Book Review – “Undecorate”

Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of meeting Christiane Lemieux, founder of DwellStudio, at a signing for her new book Undecorate: The No-Rules Approach to Interior Design.

I’ve been meaning to write a review ever since, but I couldn’t seem to tear my eyes off the pages long enough to write something. This book is chock full of amazing and inspiring photographs. The locations run the gamut from a wonderfully cluttered farmhouse in New York State, to a sleekly modern “country house” in Northern California, but all share the unifying factor of being unfussy. These are homes that are truly lived in, in the most wonderfully human sense of the phrase. The people who have invited us into their homes on these pages, have “decorated” for their own enjoyment, not ours, and that’s what makes the spaces so appealing. Whether you call the style “undecorated”, wabi sabi, or simply eclectic, it speaks volumes about the lives of the people who dwell there.

When I asked Christiane Lemieux what her inspiration was for writing the book, she told me she really felt that designing a home was no longer about redoing everything at once and winding up with something that looked “perfect” and finished. Instead, it had become a process where a space was constantly changing and developing over years and years, instead of weeks. In the introduction for her book, she takes the idea further and says:

“From the moment I first heard it, undecorate as a word has stuck with me, a small word carrying a big answer to the establishment way of thinking. It’s not about heirlooms, so it’s easy on the wallet. It’s not about store-bought perfection, so it’s easy on the planet. It’s about being unafraid to do things yourself [...]. It’s about prioritizing ease over elegance, good vibes over grandiosity. It’s not about letting the little imperfections of the daily grind get in the way of your having a chic lifestyle.”

I agree with Christiane. These sort of beautiful, human, and imperfect spaces is where interior design is headed, and I couldn’t be happier. Chasing after the latest trend, and having to constantly replace the old with the new is the ticket to an unsustainable lifestyle. By showcasing how beautiful interiors can be when left to develop organically, “Undecorate” quietly, but forcefully, celebrates and encourages sustainable design. I highly recommend it

Now please excuse me while I go back and drool over some more of the amazing spaces in this book.

4 Responses to “Book Review – “Undecorate””

  1. Nicole Longstreath Says:

    “designing a home was no longer about redoing everything at once and winding up with something that looked ‘perfect’ and finished.”

    Yay – makes me feel much better about my own makeover taking a while!

  2. Linsi Says:

    That’s always been my design philosophy too – love it, need it or don’t have it around. When you cultivate a space you’re more likely to feel attached to it and want to spend time there.

    Her style is so casual yet elegant with simple details, like the way fabrics fall and wrinkle…it’s so minor but says so much.

  3. M. Sims Says:

    I purchased the book a few days ago, and wasn’t very happy with what I saw. There’s a solid review here that points out the book’s flaws

  4. rachelh Says:

    Thank you for your comment Molly. I think it is interesting to see the different takes on this book.

    Two things I would like to point out, due to the tone of the book review you link to (BTW – is it yours?). First, my review probably falls into the “fawning” category that your linked review describes. This is not due to an unwillingness to be negative, but rather the fact that the concept my blog addresses, namely sustainable design, is well represented in “Undecorate”. If people don’t like the book because of the imagery or design aesthetic, they certainly have a right to their opinion, but it doesn’t matter to the aspects of the book I am reviewing.

    Second, I was not approached about reviewing this book, and in fact purchased my copy just like everyone else. If I disliked it, I would certainly have said so. When I receive review copies of books, I let my readers know that fact as part of my review. I think it is important to be completely honest about reviews.

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