Apartment Therapy Complete + Happy Home Book Review


Designing a cohesive, put-together shop with inventory ranging between the time periods of 1850 to 1950 has baffled me since I opened my shop. I’ve read dozens of design books and studied how other shops do this successfully on Pinterest, but short of renting a storage unit where I can accumulate things that go together, I haven’t learned a thing to make it easier.

Then I saw an article about a publisher looking for people to review  Apartment Therapy’s new book Complete + Happy Home. The ultra-bog, Apartment Therapy, features apartments designed by thousands of creative renters and home owners using flea market, antique shop furniture and furnishings mixed with new or newer furniture.

I could hardly put this book down. All of the principles can be applied to a shop just as easily as one would apply them to an apartment, split-level, ranch or six-bedroom house. I finally grasped something that has previously eluded me. The approach is to throw out all ideas of what Pottery Barn is selling, what is currently trending and what you know about design. Decorate to make yourself happy. Learn how to use what you have, what is comfortable, easy to clean, maintain and is affordable to you. In other words, don’t choose a painting because it matches the color of your couch. Choose one that you enjoy.

Read every page; don’t just look at the pictures and you will have a new eye and the knowledge to create a comfortable home for yourself, family and friends.

There is too much between the covers of the Complete + Happy Home to mention in a review, but the editors aren’t pulling your leg when they put the word Complete in the title. The sections on creating flow, energy, balance and mood helped me tremendously with arranging the shop.

Apartment Therapy contributors essentially live in rentals so they don’t take out walls and install new windows. That is what I love about this book. The point of the book is to train people how to look at their homes in a new way.


Say you just bought a first home with an old board and batten paneled dining room. The new owner envisions a sleek modern design. Bringing in a vintage 1950s red-painted table with steel hairpin legs and adding black modern upholstered chairs turns the room in a new direction. By changing the overhead light fixture to a pendant style with a pierced metal drum shade the room is transformed from hunting cabin to cozy modern in an afternoon.


For the shop, I learned how to unite multiple patterns by adding one color that unites the room. Do you see how the coral lap robe and a vase of coral-colored flowers unifies the bold mix of patterns? It is all about decorating with things that make you feel good and making the room congenial for anyone who visits. I could easily use this technique in the shop. For example, by adding five green linen pillows to the room, the entire shop looks united with the use of color.  Of course, this is easy to do in a small shop like mine, but the idea works for any size room.

The book shines because it is realistic and it trains the reader to really see, just like an artist learns to see. Forget about what the neighbors have, what some marketing department wants you to buy, and get happy with your home.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  Blogging for Books encourages reviewers to write honest reviews.  This book was published in 2015 by Crown Publishing Group.

12 thoughts on “Apartment Therapy Complete + Happy Home Book Review

  1. Ginene, I thoroughly enjoyed the topic of this post. There was a time when I blindly followed the era style (brown plaid, just to name one) or recreated the picture perfect image of a room because that was what the magazine insisted upon. Id like to think my “style” has evolved as I’ve aged, LOL. Maybe. But, you are so right on one point: choose what makes one happy. Use what you have. Call me, Eclectic. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a very enlightening post, Ginene. I get posts from Janel at Apartment Therapy on my feed and they address many topics especially geared toward small spaces. My home isn’t small but because it’s old, each room is relatively small, so I enjoy the tips.

    You have taken away a lot from the book and that makes me want to have a peek—I trust you. I have often heard my daughter say (she has a degree in interior design), that we must have the things we love in our homes. She is able to unite color, shape, textiles and material in rooms that are incredibly smart. My living room (thanks to her) for example is a mix of wood, glass and metal. I never thought I’d like a glass top coffee table but in contrast to my reclaimed wood side tables it says, “Hello”!! And I have windows galore in this room so there is plenty of glass to tie this tabletop in. I have an X pattern going on in the base of the table, the pattern on the front of my entertainment center and in the chairs at my peninsula separating the living room from kitchen, Patterns that repeat themselves really unify a room. Color is very important to me. I share a love of neutrals with so many, but I have a faded floral sofa and I love to offset those soft colors with pops of deeper colors that can be found in it.

    Okay—I wrote a book of my own. I love to take your thoughts and run with them. One of these days I’m going to be down in your area and surprise you!!! :)

    Jane x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The theme and your takeaway of the book makes sense: put together what makes you happy and comfortable. The “older items” in my house are to remind me of previous generations: the sewing machine that was my husband’s grandmother’s and my mom’s embroidered table runner (for example!)


  4. I like the term ‘apartment therapy’, Ginene; whoever coined the term has blended the the therapeutic aspect of good health and wellness into design, giving an innovative tweak to concept of design and interiors. And you have just adapted it to your working like fish to water. well, that’s the way to go…I will save it for any of my purposes as well…best wishes…xx.


  5. Your review of the book was very enlightening. I receive Apartment Therapy in my newsfeed and I’m always ooooing and ahhhhhing over the pics and designs. One thing I read over and over is to always fill your home with things you love, but like you, I too struggle sometimes with placements. Since conversing with you I value your insight on this book and would definitely considering this book as my go to source.


  6. Ginene–LOVE this posting and just registered myself for the blogging for books site. How brilliant and thank you for bringing it to my attention. A trip to your shop is in my future. Are you open on Fridays in December???


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