Book Review: Apartment Therapy: Complete + Happy Home, by Maxwell Ryan & Janel Leban, Photographs by Melanie Acevedo

Apartment Therapy: Complete + Happy HomeI picked up Apartment Therapy: Complete and Happy Home by Maxwell Ryan and Janel Laban because I thought it was going to be a helpful book for getting ideas for apartments; you know, those places where you have little decision in floor plans, can’t really change appliances, can’t paint walls, etc. Basically, I was really excited about the “Apartment Therapy” part. Though most wouldn’t know it, I do like interior design—the artist in me can’t not care about it. I tend to lean in the practical, functional, and economical (#cheap #poor), so I was hoping for some ideas in aesthetic appeal with my frugality. Well, “Apartment Therapy” is a company (see the website of the same name), not the leading title of this book. So, approach it as the follow: Complete and Happy Home: Some Helpful Tips and Inspiring Picture for the Wealthy, Brought to You by Apartment Therapy. Yes, my dreams were dashed, and my humble apartment will likely benefit very little from this book. That said, let’s move on to some substance.

The authors went around the world looking at different homes and apartments and used a collection thereof as examples of different kinds of spaces, styles, etc. in this beautifully organized and bound book (seriously, I really like how this hefty hardback looks and feels). They begin with some general tips on where one may begin with determining his or her own style (home type, style, color schemes, etc.). (Minor peeve: In the first few pages, someone forgot to put the image layers below the text layers in the page layout, so some paragraph text gets cut off and is not visible. Oops!) These offerings are extremely general and sometimes pigeonholed, but the reader isn’t really expected to run with them as they are. One is encouraged to determine his or her style according to what makes one happy (that’s often emphasized throughout). So, one must prepare to do more research after getting a few insights from this book.

Complete and Happy Home is broadly divided into three parts: setting up your home, living in your home, and maintaining you home. The latter section is surprisingly encouraging and helpful! I particularly appreciate the brief “year-round healthy & happy home calendar” (278–81). It offers a sentence or two on what to do each month in the following areas: clean, maintain, let go, decorate, and enjoy. Good stuff that may find its way being copied into my actual calendar.

The book is a bit too general in its tips and too specific in its examples for my preference, but I do want emphasize that it’s my preference that gets in the way of my appreciating this book more than others might. Someone else may love it. Though there are tips on saving money and repurposing things, those on a tight budget won’t benefit quite as much from this read. (Note to authors, publisher, etc.: Consider making one of these for those who tend to live like college students even when approaching their 40s? Thanks!)

One final note: Melanie Acevedo did a great job with the photography, the bulk of the book’s real estate. If nothing else, this could be a helpful coffee table book in a waiting room for people to browse and perhaps feel a little inspired. That’s likely where my copy will end up. Kudos, Melanie!


*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.