I’ve been knee-deep in everything having to do with my new book lately and we’re getting close!!  The final title is HABITAT: The Field Guide to Decorating.  I think it’s turning out to be everything I hoped it would be, which is really exciting!!

{Our living room a few weeks ago with some leftover photoshoot goldenrod…  This is more what it looks like over here on a daily basis…  coffee table a bit of a mess and like a little whirlwind of boys just swept through.}

I’ve always felt like if I can be 100% happy with the book myself, then I’ll feel like it was worthwhile.  I have this desire to put something out there that is helpful, interesting, entertaining, and beautiful…. and above all, to excite other people.  Everyone has a different vision of what an ideal book might be like, so of course I have my own.  It’s sort of a list of what I think the book needs to do, how it needs to look and feel so that it’s “good.”  I feel like if this book can meet those stringent expectations, then readers will hopefully love it too.  

What started out as a book proposal last spring and a book deal with Abrams last summer is now becoming a reality.  I’m not quite sure what I expected from the process but it’s definitely been eye-opening.  As of right now, the manuscript has been edited and went gone to the copy editors on Friday.  (woohoo!!)  (I think the technical term is “went to copy”?  all very new to me 😉  My editors have done a beautiful job of cleaning up the manuscript, asking pertinent questions, and of course, making the book the best it can be.

When I originally came up with the idea to write a decorating book in the form of a field guide, the table of contents and subsequent proposal just sort of flowed out.  The proposal ended up being a massive outline from which I wrote the book.  Things like word count, page count, and the number of images needed to write a book of a certain length were complete unknowns to me.  Only a few days after I actually sat down to write the book this past summer, I could see that I was well on my way to reaching my minimum word count even though I’d barely scratched the surface.  Months later, I ended up handing in a manuscript that was basically double the minimum, a “tome” as one of my editors called it.  


{Queen Anne’s lace I came across last summer…  reminds me of the feeling I’m after for the book}

I, surprisingly, really enjoyed the actual process of writing the book.  I expected it to be a sort of procrastinating/ teeth-pulling type process, but the manuscript weirdly came out fairly easily.  Rather than write a little bit of it every day all along, I dedicated full, multiple days in a row to it, and tried to block of certain weeks of my calendar to focus on writing.  I found it seemed to take me a day or so to get back into the manuscript and write easily.  (I’m sure that’s because of the way I wrote, often with weeks between writing to keep up with client work, and needing to sort of “get to know” the text all over again before making a lot of headway.) 

The book has ended up being a massive brain dump in which I’ve tried to share everything I can about the decorating process, and the logic behind it all.  It’s easy to reference, including charts with information being broken down on specific products and materials where I felt like it was helpful, mixed in with small bits from my life and home.  I hope that when people read it they feel excited to work on their homes and feel like it’s something they can tackle, be it on their own or with help from a decorator.      

{our kitchen & Louie}

I wrote the book similarly to how I write certain blog posts, where the photography is intertwined with the text and illustrates what I’m talking about, so as the book grew, I felt I needed to add more projects to keep the text flowing properly and making sense.  (I’ve read design books where the photos relate to what’s in the text and I’ve read other ones where the images & captions don’t seem to have a direct relationship and when I set out to write the book didn’t know which way I’d be going, but I guess because I’m so used to blogging and using photo & writing in tandem, the captions and photos have ended up being a key parts of the book.)  Currently, there are about 260 images slated for the book- which I now know is a LOT- and Abrams is working on the book design- by Sarah Gifford = who is brilliant!!!- so we can determine the final number of images and amount of text needed.  Hopefully we’re close at this point but it all depends on how many images are used per page/ size of images etc.     

    {Books designed by Sarah Gifford}

The images in the book are mostly (about 75-80%) of projects completed in the past year or two, ones that I haven’t shared before.  The other 20-25% consists of projects/ my older work that I felt like I couldn’t write the book without, including photos of our house.  I’m so excited to be revealing so many new projects!!  There are around 30 different projects being featured, some more heavily than others, depending upon the number of rooms we photographed and if the project was new or old.

We have seven projects left to photograph -with my good friend, super-talented Helen Norman– by the end of March (8 days of shooting) and then we’re done!  (I’ll be taking a BIG break from photoshoots for a while, I hope!! 😉  This week, we’re photographing three very different kitchens- one more classic-relaxed- light airy & a bit English in feeling, another warm, earthy & cozy, and another which has a sort of simplistic European/ Belgian vibe- so I’ve got to get my styling pants on.  It gets tough for me- I am SO NOT A STYLIST!!- to keep the photos looking fresh and varied and not rely on the same ‘ol styling tricks.

{playing around with styling on a past kitchen shoot… Don’t think the artichokes made it in the final shot so maybe I can use some this week??!! 😉 😉 }

About  a month ago, I got an email from my editor with the the preliminary book design by Sarah, and as I waited for the PDF to open, my heart was beating like crazy.  It was that sort of “and the moment you’ve been waiting for…” / baited breath feeling.  As soon the first page opened, I just exhaled.  I think I was literally teary at how good it was.  She nailed it.  I am absolutely IN LOVE with the book design.  It somehow polished all of my texts, charts, and photography into something truly beautiful and meaningful.  The design is clean and fresh, and has a sophisticated simplicity to it that I really love.  When Sarah created the book design, I felt like she’d read my mind on what I was looking for, though we’d never even spoken.   

Next up is the cover design and I’m nervous.  There are SO many different types of projects in the book- from modern condos to traditional formal DC places to a farmhouse in the country… from completely neutral rooms to those totally saturated color…  Every space in the book still has my look, yet the style of design is ALL OVER THE PLACE.  My clients all have such unique styles and different taste and live in so many different type of homes, so naturally, many of their homes look very different.  

{Close up of a dining room table setting we did recently…  there aren’t really any shots like this in the book- mostly whole rooms- but I thought you might enjoy seeing some close-ups on here.}

So the big question that we’re all pondering now is: what to put on the cover?  It needs to be a shot that doesn’t pigeonhole the design and that will entice readers enough to open the book, whether they’re a fan of modern or traditional, neutrals or colors, and so on and so forth.  I’m not a big fan of covers with multiple images because I like a clean, simple look, but the “chosen” image needs to be just right.  I have one in mind but we’ll see what happens.  Not only is the image itself a big consideration, but so is the color of the book itself, the spine, the material, etc.  I want it to feel like it could be a field guide yet still look like a decorating book.  I want it to be beautiful when it’s just sitting there on a table.  I want it to feel good,  I have SO many opinions about this stuff but it all has to be in line with what the publisher is thinking too.  So wish us all luck and hopefully I’ll be able to share the cover with you soon!!