So many home decorating manuals are discouraging. The pristine, polished interiors photographed inside seem entirely unattainable. After looking through them any urge to start a remodel project typically evaporates. Elizabeth Mayhew’s new guide Flip! For Decorating is a welcome change because it’s both inspiring and practical. There are photographs of beautiful rooms inside, but also step-by-step instructions about how to get there.
The book breaks the decorating process into smaller, manageable tasks. The chapter about designing a living room, for example, consists of guidelines about selecting a couch, a carpet, tables, chairs, lighting and accessories. In addition there are sequential photographs showing how each element is installed in an actual room, so that you can literally flip the pages and see the design come together. Someone decorating her own living room can follow these steps methodically or search the book for specific information, like what kind of sofa filling is most durable, or how high a coffee table should be.
Refreshingly, Mayhew isn’t governed by a single style. Her process is to start with one element, like a paint color or an artwork, and assemble the rest of the room around it. This leaves plenty of freedom to mix and match between different styles. She says, “Follow your gut and buy what you’re crazy about and you’ll see a style called ‘You’ emerge.” That seems like the perfect mantra for someone furnishing a home and trying to make it her own.