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Finished The Emotional House: How Redesigning Your Home Can Change Your Life by Kathryn Robyn and Dawn Ritchie. Disappointingly shallow. The outline of the book seemed promising. Part 1 had you develop an "emotional blueprint" of your home where you would find areas of your home that do no support you emotionally or functionally (because a room that does not function right is an emotional sink). Part two was built around "house rules" which explained various rules that rooms should follow (e.g., rooms should actually be lived in, comfortable, organized, etc.). Part three went through the major common rooms in a home and analyzed them.

All that made for a great book idea, but the execution was shallow. The authors made unsubstantiated claims that did not take cultural variations into account (e.g., the emotional effect of colors) and they gave lots of nice sounding generalities without providing much specific advice.

An illustrative example can be found in the discussion of televisions and living room furniture arrangement. They say things like
increasingly [the living room] has become a place where families and friends commune with video games and the television set instead of with others. The result is an increasingly alienated society with a growing sense of disconnection [unsubstantiated claim of causation]. ... In this room, group dynamics depend on the layout of your furniture. Social scientists have identified sociopetal seating as an arrangement that encourages participation and communication -- charis that face each other and are not too far apart, but far enough to giv some sense of personal space. In essence, you want to create a congenial conversation pit where comfortable chairs and sofas encircle a coffee table, with lamps for accent lighting that bring out everyone's best features and a focal point that puts everyone in an upbeat, talkative mood. [okay, but is that the only option? and how do we integrate the television?]
The book was filled with passages like this. I could agree with the sentiment, was doubtful of many of the claims, and, most importantly, was constantly left asking, "so how do I actually implement that?"
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From Contemporist. I am not big on "floating" staircases, but this one does look awesome.



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Finished Living In Style Without Losing Your Mind )

Now I just need to get around to applying all these ideas to my own home.
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Finished Interior Design by John F. Pile. This is a textbook. Reading text books is fun! This book is a basic overview of the field of interior design. The book covers history, the design process, planning a design, human factors, social responsibility, different materials and interior elements, color, lighting, furniture, special needs, internal technical systems amongst other things. Reading a text book on interior design makes it clear that the field is much more than decoration. Interior design (at least, good interior design) is focused on how space is used and making sure that use is effective. As such, I find that this book has a closer tie to environmental psychology than many of the other books I have read in the general area of environmental psychology, architecture, and interior design. I enjoyed learning about interior design, and I appreciated the fact that 550 pages go a lot faster when there are lots of pictures.

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Erika RS

May 2012

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