Whoo-hoo! Our newest book is now available for pre-order (it ships April 7th) and is a celebration of everything we do on the site: Apartment Therapy Presents: Real Homes, Real People, Hundreds of Design Solutions... It's a collection of 40 of YOUR homes, beautifully REphotographed and painstakingly itemized for inspiration, products and sources. You can check it out online here and jump below as we give you a bit of an excerpt each week.... (NOTE to all those In the book: Free copies are coming your way! Look out for an email from Jill if you haven't already received one) EXCERPT #1 - Introduction Nothing you do for your home is ever wasted. This is the Apartment Therapy mantra. In my work as both a teacher and as an interior designer over the past 14 years, my understanding of the importance of the home has only increased. While I used to think of home as the place where people cook, eat and sleep, I now understand as a force that shapes our daily lives. More than just a physical shelter, the home is both our second skin protecting us from the ceaseless energy of the world outside and a temple providing an emotional center that nourishes us and supports our innermost dreams. Whether you live in a rental apartment in NYC or own a house in Seattle, your home is the only space on earth that you can call your own, and you owe it to yourself to make it as beautiful, organized and healthy as you can. I often say “Nothing you do for your home is ever wasted”. By taking care of your home, you are taking care of yourself. A healthy home will nurture and support you than one that is a constant headache. And, while true psycho-therapy can take years to bring about change, the therapy of taking care of your home has an instant positive effect. No matter how big or small, the improvements you make to your home make a resounding difference in the way you think and feel about yourself. Apartment Therapy started as an interior design service in 2001. Back then, I personally helped people transform their homes in New York City, by arriving with open ears, design advice, and a box of tools on the back of my scooter. I listened to why people didn’t love their homes and then did whatever I could to make them happy again: I helped throw out what they didn’t need, , I bought furniture, hung curtains, painted and even washed windows. I didn’t have a business plan, an office or even a cell phone. With a year of savings to live off of and the hunch that there were many people in New York City who wanted help with their homes and didn’t know where to turn, I started my company. Over the past six years, I have visited literally hundreds of homes, and Apartment Therapy has grown from a one-man operation into a design and media company devoted to listening to people and connecting them to the resources and information they need to transform their own homes. In its essence, Apartment Therapy offers real design solutions for real people. High-end interior designers are inaccessible to the average Joe and television makeover shows whet the appetite but are unrealistic in the way they often turn around a space with teams of carpenters. The magazines are also a bit of a tease. Most design magazines are not about comfort or beauty, but about showing off expensive design statements that often have little relation to the people who actually live there. Most of us don’t benefit from seeing how celebrities and the ultra-wealthy live; we benefit from seeing how real people create real homes. When Apartment Therapy went online as a daily blog in 2004, I was able to realize a dream I had had since the beginning when I began seeing clients in their homes. My dream was to round all these homes up and share them with others. I knew that sharing these modest and yet often beautiful spaces would give others inspiration and hope. Our online House Tours take readers of the blog through others’ homes with slideshows and interviews.. After a simple upload to our website, thousands of folks can now easily get out of their own homes and see what others have done. Our entire community, myself included, learns from each other, and what we learn is enormous: the sheer volume of good ideas and creative solutions goes far beyond what the magazines stuff into their glossy monthlies. This book takes three years worth of House Tours from the Apartment Therapy blogs and puts them in one volume. Each home is intended to inspire in different ways. They run the gamut from roomy to tiny, owned to rented, modern to traditional. They come from east, west, north and south, and feature folks who spent pennies as well as those who broke the bank. None of these talented people is a professional interior designer, yet each one of them has great work to share. Sure, many of them are involved in design and the arts, but none of these people hired an interior decorator to make choices for them. In addition, they all share the same and often relentless passion for improvement and have made homes that put a smile on their face every time they come in the front door. The Apartment Therapy community is primarily an online community, so it is a rare opportunity to show you all of these homes, and provide you with all of these invaluable resources, in a single volume.