Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Jeffrey Bilhuber and The Way Home

Fall is approaching, and as we know, this is the season that every book lover anticipates. I have already started receiving review copies of design and lifestyle books, and based on what I've read thus far, it would seem that we need to start clearing space on the bookshelves for these new releases.

First up is Jeffrey Bilhuber's
The Way Home: Reflections on American Beauty (Rizzoli New York, October 2011.) I've long been a fan of Bilhuber's classic American design, so I was eagerly awaiting his latest book. It's really an interesting departure from his last two books and from the design book genre as well. The book's focus is not on the way a Bilhuber room looks in pristine condition, but rather as it appears after the homeowner has lived in it for a while. As Bilhuber writes in his introduction, "...the projects I'm presenting here, are those that I feel speak volumes about the people who live in them: they reveal home truths rather than, like so many American interiors, constructing domestic fictions about desired lifestyles."

This approach to chronicling interiors is certainly a breath of fresh air. So many times, one sees an interior that looks perfect, and yet it's that very perfection that strips the room of any real character. The book's photos, taken by the talented William Abranowicz, show the daily detritus with which we all live: books on the floor; newspapers on an ottoman. (I have to say, though, that in some of homes, the messiness stressed me out a bit. But, I'm a neat freak so that's my cross to bear.) The fact that the homeowners' personalities are so evident in these interiors did not seem distracting to me. I actually think that each of the rooms shown has added dimension because of it.

I believe that if you're a fan of Bilhuber (who, by the way, has such a way with color) or if you're someone simply curious about how others live, you should consider taking a look at this book.

All photos from The Way Home: Reflections on American Beauty by Jeffrey Bilhuber, William Abranowicz photographer, Rizzoli New York, October 2011.


  1. While it is interesting as a concept, these photos strike me more as staged rather than a true glimpse into a lifestyle. I hope I am wrong, but I don't get a good feeling about this one.

  2. You're right - SO many great titles coming - and I though last year was incredible. There are quite a few from Rizzoli alone. Love the shots you show here!

  3. I am one of those people who longs for a home that looks like a magazine cover. Living with 4 other people who could care less, 3 of them kids, makes it difficult. Perhaps this would make me feel a little better about the imperfection of real life. I'll take a look.

  4. I think that the concept is so different from what we're used to seeing that it's going to take some getting used to, for sure!

  5. I have to admit to being a bit of a neat freak myself -but there is something intriguing about seeing the spaces LIVED IN as opposed to over-stylized and not 'real life' at all. I can't wait to see this book!

  6. FINALLY, a decorated home with a real touch of imperfection; ie, the daily life of everyone living in a beautiful or ugly home and all the clutter of living! This book may not sell as well, but it presents readers with the imperfections of daily life in a controlled decorated space. We are forced to deal with our own issues of "control". Love it!

  7. got a copy last week. it's a work of art.

  8. Anonymous9:08 PM

    Looks great! Can't wait to get a glimpse. I did have to laugh about the messy lived-in look stressing you out a bit. I remember seeing fallen plant leaves on the floor in quite a few of the pictures from Jeffrey Bilhuber's last book -I'm not exactly a neat freak but I never understood why they weren't vacuumed up before the photo shoot.

    1. hehehe
      Maids are so 'Out'
      Is there some reason why you don't think those leaves were installed EXACTLY the way you saw them?

  9. Anon- That's too funny! I'll go back through the last book to find the fallen plant leaves :)

  10. I often thought that so many interiors only "worked" when left alone - that laying a bowl of cereal down on the table would ruin the look. Nice to see room looking just a bit disheveled - even if the disheveling is rather "intentional".

    Thanks for the suggestion!