Thursday, February 17, 2011

Book Report: Restoring a House in the City

Last month, I shared my first entry in my new "Book Report" feature, where I'll review a home decor book and offer my comments and critiques. The first installment of "Book Report" took a look at "Home from the Hardware Store"--if you haven't checked out my write-up, find it here.
Today, I'll share my thoughts on Ingrid Abramovitch's "Restoring a Home in the City," a book I just recently purchased. I anxiously awaited the arrival of my copy and, when it did, I quickly consumed all of the visual delights inside.

Here are a few of my favorite images:
 (via Katy Elliott)

The first urban home presented in the book is that of Robert Duffy, the president of Marc Jacobs. His home in New York's West Village is chic and understated. 

Duffy's environment is masterfully curated (for more on Duffy, 
check out his Provinctown vacation home featured in Elle Decor).
 (Robert Duffy's West Village home via Salvaged Grace)

Lest you think the book is all about classical takes on historic city homes, Abramovitch divides her time equally amongst traditional and more modern renovations. Most homes were thoughtfully styled and would have seemed appropriate to be featured in any issue of Elle Decor.

Here, Brooklyn homeowners utilized great architectural detail in their pocket doors,
 (via Casa Cara)

while a Philadelphia couple reinvented their Society Hill home (so close to me!) into a modern mansion:
(Philadelphia represent! via Salvaged Grace)

(via Inhabitat--notice the foyer designed by Ellen Hamilton)

I was in awe of Darryl Carter's kitchen (which is enormous and drenched in sunlight),
 (Darryl Carter's kitchen via Urban Turf)

and totally smitten with this playful fireplace from Brooklyn.

But as this is an honest review, I felt the book was, at times, a bit disconnected from reality. I found myself skipping the homes that boasted over 10,000 sq. feet in liveable space. 

I mean, c'mon. 
Most of us urban dwellers are lucky to have 1/10th of that space in the city!

I also found that the Beacon Hill home featured seemed out of place from the other renovations included in the book. The home was more Architectural Digest than Elle Decor, if you know what I mean. I could practically smell the mothball scent emanating off the page.

Having said all that, I thought that "Restoring a House in the City" was worth a look, but overall it lacked resonance with me. The homes featured required multi-million dollar renovations, and many more millions to furnish. I simply couldn't relate. Don't get me wrong: there's nothing wrong with a little aspirational decor every now and then. Most of the spreads just seemed completely unattainable, in every sense of the word.

Instead, I find myself more compelled to check out the work budget-conscious bloggers are doing on their own homes (a la Katy Elliott or Anna Dorfman of Door Sixteen) than those with an endless supply of capital. 


  1. I always found home restoration books to be mere glimpses into the impossible dream. Nice to look at, but a far stretch from reality. Maybe that's why I tend to stick to flea market/thrift style decor books and magazines. Much more doable.

  2. I like the idea of this book but I'm with seemed so unattainable. I still like to thumb through it and daydream though :)

  3. Hmm good insights. I know I've seen pics of that Philly home before.

    I think I prefer a mix- some high end mixed in with some flea market finds.

    PS- I'm on a mission to buy a bunch of old design books. But I want them used and cheap! Any ideas?

  4. Very pretty! I saved a couple images for myself...


I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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