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The only question to ask after finishing newspaper columnist Jameson’s highly personal, achingly realistic, and snickeringly funny introduction to home decorating is, Why is she read by only seven million readers in 30 markets? Through a series of real-life scenarios and authentic conversations with husband Dan and a host of interior-design experts, the author investigates every aspect of buying then transforming a house into a home. Along the way, she destroys such myths as “It’s not your grandmother’s wallpaper,” or “Why your house will never look like a model and still look great.” She dispenses lots of practical advice, such as knowing when the repair is a job for someone else and avoiding builder gouges on upgrades. She offers a wealth of creative solutions, whether starting a vision bag (which gathers magazine decorating clippings in one place) or providing ideas for holiday ornaments and designs. Her easy-to-read sidebars are generously situated throughout the text, capturing how-to’s in one place. Pragmatic humor is no longer an oxymoron.

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