Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Book Review: Mrs. Howard Room by Room

Mrs. Howard Room by Room by Phoebe Howard
Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang

Few designers can capture the essence of sophisticated Southern design like interior designer, Phoebe Howard. Her foray into the design world started with her store in Jacksonville, Florida, Mrs. Howard. Since, she's decorated dozens of beautiful homes, opened two additional stores, and written two books, her first The Joy of Decorating, and now Mrs. Howard Room by Room.

Page after inspiring page of Mrs. Howard Room by Room, transports you to polished, perfectly layered, and timeless rooms, divided by chapter, illustrating her gorgeous and elegant, yet comfortable style. Throughout, Phoebe shares design tips and secrets to help with understanding the process of creating this look, allowing you to take these inspirations and ideas and implement them in ways small and grand in your own home.

 Photo credit: Josh Gibson; Design by Phoebe Howard from Mrs. Howard Room by Room
Phoebe and husband Jim make for a formidable design duo, taking jobs throughout the country, working together in tandem to design rooms that speak to the warm, comfortable, and classic environment that they have become known for. This Manhattan apartment, with a subdued color palette in the furnishings features high-gloss green walls that were intended to make the space feel inviting and comfortable no matter the season. Phoebe suggests that the living room is a room that should be loved. It exists to be beautiful, not necessarily to always be practical. Because we do not typically "live" in our living rooms, it's an opportunity to push the design envelope and do something extraordinary. I believe that these walls are a wonderful example of that.

Photo credit: Josh Gibson; Design by Phoebe Howard from Mrs. Howard Room by Room 

This bedroom was designed for a client in the wealthy Atlanta suburb of Buckhead. Here Phoebe used a lot of pattern, but kept the color palette similar for a room that is still calm and restful. Phoebe believes that in creating a master bedroom, the room should be soft, soothing, layered, and enveloping, and in her own experience, she says that letting the woman be the room's inspiration has always proven to be a winning formula, as men appreciate feminine bedrooms because they are attracted to women.

When creating a bedroom for yourself, Phoebe says the first element you should see upon entering the room is the bed, fitted with the finest bed linens you can afford. Don't skimp on good reading lights, and make sure that you don't forget the practical measures: changing pillows annually, rotating the mattress quarterly, and ironing your sheets.

Photo credit: Lisa Romerein; Design by Phoebe Howard from Mrs. Howard Room by Room

Foyers are typically the first impression of the interior of your home, and Phoebe says making a good one isn't all that difficult. Start with your front porch, with appropriate lighting and landscaping, it helps usher people into your home with a warm welcome. Keep your foyer simple, don't clutter it up with lots of small pieces. Because they are typically small, walls can be a main event, with bold color or patterned wallpaper, like the striped paper in this foyer of a home she designed in Birmingham.

She says that whether the look is glamorous or simple, the ultimate goal is to make a space warm and welcoming.

Photo credit: Laurey W. Glenn/Southern Living; Design by Phoebe Howard from Mrs. Howard Room by Room
I love, love, love this kitchen! I personally feel like Phoebe has a wonderful niche for bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens. The rooms feel like showpieces rather than fixtures in a home, and this kitchen is a great example of that attention to detail. In this Birmingham house, the client actually took on the renovation himself, but the room illustrates wonderful tips from Phoebe about creating a kitchen as beautiful in your own home. She suggests starting with the layout and organization of the interior of the cabinet space rather than the decoration, "while your living room can exist for the sole purpose of looking beautiful, your kitchen cannot". Be realistic about your lifestyle when selecting materials for your kitchen. Make choices that are durable enough to fit your specific and intended use for them. Everyone loves honed marble counters, but if scratches and surface stains are going to bother you, you are better off with a tougher material, like Silestone.

Photo credit: Josh Gibson; Design by Jim and Phoebe Howard from Mrs. Howard Room by Room

Phoebe's husband Jim designed this paneled dining room, which was finished in an aqua strie that contrasts beautifully with the dark mahogany table and sideboard. A room that is formal, but not at all somber. Phoebe says that you should never overlook any surface in a dining room, no matter the size or décor. Everything, walls, ceiling, floor offers a chance to layer in details. Keep your dining room chairs comfortable, and never have more than 12 chairs around a table.

Phoebe goes on to give ideas and tips on libraries, guest rooms, kids rooms, bathrooms, outdoor spaces, and family rooms in the more than 265 pages of the book, filled with beautiful and rich photography that perfectly illustrates her vision, and will inspire you for projects large and small. It's a book that you will come back to every time you are in need of design inspiration, and a book that will give you a solution or an idea every single time.

Phoebe has graciously given my readers $10 off! To order your copy of Mrs. Howard Room by Room, with this discount, visit her website here: and use the COTLRBR.


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  3. The interior design images provided in this blog was really excellent. Thanks for sharing.
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  4. Very attractive decoration . So much thanks for shared . Like your post .