15 Great Reads.

Reading is one of the few activities that really allows my brain to take a break from over-thinking (ok, other than Angry Birds).  I’ve been a voracious reader almost as long as I can remember and probably plow through a book a week even at my busiest times.  I always make time to read before I go to bed at night- sometimes for 10 minutes, other times for two hours (when I’m reading something REALLY amazing).  Nothing is more relaxing to me.  So I thought I’d pull together some of my most favorite reads from over the years for you in case you are looking for a good book.  I omitted some of the obvious ones ( Eat, Pray, Love and Unbroken, the two biggies that I’ve talked about many times) and some most recent reads I really enjoyed (like Amy Poehler’s awesomely funny book and the new Jodi Picoult that was really quite good!)  This is a mix of really deep, sad, funny, scary, light and introspective reads that I think stand the test of time.  What are some of your all time favorite books?

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The Kitchen House- A fantastic book about slavery and the power of taking risks and standing up for what you believe in.

The Language of Flowers- Phenomenally lovely. A must for any woman.

She’s Come Undone- The first book I remember being totally bowled over by. I haven;t read it in 20 years and will re-read it again soon.

Sharp Objects- I loved Gone Girl, but I loved this one MORE. So messed up, creepy and will keep you up reading all night to finish it.

Room- Tough to read if you are a mother (I assume) but a truly awesome book. Wow.

Girl With A Pearl Earring- I didn’t read this for years assuming it was boring. It was NOT.  Wonderfully nuanced and very interesting.

The Light Between Oceans- I talk about this book ALL THE TIME. Amazing. Fascinating. A tale that leaves you wondering what YOU would do and the difference between right and wrong. I pray this becomes a movie.

Cutting For Stone- A heavy, dense read that takes a little time to get into but then it swallows you whole. Patience pays off with this one. Incredible.

The Orphan Train- I just read this recently and LOVED it. An interesting and trying story about children, family and bravery.

Bossypants- Do I even need to go into this one? :)

The Prince of Tides- A classic… for a reason! I just read it last year and LOVED Conroy’s writing.

Me Talk Pretty One Day- My favorite from one of my favorite writers.  The book that made me fall in love with humorous short story writing.

Little Bee- Brutally moving and phenomenally written. Beats your heart up, but SO incredible.

A Girl Named Zippy- A little book that gave me HUGE laughs. Not many other people have read this, and I can’t remember who told me to read it but I’m glad they did.

The Good House- A really engaging tale of alcoholism and family… I know that doesn’t sound awesome, but it really is!

 

24 Great Coffee Table Books

Books are wonderful for so many reasons- intellectual stimulation, education, visual delight….and decoration. Yes, books are amazing objects of decor on top of being wonderful to pass time looking at and reading. The two things that most liven up and add depth to spaces are plants and books. So here are 24 great books that are interesting to read and are AWESOME for your decor too.  I tried to pick a selection that I haven’t seen ad-nauseum (we all have the Domino book already, right?)

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1. // 2. // 3. //4. //5. // 6. // 7. // 8. // 9. // 10. // 11. // 12. // 13. // 14. // 15. // 16. // 17. // 18. // 19. // 20. // 21. // 22. // 23. // 24- I had to, we just designed the back cover and it’s AMAZING!

A Public Service Announcement

Dear Ladies of Planet Earth,

If your husband bugs you for months on end to please watch Suits on USA with him, you really shouldn’t blindly resist, tell him it’s a stupid boy show about lawyers and be a jerk about it like I was. You should listen to him. You wanna know why?

Exhibit A: Gabriel Macht a.k.a Harvey Specter.  GUH.

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Exhibit B: Gabriel Macht a.k.a Harvey Specter in a variety of Tom Ford suits that are the best example on TV of how men should dress for biz-ness. Or anything. Because he’s perfect. A modern day Don Draper if you will. But slightly less douchey.

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Exhibit C: Donna and everything she says and every face she makes.

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Seriously, it’s such a funny, awesome show.  The relationship and chemistry between Harvey and his underling Mike Ross is so great and the writing is smart. I am OBSESSED. Like, first two seasons of Scandal obsessed (unlike season three of Scandal which has totally jumped the shark for me). Watch it.  Revisit Exhibit A if you still have any doubts.

Sincerely,

Erin Gates

P.S. Sorry Andrew, but really this whole schoolgirl crush  is all your fault.

P.P.S. (also to Andrew) I am pretty sure your crush on Harvey runs deeper than even mine.

P.P.S.S. Gabriel Macht would have been the best Batman. I love ya Ben Affleck, but no.

Ok I’ll stop now.

And for those who, like me, like to chase a gluttonous TV show binge with something a bit more, ah, cerebral, in an attempt to feel less gross about yourself, I highly recommend Dan Harris’ book 10% Happier.  I know from the amazing responses my post about anxiety received that a lot of you struggle with it too, and this is such a funny, witty, interesting story about one TV anchors journey of self-awareness and acceptance via meditation.  It’s an easy, great read that has some very interesting theories.

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That’s A Wrap

Last evening we wrapped the shoot of my house for the book and I am completely depleted, happy, emotional and most of all, grateful.  This experience has been amazing and I still can’t believe I get to do it. From my amazing vendors that made my house impossibly pretty in a very short time (Makkas Drapery Workroom, Kravet, the Boston Design Center, Jules Place, Mohr & McPherson, Landry & Arcari and West Elm specifically) to my insanely awesome team at Erin Gates Design, Lindsey and Allison to my Mom for her plantings and green thumb and Stacy and Michael who made the shots look their very best, I cannot say thank you enough.

And a special thanks to Andrew- who put up with my raging stress, insane perfectionism, daily requests to paint this, plant that, walk the dogs, cook, clean and talk me off ledges.  It’s done, and now we can really kick back and enjoy this pretty home we’ve created.

I really hope you guys are going to love this book- blood, sweat and tears have gone into it (seriously, Lindsey cut her finger this week on a tape measure- actual blood) and I hope the final product will be everything you hope it is. Because this is for you.

A couple sneak peeks form our week on set at my house:

I am obsessed with this vase we borrowed, I may have to keep it. Cocktail napkins by Gramercy Home, drapes custom by Makkas Workroom)

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I wallpapered the interior of my bar cabinet with Fornasetti Malachite paper from Cole & Sons.

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A pretty arrangement I put together.

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The Velvet Crisis of 2013- this fabric showed up 24 hours before the shoot and my heroes at Makkas whipped these up with time to spare. Amazing.

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Setting up a tablescape. Decorative plate from Juliska. My wedding china by Vera Wang for Wedgewood.

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A bedroom vignette. Painting by me, putting my BA in fine art to work.

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A casualty en route from Homegoods. I put it back together with clear packing tape like the classy gal I am. Hey, you do what ya gotta do!

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A little modern art (again, putting my skills to work) paired with traditional intaglios from Liz Caan’s shop.

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I had these custom burl wood side tables made by the AMAZING Chuck Phillips. I’m kinda in love.

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This is what it REALLY looks like to get the shot.

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I’m going to go crash. But not for long, now I have to get busy writing!

 

A Question for You…

As you know, I am hard at work at my book. In fact today we are busy shooting a project I have been working on for TWO YEARS and it’s so very gratifying to get to this place in which I feel things are DONE.  However, this book project is massive. MASSIVE. And although I have a good grasp on the full concept, I still worry that it won’t live up to your expectation (cue the shrink and my unending battle against poor self-esteem).  I lose sleep over this.  So it’s time I helped myself by asking for your help….

Some book shoot sneak peeks via my Instagram:

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I wanted to check in with you guys, whom this book is FOR, and ask- what exactly are you hoping to see and read in this book? What would make my “blog to book” feel valuable to you?  It’s so important to me that my dedicated readers love it, so I appreciate any feedback you can give me.  I can promise that you’ll finally get to see a lot of my work, most I have never shown on this blog.  I also am going to feature designers I love- not big famous ones you’ve seen a zillion times- but rather my peers, many whom have gained popularity through blogs and other forms of social media.

The thing that I hope makes this book different is that I am going to bring a more personal element and sense of humor the design concept.  Homes are a reflection of our lives and I think we need to embrace that and accept that our spaces are never going to be perfect. We have TV’s to deal with, family heirlooms we want to incorporate, kids toys to organize and budgets that leave much to be desired.  I aim to have this serve not only as an aspirational tome but an inspirational one too.  And one that will make you laugh as much as it will fire up your desire to decorate!

So share your thoughts, please!

{Merci!}