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Joanna Gaines wants to help you find your design style - Houston Chronicle

Posted on 12 June, 2018 by Mack C. Dunn
92 out of 100 based on 556 user ratings

Not that you’ll ever tire of watching Chip and Joanna Gaines “Fixer Upper” reruns, but if you do, turn to Jo’s newest project, her how-to design book that will help you evaluate your own style, what you’ve got in your home and launch any number of design projects.

Joanna Gaines, perhaps Waco’s most recognizable resident right now, recently published “Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave” (Harper Design; ; 352 pp.), with practical advice for creating the home of your dreams.

The book is just one of many new titles that make great gifts for design and architecture fans.

Gaines sets out six core design styles — farmhouse, modern, rustic, industrial, traditional and boho — then delivers detailed definitions and keywords to help you hone in on the one that best represents you.

She then guides you through home design, room by room. Entries are about the beauty that greets guests as well as the utility of their everyday users. You need a place to sit to put on or take off shoes, but you want a warm welcome, too. Living rooms can be formal or informal, and their composition is often determined by size and whether they’re part of an open-concept floor plan — not to mention the TV-versus-no-TV debate.

Troubleshooting sections offer advice for small changes with big payoffs: Paint an old front door; add a pretty rug or pillows; benches can double as storage areas.

Gaines recognizes the common problems real people have. You’ve inherited sentimental pieces of family furniture, whether they reflect your style or not. If you’re tired of tolerating those things, consider painting wooden pieces or reupholstering sofas or chairs to keep them in the family and make them your own.

The book is filled with stories from the Gaines’ home life, a reflection of the modern life of a young family as well as to show her own evolution as a woman, wife, mother and designer.

We’ll start with the kitchen, a room completely foreign to her in the earliest days of the Gaines’ marriage. She shares that she knew how to cook just a few dishes, and when they came home from their honeymoon and moved into their first home, everything felt foreign to her. She’s gotten over it, of course, because last spring she published her first cookbook, “Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering.”

Not only did they simply need to eat, Gaines baked both to feed her sweet tooth and to see her husband’s face light up at the sight of a freshly baked pie.

Though Gaines defines six styles of design, most of the photos in her book vary little from the style you see on the couple’s HGTV show — so if that’s what you love, this book is for you.

Here are some other new books:

‘Le Corbusier: The Built Work’ by Richard Pare and Jean-Louis Cohen

(Monacelli Press; 5; 480 pp.)

Charles-Edouard Jenneret was a Swiss-French architect/designer/painter/author who adopted the pseudonym Le Corbusier — an altered form of his grandfather’s name, Lecorbésier — as a sign of personal reinvention. His work is feted in this exhaustive collection of photos. Photographer Richard Pare traveled the world to photograph Le Corbusier’s work that is still standing, from famous buildings such as the Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, France, to a nearly forgotten concrete water tower, Chateau d’Eau in Rue Pierre Vincent, Podensac, France. French scholar/curator Jean-Louis Cohen wrote text that accompanies the photos. This thick book is a fitting tribute to Le Corbusier, one of the most influential architects of the 20th century and a pioneer of the modernist architecture movement.

‘The Story of the Bauhaus: The Art and Design School That Changed Everything’ by Frances Amber

(Ilex; .99; 224 pp.)

In 1919, German architect Walter Gropius created the Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar, a pioneering trade school for architects, designers and artisans that encouraged new ideas in art, music, theater, design and architecture and helped launch the modernist movement. Though it was closed by the Nazis in 1933, the work of its faculty and students is still valued today. Two of its earliest teachers were artists Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee, and students included Marcel Breuer, Josef Albers and Herbert Bayer. This paperback book celebrates the 100th anniversary of the founding of the school with 100 entries that detail the evolution of the school in its short life and represent the work it produced. You’ll learn about everything from the school’s logo, band and philosophy to the works of various faculty and staff.

‘The Iconic House: Architectural Masterworks Since 1900’ by Dominic Bradbury

(Thames & Hudson; ; 376 pp.)

This book zeroes in on the masters — Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe, among others — and iconic homes built throughout the world from 1900 through 2012. In Texas, only the Turtle Creek House, designed by Antoine Predock for a Dallas client, made the cut. Richard Powers’ photography takes you inside and outside the homes, and Dominic Bradbury’s text takes you on a chronological journey of architecture throughout the world.

‘Little House in the City’ by Marc Vassallo

(The Taunton Press; .95; 217 pp.)

It’s hard to imagine an audience for smaller houses in a city and state where everything seems to be getting bigger all of the time. But the “not so big house” movement advocated by Marc Vassallo in his new book (and, earlier, with author/architect Sarah Susanka), has an audience. Vassalo documents smaller but highly functional houses in North America, including Austin, Dallas and Houston. It includes the work of Mark Schatz and Anne Eamon, the husband-wife talent behind m+a architecture studio in Houston, the first home they built for themselves (700 square feet) as well as their second, the “Next House,” with 990 square feet. The author’s focus is on permanent (mostly modern) homes that are intentionally small — not the more mobile “tiny house” movement.

‘Be Bold: Bespoke Modern Interiors’ Jay Jeffers

(Gibbs Smith; ; 272 pp.)

It’s always the details that make the difference between a nice home and an exceptional one, and San Francisco interior designer Jay Jeffers, a native Texan, shows exactly how to pull it off in his book. A portfolio of his favorite projects, “Be Bold” is a demonstration of 21st-century modern style that’s beautiful and comfortable. He blends drama and color in, of course, bold ways with patterns, textures and amazing finishes.

‘Inspired Design: The 100 Most Important Interior Designers of the Past 100 Years’ by Jennifer Boles

(Vendome Press; ; 400 pp.)

This who’s-who of the design world reaches back into the 19th century to Elsie de Wolfe, born at the end of the Civil War and one of the first professional interior designers in America. The book devotes space to the life and work of designer names you know and some you ought to know. From Americans Dorothy Draper and Bunny Williams to Brits David Hicks and John Stefanidis, the book cycles through decades of stylemakers, showing their work and explaining their influence and inspiration.

‘Texas Made, Texas Modern’ by Helen Thompson and Casey Dunn

(The Monacelli Press; ; 224 pp.)

Helen Thompson’s latest looks at modern architecture in a variety of Texas terrains: plains and plateau, desert and hills. The state’s architects stuck to authentic materials — stone and masonry, wood and steel — devising primary homes, vacation homes and even a writing studio/hunting blind perched on the edge of a cliff in the Hill Country. Though Houston is overlooked, you’ll see beautiful examples of urban design in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio, along with rural areas such as Wimberley, Marfa and Lost Pines.

‘Victor Lundy: Artist Architect’ edited by Donna Kacmar

(Princeton Architectural Press; ; 240 pp.)

Beaux Arts/Bauhaus-trained architect Victor Lundy taught for eight years at what is now the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design at the University of Houston. Donna Kacmar, a UH professor, collected a handful of writers to tackle various phases of Lundy’s career. One is local architectural historian Stephen Fox, who wrote about his Houston projects that include two studios and homes. One of his most significant works was the U.S. Tax Court Building in Washington, D.C., now on the National Register of Historic Places.

‘Mid-Century Modern Icons of Design’ by Frances Ambler

(Thames & Hudson; .95; 200 pp.)

Consider this tome a stocking-stuffer entry. This small book with a cute midcentury graphic design on its cover includes some of the most iconic products from midcentury-modern design with illustrations and text. It will help you identify furniture designers and styles with names you still might see among the inventory of Knoll and Herman Miller. You’ll see names and styles you’re likely familiar with — Ray and Charles Eames, Hans Wegner, Arne Jacobsen and Raymond Loewy, but you’re likely to learn about some lesser-known names such as Jens Risom, Sori Yanagi (butterfly stool) and Lucian Ercolani (nest of tables).

‘Casa Moderna: Latin American Living’ by Philip Jodidio

(Thames & Hudson; ; 320 pp.)

Latin America is known for its architectural innovation, particularly its cutting-edge modern design. Philip Jodidio chronicles homes with cantilevered sections, some that look like stacked, mismatched boxes, floating staircases and artful stair rails. The hottest architectural tours these days are in Latin America, and a cruise through this book might make you want to plan your next vacation.

‘Cabana Anthology’ by Cabana magazine

(Vendome Press; ; 488 pp.)

If less to read and more to look at is what you prefer, this is the book for you. The magazine highlights images from some of its favorite projects around the world. You’ll see exotic mosaic-tile walls in Tangiers, wisteria-draped gardens in England, orthodox iconography in Russia, ornate frescoes in Italy and rustic Americana in Colorado. It’s design, art, architecture and travel all in one.

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