Americans are in the midst of makeover mania, and we're not talking a new haircut and a wardrobe that takes three inches off your hips. Inspired by a plethora of new shows such as Trading Spaces, Divine Design, Weekend Warriors et al., we're redecorating and renovating with a frenzy. And most of us aren't hiring decorators to help in these transformations—we're doing it ourselves. Just last week, in fact, another new program debuted: House Rules, according to the press release from the TBS cable network, "turns home improvement into a no-holds-barred competition, as three teams remodel three homes desperately in need of a makeover." TV viewers will select the winning team by voting; the couple with the most votes will win the newly made over domicile—not Survivor's million bucks, but not a bad haul.

At Creative Publishing International, executive editor Bryan Trandem reports that homeowners are dedicating themselves to decorating and home improvement projects that just a few years ago were the territory of professional remodeling contractors. "Especially notable is the number of single women now owning homes and doing their own home improvements. It's estimated that by 2010, there will be 31 million women heads-of-households, and their need for information also fuels a growing home improvement publishing market," he says (see sidebar, p. 50).

While networks like Bravo and TLC feature decorating and DIY shows, it's HGTV (with 22 original series on home design and improvement) that most observers credit with America's growing sense of empowerment when it comes to painting, papering and revving up an assortment of power tools. One key to the rise in popularity of home makeover programming is the inclusion of "real people" in the process. No longer are most shows based around an expert making the decisions and wielding the paint brushes. When HGTV began including actual homeowners in shows like Designing for the Sexes, audience feedback was immediate and positive. "People had a very strong connection when they saw real people in real situations," reports senior v-p of programming Michael Dingley.

With John and Jane Homeowner now firmly in the design driver's seat, shows featuring the homes of the super rich have been put on the back burner at HGTV. "Viewers want shows that inspire them, not make them feel bad about where they live," says Dingley. "We might feature an $80,000 kitchen, but we make certain that it has elements viewers can use in their own homes." And it's not just Jane who's mulling over the fabric swatches and paint chips these days—"HGTV's made it okay for men to care about design," reports a proud Dingley.

From the Tube to the Bookstore

Happily for publishers, this love affair with TV decorating and renovation shows has driven viewers straight into the arms of booksellers. "These shows are really a terrific help," says Harriet Pierce, sales and marketing director for Harper Design. "They've made the average person comfortable thinking about what changes they want to make in a renovation and, even more importantly, they've helped that person develop opinions on design. There are so many shows that it isn't just one or two personalities driving the category, a trend that's helped open up great opportunities for publishers."

"Everything about it has been good for us," reports Watson-Guptill senior acquisitions editor Victoria Craven. "It's made for a much more sophisticated consumer and a younger demographic—people in their 20s are now interested and that's blown the market wide open." Taunton Press publisher Jim Childs agrees, noting that such programming is especially attractive to first- or second-time home buyers. "They don't realize what they can do as far as renovating—these shows make DIY look hip, fun and fast."

Not surprisingly, the stars of these shows—and the shows themselves—have become hot properties. Meredith has partnered with HGTV for a series of books, launching this month with HGTV Before and After Decorating, to be followed in December by HGTV Design on a Dime. "We're downright psyched about this partnership," says Meredith executive editor Denise Caringer. "When we ask consumers where they go for decorating and home design information, HGTV is always at the top of their list."

Clarkson Potter publisher Lauren Shakely credits TV with giving publishers "a blueprint for reaching consumers and finding out what they need." Helping decipher those blueprints for Potter are three longtime TV favorites. The Discovery Channel's Christopher Lowell's You Can Do It! Small Spaces: Decorating to Make Every Inch Count hit stores in September. Coming in December is Debbie Travis' Painted House Kitchens and Baths, the fourth in this series from the host of Painted House, a favorite on the Oxygen network. (Debbie Travis's Facelift show airs on both Oxygen and HGTV.) And Chris Casson Madden, host of HGTV's Interiors by Design will be back in May with The Key to Unlocking Your Personal Design Style. (Her most recent title, Chris Casson Madden's New American Living Rooms, was published in April and has more than 40,000 copies in print.)

Bulfinch Press has signed on Joan Kohn, host of HGTV's Kitchen Design, to show intrepid DIYers, says publisher Jill Cohen, "how to create a dream kitchen from the studs up" in this month's Joan Kohn's It's Your Kitchen: Over 100 Inspirational Kitchens. The BBC's "Prince of Chintz," Changing Rooms decorator and Homefront co-host Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, teamed up with Diarmuid Gavin for Homefront Inside Out (BBC Books/Trafalgar Square), published in August.

But books by TV designers, believes David Peters, president of Ryland Peters & Small, "have made shelf space that much tougher to get and, in turn, we're tougher with ourselves about how and why we publish the interiors books we do. Ultimately, the challenge has probably been good for us." And while Sterling CEO Charles Nurnberg believes that TV design shows have "helped the category enormously," he also notes, "I'm on the hunt for anyone who can write a really good book—they don't have to be famous."

Shelf Life Outside the Box?

In addition to familiar TV names, what are the buyers of books in this category looking for? According to Trafalgar Square managing director Paul Feldstein, they're seeking "creativity on the cheap—it takes a lot more cash to re-create what you see in those posh coffee-table style books." Peters at Ryland Peters & Small agrees, noting that books such as Emily Chalmers and Ali Hanan's Style on a Budget (Oct.) reflect the fact that "there's clearly less conspicuous consumption and more emphasis on making the most of what you have." Stewart, Tabori & Chang president Leslie Stoker finds that readers want to know more about incorporating collectibles and flea-market finds into their homes. "Our Flea Market Baby [by Barri Leiner and Marie Moss, Oct.] offers dozens of creative ideas for decorating a youngster's room with old toys, furniture and other vintage finds." Coming in May from Bulfinch is Flea Market Makeovers for the Outdoors: Projects and Ideas Using Flea Market Finds and Recycled Bargain Buys by B.J. Berti. And the third entry in Patti Sowers Uhiren's Flea Market Finds series, Flea Market Finds Before & After: Home Decorating with Makeover Miracles (Leisure Arts, Nov.) offers 150 projects to transform flea market bargains into eclectic home accessories.

Though many home buyers believe that bigger is better, sheer size can create its own set of decorating problems. As Steve Chapman, editorial director, McGraw-Hill Professional, puts it, "Lots of square footage has a big wow factor at first, but once people move in, they've got no idea what to do with 20-foot ceilings." Answers can be found, says Chapman, in last month's Big Home, Big Challenge: Design Solutions for Larger Spaces by Kira Wilson Gould with Henry Saxon. Taunton's Childs sees Sarah Susanka's Home by Design: Transforming a House into Your Home (Mar.) as indicative of a move away from McMansions toward "smaller, more flexible houses that suit our way of living, rather than the monster house that only reflects a builder's vision." Out this month from Hamlyn, Small Spaces for Modern Living by Caroline Atkins offers numerous space-saving tips for those living small.

At two publishers, the trend is decidedly green. "With the recent blackout and resulting energy concerns," says Gibbs Smith editorial director Suzanne Taylor, "there has never been a better time to create books that educate and inspire people to build homes that conserve energy and work in harmony with nature." In Good Green Homes: Creating Better Homes for a Healthier Planet, Jennifer Roberts shows how to help the environment with such simple changes as energy-efficient light bulbs. Along similar lines is the publisher's Green by Design: Creating a Home for Sustainable Living by noted architect Angela Dean, who in 1999 received the Environmental Achievement Award from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Already having nightmares about this winter's heating bill? Greg Pahl can heat up the season in a budget-conscious mode with Natural Home Heating: The Complete Guide to Renewable Energy Options (Chelsea Green, Oct.)

Overall, publishers see a bright future for the category. "It's everyone's private luxury to have these books," says Bulfinch's Cohen. "For people who love their homes, there is nothing like a book you can live with and draw inspiration from year after year."

What Price House Beautiful?

In a category where books can often run to $40 or $50, are consumers committed to DIY balking at the prices? The simple truth about price resistance, says Sterling's Nurnberg, is that "people have to be able to afford the books. Decorating on a budget for $33? You can't have a Rolls-Royce price and sell to a Chevrolet market. We've lowered prices on probably 40% of our titles—and they were already reasonably priced. You have to make it a comfortable buy for the consumer rather than 'Do I really need this?' " Creative Homeowner trade sales and marketing v-p Maureen Gordon tells PW, "This fall, we'll be lowering prices on seven of our top titles to be more competitive and offer the consumer a better value."

"Consumers aren't walking away from $35 hardcovers," says Meredith's Caringer, "but they're more careful about spending that for a book. As a result, we're publishing fewer $35 books and adding more $19.95 and $24.95 trade paper offerings to the mix. And we no longer wait years to publish a trade paper edition of a bestselling hardcover book." Ryland Peters & Small's Peters reports that when the company launched its U.S operation, "we decided to charge less for our books than many of our competitors, and that's paid off in our rate of growth. I think our keen pricing has helped us survive in the tougher economic climate."

Clarkson Potter's Shakely adds a cautionary note on the pricing issue: "People have to eat, but they don't have to decorate. The challenge is to convince consumers that these books will make their lives better. I think they will go the way of cookbooks—people will do armchair decorating. Books will probably change as a result with more emphasis on the person writing the book, their personal style—direct communication between author and reader."

Not everyone sees the demise of the price-heavy design book. "Price resistance doesn't mean drawing a line in the sand," says Ed Walters, Tuttle publishing director. "Readers in the interior design category continue to want new and inspiring. If you have something distinctive, there's no resistance." Gibbs Smith general manager Christopher Robbins finds people are "happy to spend $40 or more on a book that helps them create the home of their dreams. We've sold more books this year than last at the same price points. Interest in creating a sanctuary is paramount to most people; emotion seems to override the desire to spend less."

Home Work—It's Series Business

One of the ways that publishers are combatting price resistance—and ensuring continuing sales—is by launching series and/or continuing existing ones, nearly all at reasonable price points. "Series have been an integral part of our publishing program for more than 20 years," reports Creative Homeowner's editorial director Tim Bakke. "We find that a history of quality and value leads to consumer confidence and repeat purchases." The publisher's Design Ideas series launches this month with Design Ideas for Decks, to be followed in June with Design Ideas for Basements. In March, Creative Homeowner will launch the Home Plans series, in which, says Bakke, "each title includes designs from top residential architects and hundreds of full-color photo of homes that have been built from those plans." First up are The Ultimate Book of Home Plans and Most Popular 1-Story Home Plans. April brings the newest edition to the publisher's The New Smart Approach series, Lynn Elliott and Lisa Lents's The New Smart Approach to Window Décor.

When Taunton noted an upswing in sales for books with projects readers could do in a couple of weekends, it created the Do It Now, Do It Fast, Do It Right series, which debuts in March with Paint Transformations, Lighting Solutions, Trim Transformations and Storage Solutions. The projects, says Childs, "can be completed in two to five days, and will have a Pottery Barn or Ikea feel. Most home improvement books are geared to men; we've designed these to appeal to women DIYers."

Hylas Publishing continues its successful 101 Home Ideas series, launched last year, with six titles from Julie Savill—due in February are 101 Finishing Touches, 101 Ideas for Upstairs, 101 Ideas for Downstairs and 101 Flower Arrangements; out in April are 101 Details and 101 Ways to Make More Space. "The best thing going for us," says publisher Sean Moore, "is that they are a wonderful value—224 pages of full-color photographs in a pocket-size book for $9.95."

The first two entries in Sterling's 750 Series, published in partnership with Hearst magazines, were published in August—Country Living: 750 Style & Design Ideas for Home & Garden and House Beautiful: 750 Decorating & Design Ideas. Mary Gilliatt, the prominent British designer/decorator with more than 30 books to her credit (the first was in 1965) has recently done two new titles for Watson-Guptill. Mary Gilliatt's Great Renovations and Restorations: A New Life for Older Homes, says Craven, "just shipped from the warehouse and we're already reprinting." The book is not, he explains, "a hammer-and-nails approach to restoration but inspiration for decorating a recently restored home." In June the publisher released Mary Gilliatt's Home Comforts with Style: A Design Guide for Today's Living, a room-by-room guide to creating a beautiful home with heart and soul.

Dennis Wedlick, author of The Good Home: Interiors and Exteriors and Good House Parts: Creating a Great Home Piece by Piece, takes a slightly different tack in his December Harper Design release—Designing the Good Home profiles the work of three contemporary architects whose residential designs have been widely acclaimed.

Many decorating books, of course, prefer to focus on individual rooms. Taunton, for example, will be publishing in January extensively revised editions of its 1995 bestsellers, Taunton's New Kitchen Idea Book and Taunton's New Bathroom Idea Book, each featuring 750 new ideas and all-new content and photos. Brad Mee, who hit it big for Sterling earlier this year with Design Is in the Details: Kitchens, returned last month with Design Is in the Details: Bedrooms. Also last month, Ryland Peters & Small launched its Essentials line with Judith Wilson's Living Room Essentials and Fay Sweet's Kitchen Essentials (bedrooms and bathrooms get their due in the spring). "We've taken our proven 64-page, square hardcover format," says Peters, "and added gorgeous photos of real homes—all for $12.95." Another September launch, this one from Oxmoor House, was the Pottery Barn Design Library—Pottery Barn Living Rooms, Pottery Barn Bathrooms and Pottery Barn Bedrooms, all with easily achievable ideas styled exclusively for the series. In the words of Oxmoor business development director Gary Wright, "We're excited about this opportunity to provide design inspiration with a brand that continues to be a symbol of classic, simple and relaxed style."

As the previous paragraph's titles suggest, we love our kitchens. Even Americans whose idea of a gourmet meal means nuking take-out Chinese want a fabulous kitchen as the centerpiece of their homes—in fact, over the last decade, the average size of kitchens has grown by a third. But dream kitchens don't come cheap—a mid-range remodeling project can cost $40,000—$50,000. Two April titles from Creative Publishing International should fill the, um, bill: The Complete Guide to Kitchens provides just about everything a do-it-yourselfer is likely to need; and IdeaWise: Kitchens, says Trandem, "is a book is full of ideas rather than step-by-step directions, aimed specifically at the homeowner who is likely to tackle the work themselves."

The Kitchen: Renovating for Real Life by Vinny Lee (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, Oct.), says Stoker, "features real kitchens and the people who actually cook in them. The case studies include a wide variety of design styles, plans and layouts." In another STC October release, Stone: Designing Kitchen, Baths, and Interiors with Natural Stone, Heather and Earl G. Adams Jr. show how to bring one of the hottest design trends into your home—even on a tight budget.

Going for Baroque

Perhaps kitsch is more your bag, or up-to-the-minute contemporary, or even the influence française of good old Louis XIV. Whatever one's stylistic preferences, there are books aplenty from a number of "stylish" publishers. Originally published in 1998, Judith Miller's The Style Sourcebook: The Definitive Visual Directory of Fabrics, Wallpapers, Paints, Flooring and Tiles (Firefly Books, Nov.) has been revised and updated with 2,300 photographs that cover design styles from gothic to postmodern.

Also coming in November is Clarkson Potter's The Way We Live: An Ultimate Treasury for Global Design Inspiration by Stafford Cliff and Gilles de Chabaneix, which Shakely describes as "a design encyclopedia for a new generation." The Elements of Design: A Practical Encyclopedia of the Decorative Arts from the Renaissance to the Present, edited by Noel Riley, is, says Free Press associate editor Andrea Au, "the most comprehensive visual survey, period by period, object by object, of the styles that have had the greatest impact on the decorative arts in the Western world." Judith Miller's Influential Styles: From Baroque to Bauhaus—Inspiration for Today's Interiors (Watson-Guptill) shows how the beauty and value of classic style can be integrated into today's homes. And Watson-Guptill's Living Spaces: A Complete Sourcebook to Home Decorating (June) by Marcia Margolius, says Craven, is "for those who are just starting on the basics of decorating. It combines a sophisticated aesthetic with a very practical approach."

A trio of fall titles from Rizzoli covers a broad design spectrum—Jeffrey Bilhuber's Design Basics suggests, per the book's subtitle, Expert Solutions for Designing the House of Your Dreams (Nov.); Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill (of the Blenheim Palace Churchills) promotes Classic Interior Design: Using Period Features in Today's Home (Oct.); and Stanley Abercrombie, books editor of Interior Design magazine, looks at A Century of Interior Design 1900—2000: The Design, the Designers, the Products, and the Profession (Oct.).

"The last time I worked with someone like these two, it was Mark Hampton," says Bulfinch's Cohen of Stephen Sills and James Huniford, authors of the just-published Dwellings: Living with Great Style. Also just out from Bulfinch is Style and Grace: African Americans at Home by noted Harlem preservationist and architectural historian Michael Henry Adams. "It fills a definite gap in the market," says Cohen. "We got calls eight months out from publications wanting to serialize it."

An October Lyons Press title, Antique Style: 35 Step-by-Step Period Decorating Ideas by Rubena Grigg, is organized by how long a project takes, from a weekend to an "Evening Escapade." Coming in February is the publisher's Country Style (also by Grigg), which, says editor Ann Treistman, "organizes projects by room and puts a new face on familiar items—turning a tablecloth into curtains or tea towels into a slipcover." Recent titles from Ryland Peters & Small include Ros Byam Shaw's Interiors by Design: Advice and Inspiration from the Professionals, which was hailed by House & Garden as "the best self-help decorating manual available"; and Home Design Planner by Katherine Sorrell, which comes in a wire-o-bound format that includes pockets for notes and swatches, budget checklists and graph paper for planning.

Planning is critical, says Creative Homeowner's Bakke, in Phillip Schmidt's Decorating with Architectural Details, which "shows how to turn an ordinary room into an architectural wonder just by adding a mantelpiece or molding." And moldings and mantels (and much more) figure prominently in an October Abrams release, William Morris and Morris & Co. by Lucia van der Post, who demonstrates how to incorporate Arts & Crafts—style wallpapers, carpets and textiles into contemporary interiors.

"I'm a huge fan of April Cornell," admits Glitterati Incorporated publisher Marta Hallett—Hallett's house is filled with fabrics and furnishings from nearly 20 years of shopping at Cornell's New York City emporium. And when Cornell offered to have the photos for April Cornell at Home: Glorious Prints and Patterns to Decorate and Enhance Your Home (Nov.) shot entirely in her own Vermont home, "that was definitely the clincher for Glitterati," says Hallett. "This personal approach really differentiates this book from other decorating and lifestyle titles on the market."

The personal approach is key to Modern Glamour: The Art of Unexpected Style (ReganBooks, Feb.), in which hot L.A. designer Kelly Wearstler shows how adding an element of the unexpected can redefine any room. Other top designers get personal as they describe the mentors and influences that have inspired them in Susan Gray's Designers on Designers: 24 Essays on Influential Interiors (McGraw-Hill, Oct.).

Pink Flamingos, Wabi Sabi and Padded Headboards

Passionate about pink flamingos, Elvis memorabilia or garden gnomes? Kitsch Deluxe by Lesley Gillilan (Mitchell Beazley, Oct.) "is a riot of a book," says senior editor Emily Anderson Mitchell—"the first guide devoted to kitsch interiors and collectibles—essential reading for devotees of the wacky, weird and wonderful." On a more staid note, the publisher's Scandimodern by Faye Sweet (Oct.) examines the influences of Scandinavian architecture and design on contemporary style.

"I'm not sure if wabi sabi is the next feng shui—it's more philosophical and less mechanical—but it will be fascinating reading for anyone interested in Japanese aesthetics or design," says Tuttle's Walters of Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence (Nov.) by Andrew Juniper. From Periplus Editions comes China Modern (Dec.), in which Sharon Leece explores the world of contemporary interior design in China. As for that other Asian design powerhouse, feng shui, Sterling's Nurnberg says, "It's no longer a fad, it's a category." With Sharon Stasney's Feng Shui Living, Sterling now has 22 titles on the subject in print.

Not everyone interested in remodeling and redecorating, of course, is handy. "There's an increased demand for books for people who can't sew but still want to make things for their home—like the padded headboards whipped up on TV," says CPi lifestyles and decorating editor Alison Brown Cerier. Windows with Ease shows how little or no sewing can turn napkins, tablecloths and sheets into window treatments. Still too difficult? "If you can glue it," says Cerier, "you can do the projects in No-Sew Décor (May)—create everything from chair covers to pillows using glue, staple guns and Velcro. On the decidedly upscale side of DIY decorating is Lady Caroline Wrey's The Complete Book of Curtains and Drapes (Overlook Press, Jan.). Known as England's Martha Stewart, Wrey shows how anyone with a sewing machine can create lush and glamorous window treatments.

And if the decorating kitty's running on empty, has Perigee got a title for you. Budget Living's Home Cheap Home (May) from the editors of the eponymous magazine, says publisher John Duff, "is a perfect book for our list of nonfiction chick-lit, and Budget Living's slogan, 'spend smart, live rich' is an ideal fit." Afraid you've descended from shabby chic to just plain shabby? Nope, you're right in style. Tim Whittaker and Robin Forster's The Well-Worn Interior (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, Oct.) celebrates today's trend toward eclectic and ultra-comfy.

Finally, no feature on decorating would be complete without that special holiday touch. Holiday Lights!: Brilliant Displays to Inspire Your Christmas Celebration by David Seidman (Storey) is a pictorial tribute to the homeowners, neighborhoods, even whole towns that brighten the skyline with holiday lights. Bookstores can join the celebration by submitting photos of their holiday displays (details can be found at; the winner will receive $750 toward a holiday party and the two runners-up will each be awarded $250. Perhaps the money could go toward that new living room?