Spaces Tell Stories

Elements of Style by Erin Gates

Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 318 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover
Add on Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
Elements of Style is a uniquely personal and practical decorating guide that shows how designing a home can be an outlet of personal expression and an exercise in self-discovery. Drawing on her ten years of experience in the interior design industry, Erin combines honest design advice and gorgeous professional photographs and illustrations with personal essays about the lessons she has learned while designing her own home and her own life—the first being: none of our homes or lives is perfect. Like a funny best friend, she reveals the disasters she confronted in her own kitchen renovation, her struggles with anorexia, her epic fight with her husband over a Lucite table, and her secrets for starting a successful blog.

Organized by rooms in the house, Elements of Style invites readers into Erin’s own home as well as homes she has designed for clients. Fresh, modern, and colorful, it is brimming glamour and style as well as advice on practical matters from choosing kitchen counter materials to dressing a bed with pillows, picking a sofa, and decorating a nursery without cartoon characters. You’ll also find a charming foreword by Erin’s husband, Andrew, and an extensive Resource and Shopping Guide that provides an indispensable a roadmap for anyone embarking on their first serious home decorating adventure. With Erin’s help, you can finally make your house your home.

Thoughts on Elements of Style
I first discovered Erin's blog while I was in college. She'd been blogging for a year or two at that point, and I've since been following along for five years. I've always enjoyed browsing decorating blogs or flipping through decorating books, but it's usually just a casual thing. I'll peruse latest posts or those glossy pages, but I won't spend much time reading the words. For me, it's all about the pictures.

But that's not how I read Erin's blog. For me, the words are just as fascinating as the pictures. Erin puts herself out there in her posts - sharing her struggles, fears, worries as well as her successes and celebrations. So even though her style isn't always for me (and is typically way out of my budget!), I've never stopped reading her blog. I was so excited when I heard she was working on a book. I knew it would be gorgeous - Erin has such an attention to detail when she decorates, and I had no doubt the same would be true for her book.

I pre-ordered the book as soon as she announced it on her blog... months before the October release. And I patiently(ish) awaited its arrival. When it finally showed up on my doorstep, I couldn't wait contain my excitement. It was even more beautiful in person than it had been in pictures!

What makes Erin's book so different from other decorating books (at least for me) is that I sat down and read it straight through - from cover to cover. I rarely read decorating books because they don't usually capture my attention. I just want to look at the pictures for inspiration! That wasn't the case with Elements of Style.

This book is divided into eleven sections based on the different rooms in a home: the entry, the kitchen, the bedroom, the office, etc. Each chapters includes a personal anecdote from Erin that relates to the room. For Kitchen, Erin talks about surviving a kitchen renovation. For Office, she shares adventures in blogland. You get the picture! They're like mini-essays / reflections, and they made the book so much more personal. It reminded me so much of reading her blog, so that appealed to me. She's so honest, even when it means sharing hard things about herself. That's something I've always admired about her as a writer!

You'll find so much in this book: photographs of interiors that Erin has styled, general decorating suggestions, "Define Your Style" layouts (suggested pairings to achieve a certain look), and a number of how tos (hang art, choose counters, etc.). But there are also some lovely "extras" that really elevated the book for me. For example: 10 Great Housewarming Gifts, 12 Best Sofa Styles, 45 Favorite Paint Colors, 4 Favorite Family Recipes... These are the elements that made this book such a delightful read and valuable resource.

Erin's voice and style won't work for everyone. She's definitely more of a high-end decorator - it's not a style I could easily afford or replicate. There's also definitely a common "look" throughout the book. It becomes a little repetitive because there's not much variety in style, but it is a decorator-specific book (rather than a general decorating guide).

All that being said, I still loved the book overall. I'm glad I got to bring a little bit of Erin's style into my home with this book - it will look so lovely on a bookcase or coffee table! I rarely review decorating books (though I love buying them) because I never feel like I have much to say about them. But Elements of Style was an exception in so many ways: compulsively readable and completely packed with style!

So Quotable
"I love the way spaces tell stories and how stories are born from creating spaces, and from that love this book was born."


  1. At work I'm constantly looking through the style books and decorating Hot-Tos so I'm thrilled you're posting about this one! Matt and I are currently renting out home, so there's not a whole lot we're able to do (no painting, remodeling, etc) at the moment, but I've been gathering ideas and saving sites! There are a few houses we're interested in and - fingers crossed! - we're looking to buy in the spring, and when that day finally comes I cannot wait to get down and dirty, tiling, painting, making a place our own.

  2. I will be honest about one thing right away: I don't think a lot about decorating. I think it's simply because I've become accustomed to living life in transit. I don't think I've lived in any place longer than 2-3 years since 2005. How crazy is that?

    But now, as we are looking for an apartment to settle in for, well, the long haul (at least for now), the nesting bug has started to hit and now I'm interested in all of the things related to decorating a home and really making it our own. Of course, we have to actually find the place first...

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that it's awesome you featured this book! While I wouldn't necessarily buy it or read it myself, it's always interesting to consider another person's perspective when it comes to design and interior design at that.

  3. There is a very strong relation between the teachers and education. Education is the only key for success in essays on line and teachers leaves a lasting impact on the students lives. Teachers should be appreciated and also need special salaries on their great services.


© So Obsessed With • Theme by Maira G.