You can't truly call yourself a home decor-ophile if you don't obsess over everything and anything featured on Apartment Therapy. Started by Maxwell Ryan in November 2007, the site inspires novice and pro design lovers alike to create their dream homes, whether it's through AT's myriad DIYs, pin-worthy house tours, or can't-stop-won't-stop-adding-to-cart shopping finds.
Now, Ryan, along with co-author and AT executive editor Janel Laban, has compiled nearly eight years' worth of the site's well-honed style and skills into one book, Apartment Therapy: Complete + Happy Home ($20; amazon.com). "This book is for a new, post-Martha Stewart way of living," Ryan tells InStyle. "It is our biggest attempt ever to map out everything we've learned; to share homes, ideas, and tips of every size so that a new generation can build their own beautiful, happy homes in their own way." Read an excerpt below.
8 Ways to Love Your Home So It Loves You Back
1. Treat it right. If you see something that needs attention around the house—a leaky dishwasher, a loose piece of trim—take care of it ASAP. Letting things go in the short term almost always exacerbates the original issue, costing you more money and time in the long run.
2. Buy it flowers. Picking up an inexpensive bunch of flowers (or cutting some from the yard) on a regular basis is a staple of Apartment Therapy’s January Cure, our annual guide to starting your year off right. It’s a small thing that goes a long way. Colorful blooms can serve as a visual reminder throughout the week that your home—and you!—are worth treating well.
3. Eat delicious meals together. Whether solo, with family, or for guests, cooking at home is always worth it. Each time you prepare a meal, the benefits increase: your cooking skills sharpen; your kitchen gets more streamlined, because you refine its organization as you use it; and, of course, you get to eat really good home-cooked food.
4. Serenade it. Turn up the music and belt out a few favorites the next time you’re in chores mode; it’s way more fun. You can even use the music as a motivator; challenge yourself to finish washing the kitchen floor before the next song starts. You’ll clean more energetically and end up happier.
5. Appreciate its uniqueness. No home is perfect. It’s the quirks that give it character and charm. Taking the time to turn a challenging spot (a dark entryway, a supersmall bedroom) into an eye-catching design moment is one of the more satisfying projects you can take on—and doing so will make you love your space even more.
6. Don't crowd it. Be diligent in letting go of the things you don’t need. Your home should be more than a place to store your stuff. Leaving some room to grow is essential to being comfortable in your place, long-term.
7. Don't skimp on time spent together. It’s easy to prioritize the time you spend outside your home: working, socializing, exercising. But carving out time on a regular basis to spend an evening in—cooking a meal, taking a long bath— creates a necessary home-life balance. Plus, you’ll hit the ground running the next day.
8. Introduce it to your friends. Don’t keep your wonderful (or on-the-way-to-wonderful) home under wraps. Sharing it with friends, neighbors, and family can inspire you to keep it cleaner, make improvements more often, and simply enjoy it more.