional Krakow dress kissing on it.  I always liked it, but never displayed it because its traditional look never fit in with the modern style I knew I liked.  But I realized that it was one of the few things we have that marks my heritage, and that is important to me.  
  • What Do You Love about Your House?
    This chapter of section two asks you to list at least 5 things you love about your house.  It asks you to come up with this list fast.  If something pops into your head, it should probably be on the list.  Don't choose things that you think you should like, and don't list anything too broad.  Stick with specifics.  For me this was easy.  The things I currently love about my rental are
    1.  The view of the mountains from the balcony on a clear day
    2.  The bookcase in the living room where all the books are organized by the color of the spines
    3.  The painting J and I bought in Anchorage last Spring
    4.  The many house plants that line our windowsills
    5.  The print of J and I that was signed by guests at our wedding.
    The list was easy.  The first thing it made me realize is that I wanted to bring many more plants into our bedroom, which at the time only had three.  I detail the results of that search here.
    Military Mama Musings - Rainbow Bookcase
  • What's Your Real-Estate Story
    What I really gained from this part of section two, is how important it is to ask this simple question:  Will you be at this home for more than 5 years.  In our case, the answer is no.  I know we'll be moving in about two years.  This is not a "forever" home for us.  Paige here makes a statement that was a surprise for me, but that I loved.  If you're not in a forever home, don't wait.  You're not going to take up huge projects such as an addition if you're not there forever, but you can do a lot of small things now, and enjoy them for the few years you will stay in the house.  I loved the advice.  I repainted a spare bedroom I hated that was acting as storage outside of the one month a year where we have family visiting and changed in into a "me" room, complete with a sewing corner, a hammock for reading, and of course, lots of plants!
  • Welcome yourself Home: Entryways
    I never loved the way our home entry was set up.  The first flat surface I came to when entering the home was J's desk.  The second was our living room table and chairs.  As a result, both places were always covered with junk mail, purses, coats, and shopping bags.  J hated it since his desk is his sanctuary.  Paige gave a few pointers on how important it is to not only have a designated space for all that stuff, but also how nice it is to have something you love be the last thing you see when you leave the house, and the first thing you see when you enter.  I rearranged some of the living room furniture, and now we have a functioning entry way!
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is not quite satisfied with their home, and who feels lost in all the decisions that could possibly be made!

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