Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan’s Apartment Therapy’s Big Book of Small, Cool Spaces got me excited—not only about designing the tiny house that I will build—but also about organizing and decorating apartment that I’m living in right now. Gillingham-Ryan’s optimism about being able to find an affordable, practical, and beautiful solution to any design challenge was contagious. I couldn’t resist getting off the couch twice while reading the book and making immediate changes to my apartment. Both design revisions cost me $0.00, by the way.
One of my favorite aspects of the Big Book of Small, Cool Spaces was that cost was an important factor in the design of every featured room. It’s depressing to read a design book in which the homeowner grins and remarks about how she “just had to buy that $12,000 vase that complemented the paint color for the room.” In the Big Book of Small, Cool Spaces, homeowners were honest about how they refinished IKEA furniture or were able to find their favorite pieces at flea markets or on the side of the road. In fact, I wished Gillingham-Ryan had included even more about the process of taking an abandoned mirror or couch and making it apartment-worthy.
Some of my favorite ideas in the book were a kitchen designed to fit under a lofted bed (cover photo), and a flat-screen television mounted on an old painter’s easel to make it discreet while it’s turned off and easy to see when it’s in use (p. 135; check out Apartment Therapy Unplugged for more tech goodness.) Of course, not every room was designed in my favorite style, but each was filled with creativity and good ideas. Even Gillingham-Ryan admitted that some rooms didn’t match his “rules” for design, but they had justified reasons for unusual styles.
Each of the 272 pages of this book is laid out as cleverly as the apartments that it showcases, too. There are stunning photographs, useful captions, and an organized flow of text throughout that make Apartment Therapy’s Big Book of Small, Cool Spaces easy to skim quickly or to devour word for word (as I did).
This book is definitely worthy of a purchase for anyone interested in finding resourceful ways to make unique spaces into comfortable living areas. Want proof? Check out the cool storage shelves below that I made out of materials I already had in my apartment and the super-easy-to-make lanterns that I hung on my window after I spotted one on page 249!
For those of you wondering who who Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan is, he’s co-founder of Apartment Therapy, one of the most popular interior design sources. “Part interior designer, part life coach…” Apartment Therapy’s Big Book of Small, Cool Spaces just made sense for him to write.
Check out some other great Apartment Therapy books:
- Apartment Therapy’s Big Book of Small, Cool Spaces
- Apartment Therapy Presents: Real Homes, Real People, Hundreds of Design Solutions
- Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure
- The Nest Home Design Handbook:Simple ways to decorate, organize, and personalize your place
And check out this great interview with Maxwell at 99%.