This is one of the best. The cover is striking and elegant (perfect for a gift) and the graphic layout inside is very dynamic. The illustrations are a colorful combination of photos, computer drawings, paintings, and just plain old good graphic style. Such is to be expected from Watson Guptill, one of the finest publishers in the field of design. Any book from Watson Guptill is bound to be remarkable. These folks know how to put together a winner. They also publish Gina Lazenby, one of the authors I recommend most frequently.
Early in the book there is a unique section describing rooms or houses which are dominated by a particular element. Butler-Biggs explains why you might want to increase an element and how to do so. For instance "If you lack the ability to think ahead or start new projects" you should boost the wood element. When the domination of one element is extreme, she explains how to reduce its influence.
The chapter on clutter clearing is quite powerful. I often have clients for whom clutter is a major issue. I will definitely be referring them to this chapter.
At the end of each chapter is a two-page spread of ten questions and answers. I loved her straightforward response to the question of whether it is possible to have too little clutter. "No, you can never have too little clutter." All that's missing is the "Duh!" She also says, "As different areas of our space become clearer, so do parts of our body, mind, and spirit."
There is an excellent chapter on space clearing. She even discusses the importance of cleaning. "Energetic debris collects low down in a space and hangs around in corners and recesses; therefore, regular sweeping and washing of floors is invaluable.
She covers some areas that I haven't seen well-covered in other books, such as how to successfully go from being in a relationship to being single, and vice-versa. The section on "Living With Teenagers" is unique and welcomed.
The bagua is not emphasized, being only a few (concise and well-written) pages near the end. This means that almost every word in the book is as applicable to those who don't use the compass method as to those who do. Quite an accomplishment! Her writing is thoughtful and elegant throughout, and there is a refreshing lack of paranoia. One of the questions she answers is "Could I make Feng Shui mistakes that would produce major problems for my home and family?" She answers "No, as long as you trust your instinct and always monitor the effects of the changes you make. For example, before redecorating a room in a new color, try introducing some accessories in that color first, and see how they contribute to the energy of the room." This book is wisdom and grace.
Watson Guptill, New York, 1999, 0-8230-1656-0, 144 pages, color photographs and drawings, paperback, $19.95