The Perfectly Imperfect Home: How to Decorate and Live Well - Deborah Needleman, Virginia Johnson From the title, I was expecting this book to be a refreshing look at the obsession with perfection that so many of us have toward our homes, and a reminder that no, we don't have to be perfect all the time, and neither do our living spaces. Maybe with some awareness that not everyone has the time or money to make their homes look fantastic, and some basic advice for making things look good without spending all your time and energy on decorating.

Sadly, it seems to be filled with just as much this-is-what-you-MUST-do advice as other home decorating books. A few pages in, I was already overwhelmed with rules and extremely specific "advice" I know I'll never be able to afford to follow. I should be symmetrical, but not TOO symmetrical. I should fill my home with beautiful things, but also add "a bit of ugly." I need Egyptian cotton sheets that were made in Italy, and if I'm unlucky enough not to have my own "in-house laundress," I can "treat" myself to getting them professionally washed and ironed. Ironed! Life is far too short to waste time ironing sheets.

It's pretty obvious that this, like so many other decorating books, is written for people with much more money than I will probably ever have. Did you know that ottomans are "a personal matter between me and my upholsterer"? I can't even imagine saying the words "my upholsterer" with no sense of irony. I suppose the words "founding editor of Domino magazine" on the cover should have tipped me off.

The watercolor illustrations by Virginia Johnson are gorgeous, and I like that they're drawn and painted rather than photographed. It makes this book unique, and also lets your imagination fill in the details rather than thinking "okay, I have to have THIS chair and THIS wallpaper," etc.

And to be fair, I'm sure my home would look beautiful if I followed the advice in this book. But for that to happen, I'd have to be able to afford to move out of my tiny apartment and buy furniture that didn't all come from Craigslist.

I'm sure people can find some great nuggets of advice in this book that will work for them. Meanwhile, I'll keep searching for a decorating book that doesn't require a six-figure salary and a personal upholsterer.