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Living a Beautiful Life

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  556 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
With the publication of Living A Beautiful Life, Alexandra Stoddard originated the idea of creating an atmosphere of beauty and tranquility with simple touches that turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. As a world-famous interior decorator, she has worked her magic on interiors large and small, from mansions and embassies to cottages and studio apartments. Through her ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published May 6th 2004 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published January 1st 1900)
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This was a nostalgic read for my boyfriend, he had fond memories of reading it with his mother - and there is still a lot of value in that. Unfortunately Stoddard is astonishingly out of touch and her basic message of living well through appreciation of the little things is drowned out by her excess of privilege.

Make everything a ritual she declares, set your lunch table with those lovely bowls you picked up on your last vacation in Provence. If you're having trouble organizing she recommends a
Dec 08, 2009 GoldenjoyBazyll rated it it was amazing
Shelves: inspirational
This book came into my life 15 years ago- right after I separated from my husband. It helped me to focus on the beauty that was right in front of me in all of my daily routines. Step by step I started looking with new lenses at everything like a child full of wonder. Walking my dog in a light sprinkling rain and smelling the grass and flowering trees..... really noticing what was happening around me. I think sometimes we rush along and it becomes oh so easy to forget to appreciate all that is ha ...more
Barbara Handley
Jun 19, 2010 Barbara Handley rated it it was amazing
I can't be unbiased about this book. It's been 12 years or so, I think, since I first discovered it, at a time in my life when I greatly needed self-nurturing. I've read it six or seven times since.

I just love it. I always feel inspired while reading it, but also serene. It was interesting rereading it this time, after several years, and seeing how it has influenced me over the kitchen glasses, my pillowcases, the soap dish in my bathroom, and so many other things.
Chris Cook
May 08, 2015 Chris Cook rated it it was amazing
I love this book. It's one I reread whenever I need a pick-me-up. It was life changing 25 years ago for me, and it still can bring a positive spin to my days. It's the kind of book that's great to give to others.
Oct 18, 2009 Karyn rated it really liked it
This book contains so many do-able ways to live a simple life as related to homekeeping. Stoddard suggests that we spend 85 percent of our time at home between three rooms--bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen. Yet, we spend 85 percent of our decorating budgets on other rooms--living room, dining room, etc. She challenges her readers to rethink where they spend their decorating budgets. She also gives her views on what items the budget should be spent on. A great read! I hope to add the book to my hom ...more
Dana Kennedy
Sep 15, 2014 Dana Kennedy rated it it was ok
I love the idea of putting beauty into daily routines that you are doing anyway, however this book is decades outdated, and the advice is not really relevant today.

"The phone company will change your cord for a nominal fee. If you make lots of calls while cooking, perhaps your kitchen phone should have the dial located in the receiver..."

Even when this book was current, a lot of suggestions lean towards using items that you picked up on your last trip to Europe, or having perfume custom made for
Sandra Savell
Apr 08, 2015 Sandra Savell rated it it was amazing
I have been carting this book around with me for over 20 years. I haven't picked it up for a while and while re-reading it for the 3rd or 4th time this year....I realized that I'm just a few months to my 60th birthday. I enjoyed seeing the margin notes and highlights from my first reading in my late 30's. Times have certainly changed! But so much of this books rings true for women. I recommend this book to each and every woman. There is much to learn in these pages.
Jul 22, 2012 Mary rated it really liked it
The edition I read was totally 1990s so I'd like to get my hands on a newer copy, but I was surprised at how relevant her suggestions were to today. I read this while housesitting at Lisa's and noticed that she embodies this type of living in her house: decorating to stimulate all of the senses. Full of great ideas on how to make a house a beautiful, sensory-stimulating home.
Mar 13, 2009 TurtleneckGirl rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
My mom gave this to me years ago. I just love this book. In a gentle, inspiring voice, the author, an interior decorator, suggests ways to create beauty and ease in your daily life. I especially enjoyed the "Grace Notes" at the end of each chapter.
Oct 20, 2009 Starla rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
How to take time to enjoy the small things in life. To just enjoy every moment. This is a truly "beautiful" book. I read it every year, once in the spring and again in the fall. Enjoy it each and every time.
Oct 25, 2012 Megan rated it it was amazing
I read this book 25 years ago at age 14 and it has shaped my life every single day after. I've been previlidged to meet Alexandra and correspond via old fashioned stamp mail. I've given it as gifts loads. The sections of grace notes are my favorite parts. No other book has ever come close.
Jun 11, 2008 Cheri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alexandra Stoddard seems at times a little out of touch with the realities of life, but her recommendations to add little touches of beauty (fresh flowers every day!) are inspirational.
Wendy Kendall
Jan 04, 2015 Wendy Kendall rated it it was amazing
Living a Beautiful Life
By Alexandra Stoddard

As I attempt to fulfill my new year’s resolutions, I’ve discovered this book that goes beyond a resolution check list and reminds that living a beautiful life is in the daily details. Alexandra Stoddard suggests simple ways to easily and inexpensively enhance your quality of life.

The foreword points out that many people save up to 95 percent of their money and effort to spend on 5 percent of their lives during special occasions. Instead consider that a
Shirley Brosius
Jul 15, 2016 Shirley Brosius rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I read this book for fun, and fun it was. The subtitle says it all: Five Hundred Ways to Add Elegance, Order, Beauty and Joy to Every Day of Your Life. That sums up the content written by Alexandra Stoddard. Beautiful ink drawings by Pat Stewart add to its appeal. (The edition I read had a different cover; I hope the drawings are included in every edition.)

According to Stoddard, we can create beauty and order in ordinary days by establishing little rituals that enhance the humdrum. Some chapters
Aug 15, 2016 Kiyoko rated it liked it
Shelves: my-bookshelf
My favorite, and first read chapter, was the section on kitchens. The rest of the book wandered around in circles.

Many of the 500 ways to add Elegance, Order, Beauty, and Joy are ideals that may be difficult to put into action unless you live in a spacious home with grand bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchen. The author's ideals center around the use of fresh flowers, items gathered from extensive travels, and the art of generous gift giving to dozens of your closest friends. There is subtle name d
Jan 27, 2015 Mickey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I share George Orwell's fascination withh old fashioned women's magazines. Part of the appeal for me is so much of it is aspirational. So much is fantasy. Since the book has a copyright date of 1986, the practical parts of the book are outdated. Her specific advice is unlikely to be of any interest except anthropological. Styles have changed so much. However, her approach to living and the particular fantasy she taps into are still powerful. Her message of building in daily rituals to elevate ev ...more
Karen Floyd
Jul 20, 2016 Karen Floyd rated it really liked it
It must have been about 20 years ago that I first read this and really loved it. This time around it was a quick and enjoyable read for an afternoon when I was feeling lousy and depressed after a night of too little sleep. Stoddard focuses on the little things one can do to make dailiness into an occasion, and the little touches that can beautify one's surroundings. I think one of the most important things she says is not to skimp on lighting to save electricity, especially in winter. It's "fals ...more
Feb 09, 2016 Beth rated it liked it
I just re-read this book originally published in 1986. Stoddard is an interior designer who lives in New York. The book is full of suggestions for living more beautifully each day (one of her points is that we should not just live for special occasions but try to make everyday life as enjoyable as possible, use the good dishes, etc.). She includes decorating suggestions, and ideas for increasing comfort and pleasure in one's own home/life. She gives tips for each room of the house, and type of a ...more
May 03, 2009 Geishagirlme rated it did not like it
What the title should have said was, "Make yourself sick by my rubbing your nose in my beautiful life."
Those who have lots are constaintly tossing out tips that you cannot possibly use if you don't have the reasources (family,money,art)
Walden Pond's simple living ideas would not have been a great success if the author hadn't eaten at the Emerson's full table at least once a week--roughing it isn't fun if its all you have.
In the same way--getting some cute little accessories from an artist friend
Jul 16, 2014 Kaethe rated it liked it
Shelves: domesticity
Okay: here's what I love about modern life. It used to be that if you enjoyed looking at pictures of pretty rooms you had two options, books and magazines. The number of designers and stylists was somewhat limited, and you rarely saw anything that wasn't by a designer. Now, anytime I want to, I can see a gazillion different pictures of different kinds of rooms, some decorated and staged by pros, others by talented amateurs. And what I know now is that Stoddard's taste isn't mine. But I still tha ...more
May 24, 2014 Gloria added it
Shelves: non-fiction
Stoddard wrote for McCall's magazine and has a number of books devoted to better living as a form of self-care. Here she provides ideas for improving the bath, the bedroom, and meals. She is big on suggesting that little things make a big difference: artwork, books, pillows, pretty dishes, good linens, fresh flowers, organization tools, etc. This is reflective and philosophical in tone with bits of poetry interspersed. It is ultimately a reminder to live mindfully.
Angela Stull
Nov 11, 2012 Angela Stull rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
my favorite decorating book ever. she encourages you to decorate with the things you love - not just obtaining a "fake "decorator-generic look. i was encouraged to decorate my laundry room, which I spend quite a lot of time in. it never occured to me to make it a place i actually liked to be in! i love her book and read it over and over! angie stull

Apr 12, 2012 Helen added it
The basic message of this book is so, so useful. My only reservation is that some people quite obviously overdo her message, and end up with 'fussy', not beautiful - just look at some homes advertised on the internet...
If I can follow her advice correctly, my home will benefit hugely. Loved the book.
Jackie Warren Tatum
Aug 10, 2016 Jackie Warren Tatum rated it really liked it
If you are up to your eyeballs working, struggling to catch up with the endless tasks that need to be done, and you are coming home to a disordered space that does absolutely nothing to help nurture you and feed your needs and you don't know where to begin to add beauty and order and joy to your everyday life in your own space, go get this book. Jackie Warren Tatum
Aug 31, 2007 Lianne rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
I loved these books by Alexandra Stoddard. (they are self-help type) They are about beautifying your life and the home around you in simple, meaningful ways. They talk about writing and many other things. I loved them.
Apr 26, 2011 Evaly rated it really liked it
I love the concept of this book- making your regular life special and meaningful. Having enjoyable routines keeps us from getting in a rut. Some of the specific ideas in this book were either dated or just not my style, but the principles are timeless.
Dec 18, 2015 Dianna rated it liked it
Some very good ideas here for keeping a beautiful home and balancing your life. While many of the broad ideas were timeless, most of the specific ideas were dated, seeing as this was written about 30 years ago. Did not finish.
Nov 29, 2012 Sunshine rated it it was amazing
Absolutely LOVE all of Alexandra Stoddard's writing and inspiration. It's my little escape before drifting off to sleep at night, my slice of heaven-on-earth, and hopes for a future haven of my own to invite others into.....
Dec 01, 2009 Fran rated it it was amazing
This book was a gift from my daughter, who loves to add elegance, order, beauty and joy to everyday life. This book inspires you to do just that. Using examples, the author creates beauty and joy in the areas of life that mean the most to you day to day.
May 10, 2008 Francine rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those seeking to live more gracefully.
WOrth it for the Grace Notes alone. I bought this book on a whim twenty years ago and still keep it on my bedside stand.
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ALEXANDRA STODDARD is a philosopher of contemporary living and author of many best selling books, including the classic Living a Beautiful Life: 500 Ways to Add Elegance, Order, Beauty and Joy to Every Day of Your Life, Choosing Happiness: Keys to a Joyful Life, Things I Want My Daughters to Know: A Small Book About the Big Issues in Life, and You Are Your Choices: 50 Ways to Live the Good Life. A ...more
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