With seemingly limitless sources for home-design inspiration accessible online these days, the trendsetting blog Remodelista has turned to an old-school model to share its ideas -- the new book "Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home" (Artisan).
It "is really an extension of the blog," says Julie Carlson, Remodelista's editor-in-chief. "It's a distillation of the best things from the site."
Carlson launched the blog with three friends in 2007, as they sat around her Mill Valley kitchen table. They'd all recently completed home-renovation projects, and collectively pulled together reams of information about what worked and what didn't.
"I'd just been through my second remodel in three years and spent a lot of wasted time on the Internet looking for products," says Carlson. "It was a real needle-in-a-haystack experience. After a while you realize there are really only 10 cabinet pulls that are worth considering, and we thought it would be helpful to narrow down choices for people."
At the start, the blogs went up three times a week. "We were initially afraid we'd overwhelm our readers, but once we'd built our audience a bit, we realized they were eager for more information," she says. Now she and Remodelista's staff of editors (who collaborated with her on the book) post five to six times daily.
She attributes the blog's major leap forward to three things: moving from the popular WordPress blogging platform to a content-management system of their own; an appearance on the Martha Stewart television show; and a glowing post about the site on actress Gwyneth Paltrow's blog, Goop.
And Paltrow wasn't Remodelista's only celebrity fan. Diane Keaton has called the site her favorite for home design ideas. And Julianne Moore shared images from her own home on the blog's popular "Steal This Look" section.
Moore went on to write the foreword of the new book, in which she says she was drawn to Remodelista through her "most passionate avocation" -- remodeling homes. She calls the site "a beautifully designed and curated collection of images, sources and information about decoration and remodeling."
In the book, you'll see a spread on Moore's Greek Revival townhouse in New York, along with chapters devoted to 11 other homes, including Carlson's Mill Valley abode, as well as a lot more information for people planning a remodel.
Described as initially a charmless 1970s builder's special, the 1,900-square-foot Carlson house was transformed into "a lofty, bright, informal family home" with help from her friend Jerome Buttrick. In addition to raising the rafters and adding custom French doors and windows to admit more light, Buttrick's changes included adding extensive storage options to keep clutter to a minimum.
It's no surprise, then, to read that one of the "Remodelista Manifesto's" "rules to live by" states that clutter is the enemy and a well-edited space creates a sense of well-being. The manifesto's first statement: Classic, livable furniture trumps trendy and transient items.
Carlson practices what she preaches, pointing out she still loves some of the items she purchased 20 years ago. "One of my favorite pieces of furniture is a classic English armchair with roll arms that we bought at Butterfield West before we even had children," she says. "It's not perfect -- the slipcover needs to be redone. But it's comfortable and classic, like a well-worn favorite sweater."
Another manifesto rule calls for one's use of color to be judicious. Carlson favors off-white slipcovered furniture, leaving the bright colors for pillows or display objects such as ceramics.
"I also love to change things around with the seasons," she says. "Maybe it's because I grew up on Cape Cod, but this time of year I think it's exciting to put away the lively pillows of summer and bring out things that are warm and fuzzy to change the mood in a room."
Though many of the ideas and some of the projects in the book can also be found on the Remodelista website, Carlson says the book serves a different need.
"People still crave the book experience. They want to carry it around and hold it in their hands as they look through it, earmark ideas and make notes and use it as a sourcebook to take to the hardware store or lumber company," she says. "For us, it was so gratifying to create something that had a beginning and end."
The cohesive feel of the book also distinguishes it from the website. And though its featured designs share some similarities -- lots of white walls and artfully placed minimalist furnishings -- Carlson says it was really the luxury of using a single photographer that unifies the look of the book.
"The images were shot by Matthew Williams, a New Zealand photographer who has been in the United States for five years. It's great to see everything through the lens of one talented guy," she says.
The featured rooms and items in the book were not chosen to appeal to readers of any particular age or style, but to represent a variety of geographic areas -- from San Francisco, Los Angeles and Pasadena to Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts to London, Carlson says.
So what about all those white walls?
"I heard a paint expert say that 95 percent of all the paint sold in America is white paint," she says. "People have always lived in neutral spaces. That's real life. We're about a pared down, not fussy, look."
For Carlson, both online and print publications serve useful purposes. "Magazines are becoming more like blogs by trying to build a community, and blogs are looking more like magazines in the way that they are more professionalized," she says. "The boundaries are becoming blurred."
No matter how the design dialogue evolves, Carlson says Remodelista will stay true to its core mission -- helping people find their way through a remodel.
"We don't want to be static," she adds. "We're always fine-tuning what we're doing, but we continually try to keep the focus on remodeling."
With Remodelista co-founders Julie Carlson and Sarah Lonsdale
When: 6:30 p.m.
Where: Anthropologie, 880 Market St., San Francisco
Admission: Free with purchase of the book ($37.50) at the event; email email@example.com to reserve space.
Featuring items from 30 local designers, with appearances by Julie Carlson and Sarah Lonsdale
When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 14
Where: Heath Ceramics, 2900 18th St.,