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 Michael Smith Elements of Style Acclaimed designer Michael Smith has earned a reputation as the thinking celebrity's decorator, with a client list that includes Cindy Crawford, Kate Capshaw, Steven Spielberg, Dustin Hoffman, and Michelle Pfeiffer. Pairing lush interiors with dynamic insider advice, Michael Smith's Elements of Style beautifully captures the essential building blocks of good interior design. Smith covers in depth the most common decorating decisions everyone faces: working with color, selecting the right paint, choosing window treatments and floor coverings, creating a luxurious bed, and building a furniture collection over time. Illustrated with stunning color photography, including a dozen homes presented in depth to demonstrate how rooms work alone and together, the book also includes practical sidebars on learning how to buy antiques and attend auctions, how to ready your home for sale, and how to create a house that can evolve over time. This invaluable, idea-filled resource is about polished, fresh design that is both aspirational and attainable.
  Date Published 11/22/2005

Average Rating: Rating Average
Rated By: Brian
From: New York
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: A waste of my money
This book was a terrible disappointment. I was looking for ideas I could use. I hoped the author would talk to me about what I could do in my own home. I was hoping for some commentary with the pictures. I was expecting something much more specific and focused from this book, but alas, there was nothing.

This book is minimally instructional. I read it carefully and then looked through it again two more times to see if there was a single design principle or piece of advice I could come away with. There was NOT ONE piece of information I could use!

Michael Smith must be very busy because I don't think he put much time into this.

A terrible waste of my money!!!
Rated By: A happy reader
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Beautiful Book
I'm a longtime fan of Michael Smith's work and have been looking forward to his book for a while-and I wasn't disappointed! "Elements of Style" is truly lovely, and perfectly illustrates the highly sophisticated, top-quality interiors he is known for. The photos are lush and nicely laid out, and the text is packed with interesting anecdotes, helpful tips, and inspiring ideas. His work has been shown in my favorite design magazines for years, but it's nice to have something more permanent for my bookshelf; I think this is the best design book of the season.
Rated By: Debbie Stone
From: Pasadena, CA
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Design with Taste
I received Michael Smith's Elements of Style for Christmas and I must say, this is one of the best design book I've seen in a while - I didn't know that much about him prior to getting the book, but now, I rank him as one of my favorite designers. His Style is so beautiful- it's classic, yet modern & fresh - Anyone with an eye for design who appreciates beautiful things should buy this book for their collection

Rated By: Morgan W.
From: London
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: A must have!
Mr. Smith's book is absolutely beautiful. I know only some about interior decorating/design, but Michael Smith is more than a decorator; he is an artist, and the images in his book prove it. I read the whole book Christmas day, and will give it as give to my friends and family this year. "Elements of Style" will no doubt have its turn displayed on my coffee table.

While his service may be out of reach for me, I'm sure to those that can afford him, every penny is will spent. Truly this is art. Bravo!
Rated By: Sara
From: Chicago
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Not very helpful
Lovely pictures but not much in the way of advice. Didn't learn a thing, unfortunately. Would love for him to design my house, but wasted my money on this book.

There are so many wonderful books on design. I suggest people go elsewhere if they want to learn something.
Rated By: Jayne
From: Nashville
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Disappointing!
I was expecting a lot from Michael Smith. Most pictures have already appeared in magazines and the quality of the photos was better than those in this book. Also there is not much in the way of advice. Smith tells you how to buy expensive antiques but not how to use them in the room. Take a close look at the photographs... all of them have huge floral arrangements as the center of interest! Why? Can these rooms not stand on their own without extravagant flowers in vases to attract your attention? I guess not. Save your money and buy a book that has something informative to say and show. What a major disappointment!!
Rated By: K. Hambric "decornut"
From: Central PA
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Visual treat
No, not much instruction. How many instruction books does one need? I've read it once. I've looked at it thoroughly a dozen times. I'm sure I will look at it far more than that in the future. Yes, I have seen some of these photos in magazines. Now I can toss those and keep this forever. I see nothing wrong with the quality of the photos, as other reviewers have mentioned. If someone gave these reviewers a book on Van Gogh that did not have instructions on how to paint, would they toss the book in the trash, or would they keep it to look at the beautful paintings? I do not want any more instruction books on decorating. I want books to show me a mood, a subtle color, how lighting,paintings, or even floral arrangements can make an interior.
Rated By: J. Randall Powers
From: Houston, Texas
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Well done
I found this book to be a great chronicle of Michaels work.
I found the pictures and the writing to be informative and well done. If someone wants to know every trick and detail that sets a Michael Swith interior apart, HIRE HIM.
I will treasure this book for what it is, a well done catalog of this very talanted designers work up to that point.
Once again, Dianne Saeks has proven to bring to the table what people want to see and what they want to read about.
Rated By: A customer
From: New York
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Don't bother
Mr. Smith has decidedly good taste but most of the photographs in the book are quite poor. I was disappointed with the images due to the dull paper stock. His interiors look much better in the glossy magazines.

The writing, however, is painfully bad. To ferret out the few, knowledgeable bits of advice, one must search through useless bits of nonsense.

If you want to be inspired, if you want text that is wonderfully informative and if you want an education in design, try Rose Tarlow, Saladino or even Vincente Wolf. These great designers have put a lot of effort in trying to teach us something.

I think Michael Smith just took the money and ran with this one.
Rated By: John Matlock "Gunny"
From: Winnemucca, NV
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Beautiful Book of Beautiful Homes
So many designers seem to have a style that they like and that they repeat over and over in their clients houses. This is not the case with Michael Smith's houses illustrated here. One house will have the elegance that you would expect of a London town house. The next will have a rustic style more in keeping with the traditions of the American West.

Of course his budget exceeds that which most of us have. In one case he was thinking of a Portuguese quinta (a traditional manor house), so he flew to Lisbon to get some ideas. I can't say that I did anything like that when I was decorating.

The book itself is beautifully illustrated, with high quality printing using a matte finish paper that shows off the pictures very well without the glare of magazine glossy. The pictures were obviously made in rooms that were carefully prepared. There's not a dirty sock in sight, and I can just imagine what some of the rooms would look like after a five year old boys birthday party.
Rated By: Bookworm
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Uninspiring
I ordered two books to read on interior design; I needed some guidelines to follow. The first book was this one, and the second book was "Rooms: Creating Luxurious, Livable Spaces" by Mariette Himes Gomez, which is a far superior book. I like to see things from a logical set of rules and this book by Michael Smith does not offer it. Gomez's book offers a set of guidelines to lead the reader in a direction that is quite flexible, but has a strong instructional foundation. I read her book first and I really enjoyed it. I was terribly disappointed after reading this one. The pictures are a tad dull as seems to be the case with the new Rizzoli books and you have to figure everything out for yourself since Michael Smith is not offering any solutions.
Rated By: C. FLACH "tradebooks"
From: USA
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Steller record
Michael Smith Elements of Style From Rizzoli, New York
Written by Michael Smith and Diane Dorrans Saeks
In this volume, Dianne Saeks offers fantastic insight into Michael Smith's interior methods and motivations. The photographs are timeless and inspirational. They offer a remarkable overview of Michael's work and allow the reader to chart his design process. The book also includes practical information. Michael Smith Elements of Style will remain a stunning record of the designer's life and work. This book is a must-have for design enthusiasts. According to Rizzoli, New York "Michael Smith is one of Architectural Digest's 100 Top Designers and winner of Elle Dcor's Designer of the Year award in 2003. His work is regularly featured in Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, Town & Country, W, and House Beautiful, among others. Diane Dorrans Saeks is the bestselling author of fifteen books, including Hollywood Style, and was a founding editor of Metropolitan Home and Garden Design magazines. She is currently Interior Design editor for Paper City and a correspondent for W and WWD. She lives and works in San Francisco." Copyright  November 2005. Format: Hardcover. ISBN: 978-0-8478-2762-6 (0-8478-2762-3). Publisher: Rizzoli. Trim Size: 9-1/4 x 11-1/2.
Rated By: Elizabeth Cutler
From: San Francisco
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Inspiring - Plethora of Ideas
Marvelous book! There are pages and pages of treats in this extensive collection of Michael Smith's work. There is so much to see and read how he blends classic and streamlined design together. I especially liked the section on the Las Encinitas guest houses where he accomplishes the very hard to do "collected over time" look and emphasizes that guest areas should have a decor that is "eccentric and exotic, an escape from the everyday." This will be a resource for years to come and inspire me to have the courage to decorate in a more free, mix-anything-wonderful-together style. I plan on giving "Elements of Style" as gifts to friends this year.
Rated By: Ann Butler
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Gorgeous
An important reference source: Michael Smith's work is both handsome and serene, and this book is a very polished presentation of his work, with beautiful visuals and comprehensive text. No significant decorating library would be complete without this.
Rated By: V. Peterson
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Inspirational!
What a lovely book! I was referred to this book by a friend and am now a convert to the Michael Smith way of design. His eye for subtle pairings is something I am inspired by and hope to learn from. Chic and classic - highly recommend!
Rated By: Michael J. Dute
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: A Treasure
I love this book. It's another winner from Diane Saeks. It is gorgeous to look at and highly informative. The interiors are classic and timeless...immaculately constructed. Be they super smart traditional interiors or art filled modern rooms, they convey warmth and intelligence. The resource guide is invaluable. Ms. Saeks writing style is polished and informed as always. I find this book to be a great professional resource...five stars.
Rated By: Mandy Williams
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: The best way to learn Elements of Style
Although I have library of art, fashion and design books I have never written a book review before. My interior designer (but NOT Michael Smith) asked if I would review this book ... so here goes ... I collect art. I collect wine. And I collect handbags and shoes. I do not consider myself an expert in any of these areas, although I have spent more money than I will admit (especially to my husband). I go with my own instincts, but I am always fascinated by what the "experts" have to say -- they are a knowledge base with years of experience and I use them for reference and insight. I may not always agree with their opinions but I always learn something. I have always used decorators, but have my own sense of style which I developed over the years by learning from the "masters." This book is a perfect example of a decorating/design reference book ... it is not a "Decorating for Dummies" book. It is an intelligent book that makes you look and makes you think ... and isn't that the best way to learn Elements of Style?
Rated By: D. Cuellar
From: Houston, Texas
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Micael Smith Elements of Style
Michael Smith is an extraordinary decorator with an even more amazing range of work--all classic and timeless. Diane Saeks is able to compile a nice collection of his interiors with the end result being this book, which will definitely become a classic for anyone who appreciates beautiful surroundings.
Rated By: G. Lancaster "George L."
From: Houston, TX
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Coffee-Table Chic
A stylish read. A must-have for the best-dressed coffee table of those in-the-know in matters of decoration and style! Exquisite photography too!
Rated By: Jennifer S. Simmons
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Micheal S.Smith Elements of Style
Micheal Smith has the rare talent of mixing new with old or comtemporary with traditional and making it look like they were all made to go together. This book is a wonderful reference for both the professional interior designer as well as the "arm chair" decorator.
Rated By: Holly Kastleman
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: A Sense of Smith
I loved the visuals and the text in this book. I don't read decorating books for how-to information, but intead to be inspired by the photographs and the words. This book does both exceptionally.
Rated By: Tom E. Harper
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Heart Stopping Style!
Michael S. Smith is a design guru for those of us who enjoy living well and with great style. His book is not only gorgeous, with amazing photographs, but is also a guiding light in the sometimes confusing world of design. I have this book displayed on my coffee table and refer to it often!!
Rated By: Geneva
From: Boston
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Pretty Pompous
I bought this book in Dec. and after reading the first 10+ pages, I haven't picked it up since. It really left me cold. It is far from the warm and inviting read of designers who write their own books. Although the pictures are lovely, there is little helpful information. Although I've admired Smith's work in the past, I now feel that he has been respresented as unapproachable and arrogant and he, after all, approved of this representation.
Rated By: Bizz83
From: Texas
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Buyer beware!
I was disappointed. Interiors like these are for the most part unbelievable, mostly because they are very limited, very floral and very impractical. They also seem very contrived. No children in these rooms, please. And no pets either.

I can see why the previous readers were disappointed with the book; this book doesn't contain much information and the rooms are so busy, my head started to hurt just looking at the pictures.
Rated By: design book collector
From: Seattle WA
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Not quite.....
This is just an average coffee table book. Nothing special here. It gets an extra star because of the pretty cover. I waited three weeks on a waiting list at the library for this book and I am so glad that I didn't buy it - I would be furious.
Rated By: E. Leonard
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Excellent Buy
The Images in Elements of Style are breathtaking, and the writing quite entertaining. An excellent choice for anyone who is a fan of Michael Smith. A wonderful book to display, or reference for inspiration.
Rated By: C Collins
From: Seattle WA
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: NoSubstance
I picked this book up looking for lots of ideas for the home I have just bought. Maybe Michael Smith does great stuff for the very wealthy, but I can honestly say I did not get one new idea after reading all 208 pages of the book.

For the size of the book I was expecting some before and afters and at least a few how-tos.

Stick to reading the occasional design magazine and you'll be in much better shape or save your money and get it from the library if you must look at it. Sorry, Amazon. --.