I still remember that day 4 years ago… where I sobbed in the shower and wished that I had ‘The Handbook to Renovation’. I pitched it to my publisher the next day. And just four years later it’s ready for pre-order here:) Today. UNBELIEVABLE. It’s like I’ve been pregnant for so long, working on it so consistently that I kinda forgot that there will be a baby at some point. At the time, in 2017, my level of renovation frustration was so high and I screamed silently about a hole in the information market that demanded to be filled. They say that you don’t choose to write a book, you have to be compelled to. But having an online daily site about design could scratch that itch, right? But it doesn’t because you want it all in ONE PLACE (which is also when we reorganized the website to be more by categories of rooms for inspiration/information and resources rather than just a blog scroll).
This new book, The New Design Rules is a renovation handbook – inspired by the 1950s ‘Better Homes and Garden’ tab binder that we all love, but with photos of beautiful rooms and inspirational rule-breaking creativity. You’ll learn the construction vocabulary, distilled renovation process (and my preferences) with the intent to communicate effectively with your contractors so you don’t get man-splained, make as many mistakes, fight with your partner, and feel like a total failure. Let’s be done with all of that. And yet it’s full of beautifully styled inspirational shots of homes – kitchens, bathrooms, living, mud and bedrooms, office, basements, AND MORE. You’ll learn the “rules” so you don’t feel dumb and then BOOM you’ll be inspired to break them – thus making a CHOICE, not a MISTAKE.
I grew 100 times in creativity while researching, shooting, and writing this book. I feel so brave and empowered now and I want you to feel the same way, too. So while the book isn’t out yet you can pre-order it here if you’d like (and no, you won’t get it before Christmas). In fact, if you are planning on buying it (thank you thank you thank yo) consider pre-ordering it as the publishing supply chain is nuts and they are gauging how much they should print based on pre-orders. So basically if we don’t pre-order enough then likely it will sell out fast. And fun fact, Target has an exclusive edition with an extra chapter on home hacks, but you can also get it from the usual suspects – Bookshop.org, Amazon, Barnes & Noble (just sadly not at your local bookseller yet unless they are listing it online). OK WITHOUT FURTHER ADO – let’s get into “The Cover’ conversation.
ROUND ONE Cover Options
So here’s how it works. Sara, Velinda, and I gave them all of our photos (like over 1k new photos) and the publisher chooses what they think will be a dynamic cover image. They know what people gravitate towards when buying design books. This shot is from Ben Mendansky‘s artist studio in LA and it’s amazing. I LOVED it. His place is insane. I liked the font, but my biggest issue was that I felt that it should be my own work/home on the cover – not because I was jealous but more like I was fearful that people would assume it’s my work and it’s Ben’s. But the world has seen all the shots of my homes so how do you keep it fresh?
It’s still fun to see the differences in the font and how it changes everything. We worked with graphic designer La Tricia Watford who also designed Styled and she is WONDERFUL. And patient:)
What I told them early on is that I want the color of the cover to pop but not be loud. I want the spine to be easy to style/integrate into a shelf and no metallic/reflective foil in the spine. I loved seeing all these options.
So then they chose a few of my own designs to play and mocked them up as the cover, while I planned a reshoot.
New Cover Mockup, Round 2
I liked these a lot, but I had two issues with them:
A. My readers (you, THANK YOU) have seen this room a lot, and B. I wanted more color. Nothing too bright but just not so annoyingly neutral.
Then they tried these two because I LOVE them for the sake of color and style (and it’s our EHD work) and I almost went with the one when I realized there was a solution…
But first, she played with more mountain house living room shots which were fun to see but the style seemed very specific and modern/contemporary, and I didn’t want to turn off people with more traditional style homes.
I wanted more color, pop, and fun at the same time being approachable and telling the story of mild remodeling OR renovation. And I wanted to play with the fonts a bit more – make it a bit cleaner and more modern.
I loved how La Tricia stacked the text in that one, and I loved the shot, the angle, the negative space. But I wanted more color and frankly, I wanted something you guys haven’t seen before. So I called Sara and she came up to reshoot specifically for the cover – with more color.
THE FINAL COVER!!!
Oh how I do love it!!! I moved my Nordic Knots rug in here, put my favorite vintage blue painting above the fireplace, and added a couple of other pops of blue in the throw blankets – that’s it, but it felt more like ‘me’ and a bit happier, more approachable, and punchier. I have no idea what cover would have sold the best, but I hope and think it’s this one because even those that aren’t into color or busy patterns might be drawn to the blue with all the neutrals. Who knows 🙂 They also added ‘renovate’ to the description because it’s really both.
I really hope you guys like this book. I’m CRAZY proud of the work that my amazing team did – Sara and Velinda were integral to the photography and production, as well as Erik, Shade, Hina, Veronica, Julie, Grace, and writer Jessica Cumberbatch, designer La Tricia Watford and of course Angelin Borsics, my incredible book editor. And maybe even most importantly are all the amazing incredible designers and homeowners whose creativity fills the pages. I will go off on these people MUCH MORE in the coming months and we’ll be featuring all of them here on the blog.
We feature rooms designed by real risk-takers, rule-breakers, and incredible DIY-ers. I feel so lucky to have learned from these talents. Looking through this book I feel comforted by the vocabulary that I now know (and you will too) and absolutely delighted by the beautiful photography and design inspiration in each room. I really, really hope you like it 🙂 Sneak peeks coming right after the holidays. xx
Image Credits: Cover Photos by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | Ben Medansky’s Home: Styled by Velinda Hellen and Erik Kenneth Stalberg | Em’s Portland Project: Styled by Em, Brady Tolbert, and Emily Bowser | Em’s Mountain House: Styled by Em