Sunday, April 13, 2014

Vermont Goes Stylish: New Design Treasure Trove from Joanne Palmisano

Vermont's a funny place. You can see the most amazing creations made from barn board or blue and green Mason jars or sprays of pussywillows dominating a room or a landscape. But you can't necessarily get the TV stations that show the "DIY Network" -- you have to DIY, that is, Do It Yourself, yourself.

Which makes it a little bit wild and wonderful that Joanne Palmisano's new book, SALVAGE SECRETS DESIGN AND DECOR, found its way here to Vermont for a review. Crammed with tips like the importance of the depth of a salvaged sink, or how to refinish metal cabinets -- "Easy! Take it to your local car refinisher, and have them sandblast it and repaint it. Unique and ready to go -- just pull up a truck" -- Palmisano sets this cheerful "make it into something fresh" attitude into style that fits as well in an urban upscale home as it does in a chic country cottage. A star of the television DIY network, she's less well known here among the Green Mountains, where her roots are. And she deserves a lot more local attention.

This sleek and colorful book packs 302 pages (you'd never guess it from the comfortable feel in your hand) with finished projects, inspiration, and highly personal adaptations. I'm especially impressed with the bathrooms Palmisano shows, which are true sanctuaries (one is even decorated with old church crosses). But the kitchens and dining areas are wonderful meetingplaces, and the bedrooms are cozy and funky. I did wonder how the lovely golden lighting in so many of these set pieces will adapt to the push into compact fluorescent lighting. If I ever meet this Vermonter-turned-national phenom of reclaiming and recycling, I'll hope for a long conversation on the topic.

Meanwhile, I plan to re-read and re-gaze at least a few more times; Susan Teare's photos are crisp, large, and lush, and Palmisano's friendly and down-to-earth approach to savoring design and decor makes for great reading.

Oh no, this isn't a mystery book -- I'm sure you caught that! -- but even though I told the very nice publisher's rep not to send a review copy because it wouldn't fit with our mysteries focus, one arrived in the mailbox a week later. And you know how it is in Vermont ... we hate to waste things. Palmisano captures that philosophy with exuberance and skill (and a great "Resources" section); what a shame it would be if I didn't put her new book to use right here!

Available in May, and by pre-order now, through independent bookstores and online. Here's Palmisano's website: Have fun visiting, and I hope you'll pick up a copy of her book, as well as tuning in (if your TV can reach it) to her DIY shows and her designs on This Old House. In a couple of years, I might wear out my copy of the book, and if I do, I'll create a project to showcase it. Yes, it's worth holding onto this one, reclaiming it with fresh eyes and appreciation every season.

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