Kelee Katillac,
House of Belief:
Creating Your Own Personal Style

(Gibbs Smith, 2001)

"As seen on Oprah" ... but don't let that dissuade you. The newest version of this book is the softcover version, put out recently to follow-up on the "overnight success" of House Of Belief after its author, Kelee Katillac (no kidding), appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show. It seems like that was all this book needed to propel it from the realm of good book to bestseller (as is usually the case); though in this instance, it's well-deserved.

House Of Belief isn't just a design book. There are a million books out there about how to decorate your home and, honestly, some of them are better than this one on practical tips. However, House Of Belief differs in that it tries to teach you more than just what colors go with what -- it teaches you how to divine your authentic style, which can help in more areas of your life than just painting your walls.

Slaves to design, beware! If you're looking for a book that will tell you how to keep your home in the latest fashions, you might as well just click that little "back" button right now and find a different book. Although there are some very practical ideas for translating your personal style into a design style that you can live with for inspiration, this book is really a misplaced self-help book, stuck in with the design section since it's pretty much unclassifiable otherwise.

There are questionnaires about what's important to you, methods for coming up with something called a "hub-wheel diagram," which helps you place furniture in such a way that it makes sense for your personal lifestyle, and ideas on home rituals to bring out the parts of you that you'd like to augment. There are little artsy hints about how other creative souls put together their own home/church, and essays on the individuality of objects and on honoring that individuality and spirit.

You won't find out what the latest celebrity is doing with his home, but you WILL find out what you can do with YOURS to make it easier and more spiritually connected to live in.

The lack of practicality is a little bit disappointing at times. Sometimes Katillac will show a wall or a project, and won't describe how it was done, and for the $25 pricetag, you'd think she could include a little bit of practice with her theory.

The other problem that I found was that, to be completely honest, some of the rooms she displays are kind of ... well ... ugly. Not just passively ugly, either, but evoking-an-ewwwww-reaction ugly.

In its defense, I will note that she addresses this to some extent by noting that "beauty is relative; what may look beautiful to one person -- a Jackson Pollock splatter painting for example -- may be visual chaos to another." If she thinks that a Pollock splatter is beautiful, therein lies the key to why some of the rooms look like just that.

If you're interested in making your home into a place where you can express your creativity, flex your design muscles and reflect who you are -- you've come to the right place. It may not be a traditional "design" book, but it is inspirational enough to make you forget the practicality and start soul-searching for the bits and pieces that will make your house uniquely yours, while making it spiritually* nourishing at the same time.

I can't say that it's worth the $40 USD that it costs in hardback, but if you've got $25 burning a hole in your pocket, the paperback wouldn't be a waste of your money.

*NOTE: When I say "spiritually," I mean spirit as in the Oprah sense, not in the God sense. The book has none of that preachy feel that some do -- so you don't have to worry about that.

[ by Elizabeth Badurina ]
Rambles: 19 April 2002

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