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Elements of Style: Designing a Home a Life

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  643 ratings  ·  90 reviews
From the rising-star designer and author of the hit blog, Elements of Style, a full-color, fully illustrated book packed with honest advice, inspiration, ideas, and lessons learned about designing a home that reflects your personality and style.

Elements of Style is a uniquely personal and practical decorating guide that shows how designing a home can be an outlet of person
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 7th 2014 by Simon Schuster
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  643 ratings  ·  90 reviews

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Oct 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
Of course I went into this thinking I'm really going to learn something. Right. I'm going to learn to stop reading books by bloggers.

If it wasn't for the personal stories, most notably her wedding day and eating disorder, I would have considered it one star and a total waste. But there's a sucker in me who just likes to know the rest of the world is human. Ms. Gates does make the reader aware of that fact.

I long for the day when publishing goes back to publishing work by authors, not bloggers.
Oct 10, 2014 rated it did not like it
I wrote a review of Erin Gates' "Element of Style" on Amazon and gave it a one star rating. Erin and her husband Andrew wrote snide and rude comments to my review. Then they started calling me names and bullying be on Amazon. It became so bad that Amazon had to delete the comments they were saying to me. Erin had done damage to her profession of interior design and her credibility as a writer. I can not believe that Simon & Schuster will tolerate bullying behavior from anyone including their aut ...more
Dec 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: home-decorating
This one is pretty and has some great visual ideas, but is verbally weak and annoying...Oh! the STRESS of being a clever designer, how HYSTERICAL it makes a gal feel, etc. Could have done without the histrionics, because the designs are quite nice, not too high end, and the author has a very pleasing sense of color.
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
The REAL title of this book should be "Elements of a Very Specific Kind of Style: Time and Money Consuming Ways to Design a Home and a Posh Life." I stopped reading after the part where the author is telling her husband, "those are OLD pillows, silly man (three months old, in fact) and these are our NEW fabulous pillows!" Um....what? That's not my life and ain't nobody got time for that. ...more
Jun 04, 2014 rated it liked it
ARC provided by NetGalley on behalf of the publishers

a very nice book, just not quite my style.
Jelena Nemet
Oct 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, art
”It’s all about respecting how you live and not trying to create a space for some person who lives in a magazine.”
May 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: design
To be fair this book came out in 2014, and would have knocked my socks off! Four years later it stands the test of time, but you will have seen a lot of the concepts in various blogs, magazines and other media. Worth reading. Erin Gates is candid, funny and warm. She’s someone you would want to be friends with and have decorate your home, no matter how large or small.
Neha Sharma
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
“While a home provides shelter and a place to gather, it is also the safe place where we can express our feelings and enjoy some of the most important and meaningful events in our lives.”

Like any aspiring writer, my head keeps juggling with more ideas than it can ever handle. This book came in my life around one such phase when I was deciding where to place the new table in my house and ended up reading a book on interior designing for that! I don’t understand just why people were able to come u
I've been thinking a lot about home design lately so when I saw this Erin Gates book, I thought it might be exactly what I was looking for. This is a really solid design book with a lot of personal anecdotes from the author and some very good tips and tricks!

The photography in the books is beautiful and looking at the variety of spaces that the author highlights was very inspiring for me! I loved how each section of a home was highlighted by its own section with really good tips and tricks (and
Tayler K
I'm not familiar with the author's blog of the same name, but I imagine this book is just a long-form version. Chic design photos and the occasional adorable concept watercolor are interspersed with tales of the author's husband, dogs, Murphy's Law wedding day, and struggles with an eating disorder. I didn't read every word, but to me the highlight was the section from pages 289-292 about the unearthing of a huge metal box in the backyard of the house that used to belong to an embalmer (no bones ...more
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed Erin's fearless candor while discussing very personal topics. I also liked her designer tips on small details that can get overlooked but make a big difference. I enjoyed seeing spaces that I hadn't seen before, but in an effort to fill the glossies, some of them felt kind of dated. Oh, and I love the pretty jacket cover!! I can't wait to find a good spot for it on my bookshelves. :) ...more
A. B
May 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Oh god, why did I buy this?
Because it has a pretty cover and looks nice.
At least it looks lovely as a decoration piece.
She talks a lot about herself but should be expected because she is a blogger, I just didn't know before I bought the book.. Shame on me.
The style is eh, in my opinion but I bet it's perfect for the average American.
It is funny and enjoyable though :)
Feb 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Eye candy for the design-obsessed!
May 23, 2015 added it
This book is fantastic!
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-read
I so enjoyed this book! I love the author's honesty, style and wit. Great ideas! ...more
Derek Enlow
I perhaps should have done more research on this book, but wanting to learn more about interior design, I found this book featured in a few lists and ordered a copy. Unfortunately, it failed to meet many of my expectations.

While I did learn some useful principles, I didn't learn as much as I was hoping. I don't think it would be an unfair estimation to say about half of the written content are personal stories, and as the author Erin Gates runs a blog and has a well-established readership, I can
Shasta Cornett
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I picked this up while looking for organizational books in the non-fiction section of the library. I am a person who "judges a book by its cover" and this one grabbed my attention the second I saw the beautiful black and white stripped spine with gold accents! I think the moment I saw the book cover I wanted to know more about the person who's words were inside. The author does an amazing job with really being down to earth while also knowing her stuff. This is a wonderful book full of practical ...more
Rhonda Sanchez
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thought this book lived up to its’ title and taught me the boxes to check if I want to make my house look pretty on purpose. I have a good eye but if I hit the mark it’s by accident really. I loved her stories and laughed and cried. I really respect a person who publishes a childhood photo like that of themselves. No negative reviews allowed after that! Immunity! I thought the negative reviews on this book were weird actually. If I were looking for the Great American Novel I would look elsewhe ...more
Jan 07, 2018 rated it liked it
I don't believe in tons and tons (and tons) of pillows or candles as an essential part of any room, but the pictures in this book were seductive, and I definitely learned a few things about decor. For example, bathrooms should be awesome--you want a steam shower AND cowhide walls AND a skylight? Dude, go for it. Also, now I know that the rug in my living room is too small for the space, that the most important part of any kitchen is its layout (I mean, duh, but it's nice to hear that layout trum ...more
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: style-design
Though I picked this book up for its design element, I couldn't put it down because of the highly-engaging personal essays that began each chapter. It doesn't matter that Erin Gates' style doesn't quite match up with my own; I gleaned design wisdom from her, of course, but it was her writing that really touched my heart and left me feeling as if I had just had lunch with a close friend. I was not expecting this from a design book! ...more
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it
A bit light on actual advice on how to "Design a Home", more a look inside the life of an interior designer. However, there _is_ some really interesting pieces of advice in this book. I counted at least 12 times where I left a note for myself to keep this in mind when building out my next home. The authors somewhat meandering writing style can be confused with charm, and I found it endearing when it wasn't interfering with the message of the book. ...more
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020
I found some ideas (can be counted on one hand) that I could use but otherwise, not my style and I am not interested in seeing the same furniture item from different angles and placed differently in the room. It all looks too stuffy and dark (not moody-nice dark, just drab) for my taste and I skipped most of the text because it just annoyed me. Maybe I would have liked the book better, had I read it right when it was published, but I doubt it. At least the spine is nice and I can recycle the cov ...more
Sep 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020, design
4 stars; Design

I always love a book that gives me better clarity into the elements used to create a beautiful space. This book was full of good information with plenty of examples showing how those elements can look in real life. It’s well organized and explained things in a way that feels enjoyable to read. If you’re interested in learning about design, this book will get you off to a good start.
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
The text in this book was so refreshingly different than other design books! I was not expecting it to be so funny and personal, I loved it. The interiors featured were not really my style but they were interesting to look at. I couldn't put the book down once I started reading, it's written not just about interiors, but also life as a 30-something. ...more
Kazue Evans
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: home-decoration
Nice designs. Houses in greater Boston area have space limitations. The author is based on Boston and she does a beautiful job working around the limitations! This book was also very fun to read. The author is very honest and shares a lot about her life. Really liked it! I would recommend this book especially for those living in cities.
Mar 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: shelter-books
The stripes on the spine grabbed my attention. I enjoyed this book, but didn't love it. I have read many, many shelter books, so maybe I am just getting pickier. I don't know. It was fine, pretty, not especially useful or inspiring to me. Again, worth reading, but not worth buying. At least not to me. ...more
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Just what I'm looking for in a design book. The only thing I wish there had been more of was a "defining your style" section and more how-to's... But I did get some great ideas AND a great resource list at the back of the book. ...more
Jan 15, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
This might have felt more relevant had I picked it up when it first came out but...meh? The author seems nice enough and some of the photography was pretty but there was really nothing of substance to be found here.
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
Not a huge fan of the book, the general style in the book, the authors anecdotes. I liked a few things but overall it was pretty bleak. I think I am just much more minimalist and this seemed very flashy and a lot of useless stuff in each room. I wouldn't really recommend it. ...more
Marissa Morrison
Oct 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
This is not for me... Piles of illustrated books, topped by knick knacks... So. Many. Knick knacks (the brand-new from a department store kind, not the treasured antique or travel memento kind). X-benches everywhere, adding neither surface space nor comfortable seating.
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