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Return to list Review by Clear Englebert
Kelee Katillac - House of Belief: Creating Your Personal Style

This book has created quite a stir. The author is a "reformed" interior designer who believes that interior design, as we have come to know it in the twentieth century, is a very dangerous concept.

The book is imminently quotable and I'm tempted to quote 'til I'm blue in the face. "Homes that say nothing of who we are --- what we believe in and values that we aspire toward --- are places of tumultuous spiritual discontent." "Intuitively we know that all things in physical form have meaning and that to surround ourselves in the personal space of our homes with things that hold no meaning is like opening our house to strangers." "In the typical approach to home decorating, beliefs and dreams are rarely considered. These hidden longings of the spirit have been given no voice, and there are no current cultural examples to show the way --- only interior-design mandates." "When we represent our beliefs, values, goals, and dreams around us within our homes, we more easily accept them as truth."

I do take issue with several things in the book. She says,"…there is no greater means of becoming spiritual than through creative activity." That's certainly not the way Buddhism sees it. In Buddhism you'd be more likely to hear, "Don't just do something --- sit there."

Also she seems to put Victorian decorating style on a pedestal --- equating it with the Arts and Crafts Movement. Antique expert Tony Hyman says, "The Arts and Crafts Movement was a reaction to the excesses of the Victorian era." Katillac's blurring the distinction between the two styles is not doing her readers a favor.

These two complaints are really quite small in the scope of this extremely fine book. She goes on to say, "The reason so many well-intentioned people settle for prepackaged decorating is simply that they lack understanding of some basic artistic premises." I couldn't agree more. The interiors and tableaus pictured in the book are quite varied (and some are quite busy) but they all do exude warmth and style --- a fine combination.

Gibbs-Smith Publisher, Layton, Utah, www.gibbs-smith.com, 800-748-5439, 2000, 0-87905-951-6, 137 pages, color photographs, paperback, $24.95

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