Ellen DeGeneres is certainly an easily recognised celebrity. She’s made a name for herself not just as an outspoken but optimistic comedian, but also as a talk show host with a knack for getting even the most serious of personalities to relax and lower their inhibitions.
But if she hadn’t become a comedian, according to DeGeneres, it’s likely she would have become an interior designer. Over 25 years, she’s bought and renovated nearly a dozen homes, learning the tricks of the trade and reaffirming her passion for making the most out of spaces. Clearly, she’s taken what she’s learned and run with it: DeGeneres produces a design show, Ellen’s Design Challenge, has launched ED, a line of homewares, and has now released a book about design, Home.
Home is a collection of homes, a story about the places that DeGeneres has designed with her wife, Portia de Rossi, over the years, and the places that have inspired her design work. With her trademark warmth and humour, DeGeneres explores the ways in which anyone can make a space their own.
Home isn’t about showing off the amazing properties DeGeneres and de Rossi have owned over the years. DeGeneres is quick to point out the good and the bad of the spaces, soundly cutting through the idea that bigger is better and reaffirming throughout that it’s about creating spaces that work for you, not about looking like a magazine cover.
There is a lot of brand and name dropping, and for those of us without the budget to even consider aiming for such pieces, it’s easy to skim over those conversations and just draw inspiration from the photos, and the hints and tips about what DeGeneres learned in the process of designing each particular home. For those who are collectors of antique and designer wares, DeGeneres is happy to oblige, with information about pieces, and a section devoted to the stores she frequents, and why she loves them.
It can be disheartening to listen to rich people explain how to decorate when you know you’re never going to be able to afford to take that advice. Not all of us can afford an interior designer to help us make a space work. But DeGeneres, for all the brand and name dropping, is a firm believer that expensive doesn’t always mean better, and a child’s beloved scribbles is as valuable an artwork as the most expensive art you can afford. This is a book about working with and loving spaces, rather than trying to cram as much into them as possible and hoping for the best.
DeGeneres’s style is an eclectic blending of the old and the new, aiming to complement the space she’s working in to make the entire look feel organic. Somehow, it works. Because she brings in older and newer pieces, her ideas can be adapted, even if your older pieces come courtesy of Lifeline rather than a boutique antique dealer. There are tips and hints throughout the book to help you make the most of your space, regardless of where you live or your decorating budget.
We’re not all going to have homes as photogenic as DeGeneres, and I for one would spend years being startled by human sized and shaped art pieces whenever I entered a room. But, like DeGeneres has done with her own lessons in design, we can take her ideas and run with them, creating our dream space no matter where we’re living.
And that’s a pretty happy thought.
Home is published by Harper Collins Australia, and is available through the publisher’s website, and at booksellers nationwide.
Genre: Lifestyle and interior design
Rating: 3 and a half stars
By Kylie Thompson