The desperate home and apartment dwellers peopling Lauri Ward's Home Therapy by and large share two common denominators: they have nice stuff,
and they don't know how to make it look good in their homes. Ward, who is the founder of Use What You Have®, Inc., and co-founder with her husband, Joe, of the Interior Refiners Network®, keeps good company: clients featured here include Mikhail Baryshnikov and his ballet-dancer wife, Lisa Rinehart; longtime art collectors Helen and Bernard Sokolov; and vintage photograph expert Alice Sachs Zimet.
again, many of her clients are just regular (albeit broadly speaking
professional) folks whose lives and homes are in various stages of
establishment. Some are downsizing to smaller homes or apartments, some
are moving into larger homes, some have accumulated more treasured
possessions than they can figure out how to display; some are merging
households, some are simply seeking a higher sense of serenity and aesthetics. Some have really nice things - antiques, art, furnishings - some have more typical pieces. But no matter the situation, Ward's discerning eye helps bring beauty and order to her clients' interiors, mostly by
rearranging the things they already have.
Ward introduces likewise challenged readers to Home Therapy with her philosophy as a design consultant:
...[W]hat we all strive for is to help people get what they need from their environment so they'll feel that their home is an accurate outward reflection of who they are on the inside. In that way, we actually can help them improve their lives - often in the space of one day and at very little cost.
Before delving into the featured projects, she outlines what she calls "the ten most common decorating mistakes:
These mistakes are of course all interwoven, but some are bigger problems than others in the various home makeovers.
- Not defining your priorities
- An uncomfortable conversation area (Ward seems to be the master of fixing this one)
- Poor furniture placement
- A room that is off-balance
- Furniture of different heights (something that can be surprisingly simple to fix)
- A room that lacks cohesion
- Ignoring the focal point of the room
- Improper use of artwork
- Ineffective use of accessories (even too many nice things displayed ineffectively are little more than clutter)
- Using lighting incorrectly
Ward is meticulous about documenting the projects, with background on the clients and their complaints, diagnoses of the rooms before she goes to work, black-and-white "before" photos and lush color "after" photos, floor plans from before and after, a laundry list of the mistakes made and detailed discussions of how they were remedied. She makes long-term recommendations for future purchases that will enhance the rooms even more at the client's
discretion, and she follows up each project with client reactions, which are unanimously delighted.
It's a consolation to us average joes to know that we can make what we already have look, if not spectacular, at least pleasing and comfortable. This is an accessible decorating principle, unlike the oft-unreachable sumptuousness of the interiors featured in many high-end decorating books. Home Therapy is good for your space - and for your soul.