A few weeks ago I discovered the TV show 9 by Design and checked out their book Downtown Chic from the library.

I love this book.

This book does more than just show you cool photos of interior and exterior design. It tells the story behind each project as well.

It also doesn’t hurt that they are one of the coolest families around. Robert and Cortney Novogratz live in New York City and buy run down properties nobody else would consider and renovate them and decorate them.

Oh, and they also have 7 kids.

The main theme of their show and book is that you can bring charm to any four walls and it doesn’t take money to do this – just some creativity.

They give tips for visiting flea markets and many of their finds were purchased at bargain prices.

Even though they live in these fancy houses until they sell them, they struggle with the economy just like the rest of us and get mightily stressed over money. That plus their down to earth demeanor makes it possible to watch the show without dying of jealousy.

They like doing unexpected things and this photo below shows one of my favorites… a glass garage door off the kitchen that opens up into a small courtyard:

Other unique ideas: not using concrete or tile near a pool. Just let grass surround the pool. They also installed an in-ground trampoline at the country house. Much safer and not an eyesore the way regular backyard trampolines are.

For someone like me, who lives in Monona – not exactly New York City – in a 1950s house that, while it may have its charms, would never be described as chic – their book is the encouragement I have needed.

Click here to check out the library page  for the book.

Click here to see a post by bloggers Tom and Lorenzo about 9 by Design. It was this post that made me check out the show.

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