March 14, 2008
The House Always Wins. By Marni Jameson.
Da Capo Press, 334 pages, $25

PURPOSE: To offer readers advice – with humor along the way – about remodeling and redesigning a home to make it truly yours.

AUTHOR’S CREDENTIALS: Jameson is a nationally syndicated humor columnist
whose weekly “At Home With Marni Jameson” appears in more than 30 newspapers. Though not a professional interior designer, she has designed, built and decorated three homes from the ground up, and isn’t finished.

EXCERPT: “For three weeks I’d been lugging home wallpaper books (each weighs as much as a box of bricks), propping them around various rooms, matching them to paint and fabric samples, hemming, hawing, gathering unasked-for opinions from my children and changing my mind a dozen times. … When I finally zeroed in on my choices for our kitchen, the kids’ bathrooms and the office, I had that incomparable feeling of euphoria that only comes after one emerges from the migraine-inducing-home-design jungle of choice with a decision.”

EFFECTIVENESS: From the cover, the book looks like it should be in the new fiction section next “chick lit” novels. And the book reads a bit like a novel as Jameson
recounts anecdotes and cute stories involving contractors or her husband, Dan.
In fact, the book may hook you on Page 4 with its humorous, boxed disclaimer: “Keep in mind the views expressed in this chapter come from a slightly obsessive,
semi-deranged woman living with a man who at the time of these events was going through a midlife crisis, and who was primed to jettison his good job and sell his home. In other words, he could be nuts.”

By going through the trials and tribulations of making a perfect home, Jameson can teach some valuable lessons and how to laugh. Because she is a columnist, each chapter reads like a column, easy for those who are overwhelmed by many of the detailed real estate and decorating guides out there.

The book is about picking a house and really making it your home, including
location decisions, picking the professionals and interior details. There are money-saving tips, all highlighted in boxes with their own icons.

Beyond the aesthetics, Jameson most of all wants the reader to realize that “homes are about what happens inside, the loving, the learning, the growing … the building of memories.” And she has created a memorable book with useful tips surrounded by a funny, relatable story.

Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.

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