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Room for Improvement

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  995 Ratings  ·  109 Reviews
Stacey Ballis tackles home improvement and reality TV--and reminds us that sometimes life and love are better left unscripted...What do you get when you give two hopeful singles fashion consultants and interior designers, allow them four days to perk up each other's homes and get a total style overhaul, then let their single friends celebrate the results at a fabulous part ...more
Paperback, 294 pages
Published June 6th 2006 by Berkley Books
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Rating details
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Mar 14, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: chick-lit
This book is based on a reality show concept, which is pretty cool. And of course, love is at the center of the plot. However, the plot doesn't seem to be as cohesive as it could be. And there was this one thing that the author did that drove me NUTS! She overused alliteration. At first I thought it was a one time thing, but she did it at least a dozen times. And it was so out of place. It usually was what the main character was thinking and who would think that way? Here's an example of the cra ...more
Quirky, fun romp through the lens of Chicago interior designer Lily on her first TV DIY show- deadlines, producers, and coworker delights/challenges, while bringing to life her mad skills.

Side shows of her personal life with: her parents, mostly Mom; her 2 best friends since elementary school, and their very colorful adult conversations; along with their hilarious sexy dating escapades which feature running internal commentary and the de rigueur girlfriend feedback sessions. My faves are while
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars

I enjoyed this as a quick chicklit read but I didn't end up loving it. I didn't feel connected to any of the characters. They all seemed like tropes. I also didn't particularly like any of the relationships; didn't dislike them either though. I did think the friendships were lacking. The plot was fun. A few of Lily's rules were fun and gave good insight to her character. I enjoyed the "trading spaces" meets dating show aspect; thought it was original despite these things existing releva
Dec 31, 2008 rated it liked it
Very interesting, highly entertaining, and surprisingly graphic. I realized as I got into it that she was treating the reader like a new friend. In the beginning, it wasn't too specific, but as we got to know one another more and more, she felt freer to share more and increasingly graphic details. Odd, that.

This writer had me laughing out loud on the plane from DIA to ORD. She's really, really funny and I'll probably look for another book by her. . . .hoping it's not quite as trashy.

Some of the
Jan 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
Simply terrible. Annoying alliteration that distracts you from what the sentences are saying because you're trying to decipher the language, annoying characters that you can't imagine how they work together, and annoying language. Cursing at your "friends" all the time is not cool. And can the character Bob say anything that isn't bookended with "really, with the ..., really?" The narrator is crass and slutty, and honestly, I wasn't rooting for her. None of the characters seemed fully developed. ...more
Mar 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I had to finish this book in a day. And it was not a burden. I love (d) this book.
ok confession, I'm actually on page 400( which is really page 100) and then page 409 turns into 440.
Is there some kind of design/reality tv thing I'm missing here? Quick, get me Andy Cohen on line one, STAT!
I am throughly enjoying this juicy lil read in all of It's slutty, funny, gay friendly glory.
I do look forward to the ending, whatever page that may be on. And I definitely look forward to indulging in more S
Ellisa Barr
Dec 20, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: light reading
Shelves: adult-fiction
This book was a typical, melodramatic modern love-story with reality TV and some cute guys and pop culture references all thrown together. I probably wouldn't recommend it specifically to anyone because it's kind of a waste of time, but there's nothing wrong with it and it's fun enough to read. It's just not a great book either.

I have decided to come back and revise my review. For some reason this book stuck with me. I love to watch HGTV and this book has managed to improve that for me. It talks
Sep 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: DIY people
When the shows Trading Spaces and While You were Out began to aire on the TLC channel, I became obessed. The book is a fun look at a fictional behind the scenes DIY show. The main character is very lovable and enjoyable to read.
Bethany Tedesco
May 12, 2008 rated it liked it
I would have to say this book is kinda hard to get into at first... it does get better, I promise! It's funny and a good read. And I think that Spinster Sisters (same author) was better, but this is still worth the read.
Jan 03, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: romance
Not my favorite of hers, but kept me entertained riding the bus home from work.
Jan 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Great brainless reading. This book got me addicted to chick-let books. Stacey Ballis is a great writer! I enjoyed every page!
Jul 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recentreads
made me think of "trading spaces" the whole time i was reading this book. a good quick read.
Jan 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I love this book! I just couldn't put it down until I saw how it ended. Great read!
Mar 26, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 24, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was ok, but I didn’t find it as enjoyable as Stacey Ballis’s other books. The character of Lily Allen was a little unbelievable. She had a charmed life with perfect friends and a dream job, yet she treats the people around her poorly. I enjoy interior design and HGTV enough that the descriptions of rooms were fun, but I think Ballis does a better job with her descriptions of food!
Aug 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: decorators, big girls who like love stories about big girls, chick lit
DIY Television and Romance Together in One Great Book!

I enjoyed this book very much. It was unique to pair television interior decorating with a storyline human enough to keep the reader interested – job well done!

This is a fun tale of Lily Allen, thirty-something, single and size 14 with no shortage of love-interests – just as it should be! She has just gotten a great new job as a designer on a TV reality show called Swap/Meet, where two people get their rooms re-done and a personal makeover a
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
Where to start....The concept for this story was so great and fun, having the lead character Lily get a job as a designer on a Trading Spaces type show. The book sparkled when it described the behind the scenes of the shoots, and had me waxing nostalgic for the early days of that show....To this day I give that show credit for inspiring my frequent home decorating endeavors. The tone of the book is light and happy, and clearly the author seems to be cheerful spirit. My problems with the book wer ...more
Angela Holland
Jan 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What I thought of this book:
I really liked this book. It has one of my favorite things a house/room remodel show and a fashion makeover. Let's talk about the characters: Lily - I really liked her and felt bad for her for not being able to find a "boyfriend", Naomi and Hillary - they were great friends to Lily and helped her to see what she was doing wrong. I liked that the three of these ladies had been friends since they were little. Curt - I thought he was a good work friend for Lily and I lik
Jun 26, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: romance, not-kids
Lily Allen is an interior designer who gets an awesome job as a designer on Swap/Meet, a makeover TV show with a twist--not only do the participants get a new look for their apartments, they also get a makeover for themselves and the chance to meet some other singles. Lily is thrilled with the opportunity but finds herself hit with a hard dose of reality--the home makeovers don't go as smoothly as intended, her lifelong best friends accuse of her letting work consume her life, and her life is sa ...more
May 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have enjoyed reading several of Stacey Ballis' books and "Room For Improvement" is no exception. I enjoyed the dialogue between the main character, Lily Allen, and her best friends - Hillary and Naomi.

All three women are having relationship problems. Basically committing to a serious relationship scares the heck out of them. Lily is one of the interior designer who has been chosen to work on a home improvement show called "Swap/Meet". She meets several good looking men, but one way or anothe
Jan 26, 2010 rated it did not like it
This is quite possibly the worst chick lit book I have ever read. Why would anyone publish this novel? This book is a perfect example of the belief that the publishing industry has become like Hollywood and that you must be related to someone in order to get published. This book was the worst possible combination of cliches, along with a lot of obscenity, the obligatory gay best friend, more Yiddish words and phrases that you could shake a stick at, etc. Utter, complete garbage. Wake up publishi ...more
Jul 09, 2009 rated it liked it
I wanted to love this book - I really did! When the book focused on the behind the scenes of the "Trading Spaces" meets "What Not to Wear" DIY show, the book was great! I loved reading the chapters with the crazy tenants, the crazier rooms, and the craziest designs. This book would have easily received 4 stars from me if not for 2 things: (1) there were these sections in the book where the author tried a bit too hard to be funny by using alliteration. Enough with that already! Once was cute, but ...more
Sep 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: hgtv fans and no one else
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Lily Allen is your typical single girl in the city. Dating is tough, but she has great friends that support her, no matter what she does. She has a great job as an interior designer and it is about to get even better. She has been offered a job that will allow her to be the on-screen designer for an HGTV type of show called, Swap/Meet. What more could a girl ask for right?

The show is going well. She is working with great people and is enjoying her career more than she ever has in her life. And t
Dec 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
I'd put this more at a 3.5 than a 4, but I did really enjoy it at the end. It takes a bit to get into it, but after you do it's pretty funny in the "I wish I was that clever on the spot" kind of way. I read this book after the author, Stacey Ballis, came to book club to talk about GETE. Maybe it is because I could associate the main character with Stacey, but I think this book was much better than GETE (or maybe it just was better).

The one thing that I think really bugs me about Stacey's writin
Oct 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Funny, entertaining fiction - the story was fast-paced, the characters engaging, the plot entertaining. My complaints are the alliteration that was thrown in randomly (I emailed Ballis and was told none of her other books use that device, and so I'm really looking forward to them!) - it got to the point where I was cringing waiting for alliteration as I read - and that there are places where the story jumps in time without warning, and you are left wondering what happened in between the last cha ...more
Amy Cousins
Mar 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Stacey Ballis is a fun and witty writer. Her main characters are humanly flawed and recognizable women, as opposed to standard, romance novel glamour women. They fuck up, and make amends for it. They also have blunt and humorous outlooks on life, sharp and sassy friends and a habit of making a number of poor choices in men before finally figuring it out. Room for Improvement is more about figuring out how to balance your life than it is about the romance alone. Bottom line: I would go drinking w ...more
Jul 25, 2009 rated it liked it
I'm usually a little wary of reading chick lit that isn't by a well-known author, because that usually means it's crap (I mean, not that chick lit is great literature, but there's a difference between Sophie Kinsella and no-name Jane). But I was in the mood, and I picked this up. I'm only three pages in and it just elicited an out-loud giggle from me with a description of coming home from a late night out: "...shimmy out of my skirt and tights on my way tot he bathroom. I pee for at least 46 min ...more
Jun 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a nice, light perfect-for-summer book, and it combined two of my favorite things: home/self makeover shows and Chicago. Within the narrative, it gives a few nice little design tips, and mentioned several places in Chicago that I recognize. And on top of all of that, the story moves at a brisk place, with enough entanglements but not too much angst. And what little drama there is gets resolved pretty cleanly and neatly. Oh, and I wasn't quite sure which guy she'd end up with, and I can u ...more
♥ Marlene♥
May 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: chick-lit, fiction, kindle
When I read the description: reality TV and chic lit, I thought that book is my cup of tea. I have a weird love for reality television you see. I did enjoy reading this book but it was not as good as I hoped it would be. It is definitely a fun read though so I am glad I read it. I liked that there were so may characters (read men) so it was not as obvious who she would end up with. I also loved that she was definitely not a prude and said it like it is. How women can talk about sex with each oth ...more
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