Elements of Style: Designing a Home & a Life Info

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From the rising-star designer and author of the hit blog,
Elements of Style, a full-color, fully illustrated book packed
with honest advice, inspiration, ideas, and lessons learned about
designing a home that reflects your personality and
style.

Elements of Style is a uniquely personal and
practical decorating guide that shows how designing a home can be an
outlet of personal expression and an exercise in self-discovery. Drawing
on her ten years of experience in the interior design industry, Erin
combines honest design advice and gorgeous professional photographs and
illustrations with personal essays about the lessons she has learned
while designing her own home and her own life—the first being:
none of our homes or lives is perfect. Like a funny best friend, she
reveals the disasters she confronted in her own kitchen renovation, her
struggles with anorexia, her epic fight with her husband over a Lucite
table, and her secrets for starting a successful blog.

Organized
by rooms in the house, Elements of Style invites readers into
Erin’s own home as well as homes she has designed for clients.
Fresh, modern, and colorful, it is brimming glamour and style as well as
advice on practical matters from choosing kitchen counter materials to
dressing a bed with pillows, picking a sofa, and decorating a nursery
without cartoon characters. You’ll also find a charming foreword
by Erin’s husband, Andrew, and an extensive Resource and Shopping
Guide that provides an indispensable a roadmap for anyone embarking on
their first serious home decorating adventure. With Erin’s help,
you can finally make your house your home.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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4.40

849 Ratings

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Reviews for Elements of Style: Designing a Home & a Life:

1

Oct 10, 2014

I wrote a review of Erin Gates' "Element of Style" on Amazon and gave it a one star rating. Erin and her husband Andrew wrote snide and rude comments to my review. Then they started calling me names and bullying be on Amazon. It became so bad that Amazon had to delete the comments they were saying to me. Erin had done damage to her profession of interior design and her credibility as a writer. I can not believe that Simon & Schuster will tolerate bullying behavior from anyone including their I wrote a review of Erin Gates' "Element of Style" on Amazon and gave it a one star rating. Erin and her husband Andrew wrote snide and rude comments to my review. Then they started calling me names and bullying be on Amazon. It became so bad that Amazon had to delete the comments they were saying to me. Erin had done damage to her profession of interior design and her credibility as a writer. I can not believe that Simon & Schuster will tolerate bullying behavior from anyone including their authors. ...more
2

Oct 28, 2014

Of course I went into this thinking I'm really going to learn something. Right. I'm going to learn to stop reading books by bloggers.

If it wasn't for the personal stories, most notably her wedding day and eating disorder, I would have considered it one star and a total waste. But there's a sucker in me who just likes to know the rest of the world is human. Ms. Gates does make the reader aware of that fact.

I long for the day when publishing goes back to publishing work by authors, not bloggers.
3

Dec 30, 2014

This one is pretty and has some great visual ideas, but is verbally weak and annoying...Oh! the STRESS of being a clever designer, how HYSTERICAL it makes a gal feel, etc. Could have done without the histrionics, because the designs are quite nice, not too high end, and the author has a very pleasing sense of color.
3

Jun 04, 2014

ARC provided by NetGalley on behalf of the publishers

a very nice book, just not quite my style.
4

May 27, 2018

To be fair this book came out in 2014, and would have knocked my socks off! Four years later it stands the test of time, but you will have seen a lot of the concepts in various blogs, magazines and other media. Worth reading. Erin Gates is candid, funny and warm. She’s someone you would want to be friends with and have decorate your home, no matter how large or small.
4

Jul 24, 2017

“While a home provides shelter and a place to gather, it is also the safe place where we can express our feelings and enjoy some of the most important and meaningful events in our lives.”

Like any aspiring writer, my head keeps juggling with more ideas than it can ever handle. This book came in my life around one such phase when I was deciding where to place the new table in my house and ended up reading a book on interior designing for that! I don’t understand just why people were able to come “While a home provides shelter and a place to gather, it is also the safe place where we can express our feelings and enjoy some of the most important and meaningful events in our lives.”

Like any aspiring writer, my head keeps juggling with more ideas than it can ever handle. This book came in my life around one such phase when I was deciding where to place the new table in my house and ended up reading a book on interior designing for that! I don’t understand just why people were able to come up with the term ‘writer’s block’ so promptly, yet nobody has come up with one for this other syndrome of ours. I think it should be called ‘writer’s mania’ – a condition of perpetual curiosity, usually seen in writers. Other suggestions are welcome in the comment section, though.

Coming back to the review. This book is just everything you need if you don’t know the first thing about interiors. The tone is casual and it almost feels like having a cup of coffee as your new ‘crazy friend Erin’ tells you about herself and her work. Time and again, you are going to come across comments like these, for example.

“My vision of the whole white picket fence with 2.5 kids and a station wagon was instead a town house in the city with 2.5 dogs and a parking spot.”

It is divided into various sections pertaining to different parts of a house with clearly laid-out ideas for those of us who picked this book just to decide where to place their tables ;)

Oh, and did I tell you it has a lot of pretty pictures? Well, it has a lot of pretty pictures that are occasionally bound to make you look around your house and curse. Don’t let that stop you from reading it though because it is honestly that fun a read. Plus there is a very strong possibility that you will finally place that table at your entryway with a mirror behind, a little tray for keys on the top and finally an X-bench for occasional seating. At least I did! ...more
4

Aug 11, 2014

I've been thinking a lot about home design lately so when I saw this Erin Gates book, I thought it might be exactly what I was looking for. This is a really solid design book with a lot of personal anecdotes from the author and some very good tips and tricks!

The photography in the books is beautiful and looking at the variety of spaces that the author highlights was very inspiring for me! I loved how each section of a home was highlighted by its own section with really good tips and tricks (and I've been thinking a lot about home design lately so when I saw this Erin Gates book, I thought it might be exactly what I was looking for. This is a really solid design book with a lot of personal anecdotes from the author and some very good tips and tricks!

The photography in the books is beautiful and looking at the variety of spaces that the author highlights was very inspiring for me! I loved how each section of a home was highlighted by its own section with really good tips and tricks (and photos). One of the things I was surprised by is how Gates included tips for renters which I think is a nice addition to the overall book since so many people are renting these days. I also loved the special features she included such as recipes in the kitchen section and some tips around blogging and starting a blog. I thought those were unexpected but really nice additions which added something special to the overall book.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone with an interest in design or if you enjoy Erin Gate's blog. There is a lot of great information here!

NOTE: Review copy received from the publisher for an honest review. ...more
2

Jan 23, 2016

The REAL title of this book should be "Elements of a Very Specific Kind of Style: Time and Money Consuming Ways to Design a Home and a Posh Life." I stopped reading after the part where the author is telling her husband, "those are OLD pillows, silly man (three months old, in fact) and these are our NEW fabulous pillows!" Um....what? That's not my life and ain't nobody got time for that.
4

Jan 27, 2015

I enjoyed Erin's fearless candor while discussing very personal topics. I also liked her designer tips on small details that can get overlooked but make a big difference. I enjoyed seeing spaces that I hadn't seen before, but in an effort to fill the glossies, some of them felt kind of dated. Oh, and I love the pretty jacket cover!! I can't wait to find a good spot for it on my bookshelves. :)
5

Jul 26, 2016

I so enjoyed this book! I love the author's honesty, style and wit. Great ideas!
2

Jul 12, 2019

I'm not familiar with the author's blog of the same name, but I imagine this book is just a long-form version. Chic design photos and the occasional adorable concept watercolor are interspersed with tales of the author's husband, dogs, Murphy's Law wedding day, and struggles with an eating disorder. I didn't read every word, but to me the highlight was the section from pages 289-292 about the unearthing of a huge metal box in the backyard of the house that used to belong to an embalmer (no bones I'm not familiar with the author's blog of the same name, but I imagine this book is just a long-form version. Chic design photos and the occasional adorable concept watercolor are interspersed with tales of the author's husband, dogs, Murphy's Law wedding day, and struggles with an eating disorder. I didn't read every word, but to me the highlight was the section from pages 289-292 about the unearthing of a huge metal box in the backyard of the house that used to belong to an embalmer (no bones found), followed immediately by her journey from an inpatient facility to a prestigious girls' boarding school. Now that sounds more like the novels I read than a house decorating book!

The styles here didn't really fit me though. A few of the sections have a Define Your Style section where different furniture and accessories are given as examples of the modern, eclectic, glamorous, tarditional, and new country styles. I often liked absolutely none of these options (I might be able to handle the traditional bedroom option, and that's really it.) Still fun to flip through though, and I did save a couple of the tips for later. ...more
5

Jul 18, 2018

I picked this up while looking for organizational books in the non-fiction section of the library. I am a person who "judges a book by its cover" and this one grabbed my attention the second I saw the beautiful black and white stripped spine with gold accents! I think the moment I saw the book cover I wanted to know more about the person who's words were inside. The author does an amazing job with really being down to earth while also knowing her stuff. This is a wonderful book full of practical I picked this up while looking for organizational books in the non-fiction section of the library. I am a person who "judges a book by its cover" and this one grabbed my attention the second I saw the beautiful black and white stripped spine with gold accents! I think the moment I saw the book cover I wanted to know more about the person who's words were inside. The author does an amazing job with really being down to earth while also knowing her stuff. This is a wonderful book full of practical tips and wisdom on how to make each part of your home truly a reflection of you. Though there were plenty of mentions of "name brands" I never once felt she was pushing them into being an absolute must to be a person with a stylish home, but more that she was showing what could be done and then also telling you which pieces she got from a thrift store or garage sale. To me this and her personal life stories made this book a delight to read. ...more
5

Nov 07, 2019

I thought this book lived up to its’ title and taught me the boxes to check if I want to make my house look pretty on purpose. I have a good eye but if I hit the mark it’s by accident really. I loved her stories and laughed and cried. I really respect a person who publishes a childhood photo like that of themselves. No negative reviews allowed after that! Immunity! I thought the negative reviews on this book were weird actually. If I were looking for the Great American Novel I would look I thought this book lived up to its’ title and taught me the boxes to check if I want to make my house look pretty on purpose. I have a good eye but if I hit the mark it’s by accident really. I loved her stories and laughed and cried. I really respect a person who publishes a childhood photo like that of themselves. No negative reviews allowed after that! Immunity! I thought the negative reviews on this book were weird actually. If I were looking for the Great American Novel I would look elsewhere obviously. I had just finished reading the Domino book so it was awesome to find it in one of the photos. I highly recommend Deborah Needleman. ...more
3

Jan 07, 2018

I don't believe in tons and tons (and tons) of pillows or candles as an essential part of any room, but the pictures in this book were seductive, and I definitely learned a few things about decor. For example, bathrooms should be awesome--you want a steam shower AND cowhide walls AND a skylight? Dude, go for it. Also, now I know that the rug in my living room is too small for the space, that the most important part of any kitchen is its layout (I mean, duh, but it's nice to hear that layout I don't believe in tons and tons (and tons) of pillows or candles as an essential part of any room, but the pictures in this book were seductive, and I definitely learned a few things about decor. For example, bathrooms should be awesome--you want a steam shower AND cowhide walls AND a skylight? Dude, go for it. Also, now I know that the rug in my living room is too small for the space, that the most important part of any kitchen is its layout (I mean, duh, but it's nice to hear that layout trumps fancy countertops), and that every home needs a functional entryway. ...more
5

May 22, 2018

Though I picked this book up for its design element, I couldn't put it down because of the highly-engaging personal essays that began each chapter. It doesn't matter that Erin Gates' style doesn't quite match up with my own; I gleaned design wisdom from her, of course, but it was her writing that really touched my heart and left me feeling as if I had just had lunch with a close friend. I was not expecting this from a design book!
3

Jan 12, 2019

A bit light on actual advice on how to "Design a Home", more a look inside the life of an interior designer. However, there _is_ some really interesting pieces of advice in this book. I counted at least 12 times where I left a note for myself to keep this in mind when building out my next home. The authors somewhat meandering writing style can be confused with charm, and I found it endearing when it wasn't interfering with the message of the book.
3

Mar 31, 2019

The stripes on the spine grabbed my attention. I enjoyed this book, but didn't love it. I have read many, many shelter books, so maybe I am just getting pickier. I don't know. It was fine, pretty, not especially useful or inspiring to me. Again, worth reading, but not worth buying. At least not to me.
4

Jan 30, 2018

The text in this book was so refreshingly different than other design books! I was not expecting it to be so funny and personal, I loved it. The interiors featured were not really my style but they were interesting to look at. I couldn't put the book down once I started reading, it's written not just about interiors, but also life as a 30-something.
4

Mar 27, 2018

Nice designs. Houses in greater Boston area have space limitations. The author is based on Boston and she does a beautiful job working around the limitations! This book was also very fun to read. The author is very honest and shares a lot about her life. Really liked it! I would recommend this book especially for those living in cities.
1

Jan 15, 2019

This might have felt more relevant had I picked it up when it first came out but...meh? The author seems nice enough and some of the photography was pretty but there was really nothing of substance to be found here.
2

Feb 21, 2019

Not a huge fan of the book, the general style in the book, the authors anecdotes. I liked a few things but overall it was pretty bleak. I think I am just much more minimalist and this seemed very flashy and a lot of useless stuff in each room. I wouldn't really recommend it.
4

May 06, 2017

Just what I'm looking for in a design book. The only thing I wish there had been more of was a "defining your style" section and more how-to's... But I did get some great ideas AND a great resource list at the back of the book.
3

Sep 13, 2018

Not bad, as long as you like her style, cause she only has one look. For me, a few too many antelope heads and X-stools, but some nice stuff with color.
4

Mar 22, 2017

Entertaining and educational. I usually love looking at the photos in these kinds of books, but find the words beyond dry and boring. This one was the complete opposite and I read every word. Sharing life experiences (warts and all) and humour is such a pleasant surprise. Will follow Erin Gates' blog.
5

Jan 21, 2019

Loved it. Lots of practical advise like table tops for the kitchen and pillow decoration schemes. I love your style, Erin, and looking forward to your second book <3

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