Apartment Therapy Complete and Happy Home (2015)


setting up your home



Christiane Lemieux + Joshua Young

Founder, DwellStudio + Real Estate Developer

daughter, Isabelle + son, William

What’s your style? The short answer is, whatever makes you feel good.

Style is often hard to label—and it’s going to be something you’re constantly discovering. So when you start thinking about style in your home, never look at it as something that’s “fixed.” Enjoy shifting, tweaking, and experimenting with every room.

In our first book, Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure, we coined the terms Bones, Breath, Heart, and Head to outline the elements that define a room. Understanding them is a stepping-stone to finding and building your style. The goal is to get the foundations, Bones and Breath, squared away, and then focus on the Heart and Head.

Bones are the hard shell of a room: the walls, floors, ceiling, and built-in fixtures. You want to make sure they are all clean, painted or sealed, and in good repair.

Breath is the furniture arrangement. Establishing good flow in every room is key. (See chapter 2 for more on flow.)

The Heart is where style comes into play. It includes all the emotional touches: color, texture, shape, and pattern. These are the first things people notice in a room, so you should experiment to see what feels right.

The Head takes into account details that express your higher purpose, such as religious accessories and family pictures. While technically not a “style” element, they are symbols of your deepest beliefs and will color your home.

Of course, living with someone else means accounting for their (sometimes conflicting) tastes, too. Our advice? Reach a consensus on the first two levels (Bones and Breath); then allow space in every room for each person to express different Heart and Head elements. If your styles truly clash, divvy up the rooms by person—and enjoy sharing them with each other.

style DNA

Pinpoint your design aesthetic (most likely a mix of one or two—or more!—broad “looks”) with a quick study of these eight styles.

eclectic collector

A design mashup of personal treasures influenced by travel, functional design, and aesthetic passions.


Often bold and bright but can slip into neutral territory if it helps highlight the decorative eye candy.


By its nature, this style is undefined. It’s all about the mix! Layered prints, patterns, and textures.


Global design, film, and art with a strong sense of individual style.

happy modern

The sunny side of modern. Bright and joyful, with an appreciation and eye for design.


Saturated brights, chalky pastels, black, white, and clear.


Bold patterns, lighter wood tones, painted wood finishes, plastic, cotton, paper, and felt.


Scandinavian design. Mid-century modern. Pop culture.

classic glam

The modern way to work with classic elements is to pick and choose your favorites—and then layer them on. More is more.


Bold. Turquoise, navy, green, red, pink, yellow, and white mixed with gold and silver metallics.


Pattern, lacquer, Lucite, brass, wallpaper, bamboo, and mirrors.


Old Hollywood. Kitsch. Vintage decorating magazines and coffee-table books. The big names of twentieth-century interior design: Dorothy Draper, Billy Baldwin, and David Hicks.

warm industrial

Exposed brick, metal accents, and rustic details punctuate the usually loftlike space. Adding warmer, more comfortable textures and materials can make it work in any size room.


Darker neutrals, grays, blacks, browns, and navy, punctuated with a few powder-coated brights.


Metal, rough-hewn wood, leather, canvas, copper, and glass; an aged patina is a definite plus.


America’s industrial past. True lofts. Vintage science lab equipment, old factory signage, and industrial antiques.

new traditional

Classic formal design, relaxed and updated for how we live today. Think familiar shapes in fresh colors.


Rich hues mixed with warm, creamy whites, deep browns, and true blacks. Lighter and brighter accent colors modernize the look.


Dark wood tones, metals, marble, and gilt. Linen, wool, and velvet fabrics. Stripes, plaids, and smaller-scale patterns.


Classic architecture and interior design. Family heirlooms.

simple chic

Beautifully (and thoughtfully) pared down. Individual elements can range from rustic to luxurious, but the overall palette is focused and elegant.


White, cream, pale gray, soft brown, black. Offbeat pastels and clear brights as accents.


Light or distressed wood, linen, cotton, felt, ceramic, hand knits, glass, and pottery.


French and Swedish country homes. Wabi-sabi. Shabby chic.

organic modern

An elegant balance between the minimal, clean lines of contemporary design and beautiful, often luxurious, natural elements and forms.


Clean neutrals with warm and cool whites—and other shades found in nature, like mossy greens.


Raw-edge wood, leather, linen, silk, metallic finishes, marble, stone, and fur. Surface texture, simple geometric patterns, and plants.


Nature. Everyday luxuries, like the perfect teapot or wool blanket. Japanese interiors. Contemporary furniture design.

contemporary cottage

Casual yet chic. Comfortable furniture in welcoming rooms that convey a strong sense of style without sacrificing homey warmth.


Creamy whites, denim blues, rosy reds, mustard, and olive.


Warm woods, canvas, wool, enameled metals, milk-painted wood, and soft lighting.


Cottages and country homes. British B&Bs. Seaside getaways.