HAVEN: Finding the Keys to Your Personal Decorating Style

Chris Casson Madden, Author with Carolyn Schultz. Clarkson Potter $29.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-4000-5137-3

According to the host of Madden, HGTV's Interiors by Design , a "decorating fear factor" prevents many people from creating the home of their dreams. In this invitingly straightforward book, she sets out to demystify the process of decorating a home for everyone from design enthusiasts to those she refers to as "decorator-challenged." Finding a personal style is the key, the author advises, and in the introduction she identifies three broad style categories: romantic, adventurous and serene (readers can take a quiz to find out which one best characterizes their taste). Madden then analyzes the elements of each style by showcasing romantic, adventurous and serene rooms and including helpful sidebars that instruct readers on "How to get this look." The tone throughout is warm and upbeat: though Madden's clearly passionate about good design, she is able to convey her opinions on style without resorting to bossiness. Readers who find design books intimidating might be charmed by the author's story about how she chose her career after being berated and bullied by a high-profile design consultant: the lesson she learned is that personal taste is paramount, and that "If you love something, you can make it work in a room." Though it feels a bit simplistic at times, Madden's three-style rubric works surprisingly well at creating rooms with a unified, balanced look. Tips on the use of color and texture round out a volume that is both practical and pleasing to look at. (On sale May 4)

Forecast: With a television show, appearances on Oprah, and a new line of home furnishings and accessories soon launching at J.C. Penney, Madden is a contender to take over Martha Stewart's soon-to-be-empty throne.

Reviewed on: 04/26/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
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